Sunday, December 28, 2008

"Twilight" passes into daylight

I read an acquaintance's blog about a year ago in which she read the book "Twilight" in nearly a single setting, sitting up overnight to finish it because it was so compelling. I finally picked up the book a little before Christmas time, now that it's playing in movie theatres, because I had no intention of seeing the mediocre movie when I've heard wonderful things about the book.

In my career-oriented/family driven life, I had assumed that, unlike the woman writing previously, I would not get sucked in to the novel quite as deep and would be able to resist the urge to stay up reading it long after I needed to. After all, I have enough days when I drag myself to work feeling like a zombie, barely able to think because of poor sleep due to small children, much less a book. Why would I ever stay up for a book, mind you, when I had precious sleep to get?

Yeah, right.

Let's just say that I finished the book at 7:15 am this morning, when my kids were getting up for the day. I napped first thing while they watched "Tinkerbell", with the littlest one alternately jumping on me and laying on me. I didn't care, I really didn't wake up until the closing credits.

The book was that good.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


There is something about this photo that I find so poignant.

This afternoon I left for a little walking errand, otherwise known as "Mommy needs outside air/non-kid time." Marissa was napping, Wayne was napping, and Lindsey was curled up on the couch with Dax, looking everything like she was going to be falling asleep in the next few minutes.

Instead, some time after I left, she got up and sat around doing nothing, waiting for me to return. I was gone an hour and a half. As visitors to our home know, our place is next to lots of great shopping, so my trip to the post office detoured to a Talbot's and a Caribou Coffee.

By the time I returned she was quite sad and yet at the same time very tired, clearly needing the sleep that she didn't get. She didn't go wake Wayne and she didn't play by herself, which she usually does every afternoon while Marissa's sleeping, as she tends to need some alone time.

I returned to find her sitting on the radiator which was on, by the way, and was emanating a comfortable warmth, not too hot.

And this was her appearance when I came through the door.

I immediately gave her hugs and kisses and we got started with a game of Sorry. Soon after Wayne awoke and the three of us played. Which, by the way, Lindsey won.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Coffee Cake Ending

It is 5 o'clock on Christmas Day, and the coffee cake has been diminished to a sliver of its former self.

So despite its appearance, it was deemed delicious by all.

Especially the 5-year-old.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snow Galore

It's been snowing about every other day for a couple of weeks now. We've got a really nice deep mantle of snow over our entire yard, perfect for snow angels and sledding, not quite right for snowmen yet.

Yesterday morning the two girls and I were leaving for the day and taking in the additional layer of snow (3 inches) that had fallen over night. Marissa comes up to the snow which now is higher than her waist. She pats the top of it affectionately and says, "It's full!"

Wish that were so, honey, but I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing more of the white stuff over the next 3 months.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It...maybe not

Someone forwarded me this video at work today. It's very appropriately timed with the weather we've been having of late.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Coffee Cake: The Results


Here's the start...cake all ready to go in the oven.






Now it's out and cooling...Okay, we flipped it, now waiting a bit before we start working on it. (You can tell that we're waiting by the annoyed look on Lindsey's face. Waiting is not her strong suit.)




Drum roll please....


Cursed!! Foiled again!

Ugly Cake

In my adulthood I have attempted to carry forward one particular tradition of my mom's from my childhood: coffee cake on Christmas morning.

My mom would spend weeekends and days before Christmas cooking and baking and freezing the outcome, so that come Christmas she could have a relatively stress-free Christmas. The Christmas Eve lasagna was pre-made and frozen, then taken out the morning of Christmas Eve to defrost. It was put in the oven when we left for Christmas Eve service, and when we returned the house would smell of basil and garlic and it could come out with the edges a little crusty and the sauce bubbling up.

And the coffee cake was also pre-made, frozen, and then Christmas Eve was also defrosted. On Christmas morning it was put in the oven (set on "warm") and warmed through, to be enjoyed with a coffee and a gift.

Her coffee cake was made in a bundt pan, with the walnut/brown sugar "topping" actually becoming a filling through the center of the cake. She would make several of them, then wrap some of them up in tinfoil with ribbons and give to friends as gifts before Christmas. They were pretty to behold and even more delicious to taste.

And then there's my attempt.

For many years, I successfully made said coffee cake, with the recipe given to me by my mother. My sister-in-law Laurie can attest to the successful outcome of those baking attempts, with the cake coming out beautiful and tasty at the same time.

But for the last few years I have been plagued with bundt-pan-itis: the cake sticks in the pan to the point that only half of it comes out and the other half stays in the pan. When the other half finally lets loose, it breaks apart and crumbles into a pile of pieces of deliciousness.

Yummy? Yes. Pretty? No.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to dust off the bundt pan from my pathetic attempt last year and try to make just a regular yellow cake in it (the box of cake mix says you can). Perhaps if I were successful in this, I would attempt the coffee cake in a bundt pan. If not, it will be relegated to a 9x12 boring pan.

So during Marissa's nap time one weekend afternoon, Lindsey and I attempted to make just a plain old yellow cake in the bundt pan. We watched it through the oven window as it rose and began smelling yummy. It was done all the way through and the edges were pulling away from the sides: perfect.

I took it out, let it cool for 10mins, then turned it upside down. This is the point at which my mom says her bundt cakes just "fall" out of the pan onto the cooling rack.

No falling going on here. Nothing. No movement whatsoever.

I begin to bang a knife on the bottom of the pan, diminutive dents added to the dents from my previous attempts at a bundt cake.

Twenty minutes later, I finally succeeding in freeing the cake from its pan. Half, that is. The other half still stuck in the pan.

Lindsey immediately named the cake "ugly cake." Because it's ugly all right, crumbles and bits all over, but it tastes delicious.

Despite this attempt, I am today going to attempt once more to make coffee cake in the bundt pan. At least this year I'll have a few days before Christmas to re-do my efforts if need be.

Check back later for an update on how this turns out!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bacon Lovers: Listen Up

Stealing this link from a friend's blog, because I couldn't describe this "treat" appropriately over lunch hour today and needed to share some visuals.

http://www.holytaco.com/if-i-die-bacon-related-death-id-it-be-because

I looooove bacon, but I don't think I could eat this creation.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Power Outage

We had a little excitement at our house Sunday morning when our power went out at 5:23 am. I know that was the exact time because 1) our alarm clock runs on a battery and was unaffected and 2) every other device in our home made some strange beeping noise when it lost power, resulting in the 3-year-old waking up and needing to be in our bed.

We've had power outages before, usually for no more than an hour. So I was surprised when 7:00 am rolled around and we still didn't have power. No ticking radiators with hot water coming up the pipes to heat our rooms. No Christmas lights or lights of any sort. And most tragic of all, NO cartoons for the kiddies!

So Wayne got some wood from the woodpile and started up a nice cozy fire in the fireplace. The girls amused themselves with playing on the rug with the train set and train house (more on that later), while we amused ourselves by watching them and reading the paper alternately. Surprisingly, the girls actually played NICELY together and didn't fight, which made for even more pleasantness.

But alas, come 9:30 am when the power was still off, my body began to crave my morning caffeine fix. So I bundled up and walked three blocks to the Caribou Coffee at 44th and France, which, miraculously, DID have power. As a matter of fact, the block next to ours had power, but we still didn't. I got a holiday mint mocha for me and a latte for Wayne and traipsed back to the house to find the same cozy scene: much playing and newspaper reading going on as we clustered in the one room in the house that was over 64 degrees.

The power finally came on at 10:00 with a "whoosh" of all the things that were anxiously awaiting power before running: the radio began playing Christmas music, the radiators began ticking, the tree was suddenly alight. And soon we were back to our normal weekend activities: playing on the computer, watching TV, and being otherwise occupied. And it happened just in time too, as by afternoon the temperature started to dip and was -8 by the time I went to bed that night.

But it was a nice little respite from technology.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter Fun

It seems that we went from fall to winter in a single week -- 0 degrees outside this morning, and snow almost every day this past week.

What's a family to do but hunker down for some fun?




So on Sunday, when we started getting the snow, Lindsey and I began making sugar cookies during Marissa's nap, and when Marissa got up she got a chance to help us. The cookie dough was from scratch, but I have to say I cheated and bought the can of frosting. Sprinkles, however, were the full responsibility of the girls, and our kitchen floor had a certain "crunch" to it after the fun.

