Whatever, 2008.

Yeah, I don't know. I don't feel ready to review 2008. Maybe in a few more months. There were some great moments, and some not so great, but I'm still too tired from Christmas to think about it. I think that's why I didn't get to the Christmas letter this year. I'm just not ready to review anything.

Actually, I can't blame Christmas. It's the snow and cold. Or as we Minnesotans call it, "life." We've been routinely getting dumped on. And hanging out in the negative temps. It's sort of draining. Whine. Whine. Whine.

In any case, tonight Captain America and I will dust ourselves off and head to The Ballroom for The Festivities. I'm guessing New Year's is a little more glamorous somewhere where you don't have to consider the 4 inches of snow and ice still in the street when picking your shoes. Oh, and the possible snow banks you will have to step into. But the fireworks over a frozen lake reflecting off the snow are sort of something to behold.

Happy 2009!


Post-Christmas stupors

I'm in a major one. I still feel full from days ago. I want to eat soup & cereal for 3 weeks. My children are overtired. Overstimulated. Cranky.

Christmas Eve I headed off to church with Martha (I think that's what I might call my sister, since she calls me Cyberspace. She's not a Martha Stewart wanna-be either -- she's a better Martha than Martha. Because I suspect if you're at MS's house, you feel incredibly nervous you are going to do something to embarrass yourself and don't really enjoy yourself. At my Martha's house, you just settle into the warm coziness and pass the appetizers she just happened to whip up in the double ovens and have a glass of wine, or maybe a frothy chai from the Tassimo. How does she even know to buy Mediterranean cheese? Where was I?) Martha, Big Daddy and Colin and I were all singing at the two earlier services. So we were at church from 2:45 til about 6:45, minus a quick jaunt for a Christmas Caribou. God bless the lovelies like Kayla who sacrificed of their Christmas Eve to spread some Caribou Cheer.

After the second Christmas Eve service, we headed to Martha's for our family Christmas. Where, natch, Martha whipped up a batch of appetizers. Mediterranean cheese, some sort of yummy dip, chilled shrimp, little cheesey spinach filled thingies, fruitcake she made from scratch, lefse, etc, etc. And honestly, she says things like, "I'll just put out a few appetizers," and that's what appears. We followed it with pizzas, to make life easier. We did our gift exchange (in an effort to simplify, we've gone to a name draw, except for kids). And then I threatened my children that Santa would pass us by if they did not get their little bottoms into the car and get home to bed. Merry Christmas.

From Ella after the threat was made: "That's ok. I already got presents." Great.

Christmas morning the girls opened their stockings, and their gifts from each other. After which they were like Christmas professionals. "Oh Natalie, I love it! It's what I've always wanted!" {hug} "Oh Ella, just what I always wanted for Christmas, thank you!" {hug}

Then it was off to my in-laws for more festivities and food and gifts. Highlights included a recorder performance (because Santa was higher than a kite on Christmas spirit, and thought 88¢ recorders from Wal-Mart would be FUN!), cookie frosting and sprinkling, and all of the grandchildren fascinated by someone else's gift.

I knew Natalie was exhausted when the little fashionista opened up a sweater from Aunt Molly and started bawling, "I didn't WANT a sweater...I wanted a TOY." Yes. Well. Lovely. Time to go home now.


You get what you wish for

Well, it took me about a day too long, but I did the random integer.

That's right, Aimee. You said you wanted win #2. You got it.

More to come on Christmas, etc. later!


Merry Christmas, Dear Reader(s)

Ho, ho, ho my reader. I'm feelin' the spirit of Christmas, so I would like to give away a fabulous pair of earrings. Handcrafted. One of a kind. Because I made them, and I don't have the patience to make two pairs the same. And alright, I don't know that they're fabulous, but they are FREE.

This is an easy win, because there aren't many of you. And you can't even really see the earrings, because I'm still figuring out how to photograph them -- so won't this be a fun surprise!! One Lucky Duck reader will have your choice of three pairs:

Brown shell-like, with pewter lever backs

Pinkish with silver french wires

Gray with clear glass and silver french wires

Leave me a comment with something Christmas spirit-y. A favorite holiday tradition, favorite Christmas cd, the gift you're most excited to give, etc. I will draw a winner via the Random Integer Friday morning (Dec. 26), while y'all are out making your exchanges at Target.

I'm off to see if my children left me enough tape to wrap some presents. There was so much crafting going on here today. Our house is covered in chenille twist twists. Apparently this morning I had elves in the house, making pipe cleaner toys. You just never know what can happen on Christmas break. All we know is Mommy needs a Caribou or Starbucks (I'll take a chai with skim if you're stopping by).

I'll leave you with Natalie's carol of choice, which she sang for 15 minutes in the car tonight:

"Jingle Behws, Jingle Behws, Jingle all the way...so much fun is to ride soho toho sleigh - EH!
Jingle Behws, Jingle Behws, Jingle all the way...so much fun is to ride soho toho sleigh - EH!
Jingle Behws, Jingle Behws, Jingle all the way...so much fun is to ride soho toho sleigh - EH!
Jingle Behws, Jingle Behws, Jingle all the way...so much fun is to ride soho toho sleigh - EH!"

You get the idea.


Snow day!

I am declaring myself snowed in. Despite the fact that I could probably go somewhere if I wanted to.

Instead today I have FINALLY finished Jane Eyre. I'm not going to say I loved it. For the most part, it made me feel depressed and I plodded through it. But it feels good to have finished it. And to have read a classic.

I am doing laundry.

I am going to bake ooey gooey molasses cookies.

I hope to get some presents wrapped and under the tree.

And I will sit here wondering if the Sunday School program is going to be postponed a second time. Hooray, Minnesota!! You are so fun! Toying with our plans and emotions!


My children are precious gifts from God

My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.
My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.
My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.
My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.
My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.
My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.
My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.
My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.
My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.
My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.
My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.
My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.
My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.
My children are precious gifts from God and I am happy they have a sisterly bond.


Thankful II

I'm still feeling thankful. For the record, it does seem to help to write a thankful list. It makes me more mindful of these things.

So today I am thankful for:

• Captain America, who offered to put the kids to bed last night so I could spend a little more time with my family over at my parents' house

Gigi, who turned 85 this week

• The new computer

• Both of my girls' schools & teachers, right down to every last helper. I've been loving our Lake Wobegon schools. Big cities are nice and fun and there's lots to do and I'm not knocking them one bit. Teachers in Lake Wobegon know and love our kids, and they know our families. We see them in the grocery store and we go to church with them.

• Work, and good people to work with (mostly : P )

• Humidifiers and lotion in a dry, dry winter.

• Clementines. Oh sweet deliciousness.

• Scotch tape, paper, scissors and crayons, which keep my children entertained for hours.

• Ella, who has been exhibiting a lot of sweetness lately.

• Natalie, who will exhibit sweetness again someday (for now I will take joy in her passion. must repeat that to myself.).

• Gingerbread creamer.

• Christmas music. I love Christmas music. All kinds. I have 97 songs in my Christmas itunes list. It's not everything, but that's most of it. Such a short music season.

Which brings me to my 5 favorite Christmas songs this year:
5. "Christmas Song" from Dave Matthews
4. "I Believe in You" by either Go Fish (on More than a Story) or Sinead O'Connor
3. "Love Came Down at Christmas" by Jars of Clay
2. "Jesus Saves" from Travis Cottrell's Ring the Bells cd
1. "It's True" from Sara Groves' O Holy Night cd

And my 5 favorite Christmas carols in no particular order (except that #1 is my favorite):
1. What Child is This?
2. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
3. Silent Night
4. O Holy Night (despite it's abuse when I was growing up)
5. Away in a Manger (one version, but not the other. no idea how to explain which one.)



I'm remodeling the blog again. Playing with some things. Please pardon the dust.

More to come later on the Mystery Reader. It was more involved than I thought.


Looking for a new car?

Me neither. But if you were, you might check the grocery store parking lot here in Lake Wobegon as soon as the temps crack below zero.

I went last night around 5:45. Nearly every car in the lot was running, and I'm sure unlocked (I didn't check their doors). I turned mine off, because I thought I had too much stuff to get to let it run that long. But I admit I left it running when I went to Subway. And then I got all nervous, because a cop came in to get a sandwich and I have a memory of it being illegal to leave your car running unattended but I don't know if it really is or not. He didn't say anything.

But I'm guessing any Minnesota cop is going to look the other way when it's -11. That way he won't have to jump start it later.

