Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Plans

Here I am at 11:06 at night. Must record life today. Before falling fast asleep.

We all the know the quote, right? "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

Well, we (the Spears/Patenaude/Selin family) have been making a lot of plans lately. And meanwhile, life just keeps happening. Here is a snapshot of today:
  • Intend to walk with the girls to the grocery store this morning in the beautiful, chilly weather. But oops! The double stroller is in the back of the van with Eric at work.
  • Plan B: Eric's dad will be dropping by around noon to say hello on his way to Mankato for Thanksgiving. Maybe he'll be willing to babysit (and lend me his car) while I get groceries.
  • 1:30 pm, Dad arrives, agrees to babysit in exchange for some lunch.
  • I park .75 miles from the grocery store, as it is the day before Thanksgiving. I get out of the pimped out (old) El Dorado that is my ride.
  • Charge through NYC in rush hour... I mean, the grocery store. I find everything I think I need, including a remarkable deal on Chicken breasts. I bought at least 30 lbs.!
  • After Dad leaves and the girls are down for naps, I continue with my plan: Freezer Meals! Four pans of Mexican Meatloaf, 2 pans of Enchiladas, 2 pans of Hamburger/Rice hot dish. I put on my favorite new tunes, my red apron, and set to work. Pure bliss... productivity in the kitchen, no interruptions. I should be done in less than two hours, including dishes.
  • After two hours, the disgusting truth hits me. The ridiculously expensive, throw away pans bought at the grocery store are in Dad's car. In Mankato. Grrrrr. So here I sit, with mountains of almost completed food covering my counter tops, and no pans to put it in. Much of this food is heading off to a couple I don't even know, so I'm not risking my own Pyrex. Alas, this will have to wait until 8:00 tonight.
  • Have you noticed pomegranates in the grocery stores lately? Dinner tonight was Mexican Meatloaf, pomegranate, and oranges. Not exactly a traditional combination, but what the heck! It was all delicious!
  • After dinner, I call my mom. Turns out she has made a few plans that went awry as well. The big kicker: her cozy little weekend with all the kiddos home is going up in smoke. One "kiddo" (and his new wife) are stuck in the hospital. Their first holiday since they moved away from home, too. We are the other kiddos, and we will be departing early from the festivities in order to attend Eric's Uncle's funeral. That's a bummer, all around.
  • Mom is not happy, but I suggest we bring a yummy meal to Erin at the hospital tomorrow. Good idea... but maybe Dad wants to go see them too! And Eva insists on going; she loves the hospital and seeing Jon in that funky bed. So, Mom will call me back.
  • She calls back, and somehow we start talking about my upcoming trip to the grocery store to get the dumb ol' throw away pans (again). She says that she's heading to the grocery store tomorrow. Uhh, no she's not. Cub Foods is NOT open on Thanksgiving. Next thing you know, Eric's making the stuffing for tomorrow and I'm heading to the store with Mom's list in hand.
  • After returning from the grocery store, I talk to Mom again. She's confined to the church tonight, where she and Dad are sleeping over with a few homeless families. It dawns on me that perhaps she would like to see Erin and Jon tomorrow instead of spending the whole day cooking for the masses. I offer to come up early to babysit the turkey, etc. She starts to cry. She says that she'll talk to Dad and call me back. _______________________________________________________________
  • Well, I've just checked my voice mail and the "final" decisions have been made. Jon might be released tomorrow (yippee!), Mom and Dad are going to slave over Thanksgiving dinner by themselves until we arrive whenever we please.
  • I get a voice mail from Grandma saying that she forgot she was making pies, and started making stuffing. But our stuffing is all finished. That's ironed out now, and Grandma is putting frozen pies in the oven, I'm adding to the stuffing in the crock pot.
  • We're not packed, as I had planned to be by now. That's OK though, because it turns out- life doesn't going according to plan!
Today I've gone from expecting to bring nothing but my family to Thanksgiving dinner to wondering if I might be preparing most of it myself, to somewhere in between. Believe it or not, this has been a mighty good day for me though. I think it was the two hours alone in the kitchen listening to rockin' music.
OK, here's one more thing I didn't plan. I woke up to a tree-cutter-man knocking on the door, asking if I knew who owned that car over there. I wasn't much help in that area, but we really enjoyed watching the biggest tree downing adventure of my life. 7 men with chainsaws, 3 BIG trucks, 1 Crane, 1 enormous tree. We had a front row seat!
I also didn't plan to make this fabulous magic wand. Mothers of little girls, all you need is leftover sparkly wrapping paper, a kabob skewer, scissors, cardboard, and some glue. I feel all crafty and good inside.
I always plan on little Hope being sweet and busy. She is really walking a lot lately. Grandpa Patenaude nicknamed her "Walkie-Talkie" today. It is fitting!
I didn't plan on looking like a moron in all my self portraits, but I guess I didn't check myself in the mirror today. The growing out of short hair is hard on a girl's chic image. Here I am, looking like I've cried for months over my onions, admiring the pile of ground meat on the kitchen scale. Looks like fun, huh?

