Today I've been stuck on milestones. Firsts and lasts. Marked and unmarked. Big and small.

Ella graduates from kindergarten tonight (although she has school for another week). They're having a big ceremony in the gym. If it's like the other I've seen there, there will be a mortarboard with crayon tassel. Ella will say what she wants to be when she grows up. They will sing a song about being first graders.

Natalie stopped sucking her thumb (knock on wood). On Mother's Day I painted her fingernails. She said she was going to try not to suck her thumb, since it had polish on it. She still hasn't. I've wondered for a couple of years how we were ever going to get to this point and what it would take. We've tried this method before with no luck. But now it's been the last time (I hope). If I didn't remember sitting down with both girls on Mother's Day after going out to eat and painting their nails, I'd have no memory of when it actually was.

Captain America and I have discussed this before. The firsts and lasts that you don't think about or don't realize they're happening. The very last diaper change. First ice cream cones. The first time they chew gum. The last bottle. The last sippy cup. The first time Ella walked to school most of the way alone.

All these little things of parenting. Moments that aren't planned but just happen. No pomp & circumstance. But they're often equally exciting as the things that come with celebration.

I'm proud of both girls. Ella for thriving in school. Natalie for quitting the thumb. And I can't wait to see what's next, that perhaps months later we'll notice they've started or stopped.


Dearest Cabin-ers: Part II

In case there is any confusion, I really do love you, Cabin Friends. I do.

You remind me that it's summer. It's been a long nasty winter here, and while it's still early in the season, your arrival marks the beginning of summer.

You remind me that I get to live in a place where people vacation. I live at the Cabin. I think that's incredibly cool, and I'm lucky to do it. Sometimes when I take a walk in the summer (when it's below 85 and I'm not headed for heatstroke), I almost feel like I'm on vacation myself.

Also, it's fun to see some new people around after 9 months of winter. There are strangers in town! Only some of you are regulars so you're not really strangers, but you know what I mean. And our snowbirds come home for the summer. It's so nice to have them back (shout out to the AZ & FL peeps)!

I'm also happy to have our Cabin Friends here because tourism is a chunk of our local economy. So really, please, enjoy. Order a pizza. Get some ice cream. Rent a movie. Do some shopping.

You know how you can do something a million times, and it loses its luster? And then maybe you invite someone new along and suddenly it's a brand new adventure? You get to experience it through their eyes, which reminds you how fun it is. That's summer at the Cabin. It's fun to watch new people enjoy the place I've lived in for most of my life.

Welcome, welcome back. I look forward to bumping into you. Just try to leave me a bag of chips. I'll try to leave you a parking space close to the door, because you are our guest. And if you need any rhubarb, let me know.


Dearest Cabin-ers:

My dear cabin friends,

So glad you could come for the weekend! Please enjoy one of our eating establishments. Maybe stop at the bakery for a cookie. The drugstore actually has a lovely gift selection and we also have a little Scandinavian gift shop -- isn't that quaint? By all means, enjoy.

You may want to spend a little time at the museum this summer learning about our fine area, and this beautiful lake you'll be summering on. Perhaps your children would enjoy the summer program at the library.

Here's the thing. Do you think maybe next time you're on the way up, you could pick up some of your groceries before you get here?

Tonight my grocery store was missing:
Tortilla chips with the hint of lime
Creamy salsa
My bread of choice
Half gallons of skim milk

That was really all I went to get. And it was gone. The checkout girl assures me it's not your fault. There's a sale on chips. But certainly it might have helped if you'd hit that last SuperTarget before you made the drive.

In other news, our TV IS ALIVE. It's been reincarnated in the form of a 46" flat panel. TV is back, and better than ever!

Anyway. Thanks again for coming to Lake Wobegon. We appreciate you!


They grow up so fast.

It's such a cliché, but sometimes they're true. Last night we had Natalie's end o' the year program for preschool. Which means next year she's in her last year of preschool and Ella's a first grader. WHAT?? When did this happen?

After Natalie's traumatic morning (of the older boys on the playground "being mean" and the tv going wonky), she needed a nap. It took much convincing, but she caved. Which meant I had to wake her up later so she could get ready for her Big Program.