In other news, today is Ella's half birthday at school. Which seems silly. Until you think about it, and she has a summer birthday, so they celebrate the half at school. We got a note home last week that we could bring treats. But they should be of the sugar free low fat variety. Like baby carrots and low fat dip. Happy Half Birthday, honey! When I was in Kindergarten, my aunt Didi sent a sheet cake to my school with six packs of orange pop (soda for my non-MN friends). I have sent a few boxes of Snackwell's Devils Food Cookies. Low fat. Low cholesterol.

I'm not saying I wanted to heap on the sugar or anything. I just would have sent some regular cookies. But I understand there are some health concerns in her room (because the note said so), and I do want to be sensitive to it. I would feel bad if somebody didn't get to have a treat because I brought something they couldn't eat.

I'm going to be the Mystery Reader, since it's Ella's special day. Apparently as the mystery reader, I will sneak into the school office around noon. Someone will come get me from her room, and they will put a bag over my head. Then the kids will guess who I am. And I will read a book. I supplied my own this morning, because I am an overachiever (HA!). Today's selection will be "Ella the Elegant Elephant."


I like tea, and other nonsense.

Today I am like your ipod on shuffle. Sometimes it works out great. Sometimes not so much.

One of my best friends this winter is the Mrs. Teapot I stole from my sister's contributions to the summer garage sale. My other good friends are the seasonal Coffeemate creamers.

We're having a snowday here in Lake Wobegon. We had an actual blizzard yesterday, and today the high is negative something. The windchill this morning was -40. For those of you who don't need to know what windchill is because you live on the other side of the mason-dixon, it means when you go outside it feels like it's -40. Despite the fact that it's really only -11 or something. For real.

Yesterday the blizzard was so bad they shut down the ski hill. And they stopped one of our church services (which we had stayed home from) in the middle and sent everyone home.

Have I told you the girls decided to share a room, so now I have an office? Yeah, I think it's going to be shortlived. I think they might need their space more than they realize. And you know what? I'm going to miss this office. Like crazy. But I suspect soon I will be back out in the kitchen. Listening to Dora on the tv. Getting run over in the daily chases. Trying to have business calls while someone yells, "MAMAAAAAA!!! I POOPED!!" in the background.

I laugh at people who think that little girls wear frilly dresses and pigtails and sit sweetly in the corner brushing their baby doll's hair. You may borrow my girls for one week, and see if it's true.

I cry when little kids sing en masse. Not just my own. Strangers. Put a bunch of little kids together, start them on Away in a Manger, and I'll have a softball sized lump in my throat.

I own 4 or 5 gray sweaters. How did this happen?

I want another tattoo.

My favorite pizza is from Pizza Ranch. They used to do BBQ beef. They don't have it anymore. Now I enjoy the buffalo chicken pizza, but only a piece or two. If I were ordering pizza from anywhere else and calories were no object, I'd get Papa John's. Just for the garlic butter. Another weird thing I like to do sometimes is put sour cream on my pizza. Especially pepperoni. I learned it from her, ok?

I love Big Bowl. If I could go have lettuce wraps, shrimp pad thai (because it's not spicey there), and a fresh ginger soda, my day is MADE. I wish we had one within 2 hours.

I've gone on too long already.


Thankful I

This past week a sermon hit home with me. Get this -- apparently, we have a tendency to complain. I KNOW. Me? What? It was about being thankful in prayer. How if we have a thankful spirit, we will be thankful in prayer, etc, etc. One of the ways to work on that is to list what you're thankful for. So here is what I am thankful for today (anything and everything):

• Diet Dr. Pepper
• The ability to work from home, and have my kids home with me
• Seeing evidence that I have not yet ruined my children
• Christmas music
• Godiva chocolates (caramels mostly, with no nuts)
• A blanket and a pot of tea when it's snowy
• Lower gas prices
• Paychecks (hooray, they're getting caught up and paying me!)
• Grandmas & Papas (also known as free and loving childcare)
• My new office!
• Little girls who actually want to share a room
• Warm boots and down coats
• Walls covered in little girl art


It's a Saturday.

A random, yet lengthy smattering of Saturday:

Last night we picked up a tree. We went with a balsam fir this year, and I have to say I don't know what we were thinking with the scotch pine last year. Seriously.

This morning we had it lit & decorated by 9:30. The girls were a little anxious. Baby Jesus tops the tree again. One of these days, I will find just the right angel. It wouldn't have mattered this year, because that tree looked much smaller at the "tree store." An angel wouldn't fit. Although I guess we could trim the top a bit. But I feel done with decorating it now. I'm moving on.

We (I'm using "we" very loosely here) watched our UMD Bulldogs play in the Division II semifinals. Or whatever it was they were doing. They beat the pants off of California, PA (I think that's who it was.). But the best part was the commentators. They could not get over how cold it was in Duluth, even though they weren't IN Duluth. "It's one of the coldest cities in the country." "It's in the single digits there today." "They call it the San Fransisco of the North." "They drink tomato juice in their beer. It's a Minnesota thing." Wait a minute... what??? I have never even heard of that. Granted, I don't drink beer. But I have been around beer. I have been in a bar. In Minnesota. I have never seen it in my life. Calling all Minnesotans -- have you actually seen this?

Took Ella shopping for her Christmas Program Outfit. She was sort of particular this year. At first she wanted pants. Then she remembered that at some point, she has to curtsy, so she felt she needed a full skirt. She spread the skirts out on every dress, and that's how she chose. Then, my little tomboy insisted on sparkly tights. And shiney shoes. She might be my daughter after all.

Suddenly, she nearly passed out from hunger at Target. She was laying in the cart, almost asleep complaining her tummy hurt. Not something to take lightly in the Season of Stomach Bugs. So we hightailed it. She insisted it was hunger, so against my better judgment, we went to McDonald's. At 3 pm. (For the record, she'd had lunch, she just apparently didn't eat enough)

The highlight: A group of older teens and a mom were sitting near us. Talking about the different parties, etc. they've frequented. "Remember that one with all the Mexicans?" Nice. "They were Puerto Rican." "Whatever. It's all Mexico." Oh my goodness. I think a child has been left behind. Sadly, noone corrected her. And I bit my tongue so I wouldn't. From across McDonald's.

As an aside, Sephora has free shipping with no minimum purchase through Monday. The code is SHOPNOW. This will make it even easier to send me my gifts. Thank you.


Mother of the year!

So I had just stepped into the shower this morning, when I heard Natalie (3) start crying. However, my children are prone to drama. Where do they get that? * ahem *

"Mommy will be there in just a minute!" Or 10. I debated hopping out to see what the deal was, but inevitably it's always something like a stubbed toe or a broken toy. Mommy needs a shower. Is that too much to ask?

Anyway, crying continues. Screaming. Sounds a little hysterical. Good grief we're in high dramatic form today. Then I get out of the shower and go track her down. She is huddled on her bed with Gie (pronounced like the French "Guy"). Turns out she'd taken a sand pail which she uses to haul small toys, and put it on her head. Where it got stuck. She's got the red line on her neck from the handle to prove it.

So, to recap, my child nearly strangled herself on a sand toy while I lather, rinsed, repeated. Nice.

I mentioned before we're reducing our carbon imprint by not using our tv or Directv receiver for 2-3 days. Ok, fine. It's totally unintentional. The receiver was going wacky. In the middle of live tv (rather than tivoed), it would pause. Freeze. Skip. Start again. Hiccup, if you will.

So Captain America called Directv. And they started to walk him through "fixing" it. Unplug for 30 seconds. So he did. And when he plugged it back in, we had nothing. Just a black screen. Unplug it again, and we got fuzz. Plug it in, it goes black. No live tv. No tivoed tv. NOTHING. {cue my hyperventilating}

After some fast talking, it's of course no longer under warranty (it was old). But since we're out of contract with them, we were able to sign back up for 2 years and get a new free receiver. They'd send us one of their DVR's. To which Captain America said, "Is there any way we can get a Tivo?" So we are. YES. In 2-3 business days.
{cue my hyperventilating}

I guess on the plus side, I've had nothing to tempt me away from working in the evenings, and I've read a few more chapters of Jane Eyre. But please. Please, sweet Jesus, let the Tivo come today.


I'm dreaming of a carbon neutral Christmas...

Ok, yeah, it doesn't quite have the ring to it. But how fun! Over on Lisa at Crazy Adventure's blog, she was giving away carbon neutral holidays. Through Brighter Planet, they have donated 136 pounds of carbon offsets (one day's worth) in my name.

Alright, I admit I still don't totally grasp the whole carbon offset thing. But I know they do it at the Oscars. And it's a good thing. And it makes me feel all chic and green.

AND. I get to pass the gift on to the first five people who click this link. What Brighter Planet would like in return, is that you consider how you can have a greener holiday.

Tomorrow I'll tell you how we're reducing our carbon imprint for 3 days by not turning on our Directv receiver or tv. Tune in to find out WHY ON EARTH THIS HAS HAPPENED. Anyway. How green of us.