Then...outside for some fun sledding on the best hill around, the little tiny one that slopes from our lot into the sidewalk. Marissa proved that it was safe enough to sled down without a sled.



We've sledded on that "hill" nearly every night this week. It's so darn convenient, when you get cold you just go in the house, no long 1 1/2 block walk from the park to our house. And...if you want to go out again, then just do so! In the meantime, the fire will be keeping the fireplace warm and the hot chocolate will be ready on the stove. Pretty cool.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Christmas Tree Decorating

Terror of the Trees

When it comes to the Christmas holidays, I've always been torn between the good and bad of artificial vs real trees. When we were first married we got an artificial tree on the cheap after our first Christmas, and used it for the first 7 years of marriage. It was always beautiful, every year, never crooked, and was used over and over again.

However, since moving into our 1928 home six years ago which has little to no storage space, we got rid of our artificial tree because we had no place to store it.

So for the last six years we've been getting real Christmas trees. After all, I LOVE the smell of real trees in the home. Aaahhh! Nothing makes a house smell more Christmas-y than that wonderful fragrance when you first open the door. On the other hand, it's not very environmentally responsible to chop down a tree just to display it for a few short weeks, only to put it on the curb to be thrown out. And I feel bad for these trees that grow for many years, just for those few short weeks of our enjoyment.

But I feel particular sad for any tree that enters our home.

Because after all, our tree goes near our fireplace, where it gets to watch bits and pieces of its former fellows get fed into a hole in the wall where fire crackles and burns. When we first brought it in we cut off a few bottom boughs, which were also fed into the fire, adding some more crackling and popping effects.

The other day, when no one was standing near it, I think I saw the tree trembling.

Poor thing.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Fidiots are not Fawesome

After a chat my sister and I had only day, she called me back to tell me she made up a new word.

That word is "fawesome."

This is the even shortened shortened version of saying "f-ing awesome." You know, when you don't want to swear with little ones around, you can just say "fawesome" and the other person will know exactly what you mean.

I had a good chuckle and kept on my way.

Two days later a horrible driver cut me off in traffic. She had to cross two lanes of traffic to do it, after having just merged on the highway. She was doing 35, I was doing 55, and I had to take the shoulder to not ram up her ass. Had I rear-ended her vehicle, I, of course, would have been in the wrong as it's nearly impossible to prove that someone who rear-ended someone else was not an inattentive driver.

The first word that came to my mind?

Fidiot.

I think we're on to something here. What if every time you wanted to swear you just appended an "f" to the beginning of the following word? How much easier, more convenient and less vulgar would that be?! I like it -- maybe one day we'll see them in the Merriam Webster dictionary.

Fawesome and fidiot, and their host of counterparts.

Credit would have to go to Kristi.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Girl Parts and Boy Parts

Yesterday Lindsey brought home a flyer from the Mpls School District saying that at some point their class would have a specialist come in to talk about privacy and about good and bad touching. They said that they would be using specific anatomical terms to describe body parts and that if we had any questions, that we should contact the school. Keep in mind that the most anatomical words we've used in our house are "girl parts," "boy parts" and "butt."

This flyer came home apparently on the SAME day said specialist was at the school -- nice advanced warning.

So tonight I'm asking Lindsey about what she learned and she told me that "penis" is the word for your girl parts but she couldn't remember what the word for "butt" was.

I said, "No sweetie, penis is a boy part. Girls don't have penises."

She looked at me blankly and asked, "Then what do girls have?"

I ventured, "Well, did they use the word vagina?"

She shriveled her nose. "No. I don't like that word. Mommy, I want to call my girl parts 'horsie.'"

Sold! "Horsie" it is.

Don't touch my horsie. Neighhh.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sleep....beautiful sleep....aaahhhh....

I awoke this morning at 9:30 am.

That's not a typo, that's NINE thirty, as in two and a half hours after the kids got up.

I came downstairs to our children watching TV quietly, a fire in the fireplace with Christmas carols playing quietly in the background, coffee in the coffeemaker and an inch of new snow on the ground.

The only thing my husband wasn't responsible for was the snow. Aahhh...thanks honey!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

FINAL Thanksgiving Tale: Alas, an early ending

On Friday, we arrived at Wayne's parents house after a 3-hour drive. Since Marissa had skipped her nap, we figured that getting her down that evening would be a cinch. She had a bit of a cold and without a nap, we figured she'd go down easy. Instead, she goofed around and pretended it was a slumber party for an hour and a half, keeping Lindsey up at the same time and keeping Wayne and I from attempting to watch the final "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie in peace. We finally got them both asleep a little before 9:30, stayed up and watched the end of the movie and went to bed around 11:30.

We were awoken around 2:00 by Marissa's coughing. Deep, rattling coughs that had me concerned. After about 10 minutes she began moaning. I went over to comfort her, only to hear her say "I want in your bed." I tried to tell her no, but she began crying...LOUDLY. Keep in mind all FOUR of us are trying to sleep in a single bedroom, and right now the only one still sleeping was Lindsey. So we quickly swept her up into our bed where she immediately fell asleep cough free and Wayne took her place on the floor.

However, my being awakened in the middle of the night resulted in my OWN coughing fit, which I know kept Wayne awake, while both girls did not seem bothered by it. I finally fell asleep myself some time after 3:00.

We were awoken AGAIN around 6:00 by Lindsey, also moaning in a "I'm awake and want to get up" kind of way. Seriously?! Seriously! At this point we got the two girls in the bed with me; while they were quiet, they clearly weren't falling back asleep and weren't going to anytime soon.

So Wayne finally got up with them around 6:45 while I slept in until 8:30, feeling like a cement truck had run over my head once I awoke. The thought of another restless night with two sickies keeping all four family members up was too much -- we had to cut our visit short and traveled back to Minneapolis on Saturday.

We left the Horsman's at 3:35 pm -- Marissa was asleep by the time we hit the edge of town (3:40) and Lindsey was asleep around 3:50, with me shortly after. So we all napped on the way home, and both girls were in their beds fast asleep by 8:30 this evening. And now, I shall be signing off and catching my own shut eye as well. Hopefully everyone will be feeling better by morning.

Thanksgiving Tale #3: McKenzie

We were very excited to meet one of the newest members of the family at the Horsman's this year: niece Nicole's and husband Al's baby McKenzie, who was born October 17th. She is six weeks old and so sweet! I had to admire her from a distance, due to a cold that I have, but do have a few pictures to share. Marissa and Lindsey were having fun getting to know a little tiny baby again.



What a sweet smile McKenzie had for Marissa!

Thanksgiving Tale #2: Lindsey

At our house at Thanksgiving this year, Lindsey got busy showing Grandma how she could read, and trying to entice anyone and everyone into a game of "store." This game, Lindsey's latest creation, is made of her pretending to be a storekeeper, and the other person comes in to buy one of the beautiful pieces of artwork (Lindsey's drawings). While there is "real" pretend money in the drawer of the play cash register Lindsey uses, the other person is required to use a purse and play money that Lindsey made at kindergarten one day. The "purse" is a 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper folded in two and stapled on the sides, with a flower drawn on one side. The "money" are scraps of paper of non-uniform shape and sizes with a dollar sign written on them in pink crayon. She then makes change by giving you the "real" paper money, which mimicks mostly 5s, 10s and 20s, in return for your scraps of paper.

The grandparents were able to get out of playing this one as it required sitting on the floor. I, however, was required to play this game for half an hour on Thanksgiving day. She finally was enticed to do some drawing with Grandma at the table, which was a much less painful activity.
Lindsey also discovered pumpkin pie for the first time this year. She was so excited about it that we cut into the pie that was meant for Thursday on Wednesday evening. She had her piece devoured before some of us made it to the table with our heated pieces from the microwave. Here's a picture of the resulting orange teeth.

Thanksgiving Tale #1

All in all, it was a successful Thanksgiving, though we cut our visit short to Wayne's parents' house due to illness. My own, in fact, and Marissa's. Nagging coughs, runny noses, miserable headaches, it's enough to drive a mom back to her own home to sleep in her own bed, with children who know how to go to bed on time in their own rooms.

We had a few tales happen on our trip, which are probably best served told one-by-one. So this is the first installment of our Thanksgiving Tales, 2008.

The holiday began at our house, as it usually does, with Wayne's parents arriving Wednesday afternoon. At one point Neil was going to sit down to watch a little TV, and was trying to entice Marissa to come sit close to him on the couch.