You remember Natalie's the little fashionista, right? Well she had concocted a cute afternoon outfit (some olive green shorts with a white tshirt and a tank top over it). But I was hoping for a dress for the Big Program. She agreed on the red one with ruffles. And then for some reason she didn't. She didn't want a dress. I WANT TO WEAR THIS. "Could you please put one of these on for your program?" "Ok, but then I WON'T WEAR SANDALS." It went on like that for a while. At some point she snapped out of it and wanted a cute dress and some white sandals. She even asked for lip gloss (yikes).

I was worried she was going to be in a post-nap snit for the Big Program. But she rallied. She put on her goofiest grin and did songs and some actions (although sometimes she forgot and just stood there smiling).

Here's Natalie clapping along to the beat.
And here's what Natalie wants to be when she grows up:

Thank you, Miss Heidi, for a great year!


Pray for us.

Our TV is dying. Wubbzy ain't right.

I know!

We turned it on this morning, and it was jumpy and wavy and the color is all wonky (oddly it looks much more correct in the photo than it does in real life -- perhaps I should have photographed a non-cartoon). There's even sort of a double image thing going on. For the satellite receiver, the DVD player and the Wii. So it's the TV.

I have a few choice words for you: American Idol finale. So You Think You Can Dance premiere. Small children (as in, I have some).

This is not good.

I already live without a dishwasher and texting (and an iPhone). How much of a pioneer sister must I be?

Please, I beg you, don't get all "what a great opportunity for family togetherness" on me. Just pray for healing for my TV.

Thank you.


I guess that answers that question.

For a couple of weeks I have been going back & forth on whether Ella should do summer rec. Here in Lake Wobegon all of the summer rec activities are rolled into one for five weeks. She'd go from 9 - Noon and do computer, arts & crafts, science, t-ball -- general summer merriment. It's gone something like this:

Ella really likes to go and to do. If she doesn't do it we'll have 90 days of her asking every morning where we're going and "what can I do that I've never done before?"

If she goes, we lock up five straight weeks of the summer, with the sixth being vacation bible school at our church. Do I want to commit to that?

If she doesn't, she and her sister will have WAY too much quality time together, and I'm not sure I can handle that much sisterly togetherness. And by that I mean fighting and screaming.

I have Grand Plans for our summer, where we take walks and explore and go to parks and go visit friends.

I never actually do the Grand Plans, because I inevitably get a giant work project of some sort.

What if none of her friends are going?

Ella makes new friends inside of the first 20 seconds of meeting people.

So last night I finally just sat down with her and asked her what she thought about it. I started reading her the list of activities. She seemed interested. "Computer time, science, arts & crafts, t-ball, swimming..." That's when I heard an octave I didn't think possible out of a human "SWIMMING???? THERE'S SWIMMING???? I GET TO SWIM???"

Ok then.

The swimming is only a few days and not until July. I feel sorry for the teachers stuck with her until then. "Are we swimming today? Is today the day we swim? Will we swim tomorrow???"


It's counterintuitive. Or I'm a procrastinator. I'm not sure.

I'm insanely overwhelmed today. For some reason work just poured in today, via many different customers. Which is great. And sometimes a little frustrating because I have more trouble prioritizing which jobs to do first (first come, first served doesn't always work since some are rush jobs) than when one customer brings me a lot of work. When I'm overwhelmed with work, it makes everything seem that much more crazy. It seems to multiply my overall to-do list. It's as if it just cranks the intensity knob on life.

So I had many projects to do, kids to bathe, dinner to fix, homework to help with, housework and laundry and probably plenty of other things I'm forgetting.

And now I here I sit. Blogging. Counterintuitive. Shouldn't I be doing my work now that the girls are in bed jabbering away?

But really, this is the right move for me. Because sometimes if I just write out the feelings, it's almost like they're gone. It's a purge. I'll calm down and be able to get some things done. If I'm angry about something, I can write it out and feel better. If I'm in a funk, writing sorts it out. And when I feel stressed and overwhelmed, writing seems to give me back a little focus. And it's less calories than a pint of Ben & Jerry's (but also less tasty).

Speaking of which. Remember when I was in a funk last fall? Life was fragile and tragic and whatnot? Well our friend Tony recently got a CANCER-FREE report. He will continue with some radiation for good measure. "Not to us, but to Your Name be the glory" indeed. Tony's written some great songs through this experience, and I for one am looking forward to when he's able to record them. You can go here to listen to his other music, and order his first cd (which would probably help him get around to making the second).