My new favorite poet

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a Donald Miller junkie. Today on his blog he posted a reading by Billy Collins. And unrelated to my devotion to Mr. Miller, Billy Collins may be my new favorite poet.

First, his introduction to poetry.

This is the poem posted by Donald Miller. I hope you appreciate this sort of thing like I do.

And this, this poem speaks to me. It really, REALLY speaks to me. Speaks loudly. Yells even.

Do you have a favorite poet or author? Somebody you can't get enough of?


Giving Thanks

I think there are very few traditions we've hung on to with any seriousness in our little family, but one of them is going to our church's Thanksgiving Eve service. Various people share their music, we give to missions & church needs, and then we eat pie. Music and pie. What is not to love? And I maintain that Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving unless Bert plays the saw.

There were some other lovely songs last night as well. One of my favorites was at the end when one of the pastor's invited any man who wanted to, to join him in the front to sing "Beautiful Savior." And I thought 15-20 men would go up front. But with no hesitation, there must have been 100. Nearly every man there. A few stayed in the pews and still sang it. It was beautiful.

And my heart absolutely bursts with pride every time my nephew sings. Last night he and his dad did "At the Foot of the Cross." It's a combination of just being his aunt, crying nearly everytime I hear kids sing, and listening to his perfectly pure voice. But I often find myself looking around to see if other people are hearing what I'm hearing, or if it's just because I love him. But seriously, how many 10 year olds hold their own on harmony? Anyway. I don't think it's only me.

What I really love about the service is that it puts me in the right frame of mind for Thanksgiving. I am reminded of my blessings. And reminded where they came from. I am thankful for my husband and my children, and our families. For good friends. For a warm house with more food than we need. For all the things I consider blessings.

But I am also thankful for the things that I didn't see as a blessing, that God can and will use to bring me closer to Him. To build my character for Him. And to teach me something I needed to learn. Because God is just that good.


Code name: "Mommy"

I am having one of those weeks. They might call me "Mommy" or "Mama," but really I am the fun police. I think 90% of the words that come out of my mouth are along the lines of "Stop doing ______ now!" or "Do _______ now!"

On Sunday the girls and cousin Davis disappeared into the playroom in the basement, as they often do when they're together. Next thing you know Ella, the Informer, was upstairs. "Davis and Natalie are breaking the crayons and markers!" Upon investigation, they were not breaking them. They were pulverizing them. With a table leg. And while she maintained her innocence for a long time, at some point Ella let it slip that she had also participated, adding lying to her offenses. Meanwhile, cousin Bria (20 months) sat on the couch with the little criminals saying, "I boke it! I boke it!" Even though she was upstairs the entire time.

The bigger crayon & marker pieces got picked up by the kids, and I vacuumed up the shards with a shop vac. The easel has been removed from the playroom, the playroom is off limits (since last night I also found that someone had been drawing on the cupboard doors down there), and they were grounded from tv. Which was hard. For me.

Fast forward to today. For the umpteenth time the girls dumped out the toy bins from the storage system in Ella's room. And started playing with the bins. Rocks to climb over. Now I'm not THAT bad of a fun cop. I can appreciate an imaginative play game. But every time they play a similar game, the toys NEVER get picked up. So they're not supposed to do it anymore. So I asked them to pick up the toys. Of course, not happening. So I took the bins and the shelving unit and put them in the off-limits playroom. And I picked up all the toys in a garbage bag and tossed it in the playroom too.

Tears, right? We got the message, right?


Five minutes later Ella comes up to me with another small toy. "Mom, you forgot this one. You missed it. Do you want me to put it in the bag downstairs?"

I wish I at least got a shiny badge for this.


Oh Moondoggie...

So I got one of those "speaking of" things this week from Jersey, which led me on a trip down Memory Lane of my favorite old movies. I got so excited just thinking about them, that I had to list them out for you. I'm defining "old movies" as pre 1970.

All I can say is, somebody spent too much time watching cable, and not enough time reading (as I'm just starting Jane Eyre now).

Campy 50s/60s flicks:
Gidget!! Oh my stars. I loved this movie. Moondoggie and all. Only Sandra Dee for me, whatever they did with Sally Field held no interest.

Where the Boys Are. Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale. Great music.

Beach Party. Frankie & Annette. Miserably fake surfing. Good times!!

Blue Hawaii. I love, love, love this movie. I count myself lucky every time I catch a snippet of it on an Elvis marathon. And Angela Lansbury as his mama is PRICELESS.

Viva Las Vegas. I love me some Ann Margaret. Particularly during those years where I struggled to accept my red hair.

Bye, Bye Birdie. More Ann Margaret. Love the songs.

West Side Story. This is a natural. Poor, haunted Natalie Wood. You are a treasure. (I'd just like to point out this is the only movie on this list that I own -- sad, huh?)

Gypsy. Haunted Natalie Wood gets me again. She is a tormented soul. But she brings it home.

Sound of Music. Is it possible to not list this one? I didn't think so.

And I'll watch just about anything Rodgers & Hammerstein did. And the Music Man of course.

White Christmas. I didn't just watch it in season either. I spent a whole summer pressing rewind. Best Christmas movie. Ever. Ever ever ever. EVER.

Easter Parade. Judy Garland and Fred Astaire? Delightful.

Miracle on 34th Street. Just a wee little Natalie.

An Affair to Remember. The original, although I have no complaints about the new one either.

Honorable mention: Houseboat, Father Goose, Sabrina and Roman Holiday. Gone with the Wind (if there's time).

And then I got serious.
Splendor in the Grass. High school sweathearts as we approach the stock market crash. Deanie & Bud. You just TRY not to get sucked in. Warren Beatty's first film. And Natalie at perhaps her most tormented. Does anyone see a theme? Or perhaps why my daughter's name is Natalie? Poor girl. Named after a tormented actress and a baseball player. Best start saving for therapy now.

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. Warren Beatty & Vivien Leigh. Very dark. His name is Paolo. Come. On.

James Dean. All of it. East of Eden. Giant. But Rebel without a Cause paired him with my Natalie, so it's probably my favorite.


I have been drugged.

It started out innocently enough. I was just making a quick trip to Target. I needed a few things. Downy and cereal and the like.

For some reason, I wandered past toys, checking to see if anything is on clearance (of course it's not, won't be again until after Christmas). But that led me to the Christmas section.


Suddenly, I felt festive. Very nearly wishing I had a fake tree again, so I could decorate. I saw everything with new eyes. "What a great gift for the babysitter!" "Oooo, Christmas jammies for the girls!" And not like, "I'll have to remember that later," more like, it made it into my cart and through the check out.

Oh I am on to you, Target, old friend. I see what you're doing.

And I kind of want to buy those pine cones. They were heavenly.


Five Things About Me

Tag, I'm it! Lisa at Crazy Adventures in Parenting tagged me for these lists of 5. No rhyme or reason to the order.

Five Things On My To Do List
1. Laundry
2. Dishes
3. Chip away at my junk in our room
4. Clean bathroom
5. Read Jane Eyre

Five Things I Like To Snack On
1. Chocolate
2. Ice cream
3. Cereal
4. Chips
5. Fruit

Five Things I Would Do If I Was a Millionaire
1. New house
2. Vacation
3. Save
4. At least one really good shopping spree
5. Be generous

Five Places I Have Lived
1. Lake Wobegon
2. Duluth, MN
3. --
4. --
5. --

Five Jobs I Have Had
1. Freelance graphic design
2. Newspaper ad production
3. Newspaper editor
4. Audio Visual Dept at UMD
5. Waitress

And finally…
The Five People I’m Tagging
I don't want to pressure you. If you're looking for blog fodder, fill your name in here:

I left my heart...

Every year that I can remember growing up we vacationed on the North Shore of Lake Superior. And by vacationed, I mean we snuck up there for a quick weekend before Dad had to get back to print the newspaper. It was often (maybe always) Labor Day weekend. A last hurrah, if you will. {A weekend my own little family will never vacation on because it will be saved for Fantasy Football auctions from now until Jesus comes back. But I digress.} Sometimes we camped. Sometimes we stayed in a cabin. Sometimes a hotel. We threw rocks in the lake. We did some climbing and hiking. We devoured some books.

When it was time to go to college, I knew I wanted to live in Duluth. Surely UMD would be a good enough school. I didn't apply anywhere else, or bother with a campus visit until long after it was too late. Didn't matter. I was living in Duluth.

It was in Duluth that I met Captain America before classes had even started. In Duluth I really got to know Jesus. In Duluth I spent my first year of marriage. In Duluth I spent countless hours by the lake, looking at ships or rocks or waves.