"C'mon," he said, "I won't bite you."

She said, in all seriousness, "I won't bite you either," and proceeded to sit next to him. In typical Marissa form, she charmed him and everyone with her little sayings (always with a straight face, of course), and her smile.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mystery Injuries vs Mom Injuries

Remember back in college, when you perhaps imbibed a few too many, and the next morning you woke up with a strange bruise on your shin, your hip, your forehead, or some other place and you wondered about it and thought to yourself, "I don't remember doing THAT..."

I had a similar experience over the weekend, but this had a difference context.

On Sunday morning I woke up and my index finger on my right hand was sore. I mean, SORE. After a while of trying to function I determined that it was definitely sprained, though not severely so.

"Hmmm...how'd I do this?" I wondered. I didn't remember slamming it in any doors, having it bend backwards unnaturally, it just didn't make sense.

Then later on in the morning Marissa tried to pull me in whatever direction she wanted by pulling on that same index finger...HARD.

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow.

Yup, that's how I sprained it, a 3-year-old gave it a good yank the day before and I had pulled it away.

Said 3-year-old is now re-learning how to use her words to ASK her mommy nicely to come, instead of trying to pull her up by her index finger.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

In this house, we keep our clothes on when our friends come over

Not something you hear every day, right?

But every now and then, statements like that just have to be made!

Now for a little background:

This past Saturday Lindsey's good friend Emma came over for a playdate. At one point the two of them were in Lindsey's room giggling and laughing, and Dax was standing at the door wanting in. So I opened the door to let Dax in, only to find Lindsey taking a picture of her bare butt with her toddler digital camera.

I'm not sure how ideas like this make it into our heads, but clearly it starts at a young age. I would post the photos, but I don't want to be accused of distributing child porn.

Thus the reason for the statement made above.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Power of...Huh???

My last post I wrote about how intrigued I am with Eckhart Tolle's book, The Power of Now.

He has now officially lost me.

Whenever someone speaks to something called "unmanifested energy," I go...huh?? (Cue photo of cute dog with ears pricked up and head tilted sideways.)

The power of this book had been in its simplicity -- it just plain made sense. Now it lost me. And he speaks of people in such terrible relationships and desperation in their lives and says there's a way out of that. Well...I don't quite relate to that, I don't feel that I'm in terrible relationships OR desperate. I'm generally a very happy person, so it's not a stretch for me to believe that I can be happy now...because usually really I am. Apparently there's this thing called the "pain-body" (an inner energy that some of us tap to feel badly when we should be feeling good) and unmanifested energy out there bringing us down. Bummer.

Oh well, I'll just pick what I like from the first part of the book and ignore the rest.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the Power of Now

I am finally reading a book that's been on my "I mean to read it someday and really probably should but other lighter books are tempting me" reading list.

Interesting interesting read, and much simpler than I had expected. Some of you may get it as a gift for the holidays, if you're up for it.

The 30-second version is:

You don't live your life in the past. You don't live it in the future. You live your life NOW. In the moment. Millisecond by millisecond. Sounds really simple, right?

ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION?? Because if not, life is passing you by.

Some theories of his are:

Stress is caused by the rift between the fact that you live in the now and your desire to move to the future to do whatever it is you're thinking about. "I need to make sure I get the groceries tomorrow." "I need to talk to my boss about XYZ." "I have so much to do tomorrow!" Stress stress stress, all because you can't time travel. Plan it out, then forget about it. Live in the NOW.

This book is really intriguing to me because I'm not a very spiritual person. Or I should say, I'm not a very religious person. I've never felt a real connection when I walk into a church, I've never walked out of a service and said, "Wow! I feel uplifted!" The only reason why I would consider joining a church today is because my kids should probably get exposed to religious teachings...but how hypocritical would that be of me as I don't get anything out of church myself?? I'm pretty sure they could see through that one if they ever started asking me about God. Thanks to others, we have many versions of children's Bibles in our home and Lindsey in particular gobbles up those stories, which I'm glad for because it's about the only place she'll hear these stories.

But just because I'm not religious doesn't mean I'm not spiritual, and I do believe in the existence of energy that is beyond us. I deeply believe in the power of prayer. As Eckhart puts it in this book, he simply calls it Being. So not only is it something (a "being") outside of yourself, it is also a state of...well, Being. It may be outside of you but it is also a part of you. Trying to understand what Being is is like a fish asking what water is. A fish doesn't understand water because it is always surrounded by water, and never by anything else. It takes water for granted, the water runs through its gils with every movement, and it's never known anything but water.

I also like that he refers to this "energy" by many names, including God. So for some people they may need to think of it as God, for others it is energy, for others it is a presence or Being. Whatever it is, it is all about capturing and cherishing the moment you are living right now and feeling the peace, the stillness that can encompass us all.

I could go on, but I won't. All I have to say is, it's an intriguing book and I'm really fascinated by it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's okay, we're sisters


This past weekend I flew to Chicago to spend the weekend with my sister, who celebrated her 40th birthday. It was a ball. An absolute ball. Let's just say, I'm sure it was lots of fun for people who were around us at the bar that we barely remember leaving.

The theme of the entire weekend was set at Geja's Cafe, a romantic fondue restaurant where we first had dinner. After dinner we both decided to use the bathroom before taking a cab to the next place of business, a bar called Howl at the Moon.

We got to the bathroom to find that it was a single stall, the kind where one person enters, locks the door, and everyone else has to wait outside until that person is done. Well hell, we're sisters, we've been peeing in front of each other since we could use a toilet. So we both went in together and took turns.

I open the door to leave to find a woman standing out there, clearly waiting for the bathroom. How awkward for the two of us to come out of a one-person bathroom! Perhaps the fact that the cafe was billed as being romantic and a great place for intimate dates was what made me feel uncomfortable about this situation. So as we exited I said, "It's okay, we're sisters."

That was it, the theme of the weekend. No matter what happened, it was okay, we were sisters!

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Contrast in Voting Experience

I was glad I was able to steal away from work long enough to go vote. I had to drive back to my neighborhood and stand in line for an hour to vote. At least the weather was good and I didn't mind standing outside for the majority of my wait. Once I finally made it into the building the line snaked through the hallway and doubled back. I did see many of my neighbors and parents of our kids' friends, and ended up spending some of the time chit-chatting with the woman behind me, who had lived in the neighborhood her entire life. I finally got to where I could vote, voted, and left.

This, on the other hand, was the experience of my sister-in-law, Sherrie, in Tracy, MN:

After years in the big city and now living back at home in rural Minnesota, I thought it quite interesting and something of a blast from the past when I went to vote last night.
"You know you live in a small town" came to mind..................

I was the only voter there, the 3 attendants were a local accountant Bill, farmer's wife Jane and local farmer Jeff.

Jane had made cookies and hot chocolate and they were also serving coffee. They would be insulted if you didn't stay to chat and sad to see you leave................. I stayed the 15 minutes (not too long, not insulting) and went home chuckling to myself............life in a small town is good! :0)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Giants in the Earth

Finally finished Giants in the Earth last night after a long read. (That's how books go when they get read 10 minutes at a time at the end of the day before falling asleep.)

Heartbreaking.

And not the way you would expect it, kind of like in "My Sister's Keeper" when the book ends in tragedy. All the way through the book you think it will be tragic but hope it won't, yet at the end it's not the tragedy you expected, it's a different one, which makes it all the more heartwrenching.

Not bad considering it was translated into English from Norwegian back in 1927.

Highly recommend this one, it was an incredible journey.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thank God I am a US citizen

And I don't mean that because I was grateful for the single hour I got to spend in line today, voting for whomever I wanted to.

I think that today because a news story I read on Sunday, all of about 3 sentences in an inside page of the front section, has really stuck with me. A 13-year-old girl in Somalia, who came forward to report that she'd been raped by 3 men, was stoned to death in a stadium of 1,000 spectators for the sin of adultery.

Read the story here if you wish.

I am so thankful my two girls were born in this country, where they are safe from such harsh judgment, and where victims are not further victimized by a system ruled by religion.

God bless that poor child's soul, and her grieving parents.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween Tradition

Just another note from Halloween that I got a kick out of.

