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.