All this to say, that is why driving down the hill into Duluth this past weekend was like going home.

Speaking of home, this was our first apartment. The 3 windows on the round part, and the 2 to the right of those.

The lift bridge.

Whoa! There's a ship going out! Yeah, this is the view from our hotel.

The ship's just starting to go under the bridge. When you're watching these things from your hotel room, you really start to notice how incredibly early they start lifting the bridge.

Oh Duluth. You will always have a piece of my heart. Even when it's 30 degrees and windy.


Hardest apologies

I've decided the hardest apologies I will ever make, are to my children. Not because I'm above an apology. But because those girls the ones it hurts me so badly to know I may have hurt. An adult is one thing -- they're often able to recognize your intentions. Or know you don't mean anything by it. Little girls don't necessarily see any of that.

This morning when getting ready for school, Ella was a little pokey. A little whiney. A little "But Moooooooooom....I don't want to go to school..." Then at 7:55 (school STARTS at 8), she says she wants pigtails so she won't be tempted to suck on her hair. FINE. So I put in some pigtails. Kind of thrilled, because she never wants me to do her hair. Then she looks in the mirror. "These look silly, I want them out." Oh no you don't, Missy. I tried to convince her to leave them in but she started crying, and I could very nearly hear the bell getting ready to ring at the school. "FINE. Take them out. And then you'd better PUT. ON. YOUR. JACKET. NOWWWWWW!!!" More crying. Naturally. I would have cried too if I'd been snipped at like that.

In any case, we got to school. And I spent the rest of the day ready for her to come home so I could say I was sorry. It ate at me. The idea that I'd hurt her feelings, or even made her a little scared? I honestly don't have words for that one.

So it was one of the hardest apologies I've had to do. As much as these girls can drive me nuts, I love them like crazy. She took it in stride. Told me how she felt. Said she forgave me. Then proceeded to put on her best 5-year-old version of teenage angst. Luckily it only lasted about 20 minutes.

And now I'll go back to the throne, begging for patience. Perspective. Wisdom. Extra love and compassion. And I will be thankful. For the opportunity to raise these girls. And so very grateful, that my father in heaven is a better parent than I. Than any human can be.


My mini-fashionista

I have a little fashionista. Her name is Natalie. She's 3 years old.

Natalie likes to choose her own clothes every day, and will often choose a dress or skirt. When she is working on her ensemble, she will lay it out on the floor, to really get a good feel for the message of the outfit. When she's done assembling, she'll say, "Look, Mom, this is cute." And then she'll probably pick out some impractical shoes.

That's my girl.

Natalie will always, always, ALWAYS notice if I'm wearing something new. And she will compliment me on the item.

Tonight we went through one of my magazines, and she picked out some great shoes & purses. The girl's got good taste. "I like this one Mommy." Gucci. Atta girl. "These are cute." Deep blue suede slingbacks by Guess. Nicely done. "Do you like this one Mommy? It's your favorite color." Michael Kors. Good call honey. Then for fun, on a page with 8 bags, I asked her which she thought cost the most money. No hestitation, she picks out the D&G for $1685. Brilliant.

So now we have to work on how we do looks for less. And not sucking her thumb. It won't be good for her manicures.

In other news, I got an "I heart your blog" award! More to come on that. Thank you Lisa!


It's beginning to look a lot like...

Ok, I am one of those people. The people who will not put up a single Christmas decoration before the Day After Thanksgiving (DAT). I will not listen to Christmas music before the DAT. I'll have good intentions of starting the Christmas shopping early, but probably won't get anywhere until December. I feel like if I start earlier, I am gypping Thanksgiving. And I like Thanksgiving. Our church has a service of music and pie the night before, and I love it. I love Thanksgiving. I love a whole day reminding us we have much to be thankful for.

All that said, I've lost my mind this year. I'm sure you know how I feel about Sara Groves. Well she came out with a Christmas cd in October, "O Holy Night." WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO, PEOPLE??? So I bought it. And put it on repeat. One song in particular, "It's True" featuring little readings from her munchkin Toby just makes me misty every single time. I love it.

What I would not give to be able to go to the Love Came Down Christmas tour. Jars? Yes please. Sixpence? Yes please. Sara Groves? Perfection. Unfortunately, it will not come within 5 states of me.

So the cd sort of put me in a festive mood. And then, I don't know how it happened -- but I bought Travis Cottrell's christmas cd too. "Ring the Bells." Now, I admit, with my penchant for all things Sara Groves, I just didn't have quite as high hopes for Travis. Because he's not Sara, is all, and she just speaks to my heart. I knew it would be good though. But holy cats, kids, I listened to it for the first time in my car and almost had to pull over. Goose bumps. Chills. Honestly -- the whole thing is SO GOOD. "Ring the Bells" with Natalie Grant? So powerful. And the man has a ridiculous voice. RIDICULOUS. I would not kid you. He pulls out his classic voice for some beautiful renditions of carols -- "O Come O Come Emmanuel" is perhaps the best I've ever heard on a cd. He uses his pop voice for some of the songs. Then out of nowhere he puts on his Harry Connick, Jr-esque jazz voice for things like "Home for Christmas Again," and I have no words. I mean, I'm using a lot of words, but you simply NEED this cd. If you like Christmas at all. It will cover all your Christmas music needs.

Furthermore, Travis is offering through his website Operation Freedom Bell. You get a cool bell and some other stuff. An American soldier around the world receives a New Testament with Psalms & Proverbs, an encouraging video by LtCol Oliver North, a video by Beth Moore, and an MP3 by Travis. For $10. Are you kidding me? These would make really, really wonderful gifts. Particularly for those you know with a loved one serving, or a veteran.

And that closes our advertising portion (unpaid, unfortunately) of this post.

Anyway, I can't help myself this year. Christmas is at the forefront. It will not be denied. I promise to still love Thanksgiving, and will try very hard to give it some attention. As a bonus, it's making it slightly easier to endure the cold temps and occasional snow.


The Negotiator

Last week we went to a Scholastic book fair at school. After finally convincing Ella that 5 is a little too old for board books, she chose a lovely Hannah Montana activity with marker. To which I said out loud, "That's great honey, because you've never even seen Hannah Montana." Random child. But I guess Sydney likes Hannah Montana, so we need an activity book. It's not a board book, fine.

Natalie picked a Klutz book making kit complete with foam shapes and googly eyes and glue stick. Which she worked on some today. Thus sending Ella into a whining frenzy.

"But I want to make a book! Natalie, can I have some of those shapes?"
"But Natalie, you need to share."
Cue crying.

This went on for a while. Ella even stormed off to her room, to throw a good fit. Sobbing. Wailing. Gnashing of teeth. Then she emerged with a plan.

"Mom? I don't want to eat dinner here tonight. I want to go somewhere else for dinner. And I think I should pick where we eat, because I don't have a book to make. I want to go to McDonald's. Because I want chicken and fries. Like the same fries from McDonald's. Do you have the same fries as McDonald's?"


"Then I want to go to McDonald's."

So, I'm off to research law schools and figure out how much that's going to cost us.

Wordless Wednesday. Pardon my gooeyness.

I love this man. For a whole mess of reasons, not the least of which is that he puts up with me.


Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Batgirl, and her trusty sidekick, Monkey with Banana.

I have a winner!

I have a winner for the Keith Martinson cd! It's #4 which was....{drumroll}.... Aimee!

Aimee said...

Woo Hoo!!! Your first giveaway!!!! Congrats...I knew it was bound to happen one of these days.

Okay, I've been listening to Matthew West a lot lately, but my "oldies but a goodies" that I always default to are CCR or Aerosmith. Man, I love them!!! :)

Congrats, Aimee, I think you'll love it! I'll be in contact for your address.

Thank you everyone for playing, and if you didn't win it, you can still supply yourself with incredible piano music by going to Keith's website. Both of the cds available in his store are worth purchasing, and would make great Christmas gifts!!


My First Giveaway!!

** Contest Closed! Please head over to Keith's website to purchase his cd! **

Oh, yes, I AM!! I could not be more thrilled to be participating in the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival! If you're a freebie addict like me, check out the carnival. There will be over 1,000 giveaways listed!

So if you are here visiting via the carnival, welcome -- please -- have a seat. I appreciate you stopping by. Sometimes I write about my precious children. Sometimes typos. I'll be honest, quite often I don't write anything worth reading. And really, I'm just trying to get back into it all now that the Funk has lifted. You are so very welcome to come again.