When my sister and I were young, after we went trick or treating we used to go home and immediately dump out our buckets and assess the take. How many candy bars? Gum? Sweet tarts? And of course mom would come around and take the ones that we couldn't have, namely, the candy she liked. And what came from our own bucket was OURS -- not to be confused with our sister's, and our buckets stayed in our bedrooms from that time on, off limits to the other sister.

Then...there's Lindsey and Marissa.

They got home from trick or treating Friday night, dumped out their buckets to assess the goods. Okay, so far so good...but then things got weird. They wanted to play "trick or treat." So they could come up to Wayne who had a few candies left over from the evening in another bucket, and say "trick or treat!" He would give them a candy, and they would do the same to each other, swapping out candies between all three buckets. Eventually all the candies would end up in one bucket, then get dumped into the other ones and re-distributed among all the buckets.

Amazing. I've never seen this kind of behavior. Are these my children?

And guess what, as the mom, if I ask for ANY piece of candy, even ones they LOVE, they always say "yes." Wow, who's kids are these?

Sisterhood

Today I was reading in a magazine something about siblings similar to what I've read before -- that your sibling relationships are the longest relationships most of us have in our lives. The author of this article talked about how she and her sister didn't get along as kids at all, only to finally learn to appreciate each other as adults. She lost her sister at the age of 31 to a rare disease, and wishes today that she had cherished more of their adults moments together. I was thinking of this as I get ready for a weekend in Chicago to celebrate my sister's 40th birthday, and thankful to have her still in my life.

I went downstairs to check in on the "other" sisters in my life. They were both sitting on opposite ends of the couch watching TV, absorbed and at least not annoying each other. I got on the computer for a little bit and overheard the TV program, in which one of the characters got scared and his friends were trying to re-assure him.

Suddenly I heard all kinds of shuffling and moving around. I peeked in to find the two girls sitting next to each other on the couch with the dog lying between them. They had blankets over their laps and up to their chins, taking comfort in proximity to each other.

Now that's one meaning of sisterhood.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!





Girls had lots of fun today for Halloween. Marissa's friends from KinderCare, Sophia and Chitra, came and trick-or-treated with us. We had a great time and couldn't have asked for better weather! It was great.

Monday, October 27, 2008

She Reads!!

Last week her kindergarten began sending home small books to read -- one book has to be returned before the next one was sent home. The one she's reading in this video is the second book she brought home. (She giggled at the end because she said "abloon" instead of "balloon," which was something we'd just worked on before I turned on the camera.)

Tonight she read "Hop on Pop" to me: I couldn't believe it. It's an easy reading book, but it's loooong, and she read the whole thing! She was so excited, and so was I. I am so proud of her!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sign of the times

Every day I go by a little bank on my way to and from work. It's called Vision Bank; it's on a strange little corner with very little around it. I've never heard of Vision Bank and can't imagine how they can compete compared to some of the big boys.

As I drove by this afternoon, they had a huge purple sign draped over their main sign that read, "Yes, we're still lending."

Maybe this means that they will be in better shape than their competitors, since they aren't big enough to have invested in the sub-prime mortgage fiasco. Sad sign of the times, though.

Tasteless Joke -- too good not to post

A man goes into a cocktail lounge and approaches a woman sitting by herself.

Man: May I buy you a cocktail?

Woman: No thank you, alcohol is bad for my legs.

Man: Sorry to hear that. Do they swell?

Woman: No, they spread.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The juggling act

This weekend I began to feel as if I was losing the juggling act. You know, that act where your career, kids, housework and fun all balance themselves beautifully, each getting enough attention on its own to keep all the balls in the air.

But this weekend after two days away, I had only one day home on Sunday to catch-up. And boy, there was a LOT to catch up on!

I asked Wayne to do a few things with the girls outside the house so I could tackle some projects that just don't get tackled when they're around...like sifting through their drawers, putting away the summer clothes, putting the clothes that don't fit Lindsey into Marissa's drawers, and just plain organizing.

So throughout the day on Sunday I managed to do 7 loads of laundry AND got them all folded and put back in drawers. Usually at least one basket of laundry sits in our bedroom in the basket all week, waiting to be folded but alas, just sitting there wrinkling quietly. I also got Lindsey's clothes drawers organized (finally!) which also means that Marissa, by default, got some more clothes.

I also scrubbed out the kitchen sink with a toothbrush. Okay, that sounds a bit ridiculous I know, but do you know how many germs LIVE in the drain in your sink?? Enough to have them leap out and get on your food. If you don't do this every now and then, whatever you do, don't drop food in your sink, rinse it off and give it to your kids to eat. There's a written guarantee somewhere that they will get some horrible bacterial infection if you do. Just watch Dateline, trust me. Besides, the drains were starting to turn colors they were so disgusting. Don't get me started on the garbage disposal. YUCK!! (BTW, baking soda and vinegar make a lovely foam that cleans the garbage disposal beautifully without wrecking your pipes. And your kids love to help pour the vinegar in. Just a tip.)

I was feeling just a little bit better about the state of the house until I was going to bed that night and saw the spider webs stretching their way from the base of our ceiling fan to the walls in our upstairs hallway. 'Tis the season when spiders want to come indoors to weather the winter. I started looking around: we had a little spider nest egg at the top of one of our picture frames. And earlier in the day when I went to open a window to get some fresh air in (it was all of 63 degrees that day, not that I spent any of it outside), I had to wrench free the spider webs in both corners of the window. Our ceiling fan blades are so caked in dust and dirt from being run all summer long that they look like they were meant to be modern black and white blades instead of a contemporary white blade.

So while I got a lot done, it was barely a dent. Sigh...

Thus...that night I had the following dream.

I dreamt that my mom and stepdad were at my house for a visit. They are the kind of visitors that you want to clean up for because their house is so immaculate, but you know that if you don't it's okay, they didn't really come to see your house. I love visitors like that.

In my dream my mom saw the state of our house and knew that it wasn't how we'd like to have our house, so she agreed to tackle a few projects; namely, sweeping the ceilings of cobwebs. I begged her not to because, even though she really doesn't care, the ceilings were in horrible HORRIBLE condition. In my dream I am standing there in our upstairs hallway willing my mom not to look up, because the cobwebs are so bad that we haven't been able to turn the ceiling fan on; the blades are held in place with spider webs. And the webs are so thick that there are pickle jars and kitchen utensils like spatulas and so forth hanging from the ceiling.

Thus my frustration at our cobwebby hallway AND the germs in my kitchen sink collide in my subconscious, and voila, there you have my dream.

Thank goodness I have dreams, or all that weirdness would come out in other ways. Whew!

Guess Who?

Lindsey has a game called "Guess Who." In it each person has a game piece with cards of 32 different people, and picks one person as their "person." The other person has to guess which of the 32 people you picked by asking questions like, "Does your person have white hair?" "Does your person have glasses?" "Does your person have a beard?" By the process of elimination you finally get down to the one person that your opponent picked out -- whoever gets it first wins.

One night we were talking about this game and the fact that there are only four hair colors in the game: white, black, brown and yellow, as Lindsey calls it. So I asked her, "What color is your hair?"

"Brown!" she immediately said.

"And Marissa's?" I asked. She didn't quite have an answer for that, so I talked about how parts of Marissa's hair are blond and others are brown, and not everyone has the same color hair all over their head.

Then Wayne asked, "What color is my hair?"

Without hesitation Lindsey replied, "GRAY!"

Okay, so SOME people have all one color all over their head.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Marissa's concept of time

I love three-year-olds -- especially mine.

She has a funny concept of time. Everything that she talks about happened "last morning."

Last morning we went to Michigan.

Last morning she was a little tiny baby.

Last morning Biv-bef (aka "Elizabeth") and Trabis came over.

Last morning we were at Grandma and Grandpa's. (Okay, so that one is actually true.)

We were very busy "last morning!"

She also has an interesting concept of time moving forward as well. I was helping her get ready for bed one night -- while she is fully potty trained during the day, she does still have accidents while sleeping so she wears a diaper overnight and during naps. So while I was putting a diaper on her I talked about someday soon when perhaps she wouldn't NEED a diaper at night, when she's just a little bigger.

She said, "When I get bigger and bigger I am going to get married and I am going to have a baby in my tummy. And I won't wear diapers then."

Good heavens, I hope that the non-diaper wearing days are loooong before the marriage/baby days.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Apple Picking Time!


We took advantage of amazing fall weather (it felt more like summer) to go to an apple orchard on Saturday, pick some apples and get pumpkins. It was 72 degrees, unbelievable.