So I'm not sure why you come here (I'm so random). Maybe you know me. Maybe you stumbled across me when I was giving something away. In any case, I really appreciate it. I appreciate having a place where I can write things down. I'd like to say I'd still write it if no one was reading, but I'm not sure that's true. I'd probably never get around to it. You, dear reader (all precious 5 of you), provide writing accountability. And for that, I thank you.


Oooh! Shiny!

Last night I started coming down with an allergic/sinus migraine. Good times. So I'm feeling a little random today.

I almost always get migraines at night, and then in the morning I have a hang-over like feeling.

Ella stayed home from school today with an allergy cough. She is now learning about life's choices. Natalie is going to the library (and probably other misc. stops) with Grandma. But you don't get to go do that if you stayed home from school. THE INJUSTICE.


Have you seen these key pendants at Tiffany's? I love this one.

Yesterday was Moms & Muffins day at preschool, and I'm living in good faith that it has nothing to do with muffin top. We decorated a whole lot of paper muffins. We did muffin activities like counting pom berries with tweezers into muffin cups. Natalie painted my nails. We made muffins. We watched a video of the kids saying, "Hi Mom, it's Natalie (or whoever the child was, they didn't all say 'Natalie'), I love you because you read me stories (or play with me, or you're pretty), Happy Mother's Day." And let me tell you something, I think we all put on a good show, but there was a whole lot of inconspicuous eye wiping and sniffing.

I watch American Idol, but I don't really care much about the results at this point. All I know is: in a few weeks it's time for So You Think You Can Dance.

A few bloggers I follow are doing Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. More on that here.

I have the urge to make smoothies, but my blender can't chop ice without smoking. Any blender suggestions that don't require taking out a small loan?

By 8:15 this morning, the girls had already managed to get in such a fight that Natalie slammed their bedroom door and yelled, "I JUST WANT TO BE ALONE!" while Ella stood in the basement yelling and crying, "NATALIE SHUT THE DOOR ON ME!"

Sometimes I like drinking loose leaf tea because it makes me feel all earthy to see the little flowers and twigs and fruit chunks after it's brewed.

I'm not pleased at McDonald's about the Kidz Bop cds in the happy meals. Now I have to listen to Kidz Bop.

Natalie has found a new music love. We went out to eat last night and they had some sort of classic rock station playing, and Natalie was bouncing along and snapping her fingers to every song. But you know what? I'll take it over the kidz bop.

I like to wear skirts better than shorts. And I'm happiest for spring because I'm back in flip flops. I am sad to see/feel all the pollen.

A small, 2 person band of drums and a tambourine and castanet is not good for a migraine.


Have I mentioned I love Seabird?


Ah yesteryear

Sunday I rode along with my sister to pick up her s'aughter Shelby from college. Because apparently they are already done with the year. Fine.

In any case, schlepping her stuff out and trying to pack it into the Equinox has sent me into days worth of reverie.

• I didn't look at colleges. I just wanted to live in Duluth. They had a University of Minnesota campus. It met my dad's criteria and then some (state school, within a day's drive, you could get out in 4 years + bonus skiing). Good enough. Didn't apply anywhere else. Trust me, there are worse ways to choose a school. This was one of the best decisions I ever made.

• Talking to my freshman year roommate on the phone before we met, both anxious to start school. Me not to sure of a homecoming queen. Her not to sure of whatever it is I was trying to be. And then crying our puffy eyes out at the end of the year when we moved out of our dorm. We were in each other's weddings, and she's one of my kids' Godmothers. Sometimes random room assignment works.

• Moving into my 5th floor, farthest room away from anything dorm. In the million degrees Duluth never gets, but had that day. There was one elevator, and a whole lot of people moving. You'd best believe I got heat stroke.

• My parents calling on their way to pick me up at the end of my first year. A rock had been pitched up just right (or wrong) and broken the side window of the minivan. I'd best get my stuff together so we could turn around and go home again (for 2 weeks til I could move into my summer apt.). I think it was raining.

• Staying for summer school every year. Hello?? If you have lived in Duluth, MN for the winter, you have earned the summer. Everything is so laid back in the summer. And you get to live where all the tourists are going. Tons of state parks within a couple hours. Hanging out in the canal to watch the ships and the lift bridge. Rose gardens. Perfect summer temps for me -- I think I only got heatstroke once there in about 3 years.

• I met Captain America after I'd been at college for about 24 hours, so college was really sort of one big date. We got married right before my third year (which was my last year -- thank you summer school!).

* sigh *

Good times.

Shout out to my UMD peeps!