Now, for my FIRST EVER GIVEAWAY! I am so excited to be giving away a fabulous piano cd by a friend of mine, Keith Martinson. The cd is called "Today", and it is brand spanking new. I was able to attend the cd release concert this weekend (well, well, look at me -- out of my house at fancy cd release concerts). It was a beautiful concert (David Ask was also performing), and I only wish our church would allow us to bring tasty hot beverage treats from the Caribou into our sanctuary, because I would have loved to have just leaned back with one and gone into a state of permanent relaxation.

Keith has a gift. I mean really. I love when he just plays under prayer or something at church, because he moves flawlessly from song to song, sometimes making it all up as he goes along. Furthermore, I remember once asking him if he knew a certain song. "I'm not sure, sing it." So I sang part of it and he just started playing. Did he know the song? No. But he could just hear the melody and was able to accompany me. It's sick. And I wish I was afflicted with it. But at least I get to witness it. And Keith is completely down to earth, which makes it impossible to hate him or even dislike him.

More about the cd: Keith's "Today" cd is entirely original music. From the liner notes: "It seems that Today is so often marked in the scriptures by God's action and our decisions. 'Today is the day of salvation... Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster... Today when you hear his voice... Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.' God is always doing something Today! My prayer is that this music will be a blessing to you and a reminder of God's presence today."

I started listening to "Today" today (ahahaha), and I love it. It made me want to stop what I was doing and just be. Instead I did some dishes and it was nice for that too. It would be nice to have on while reading. Fun to listen to in the car. It just made me feel reflective. And while I enjoyed all of the songs, I could put "All Things" on repeat for roughly, well, forever.

I have one cd to giveaway to a very lucky reader! If you are less lucky, please visit Keith's website where you can order his previous cd "Faith, Hope & Love" (another favorite of mine), and I suspect "Today" will be available... any day (ahahaha). Do you see this people? It's not quite even for sale online yet, but I have it for you. You're welcome.

To enter, please leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite musical artist/what's in your cd player/what's in heavy rotation on your ipod. Something of that nature. You have until 8 am CST Oct. 31, 2008. Then I will figure out how to use Mr. Random Integer to draw a Big Winner. You'll need to either leave me your email or a link to your blog so I might contact Lucky Lucky You. One entry per person. U.S. only please. I will post & contact the winner Friday, and said winner will have until noon Monday to claim this fabulous prize. After that, it's back to the random integer I go.

I want to thank Keith for helping me out with this giveaway -- remember, Christmas is practically around the corner and wonderful piano music would take care of a lot of people on your list. Also, check out another friend, Tony's site, but first read more here.

And -- BEGIN!!


These precious, precious dear ones.

While shopping at Target with both girls the other day:
Ella: "Mom? You're a really nice mom. I love you."
Me: "Awww. Thanks, Ella. That's really sweet."
Ella: "Because I really, REALLY want to go to Pizza Ranch."
Ah. Apparently she had not missed that if they were good we would go out to eat.

A few weeks ago at church, I wore my fabulous shoes to church, and switched to some flats to run a couple errands before we went home.
Natalie: "Mom, did you change to flats? You had heels before."
That just makes a shoe-loving mommy's heart skip a beat when said by a 3 yr old.

Last night:
Ella: "MOoooooom? Natalie says she doesn't want to be my sister anymore."


Oh how I wish this was interesting.

Last night I headed to dinner at Bennigans. Where I almost ordered the Guinness glazed chicken & shrimp. At the last possible second, I opted for a buffalo chicken sandwich, so I could get fries. I didn't pay attention to the fact that the chicken would be breaded & fried. And oh my, was it fried. To a crisp. And then some. You may be thinking "Yum-O" if you watch too much Rachel Ray, but none for me, thanks. I like my chicken grilled. In any case, I choked it down. The fries were good. There was so much oil involved in the chicken, that I'm pretty sure I could have pricked my finger after and greased a cookie sheet or two.

In any case, I had made a decision beforehand that I was going to Caribou afterwards for a chai. I like my chai. So despite the fact that I felt disgusting, I went anyway. Gimme my chai. I ran into Mr. Caribou, even though he isn't working at that one anymore. He likes to be around his peeps. "Whaddya drinkin today?" Mr. Caribou has a knack for drink suggestions. I said I was having a chai because I really don't know what else to drink when it's cold since... I don't really like coffee. I KNOW. Shoot me. Anyway, he suggested next time I get a shot of white chocolate. Meh. I said really I'd just like the chai to be spicier. "Get a half a shot of extra chai."

I'm sorry, what? Can I do that? Just get more chai in my CHAI??? "Go tell J. to put an extra half in right now." Oh how I hate to take things back. I mean I really hate it. I eat things I shouldn't, just to make life easier for everyone. I feel bad even asking for skim milk in my chai when I order it.

But I did go back & ask for an extra shot. Maybe because I still felt so wronged by that buffalo incident. And yeah, they stared at me. In fact, J. yelled to him, "Why Mr. Caribou? Why extra chai?" But he gave it to me. And you know what? Chai perfection. It's all I can do not to get in my car right now, and go order another. Heaven in a cup. May your chai always have 1 1/2 shots.

This was all followed by a wretched night of sleep. I mean, terrible. That chicken yelled at me all night. I just watched the minutes tick by in agony. Not to mention, both of the girls have colds, and EVERY TIME they cough, I wake up. One cough. I can't sleep through it. My children are ill. So just as I could quiet the flashbacks of greaziness, the coughing would start and I was up laying awake for another half hour. Dying from grease poisining. Morning came all too soon.

But oh sweet Caribou. I feel like the scales have fallen from my eyes. All this time, and all I needed was an extra half shot of chai? I'll be back, my steamy friend. And I will ignore the poster that says to spit in my chai, labeled "Picky Chai Girl." I won't even notice. And I'm certainly not sending it back. Not now.

Tackle it Tuesday!

Woohoo! It's Tuesday! Ugh. Whatever. Tuesday mornings suck the life out of me. But that's another post.

This week I'm participating in 5 Minutes for Mom's Tackle it Tuesday. Because I'm all about tackling house projects {insert hysterical laughter}. No, seriously, they offered free CLR. These days when I hear "free" or "win", I am a complete junkie. I'd probably jump at the chance for free garbage. But please don't stage an intervention, I'm not ready yet.

Anyway. So the kind folks at CLR were going to send out a bottle of CLR Bath & Kitchen Multi-Surface Cleaner, and I was supposed to find something gross in my bath or kitchen to clean to show how fabulous CLR is.

Surprise #1: I sort of expected some little trial size bottle, just enough for my Tackle it job. Full size bottle. Thanks, CLR.

Without further ado, grossness from my bathroom.

Ish. Sorry about that. Going back in time, I would not have purchased this vanity. Whatever the sink is made out of refuses to ever really be sparkly clean. Gross.

So I waited til the munchkins were at school, hosed it down in CLR and waited the prescribed 3 minutes. I shut the bathroom door to keep the cat out. Because even though I may be sick of the cat, I don't want to deal with a poisoned one.

Surprise #2: When I walked back into the bathroom, I expected my senses to be assaulted by hideous chemical smells. It really didn't smell much. I could smell my rubber gloves more than the spray itself.

I ran a little water & wiped the sink down. I wiped around the faucet, and it seemed like it wanted to be cleaner than the paper towel was getting so I grabbed an old toothbrush and swiped at some of the crusties. They came willingly.

Surprise #3: It seems to work.

So while my sink is still my stupid sink that hasn't been sparkly since Day 1, it has definitely improved. Moreso than with any other cleaner I've used actually. They already gave me the free CLR, and I don't get paid so there's really no reason for me to cover for them. I'm interested to see what other nastiness it might remove from my house. It really doesn't even come through in the pictures how much better it is.


Awesome music, anyone?

So my friend Tony recently posted on his Caring Bridge site a way we can help. And actually, it's a way you can help too. Tony is a very gifted musician and songwriter, with a heart for Jesus. For the next few months, their income will be less but additional medical bills will be added.

I've been singing with Tony at church for almost 6 years off & on. It's been really fun to watch him grow as a worship leader. I've also been blessed to sing some really amazing songs with him, and still have a list of a few that are left.

Tony came out with a CD a couple of years ago, and any purchases of said CD would really help their family right now. It's a cd I've loved -- "I Gotta Get Back." His website has samples of the songs if you'd like to listen first. You can also search for "Tony Pitschka" on itunes, and buy it that way. And I've added the link on my sidebar to his website as well. It's just him and his guitar, and some great lyrics. Christmas is coming, so maybe you could pick up a couple?

So check it out and see what you think. I'd love to hear what you think in the comments.

Today Tony posted some lyrics of a song that he said made him cry the first time he sang it. I remember hearing him sing it the first time at a church celebration, and it's become one of my favorites.