I swear the traffic gods have something against us leaving the city -- it took us 2 hours to get to Prescott, a place that should've taken us maybe an hour. 494 was closed, thankfully we didn't get on it, but then we got caught in traffic when the only bridge over the Mississippi on the way to Prescott had an accident on it -- closed in both directions. So we sat there for an hour until the accident finally cleared. Wayne started to complain about it, but I said that I'm sure the people who had the accident and needed the ambulance were having a MUCH worse day than we were, who were we to complain?

We had fun when we finally got there -- lots of apple eating, I mean, picking. They also had a variety of raspberry that was being picked this time of year too, and we eventually had to get a pint and pick those too, since that was what Marissa decided she wanted to eat anyway.

I took these last two photos of the trees as we were leaving -- pointed the camera up through the branches to catch the sunlight through them. Gorgeous.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Saying Good-Bye

I traveled to Wisconsin this past weekend to attend Andy G's funeral. I took Marissa with me so as to not leave Wayne at home with two kids, and because I think the trip would've been harder had I been separated from both my kids.

I have never been to a funeral of someone I did not care deeply for. I hadn't known Andy terribly well but his family means the world to me, and it was important to me to be there for them.

There is something about going to funerals that makes people go deep, in every sense of the word. I remember after their other son Paul had died 16 years ago coming out of the church the day of his funeral and seeing people driving down the street, kids riding their bikes through the crunching fall leaves, and being almost offended at the fact that life had gone on for them while mine had stopped. How dare they have errands to run! Don't they know what's just happened?

It was a similar feeling when I came home from the hospital with my first-born. I remember sitting in the living room with a newborn on my lap wondering what the hell I was doing, watching neighborhood kids walk by and cars driving past. "Oh yeah, that's right, life kept on for them," I thought, because mine had changed forever.

I do not know from what well of strength his family draws from (I have an idea I know its source, though). It was incredible to me to see Andy's sisters comfort others as they came through the family line. For the family they've had some time to become familiar with the fact that Andy is gone; for some arriving at the church they had only found out the day before and it was THEY who needed the comforting.

The day after the funeral I stopped by their home to visit; in typical generous fashion, they fed Marissa and I lunch before we hit the road. They've made lots of changes to their home and Veronica was giving me a little tour of all the updating they've done. She showed me Paul's old room, now with new carpet and paint, and then Andy's room, in its disarray of possessions being sorted through. I remember her having to go through that miserable chore years before, and it doesn't seem right for a mother to have to sort through her dead son's belongings...twice.

That was one thing that Roland said gave them hope through Andy's illness: God had already taken one of their sons; surely He would not take another. After his death they found out more information about his illness that made them realize how bleak his outlook had been -- only 8 in a million people are struck by amyloidosis, a disorder that's barely understood with no proven treatment. They treated it as you would leukemia, because that's all that doctors know how to do. Even if he had survived the treatment his prognosis was that he would only live perhaps five more years, and they would be difficult years. The family had more hope than the doctors, not knowing what they were facing.

Now it will be difficult going back to my "normal" world, knowing how very much their world has been turned upside down. I'll be thinking of the Gilles more often in the days, weeks and months ahead, as they begin the healing process. Again.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Update on Andy

Some people have asked me if I know how Andy Gilles was doing since I last posted a request for prayers for him. Unfortunately this morning I found out that he passed away on Wednesday, Oct 1. Click here for his obituary.

I don't quite understand what the bone marrow disorder was that he died of, so I also have a link here for more information on the condition that ultimately proved fatal to him.

I am very sad for this family that means so much to me. They have been through a lot of pain in the last 16 years, with the parents outliving two of their six children now. That just shouldn't happen.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pain in the...Back

I threw out my back last night.

I thought you had to be over a certain age to do that, but apparently not.

I did this once about 10 years ago. I remember I was in the basement of our house in Savage, doing some organizing or something weird like that, when I heard a POP and that was the end of my mobility. I couldn't stand up, I couldn't walk, I could only lay down with my knees bent. I lay there for probably half an hour before I finally figured out I could crawl up the steps. I made it onto the couch, where I lay there for the rest of the day and much of the next.

This time I was leaning over the bathtub to turn the water on for Lindsey's bath. Not picking up a child, mind you, no heavy lifting involved. I just leaned over, heard that familiar POP, and that was all she wrote. No standing upright, no walking, etc. Just hunching over like a 90-year-old and shuffling.

So this morning I hobbled my way in to my chiropractor, and I cannot tell you how incredible it was. He applied heat and electric stim (if you have ever had that done), and I could feel my muscles finally letting loose. My L5 lumbar (the lowest one in your back before you reach the tailbone) had moved out of place, and he was able to pop it back in place. Then he worked on my muscles which had clearly seized up. It hurt like hell, but when I went to stand up, I could. All the way up, no hunching over.

I am at home today, using heat and ice alternately and doing stretches throughout the day. I suspect I will have most of my mobility back by tomorrow.

Sure as hell beats a bottle of muscle relaxants and pain pills.

Oh yeah, and yesterday was our 13 year wedding anniversary. Wayne looked over at me laying prone on the couch with heat on my back last night and wondered aloud, "Just how old is my wife??"

It just doesn't get any better than this, does it?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekend Visitor

Last weekend we had a visitor from NYC -- Wayne's little sister, Laurie, came to visit. Lots of the family came up from Tracy to visit as well. It was a great time! The weather was perfect. We were able to get out Saturday afternoon and play ladder golf, which Millie was amazingly good at! We also got some card games in, which was also entertaining. We topped off Saturday evening by walking down to the Edina Grill for a dinner...compliments of Laurie.

Sure was great to see everyone!
Here's the family (L toR): Kathy, Wayne and Millie across the back, Sherrie, Laurie and Neil seated.
Sherrie did up the pony tails for the evening out, while Millie got some quiet time with Marissa, who enjoyed reading a book with her Grandma Horsman.


How cute are these cameos of Marissa with Laurie??

Friday, September 26, 2008

Traveling is sooooo glamorous!

I've had a break from traveling for a little over a month, but then had two trips this week, one to Chicago and the other to Washington DC.

I am in the DC airport right now, going on hour four. I was booked on a 2:30 departure and when I got to the airport I was able to go stand-by on an earlier flight. Sweet! I thought, I'll make it home early!

Then that earlier flight got canceled.

They had already given away my seat on the 2:30 flight, so I cannot get back on the 2:30 flight.

So now I'm a confirmed passenger on the 5:30 departure, arriving in the Twin Cities at 8 pm tonight. I just hope this flight isn't canceled or delayed, now. :-(

Two interesting things have happened:

1. I got to see John McCain get on his plane to leave for the big debate tonight. There were about 10 vehicles with lights flashing accompanying the big bus out to the plane, which has "McCain" painted in really big letters on it.

2. I heard a man get into an argument with his travel agent as he tried to have her re-book him after our flight got canceled. She clearly was unwilling to do anything for him, and he got a little snippy with her (as I would too). She eventually hung up on him. Nice.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

YO! GABBA GABBA

Had to share this one -- a friend @ work had told me about this show. We finally found it now, it's on a channel called "Noggin."

Proof positive that people who did and perhaps still do drugs are creating children's shows...that our kids LOVE.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Airport Travelers

I was traveling back from Chicago today getting my breakfast at a place in the Midway Airport, when I came across an elderly couple sitting at a table, chatting with a priest sitting at the nearby table. I had to squeeze by them to get a seat (it was pretty tight), and assumed they were traveling together, they were so deep in conversation.

When the priest got up to leave, he held out his hand, shook the gentleman's and said, "It was nice to meet you."

Wow, I thought, they are a very gregarious couple!

I decided to take my vitamins while I had orange juice in front of me, only to hear the man say, "Oh thank you!! I would have forgotten my morning pills if I hadn't seen you take yours." Then he came over and started talking.

He shared that he is 79 years old, his wife is 80 years old, and they've been married for 4 years after both their spouses died. They were traveling to Maine for the 40-year reunion of his Navy ship's crew. He served from 1947 to 1953 and they've never missed a reunion. I can imagine how incredible that's been for him to see his former crewmates over the years, and how different it must be for them to see HIM showing up with a different wife at this point in his life.

Then he laughed and went back to the discussion on pills. "You know," he said, "When I was younger we used to talk about the girls we'd see and the color of their eyes, the color of their hair or the color of their skin. Now we talk about the color of their pills!"