I Have a Maker

I have a maker
He formed my heart,
before even time began
My life was in his hands

He knows my name
He knows my every thought,
He sees each tear that falls
and hears me when I call

I have a father,
he calls me his own
He'll never leave me,
no matter where I go

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
and hears me when I call

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
and hears me when I call

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call
He hears me when I call


This is my transition post.

It's a meme, from Fiddledeedee. Seemed like a good transition from funk back into fun.

Here are the rules:

  • Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following questions.
  • They have to be real places, names, things. nothing made up!
  • You can’t use your name for the boy/girl name question.

1. What is your name? Sarah

2. A 4 Letter Word: Soup. First thing that came to mind. I love soup though.

3. A Boys Name: Samuel

4. A Girls Name: Samantha

5. An Occupation: Singer

6. A Color: Sienna. Love me some deep browns.

7. Something you wear: Skirts. I prefer skirts over pants and shorts, generally speaking.

8. A Beverage: Shake. Chocolate. Or a chocolate peanut butter! Or oreo at Applebee's after IV on a Thursday night -- oh -- good times.

9. A Food: Salmon. Got to go to a salmon bake after a ferry ride from Seattle -- sealed the deal with me & salmon.

10. Something found in the bathroom: Sink.

11. A place: Sea Island. One of my happy places from another of Captain America's work trips. I miss those work trips.

12. A Reason for being late: Sarah. I am my own reason.

13. Something you shout: SHUT. UP. It's from watching too much Stacy & Clinton on What Not to Wear. It can't be helped. At least it's in a positive light.

*sigh* That felt nice. Ok, I tag anyone who needs blog fodder.


Less funk.

I've had a few great blog ideas in my head. But due to the funk, I just didn't feel like it. I have to say, though, I think the funk is lifting. It feels less consuming, and more like occasional funky fog. Would you believe *gasp* I didn't even feel like shopping? I KNOW, right? That fact alone filled me with more funk. How could I possibly not feel like shopping? It just didn't feel natural.

Now I could use something fabulous in a deep purple for fall. And maybe a strapless dress for a wedding we're going to in November. And I might start getting some ideas for next year's purse.

God is good, and God is faithful. That's not something I can bring myself to doubt. But sometimes I think it's ok to wander through the funky haze. Peaks and valleys and all that.

Thanks for being patient. Give me another day or two, and I think I'll have a lot to fill you in on. If I can remember the posts written in my head. If not, I'll just make something up.


Stepping out of The Funk for a moment...

To wish my dear friend Amy a very Happy 11 Years! Amy and Captain America had a few classes together in high school. When Amy was mid-college, she was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. It was eleven years ago today that her brother supplied bone marrow for a transplant.

After her recovery, she moved to Duluth just 2 blocks from where we lived as newlyweds. And even 10 years later, I still miss opening the door to see Amy had stopped by. Or watching 90210 together at her apartment, followed by riveting discussion over her Sicilian Meatloaf. Those who know her, know Amy is a ray of sunshine in your life! So while I'm sad we now live states away, I love that we at least have email.

We each have a unique perspective on life, because of the circumstances we have each experienced. I am so grateful that God keeps her in my life, so that I can benefit from hers.

Happy 11, Amy! We love you!


In a funky room, with funky curtains

I am in a FUNK. A cloud of Funkiness has settled. There is a haze of Funk. I am looking at the world through Funk colored glasses.

Last week I found out that a friend has Lymphoma (of the Hodgkin variety, which is the good of the bad). The Funk is two part.

Funk Part 1
What a horrible thing to go through. I feel for him, and for his family. Although he'd felt sick-ish for about 5 months, I know for myself I would have chalked it up to allergies/colds/seasonal crud. He had a chest x-ray late last week, and the next thing you know it's a biopsy & lymphoma. He'll be working with doctors this week to find out the extent of it, and come up with a treatment plan involving radiation, chemo or both.

Funk Part 2
I confess, illnesses of this proportion are something I reserve in my head for other people's parents. Great uncles. Maybe a grandparent. NOT PEOPLE MY AGE. I have heard of a few others, but this is the first within my acquaintance circle. And it slaps me like a 2x4 with the sense that life is so very fragile. Not even in the sense that it could end at anytime, it can also just flip you upside down at any time. You can just be rolling along, set on cruise, and the next thing you know you're plopped down on a completely different road in another country where you don't even speak the language. Hence, the FUNK.

Yesterday one of the songs I got to sing with Tony (just days after a biopsy on his neck -- are you kidding me? I'm at home in bed if I'm him) was Not to Us. "Not to us, but to Your name, be the glory," based on Psalm 115. So ultimately, that is my prayer. And I think once it soaks in, the Funk will lift. Grace and Joy will remain. Because of God's Love and Faithfulness. Because that is what is true.


Shhhh.... she's sleeping...

5 Minutes for Mom is giving away a fantastic bedroom set! To enter, I need to post a picture of my sleeper. Natalie really doesn't fit in her toddler bed anymore, and this set would be so wonderful! Under the bed storage? SIGN ME UP. I am all over the Lily Rose set. So cute.

Without further ado, my sleeping angel:

Ok, fine. We'll talk about it. Yes, this is taken from the driver's seat. Yes, there is scenery whizzing past in the background. Before you call child protective services, I did not turn around to take it. I held the camera over my shoulder with one hand and got lucky. Hence, it is not crystal clear and perfectly focused. I peeked in the rear view mirror, and could not resist. Furthermore, it was taken on the drive from Fargo. My peeps in the W MN can attest there is nothin' but nothin' on that straight shot.

Oh nevermind. I promise to never do it again. And I pray that it wins her a bedroom set, so it wasn't for nothing.


Can you hear me now?

Ok, this requires input. Every 2-3 months I debate losing the land line entirely and just going with cell phones.

My hangups (oooo -- sorry -- that was AWFUL) are as follows:
1. I work from home and use the land line to talk to my customers because I have unlimited long distance. I can easily end up on the phone for an hour or more per day on work-related calls.
2. If we switch to cells only, because we live in the stix it will suddenly be long distance for my family members across town (and the school for that matter) to call us.
3. I don't mind being in the phone book.
4. As Ella gets into school, how are her little friends going to contact her to play? Not that it's happened yet. Just thinking ahead.

It's just that I get tired of paying for cell phones and a land line. I'm not about to give up the comfort & convenience of the cell. And I wouldn't mind if Santa brought me an iPhone, which would require a substantial upgrade in our cell plan.



What have I done?

Like it's not bad enough to try and keep up around this place, I just added another blog. Don't get attached. No doubt I will abandon it. But I hope not.


Here goes.

Oh fine.

But I Don't Run.


** Update ** Maybe it's not the bladder

We made it into the doctor before we had to make it an ER trip. Ella's a medical enigma. Another sample showed the bladder is good (although they're still running a culture).

So the mysterious left side pain is just as curious as before. It comes and goes. Sometimes it lasts hours, sometimes a few minutes. It leaves as suddenly as it comes. It is always in the exact same location. It does not seem to be related to activity, although when she's having it she won't stand, walk, or move in any way. It may come while she's completely distracted by a tv show or something, so I really don't think she's just trying to get attention.

In any case, I was terribly relieved that we have probably avoided the ER. And I was terribly frustrated that we still don't know what the problem is.

In other news, I think our little Lake Wobegon clinic is pretty lucky. I have not seen a doctor or nurse practitioner yet that was disappointing. The NP tonight was really good with Ella. She talked to me, talked to her -- encouraged her singing her new counting by 10's song and properly applauding.

There's more. (aka "Bladder Infection Fun")

A couple of weeks ago I had to take Ella back to the ER. This time they took a urine specimen, which the doctor told her they had to test. No really, his words to my 5 yr old: "Ella, we need to test the urine specimen you gave us." So I translated, "They're going to check your pee honey."

Bladder infection.

So we sat around biding our time til they could round up a dose of drugs to send us home on. Ella had Meow Meow, and told me some stories about him. Who knew he had cousins?

We got a bottle of drugs the next day, and then Captain America and I took off for the weekend, leaving her at Grandma (Hi Mom!) and Papa's. Guilt trip already taken on that one, by the way. She didn't have any trouble after her ER visit. We got home, and she ran out of drugs around Day 5 of 7. I felt like if we hadn't had any screaming or complaining since then, maybe we just wouldn't worry about it. (this is where, in retrospect, I blame myself for my daughter's illness)

So we headed back to the clinic with another urine specimen (or "pee" if you're 5) a week after the first incident for follow-up testing. Infection is apparently still present, but not growing. So she is scheduled to see the urologist Oct. 24. In the meantime, she's been pretty ok.

We've been trying to pump her full of water, but it's sometimes tough when she's at school all day. Today now she came home and is periodically screaming again. I have just handed her the third glass of water, and left a message with the doctor.

I'm frustrated this didn't just go away. I feel like somewhere along the line, I'm at fault. And really, I'd just like it to stop, particularly so we can stop buying $400 lollipops and staying out til 10:30 on school nights.

All comments with suggestions on how to ease bladder infection suffering are especially welcome.


And now I'm a thief.

This week I'm doing a Friday 5. Idea to do a 5 stolen from Jersey. (Amy, this is your assignment)

Five Things I LOVE About Fall
1. Pumpkin spices
2. Fall foliage
3. Back to school and all it's supplies
4. Honeycrisp apples
5. New fall fashion/colors
6. Eeking out those last warm days
7. Return of my tv shows (YAY Office!)

Sorry. Couldn't keep it to 5. I either love fall too much, or talk too much. Debatable.

In other news, today Ella is enjoying her first pep fest. She was really excited. She kept telling me that the Home Run people were coming to school. She needed a Home Run button. Ella, do you mean "homecoming?" Yes. In any case. She could not have been prouder to put on her school polo for Spirit Day. "The Football Guys are coming, Mom!"

Natalie the Drama Queen is in high form this week. I'm hearing a lot of "humpf!" I had warned her teacher that Natalie is nothing like Ella. Ella is very particular about following the rules (you know, away from home). Natalie is...well...less concerned about those things. I'd hoped it might be one of those things reserved for me. Until Miss Heidi burst my bubble yesterday. "I saw a little of the attitude you had talked about today." Oh. Good. Well. Apparently it was time to stop playing, and to do centers. Natalie didn't want to. So she sat, and she cried through the entire center time. I think they just stuck her in a corner until she was done or something (a tactic often employed here). In any case, shoot. We had a little discussion about what was appropriate school behavior (what the teacher says, goes). Hopefully it doesn't happen again. Or at least it's not a regular issue.

Ok, I'm off to enjoy a fall 82 degree day. With a honeycrisp apple. After my pumpkin latte this morning. And watching the Office premiere last night. * sigh of contentment *


Works for Me Wednesday -- Toy Chaos

This is my first time participating in Works-for-Me Wednesday, and I'm excited!

After stepping on tiny toys for the one millionth time, I was reminded of a little something I learned from my mother (Hi Mom!). I remember my mom getting fed up at all the stuff my Dad and I left about the house (Lisa, I think you were already at college). Mom grabbed a garbage bag, bagged up all of our stuff that wasn't where it belonged, and hauled it out to the trash. How sad it must have looked to have Dad and I out there rummaging through the garbage. Anyway.

I was inspired. I gave my girls warning. Anything that is not put away by bedtime will be taken away. Over a few days, I removed 5 or 6 large storage totes of toys. Whoa. If they miss something, they can do a chore chosen by me and get it back.

Around the same time I also cleaned out a hallway linen closet, and sorted some toys into it. Puzzles, games, Littlest Pet Shop, things to play with dolls, things to play school, etc. Everything is grouped together. You may take one thing out at a time, it must be returned before you take something else. It's a toy-dedicated closet -- I took out everything else so they know they're allowed to play with anything in the closet. I used some of the shoebox sized storage boxes and some actual shoe boxes. Things are grouped together, and stay grouped together. No more random animals or tiny hair brushes.

Ella (5) doesn't seem to miss anything. Fine. Natalie (3) is more interested. She has earned a few toys back. She does really, really well with the closet toys. She goes in and gets something herself, and puts it back without being told (usually). I think she enjoys the responsibility. They both seem to play better and longer with the Closet Toys as well. Probably something about deciding what you want to play with, and having it all in one place.

What I care about is my feet. I'm stepping on far less toys. Their rooms look way cleaner (they have practically no toys in them now). And they can't play the "I don't know what to do so I'll just dump out this huge bin of unrelated toys all over my floor spread it out as best I can and then leave" game. I don't have to nag them all day to pick up. They get a warning or two, and then it's just taken away.

On a side note, any toy that causes some sort of strife (I HAD IT FIRST!) is put in toy jail. We put it somewhere that they can't get to it, and when they decide they're ready to play with it, they get it back. Usually someone has to cave by not wanting it or saying the other one can play with it first.

My next task is to sort through the bins and get rid of a boatload of toys. Some will go to younger cousins, some to Goodwill, some to my in-laws' church for their new nursery and Sunday School rooms.

It's only been a few weeks on this system, but I am loving it!

Check out the Works-for-Me headquarters for more great ideas and recipes! I'm headed over to see #116 on killing flies. Before I go insane.


And so it begins.

These past couple of weeks have really been giving me a lot of flash forwards with the girls. Now that Ella's in school full time and Natalie's preschooling, they seem so much older. I've learned one thing.

We are in for it.

We are so very in for it.

First day of school, Ella has a small, embarrassed meltdown because a boy is sitting in her seat. Even though the teacher has said to sit anywhere for now. She sees her name. She knows it's where she's supposed to sit.

Yesterday the girls and I are all in the bathroom getting ready for church. One on the potty, one brushing teeth, me attempting makeup. We need more bathrooms. Already. What on earth will it be like when we have two teenage girls??? I mean aside from the fact that Captain America will probably live in a tent in the back yard to avoid us?

Today Ella came bounding home from kindergarten.
Me: "Hey, El, did you have a good day?"
Ella: "Yes, but not a great day."
M: "Why not?"
E: "Because we didn't have time to do the music in music class. We played a game, and there wasn't time to do music."
M: "Was the game fun?"
E: "Yes. But I wanted to do the music. There were too many kids. The game took too long."

Later, when Captain America comes home, Ella falls to pieces. I mean, sobbing hysterics. She is out of control. Her only reasoning, is music class. I have a high-strung student at 5. Lord have mercy. (really, please)

After baths I asked Natalie to go pick up the toys in her room. I got nothing. "Natalie, I asked you to go pick up your toys." "I'm going, I'm going." Seriously? Already I get the teenage attitude? She's 3.

I am really, very fascinated to one day learn God's purpose in giving me girls. Because there are days where it seems like that was a mistake. I am not qualified to parent girls. For now, I cling to the thought that He not only chose them for me, but he also chose me for them. And He knows what he's doing. Thankfully better than I do.

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Ecclesiates 11:5


Tag, I'm it!

I've been tagged by Mrs. Sprinkles! So I'm having a meme Friday. I should do these more often, just to keep myself moving. Especially this kind -- I'm good at random.

The "rules" of the game are as follows:
1. Post the rules on your blog
2. Write 6 random things about yourself
3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
4. If you're tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag

1. When I was in high school I went to French camp. Twice. And loved it. A lot.

2. I'm not a very good regular cleaner (in the clutter sense particularly), and it sort of builds until the day I can't take it anymore and go gangbusters.

3. I finished college in three years (hooray for summer school!).

4. My favorite color is purple, although I hardly ever wear it. I was sort of happy to see all the deep purples for fall this year.

5. When I was growing up I hated my name, because there was no nickname for it. I made many unsuccessful attempts at getting an unrelated nickname.

6. My favorite in-state vacation spot is Grand Marais, on the north shore of Lake Superior. My favorite out-of-state vacation that I'll probably never be able to repeat (we went through work) was The Cloister at Sea Island, Georgia. I also love Wyoming. And North Carolina. And Seattle. And actually Phoenix/Sedona area was beautiful. Disney World is good (although I do hear a constant cha-ching in my head during one of those trips). I like to travel, ok?

Ok, the following should consider themselves tagged:
My sister at At Least We Know
Aimee at Libby Land (she's sporting a new design that I love)
Jersey (in case you're looking for a Friday post)
Amy at Living with Intention (because I MISS YOU!!)
Kim at What's that Smell?
Torrie at Schneid Remarks


Tear-filled farewells

Last Friday my parents had to say goodbye to their dog, Lumpi. We got her the summer before I went to college, and they forever referred to her as my dog. "Can you come let your dog out when we're gone?" "Can you take your dog to the kennel?" "I have to go let your dog in." For the record, this has been going on for 12 years.

In any case, it was Lumpi's time.

Our girls were spending the weekend there while we enjoyed some time in St. Paul for Captain America's work conference. So my mother suggested it would be best if I broke the news to the girls before they got there. Yes. Probably. Shoot.

Sad, sad news.

Me: "Girls. I have something sad to tell you. Lumpi got very sick today, and she died." (I left out the part about Lumpi having an appt. to do so. And yes, this is exactly where I started to cry.)

Girls: "Ohhh...that's sad."
Ella: "I wish I wouldn't have said yes to hearing something sad."

Me: "So Lumpi won't be there when you go to Grandma & Papa's this weekend."

Things sort of started spiraling out of control about now. Where was she going to be? When was she coming back? Rather than explain cremation, I opted for burying in my story. What if we got a shovel? Oh dear.