He was quite a character -- I thought of my dad because I'm sure the two of them would still be there right now jawing away, if my dad had been there to meet him.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Pain of Shopping

I have determined that there is a direct correlation between how much men like to oogle models of a certain piece of apparel and the humiliation associated with buying that item for most American women.

Take swmsuits, for example. An entire issue of Sports Illustrated is devoted to them. Not sure when modeling swimsuits became a sport, but it's been SI's #1 selling issue for decades. Yet swimsuits rank well above jeans as one of the purchases women dread having to make.

Does this swimsuit make my ass look big?

Honey, your ass IS big, the swimsuit just lets everyone see just how big it is.


Next on the list: bras. Those Victoria's Secret commercials make bras look so sexy, so mysterious, so magical in the way they make little tiny model size A boobs look like something so much more.

Yeah. Uh huh.

Take, for example, my shopping goal of this weekend: find a bra that fits under a special occasion dress I bought for an upcoming client event. The event is black tie -- not just any dress will do, yet it's still a work occasion, so plunging necklines and high hemlines just won't do. I found a phenomenal dress at a consignment store in my neighborhood -- a measly $29 for the dress which fits me perfectly and is a style I love. Only problem is the sheer material that makes the "straps" of the dress, requiring a strapless bra.

No problem, right? After all, I'm not looking for a bra that accommodates a plunging neckline, a plunging back, no criss cross applesauce needed, just strapless. I shouldn't even have to go to Victoria's Secret for this one, I should be able to get one at JCPenney's at their 30% off sale.

And to make things a little more interesting, Lindsey accompanied me. I'm not sure if she's scarred for life after the experience, she certainly has a new appreciation for "boobies," though, and spent many minutes gazing at the lingerie models and fingering the pretty panties on the tables.

JCPenney's was a bust, no pun intended. Sure they've got strapless bras, on sale, mind you, $17.99! Sweet. Okay, looking for my size...looking for my size...yup, still looking for my size...going to the women's section...right cup size, wrong band width....looking for my size....aaaannd we're done. Couldn't even find one to TRY ON.

Wow, I could do this all day but as delicious as that sounds, I'd rather not. So I head straight to Victoria's Secret where I know they'll have my size but I will also drop more money than the dress cost.

I pick up one strapless bra and one convertible bra. What the hell does that mean? you ask. Can you DRIVE them around? No, it means that if I choose not to wear it as a strapless bra it's got straps I can put on and wear it like a normal bra. Prices? $42 for the one style and $53 for the other.

I try the first one on -- not too bad, but it's scrunching my boobs together like pages in a book. But at least you can't see any part of the bra through the sheer of the dress.

I should've just said "done deal" and left. But no, I wanted to see if I could get something else that wouldn't be quite as smothering. And I was given the busiest and most memory-impaired fitting person to work with. I ring the buzzer inside the dressing room, a nice little feature of VS so you don't have to leave your dressing room and flash everyone.

Employee: Hi, do you need help?

Me: Yes, I'm looking for a strapless bra to go under this dress, I tried this one on but want some other options.

E: Okay, what size?

I tell her my size.
Pause. Long pause. Awkward pause.

E: Okay, let me see what I can get for you.

Several minutes later she hands through the door two regular bras with straps, but my size.

Me (handing bras back): Uh, these have straps.

E: Oh, oops! Just a minute.

Several minutes later, a strange brown and a tan bra are thrust through the door.

E: Here you go.

Me: Uh....these are A cups.

E: Oops, sorry those are for someone else. Here are the ones for you.

I go to try them on, only to find they are ONE cup size too small. Hmmm....is she perhaps in her professional opinion trying to tell me she thinks I'm trying on bras too big, in some ridiculous show of big boobism? So I try one on -- yep, even smaller, definitely spilling out the top. NOT my size. I ring the buzzer again.

Me: These aren't the right size. Forget it, can you just give me back the first one I tried on? I believe you took it.

E: Oh, sorry, let me look for it. Hmmm...I'm not sure where I put it.

Me: Forget it, I'll just go get it myself.

I did finally try on some other styles -- some had material sticking out the sides, others looked like wings with material floating out of the top. Really, people? This shouldn't be this hard!

Lindsey was having fun checking out the bras -- some of the ones I tried on even had little pockets where pouches of water had been placed to help "push up" your breasts, she found those fascinating. And seriously people, what size do you need to be before people STOP thinking your boobs need to look even bigger? She tried a bra on and strutted around pretending she had boobies. Eventually she entertained herself with pretending to sleep on the chaise lounge just outside the fitting rooms.

I ended up with the original style that I had tried on, which I had to go get myself. Cost, you ask?

$42, or a full 44% more than the dress cost.

At least I'll be wearing the bra more than once, which is more than I can say for the dress.

Next shopping adventure: shoes to match. Aarrrgh!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd: All Summer Long/Sweet Home

I know the song is overrated, but I remember seeing Lynyrd Skynyrd the summer of 1989 at Alpine Valley, WI and rocking out to "Sweet Home Alabama" while the high Harley bikers in front of us stumbled around in their attempt to dance.

For lots of years artists were singing songs about the "good ol days" for times long before I grew up. (Think Bryan Adams "Summer of '69"). It's strange to think that I'm old enough that people are singing songs reminiscent of when I grew up now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Height Predictor

Click on the title of this posting to go to the ParentCenter height calculator.

You put in your child's age to the closest half-year, current height and weight, and then the height of the parents.

Out spits the estimated height of your child at age 18, with a margin of error, depending on the age of your child.

According to this calculator, Lindsey will be 5'4", while Marissa, the YOUNGER sister, will be 5'9".

These have not changed for either kid the last few times I've put them in, outside of Marissa's height being estimated as taller. Lindsey has been consistently predicted at 5'4", a whole 2 inches shorter than I am.

Check back in about 15 years and I'll let you know!

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Isn't it odd when you hear your kids say things that you say all the time? It just sounds different coming from their little voices.

The other day Lindsey was talking about a bee project that they made at kindergarten that she really enjoyed doing. She described gluing on the little wax paper wings, and then she said, "How cool is that?!"

I have confirmation from my co-workers and spouse -- those words leave my mouth several times a day.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Mother Sentenced

I don't know why I read these things when I see the headlines pop up -- it's like staring at a car wreck as you pass by.

Good for the judge for throwing the book at her. I cannot imagine anyone who would even THINK of putting their month-old baby in a microwave, even in an altered state of mind.

The last quote of the story:

Rion (the defending attorney) said Arnold loved her baby "with all of her heart and more" and regrets drinking the night of her baby's death to the point of not remembering what happened.

"We have a mother who has lost her own daughter," Rion said. "That will plague her and follow her like a shadow for the rest of her life and into the next." (Jenny's ed: The defending attorney will fight for her life here on earth, but knows that ultimately her soul is going to hell.)

Prosecutor David Franceschelli told Wiseman that Arnold has shown no genuine remorse.
"The only remorse here is she got caught," Franceschelli said.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Last Post of the Day: A Request for Prayers

Okay, after this I'm going to bed.

If you are reading this, I ask for you to send your prayers and good thoughts to the Gilles family of my hometown in Wisconsin. Many of you know (and many don't) that they lost their youngest son to cancer at the young age of 21. Paul died 16 years ago this September 29th -- he was the youngest of six in a remarkable family and was very dear to me.

One of their remaining five children, their son Andy, is struggling with a rare disorder which has weakened his kidneys and liver. It requires a stem cell transplant to fight it, which is administered after a very powerful dose of chemotherapy to kill off the offending cells, along with many of his own healthy cells in the process.

Andy's stem cell transplant is scheduled for tomorrow, Sept 5th. He will be in the hospital for a month after, and then will require to be within 5 minutes of the hospital for 60 days after that. His immune system will be severely compromised and this time period will be extremely difficult for him and his support network.

I spoke with Andy's mother today -- she said that her other son's death of 16 years ago is crashing back in her life right now; it is all so familiar, even though Andy does not have cancer. I am praying that he has a very different outcome.

I am not a very religious person (okay, try not at all), but I do believe in the power of prayer and of positive energy, so please send some his way.

Video proof

Can you tell I'm catching up on my photos and videos?

Earlier I had a posting about Marissa telling us "I like you a lot!" Yeah, it sounds kinda cute, but I now have video proof that it's in the delivery and not the words that makes it endearing. (Kind of like Obama.)