Me, really starting to cry now: "Girls. Lumpi's not coming back. Lumpi died."

I don't even remember which girl this was: "That means she won't take our toys anymore!"

Um. Yes. I suppose.

"Will Greta die someday?" Yes. Cats & dogs don't live as long as people. But it will be a long, long time.

"Then Greta wouldn't put our toys under the couch!!"

Ok. Nevermind. Mommy's done now. So Daddy swoops in.

Captain America: "Do you remember Grandma Vickie & Papa Murph's dog Bailey?"
Ella: "I do!"
CA: "She died too."

Yup. I'm done. Best do some packing for the weekend. Now that we're all heartbroken & what have you.

In memory of Lumpi, A Very Friendly Dog, 1996-2008


Heard lately

Ella on her first day: "Kindergarten, here I come!"

Natalie has decided for the past week that I will now be Mama. I'm not opposed, it's just a sort of random change from Mommy or Mom. She's been amazingly consistent with it too.

Natalie eating chicken sticks: "I like to call these fish sticks."
Me: "Ok, but they're really chicken sticks."
Natalie: "But I like to call them fish sticks."
Me: "And that's fine, but if you ask for fish sticks, this is not what you'll get. You'll get actual fish sticks."

Natalie upon seeing her preschool which is in a church: "Mama, I know that's a church. It has X's."
Me: "Those are called crosses, honey."
Natalie: "Well we can call them whatever we want, and I like to call them X's."
Me: "Really they're crosses. Jesus died on the cross. Remember?"
Natalie after a pause: "Did he die on THAT cross?"

Me: "What am I going to do with both of you girls gone at school?"
Ella: "Mommy, you'll get a lot of work done."

Captain America: "One day I will refer to this as the bunny incident that broke the camel's back."

Me: "I'm going ho tubbing." (sorry, just can't get enough)

Natalie when picked up from Day 1 of preschool: *sigh* "I'm going to miss Miss Heidi." How will she survive to next Tuesday??

Natalie: "Look how fast I'm coloring!"
Ella: "My teacher says to take it nice and slow..."

Last night I got to spend another couple of hours with Ella in the ER. Bladder infection. Great. Once she started feeling better, she started talking about Meow Meow. "Mom, next time I draw a picture of Meow Meow, I'm going to use a bariety of colors. I'm going to use a bariety." She went on to tell me about Meow Meow's cousins. Seer, who is a girl, and Jake, who lives with his Grandma.

I also enjoyed when the doctor told her he needed to "test her urine specimen." "I know a girl who's older and taller than me at Kindergarten. She's 6." Yes. Well. Good then.

And my favorite of today:
Natalie: "Mama? I love Daddy. Instead of you."
Aren't they precious? These little people? Just warms the heart to overflowing.

On typos and such

I'm not sure if it's my newspaper family upbringing, or the fact that I'm so easily amused, but I love glaring typos. Let me clarify. I love OTHER PEOPLE'S typos. My own typos fill me with shame. But anyway.

I find great pleasure when I'm reading a book and find a typo. I mean, a book -- that's got to have a team of proofreaders that went through it, right? Newspapers, magazines -- love to find me a typo. It probably comes from all the people stopping us on the street to show us one in the newspaper. Hearing the "Doesn't anybody proofread these?" for the millionth time. I'm not saying we shouldn't strive for excellence. Typos are a fact of life. Get over it.

I mean, who doesn't crack up over the Pubic Library? Or worse, something about the pubic access at the lake? I mean, when it's not your mistake. And let me tell you something, spell check isn't going to flag that.

So when my friend emailed and asked me this week if I wanted to come over to her ho tub this week, I was thrilled. First of all, heck yeah. Second, a ho tub? Hilarious. I may never call it a hot tub again. I thoroughly enjoyed announcing I was going Ho Tubbing. Gonna spend some time in the ho tub. I'll check on that tonight, after I get back from the ho tub. The ho tub was great for my back.

Anywho. Easily amused. I think my life is better for it.


Just the facts, ma'am.

Alright. Remember in elementary school, when people tried to establish their coolness by making someone else look less cool? Totally how I feel about election years.

I read this yesterday, written by an immigrant. And that made me think a little more. I wish everyone would read it and think about the things he mentioned.

SO. Here's what I would like to see happen. You know, in my little perfect world where there's a Starbuck's in my kitchen. Or at least out my back door.

What if we all researched both candidates? What if we didn't buy the spin? What if we stopped passing on the negative rumors about either candidate? What if we stopped automatically believing the negative rumors?

With the way things are now, it's difficult to discern what is true and what's a rumor. How can we do that? One party says one thing, the other denies, etc, etc, etc. HA! There's a website. Fact Check. Guess what? NOT PARTY AFFILIATED. Their goal is to educate voters, and hold politicians accountable. ALL. OF. THEM. Am I alone in thinking that might be a good idea?

I don't think we can really rely on news media to give us the straight story. The big news stories right now aren't something I can base my vote on. It's not like they're all sitting around saying, "What does the public need to know to make a wise and informed decision for our country?" No. More like elementary school again, "Oh my gosh -- did you hear? It's totally true, because I heard it from so and so."

I'd really encourage everyone to give it a try. Otherwise elections are like a giant game of telephone. We're all just passing things on that we think are true, and it's getting a little skewed every time. Check out the website. You can even get email updates, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

On a side note, all I kept hearing in my head while writing this was the episode of Friends where Ross finds out Marcel is no longer at the zoo. The janitor saying, "Do you believe everything the zoo tells you?" Cracks me up.


On top of it all, it's raining.

So I'm pretty sure this is what the kindergarten mommies do. We walk home in the rain (helps the misty moments), and settle in to look through the baby pictures.

I feel like we were just there. And now we're here.

On the way out the door she said, "I'm READY for KINDERGARTEN!!" I hope I catch up quickly.

I must say though, Natalie and I are sort of enjoying a little more quiet.


This is it.

Life as I know it is about to change. And yes, I do have somewhat dramatic tendencies.

Here's the deal, I'm sending my baby out into the world. I mean, preschool was one thing. Just a couple of hours. Two potty breaks. One snack. Now she will eat breakfast at school (Our school qualifies for free breakfast for all elementary students, so they eat it together as a class. But not tomorrow -- in case my sister's checking up on me -- I did see that note). She will eat lunch at school. She will have a snack (will she do anything but eat?). She'll have Phy Ed. She'll play on the playground.

She's going to meet new friends. She may have girl drama to deal with, and bullies. She's going to learn all sorts of new things. Some things I'll wish she didn't know.

I don't question whether she's ready. Tonight I told her how it was going to work in the morning. I'll pack your lunch. I'll put your lunch box in your backpack. When we get to school, we'll put it in your locker. And when it's time for lunch, you will go to your locker and get it. "Mom, you don't have to walk me to school. I know where my room is." OK. Well. Clearly, she is ready.


Oh the memories of a pack rat

I've been enjoying pack rat memories as of late. Last night I gutted a closet. Did I have time to gut the closet? Absolutely not. It was random. And isn't quite finished.

My mom has been giving me precious bags of memories again too. Like, every Valentine I received in preschool. Easter cards from people when I was 5. That sort of thing. Fifth grade report cards. I threw most of them away. Against my pack rat nature. My mom saved them for 25 years. I tossed it out. That hurts. But I can only handle so much STUFF.

Back to the closet. I found a little notebook. I opened it. One page looked like this: 6:50, 7:00, 7:08, 7: 15, 7:27, etc etc. It was a page where I was writing down contraction times! You know, over 5 years ago. In the next few pages, I came across our baby name list for before Ella was born.

First, you have to understand -- my whole life I wanted a Natalie. Around 6 months with Ella, it just didn't seem right. Don't know what that was about. But I got to use Natalie anyway. Part of Natalie is about my early obsession with Natalie Wood. Well guess what -- Natalie is quite the drama queen.

In any case, here was our list for girls:

  • Ella
  • Natalie
  • Grace
  • Rachael
  • Chloe
  • Talia
And our list for boys:
  • Jackson
  • Joshua
  • Adam
  • David
  • Andrew
  • James
  • Benjamin
Thankfully we never needed boy names, because we just couldn't settle on anything there. At all.

Anyway, it was fun to come across. Now the dilemma. Save it? It was so fun to see it now. Won't it be fun to see it again? Throw it so someday moving out of this house actually seems possible? My mother raised a pack rat. So. Hard. To. Let. Go.

I'll think about it over the weekend.

Kindergarten open house side note: Ella's classroom is the same one I had for kindergarten. And her teacher student taught under mine. Small world! Or more accurately, small town. We're all excited for school to start!