We had obviously been asking her to say this for some time before I finally got it on video, so it's not quite her same delivery, but pretty close.

State Fair Photos

Okay, now that I can upload photos to my computer again, I've got some catching up to do!

The week before school started we took the girls to the State Fair, our annual mecca. My first posting on this blog was for the state fair two years ago -- hard to believe!

So here are some goodies from the day:

Marissa finally got into the rides this year -- once again, the difference between Marissa and Lindsey was made apparent. We would watch Lindsey on a ride and see her yelling and pointing. She would see a ride from her high up vantage point and be yelling about the next ride she wanted to go on. The minute she was off, she was leading us by the hand to the next ride.

Marissa, on the other hand, just wanted to keep going on the same rides over and over. She was barely off and would say, "I want to do that aGAIN!" and we would either stay on and hand over more tickets, or get back in line and do the ride again. The bumper boats were her favorite ride -- she went on them three times.

She also had a knack of sticking out her tongue while on rides, shown here:


And occasionally we would get the two girls to SHARE a ride...nicely, please:




And then, of course, there were the interesting things that we saw.



Really? That's appetizing? Check out the size of the guys headed toward this food booth.

And since everything else at the state fair is on a stick, why not the landscaping? Sure, why the hell not? It's a two-ton boulder, what could possibly go wrong by putting those up on sticks and having people sit in front of them?


And in case you didn't catch the fact that these boulders were supposed to look like they were on sticks, check out the sign on the left that tells you so.

Whew! Good thing, because if you hadn't let people know you were poking fun at the state fair, you'd see people in the 'burbs trying to talk some landscaper into doing this for them. "It's the latest thing, I swear! I saw it at the state fair landscape building!"

First Day of Kindergarten!











Today was Lindsey's first day of kindergarten. I think it went well for Lindsey, not so hot for Marissa. Marissa's had a bit more difficult of a transition to Kindercare; she's missing those nice long naps she needs and was getting this summer! The crankiness factor is going up and up every day of the week. Today while we were taking photos of Lindsey (and trying to get ones of Marissa too) all she did was walk around and say "no no no no no" to everything. So Marissa was crying and throwing crackers on the floor as I walked out the door at KinderCare. (Hard to believe, isn't it? Look at how cute she is.)

Lindsey, on the other hand, was incredibly excited, couldn't wait to go! She forgot to eat, brush her teeth and hair, and we had to remind her to do those things before we went. We dropped of Marissa first, then took Lindsey to the Mpls KIDS program, where one of her friends was already there. She asked Wayne to sit down next ot her for a while while she played, then after a few minutes he and I left. I had to go back home and get a little bracelet that the teacher had asked her to wear on her first day that we had forgotten, and when I brought it back her friends Alex and Emma were already there. She and Emma were busy playing with a little pink house, so she turned around, took the bracelet from me, said, "Oh, thank you, Mommy! Bye!" and that was it.

Lindsey's actual kindergarten day is three hours long. She then gets a little recess and eats lunch at 1 pm. Thank goodness she'll also get a breakfast option at Mpls KIDS, because that's a late lunch for her! Then she'll spend the afternoon back at Mpls KIDS until we pick her up.

I think Lindsey is going to have a really good day today; Marissa, well, depends on the kind of nap she gets.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Marissa's newest little saying

Marissa has always entertained us with her little antics and sayings. It's not what she says, it's how she says them that's so funny, so it's hard to repeat for others.

But she's got a new one now she's been using for about a week that warms my heart.

"Know what, Mommy?" she says.

"What honey," I'll say.

"I like you a lot," she'll say.

I like to hear that one as many times as she wants to say it!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Recent Conversation with Lindsey

While we do our best around our house to keep the language child-friendly, every once in a while a choice word flies out (by BOTH parents, thank you), which inevitably gets "test driven" by an off spring.

So the other day Lindsey attempted to use the word "dammit." She mumbled an entire sentence under her breath. The conversation was eerily similar to ones I've had with my mother when I was the young one:

Me: “What did you just say?”

Lindsey: “What?”

Me: “Repeat what you just said.”

Lindsey: “What part that I said?”

Me: “Did you just say a bad word?”

Lindsey: “What bad word did you think I said?”

Me: “I’m not going to repeat it.”

Lindsey: “Then no, I didn’t.”

She’s smart for five, isn’t she? Little shit…

Student Driving


Yesterday as I was driving in to work I saw a sorry sight. The photo here is not it, but is a good representation of what may have happened had I watched this person much longer.

A car with "STUDENT DRIVER" plastered all over it (roof top sign, doors and trunk) on the on-ramp, trying to merge into bumper-to-bumper traffic on a major artery in the Twin Cities. The person driving was clearly having issues trying to look for traffic behind while driving the car straight and not losing too much speed. They were at an almost complete stop, making merging nearly impossible and backing up everyone on the merge ramp behind the car.

At least everyone in the vicinity knows it's a student driver and hopefully cuts him or her a little slack. And it got me to thinking of my relatives who live in Tracy, MN, population 2,000, who go to other towns to take their driver's test where there are NO traffic lights, no traffic per se, except for the occasional tractor. Those who figure that backing in and out over and over again to parallel park is "good enough." (You know who you are!)

I am pretty sure they would have flunked the test in the Twin Cities. Then again, they are smart enough to not even try to take the test here!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Elizabeth's last day!

Today was Elizabeth's last day for the summer watching the girls. We will miss seeing her every day!

She wanted to make today extra special, so she arranged to take the girls on a boat ride on the St. Croix River. They even got free candy from the vendor on the boat because they were "so cute."

And as he said that, Elizabeth looked over at Marissa to find her finger knuckle deep in her nostril.

Cute, for sure!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another Marissa Story

Today Elizabeth came up from downstairs to find Marissa with a strange look on her face, like she was puzzled and hurt, while wiping her hand on her shorts. She said to Elizabeth, "I put my finger in the hole."

Elizabeth was concerned that she'd stuck her finger in an outlet. She asked, "Which hole?" Marissa pointed in the general direction of the other room. "There!" she said, as if that was perfectly clear.

Elizabeth said, "You show me."

Marissa marches over to Dax, turns him around and points to his butthole. "There!" Marissa says. "It was ishy."

And it was immediately followed with a 10-minute hand washing. Is there nothing this child won't explore?? I guess we never thought to tell her NOT to put her finger in the dog's butt...

NOTE: (8/20/08) I found out from Marissa this morning that she stuck her finger in her OWN hole. Perhaps she was just demonstrating on Dax what hole she meant. Maybe that's a little better; at least it was her own poop and she hadn't molested the poor dog.

Marissa, Destroyer of Insects

Finally have a good story to share, this one from Elizabeth.

Marissa is sometimes more boyish in her play, demonstrated by her love of tormenting bugs. She will pick up ants with her hands, squish them between her fingers, stomp on them at will, etc.

The other day she was "playing" with an ant and turned to say something to Elizabeth. By the time she turned back the ant had crawled into a crack and disappeared.

"Where'd he go?" she asked.

Elizabeth said, "He crawled into the crack."

Marissa looked at Elizabeth and very seriously said, "He is very lucky."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Last week of summer

This feels like the last week of summer for us, because it's the last week that Elizabeth is watching our girls at our home. She goes back to school next week, which means our kids go to KinderCare next week, then Lindsey starts kindergarten the following week.

I in particular have been so spoiled by having Elizabeth here -- no big rush to get two kids dressed and out in the morning, no having to convince kids that they WANT to go to KinderCare, just stay at home and have someone come to us! I'll have to get up earlier again...yawn...

The good news is that we've decided to split up our drop offs. So I've flexed my hours at work back by half an hour and will be responsible for drop off in the morning, and Wayne will do the pick up at night. That'll help shorten their day a little bit so they don't need to be in their program 10 hours a day.

Lindsey is excited for kindergarten and has completed her "back to school" shopping. I asked her if she needed a new outfit for her first day, and she said no, she's got enough clothes! Okay...saves US some money, and she's totally right. I don't know how both the girls' drawers got so full of summer clothing, I didn't feel like we bought a lot for them. I think that Lindsey simply continued to fit into clothing she was wearing last summer; we didn't think she would, so we bought her some new and she got some as gifts. Marissa got Lindsey's hand-me-downs and also got gifts as well, so her drawers are really stuffed full of summer clothing. Unlike Lindsey, I suspect much of it won't fit her next summer, she continues to grow like a weed!

Wish I had some new funny stories. We have continued to be entertained by the peanuts but nothing I can think of now. My software that I use to download photos from my camera is on the fritz right now too, so no new photos. Sigh...guess I'm having a blogger's block.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Momzillas

FYI, there's a book that didn't even hit my "I am currently reading" posting on the side there. It is called "Momzillas" and I devoured it so quickly I didn't get a chance to post it on my blog.

Written by an Upper East Side mom of three, it's a novel that I suspect, if I knew the author personally, I would be able to understand which of her so-called "friends" she was basing her characters on.

It was an entertaining read, highly recommend it for any mom. Non-moms might not find it so funny, and if you don't know NYC very well, it might not make as much sense. (At one point the main character is mocked for buying a house east of 3rd Ave...even though it's still Upper East Side. Shocking!). I read it in about 4 hours.

Otherwise I've been extraordinarily tired and still trying to catch up on sleep after what turned into a four day business trip this past week. My flight back on Thursday night was canceled due to weather, and I got to spend two nights in a row sleeping on a 3-inch thick mattress on a roll-away cot, because our room reservations got hosed up.

So I'll have to write more another time...after my nap.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Blog subscription

I just added that sweet little feature that lets people "subscribe" to my blog. This allows them to see on their personal Google, Yahoo, or other such account page when I post to my blog.

My question is this:

If I subscribe to my own blog on my Yahoo homepage, does that make me a narcissist or a peeping Tom? Or just weird?...because I think I'm already that.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Lindsey's Sleeping Buddy

Many kids like to curl up with stuffed animals, blankets, little pillows, etc, when they go to bed.

Lindsey has taken to having our Boston terrier, Dax, sleep with her at night.

I encourage it actually, I think it's really cute, and Dax really likes sleeping with people so it works out pretty well.

However, every once in a while Dax gets kicked out of her room for being a bit too stinky. He (and Bostons in general, in case you're thinking about getting one), are known for their touchy digestive systems, which means that any time he eats anything out of his normal diet he gets the stinkiest farts you've ever smelled.

So last night she asks to have Dax sleep with her and immediately falls asleep with her on one pillow and him on the other. Both of them are sleeping on their side and Lindsey has strategically positioned a small baby blanket and pillow between herself and Dax's butt, which is now directly positioned in front of her face.

Smart girl.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Marissa versus the Popcorn

On Marissa's birthday, we went to the Scott County Fair in Jordan, MN. It was a pretty impressive fair, nicely kept up and clean. And unfortunately for them but good for us, somewhat poorly attended the day we went, as it was threatening rain. But we went anyway and the kids had a lot of fun.

Here's a photo of Marissa's biggest challenge of the day: a very large bag of kettle corn. It's longer than her torso. That's all she wanted to eat all day. All offers of other food, cheese curds, hot dogs, etc, were met with an emphatic "no." By the time we left nearly half the popcorn was gone, thanks to Marissa.

She was past her naptime on the way home and cried most of the way home because we finally let Lindsey take the popcorn bag from Marissa. She got herself into such a state that when we got home she threw up while we were trying to get her down for her nap. Nothing like kettle corn throw up. It smelled like an old theatre.

She did finally settle down after that, got a nap in, and was in a better mood after.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Doggie Doo Doo Walk

A couple of evenings ago our family took a little walk around our neighborhood. Our kids were fascinated by a couple of displays of large dog poop. You would think that this would be a common sight, but people are pretty conscientious around us about picking up after their dogs. Since we own a dog that weighs all of 16 lbs, our kids are used to the little piles that they need to watch for in our yard, not the big heaps we saw.

Twice they stopped to study for several minutes a couple of piles. Then later on in our walk we encountered a man walking a boxer breed. A boxer looks similar to a Boston terrier, which is what our dog is, but weighs about 50 lbs more. They have the same shortened nose and build, but a lot taller and more muscular. One of their other traits is their bobbed tail, which leaves their behind...well, exposed.

The man and dog walked by us and Lindsey watched it as it went on its way. And then she commented, "That dog had a big hole."

"A big....what, honey?" I asked.

"A big hole in his butt. I betcha he could make those big poops we saw."

Enough said.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Marissa's Present of training skates

Marissa had a good birthday, for just turning three! She had a party on Saturday with some of her friends from KinderCare. Then on Sunday, her actual birthday, she awoke to a load of gifts from her family to open, including one from her Grandpa and Meme Floria.

One of the gifts that I bought her was a pair of training roller skates. She's more adventerous than Lindsey in whole, and I thought that she would like to try roller skating. Much to my surprise it was the least favorite gift and Lindsey gravitated to them.

So near the end of the day as Marissa was getting ready for bed, I told Lindsey that she could try Marissa's skates on outside.

She was clad in knee pads, elbow pads and I held both her hands the entire way. She was slipping and sliding all over, but by the time we were getting finished up she was starting to actually skate one food at a time. I would stop each foot by putting mine in front of her, but she was getting the groove of it.

Then she stopped for a moment to pick her nose, which promptly began to bleed. I went in to get her a kleenex and by the time I came back out she had several drips of blood down her shirt. So we got the skates off and got her inside to clean her up.

Of course, she comes inside with a bloody nose and Wayne assumed she fell and bonked her nose.

But she's the only kid I know who can get a bloody nose from picking her nose while roller skating.

Cake Wrecks

In honor of Marissa's 3rd birthday today (Happy Birthday!), I thought I'd direct you to a newly discovered site that I am thoroughly enjoying: Cake Wrecks.

Click on the link above or newly added to My Favorite Places.

I thought of my friend Renee when I came across this site. She and her sister both took cake decorating classes this past year, with some good and bad results. These are some good ones!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Car for Sale


Slight water damage, was bright red but was chlorine bleached to bright orange. Real cheap, good deal. Call 800-DUMB-BLONDE.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Reading Recommendation

I am nearly done reading "The Grapes of Wrath." What an incredible read. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new book.

I do NOT, however, recommend reading it during a downturn in the economy, or, as I like to think of it, a recession, which we what we are in right now. It isn't a very big leap from where we are today to where the characters in this book end up. At least, it doesn't seem that way in my imagination...

The storyteller

Anyone who knows my dad knows that he revels in and inspires to be a great storyteller. Which, for the most part, he is.

Here he is telling a little ditty about my Grandpa Tom, his former father-in-law. I'm glad I was able to capture my Grandma's reaction, too.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Morning Skate


This morning, while the girls were amused by Sunday morning cartoons, I went down to Lake Harriet for a little Rollerblading excursion.
I drove down there (yes, I drove; the hills are too steep for me to skate), and began preparing to go skating: doing some leg stretches, getting my water bottle out, putting on my skates and finally my iPod. But it seemed sacriligious to turn that iPod on, it was so beautiful out and the sounds so content. What a shame to drown them out with music that I can listen to at anytime.
If you are one to read my dad's blog(s) (see links to the left), you'll know that he enjoys his morning walks around his property and writes picturesque descriptions of his walk. I have different sights and sounds in the area that I live, but I thought I would share some of my impressions from this morning's skate.
I took in the sounds and sights of:
  • A family enjoying breakfast on their patio at their home across from the lake. Laughter, calls for more coffee, and the opening and closing of a screen door as more coffee is fetched.
  • An elderly gentleman dressed in his Sunday morning church clothes with a camera bag over his shoulder. As I passed him, he was crouching down and taking a photo of some wildlife by the lake.
  • An elderly Asian woman wearing a safari-like hat, briskly clipping along on her morning constitution. She was slightly hunched over but clearly in good health as she passed two young ladies on the walking path. She walked with such purpose she stood out from those around her.
  • A young couple walking with their newborn in a stroller, both with coffee in hand, gazing at their sleeping baby as they walked in silence. I can still feel the exhaustion yet happiness that they were probably experiencing.
  • A dad with a double stroller, toddler in front and baby in a carrier on his chest. I imagine the mom sitting at home, enjoying a quiet morning with the paper and coffee while takes the kids out for a stroll.
  • The jingle of leashes as dogs of all shapes and sizes are being walked. At one area there is a "dog beach," and three dogs were frolicking in the water, happy barks resounding over the water.

On my second loop around the lake, I finally began getting tired and turned on my iPod for inspiration. But what a grand inspiration the first loop was!