Anyway, I might as well go to bed, since a whole new day is about to begin and who knows what kind of plans this day will hold!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Please pray our dear friends, John and Sarah. Their four year old nephew, Nicholas, died unexpectedly last Thursday; the funeral is today. John and Sarah were at our house when they received the news and it was incredible to watch that their immediate desire was to trust God in the unexplainable. Our hearts are especially heavy for Nicholas' parents Chris and Sarah. Please pray that they would be comforted by Jesus alone as they walk a dark journey.

Sickie watches TV

Eva still has a constant cough, so she gets special treatment today. That includes 2 hours of kids TV (yes, you read 2 hours!!!) and her own mug of chamomile tea. I didn't know she liked it, but it did tame the cough a bit after two big mugs. I also drank two cups of tea this morning, mine was a spunky roobios red. Mmmmm. I am feeling much better, thanks!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Feeling Wacky

Seems like a lot of things are out of whack today...

  • My brother in law, Jon, is in the hospital after experiencing a ruptured appendix yesterday. Thankfully they got him to the ER within a few hours of the rupture, so the damage was not as bad as it could've been. He is recovering comfortably after 3 hours of surgery, but sadly he won't be able to taste even a tidbit of Thanksgiving dinner at my parent's house (if they decide to come after all of this...). Pray for a fast recovery for Jon so he can get back to feeling himself and back to work. He used up all his PTO for their honeymoon last summer! Even though he's not my husband, he's still on my mind today.
  • I have a cold, complete with dripping nose and watery eyes. But, its only a cold, after all.
  • Hope handled the cold (thanks for sharing with me, girly) she just got over well, but came out of it with some messed up sleep habits. I am not pleased with the lack of sleep around here.
  • Speaking of sleep, Eric slept in the guest room last night, and Eva slept with me in our bed. She coughed in my face most of the night, fighting the cold Eva style. Which also contributed to my lack of sleep.
  • Ella is not here today, on account of the cold. Even that feels out of whack!
  • This is a funky week because of Thanksgiving, leaving me paralyzed over which pieces of housework to do or not do. Oh, and packing...we'll be gone for four days. That is just wacky!


Update on Eva's cold: "Mom, whenever I breathe, snot comes out." I said, "That's gross, Eva." Then I offered to help her blow her nose. But alas, a three year old must do everything by herself. Including wiping snot disguised as egg white all over her face in an attempt to blow her own nose. I repeat, "That's gross, Eva."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Growing Gratefulness

The Thanksgiving Tree is really blooming lately. As always, we've had a constant stream of visitors through the door, and they've left their mark in the form of construction paper leaves. Eva and I usually think of something to put up as we're eating our breakfast in the morning, and she always asks, "Daddy, what are you thankful for today?" over dinner in the evening. This has been a delightful opportunity to praise God and keep our gratitude-attitudes rightly adjusted. Props to my Aunt Nancy who had this idea long before I did...

So, here's our inventory of thankfulness (though I'm sure we can all think of many more entries...):

My home
A black president
Aaron & Bethany
Little House on the Prairie
my compassionate husband
Bonnie & Donnie
A good Dr. visit, ultrasound, and seeing our Boy
Darlings son in Bethany's womb
My smokin' hot wife Becca (I'm blushing...)
going on dates
A new laptop for work!
pumpkin pie
that I came to Julia's house
Snow is so fun! God healed Gracie
brisk temps and frosty snowflakes
A stable job in a great company
Having Aaron, Bethany, and Hazel over
My Little Pony movie
Coors lite
crock pot meals
The 3 prettiest girls in the world (blushing more...)
Russell and Vaunder
nursing babies
The Princess and the Pea (a great story!)
Spending time with Daddy
Old friends
Visiting family for the holidays
Baby Thor
Promise of Heaven
Playing downstairs at Julia's house
Becca's servant heart (you're all so kind...)
I'm thankful for spending time with daddy today
A warm house
God's word relatives who come to stay with us
Thankful for an awesome family and very pretty smells like the lily
Eric's Biblical leadership
LHOTP (I just learned what that stands for!)
Christ our Savior
double stroller
having pictures taken
I like spending time with Daddy when he's home
my baby sister Hope
my puppy is thankful for me!
getting to watch a movie
fellowship with other believers
fresh produce for free
going for walks
Lazy Saturdays

Small Fryday Contest

I'm new to contesting (if that's a word...), and I don't often link around just for fun. But I really, really, really need some help with my blog layout (ie: fancy schmancy blog header), and I am forever indebted to MckMama for providing my connection to raw milk. So, here I am shamelessly entering the Small Fryday contest and promoting My Charming Kids. Little Small Fry is just a few weeks younger than our Hope- take a peek, she's really cute! And her Mama seems like a class act too!

If you head over there, you have to read all about baby Stellan's dramatic life and be encouraged. God has been so good to the MckFamily!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

1, doo, 3...

The girls are obsessed with counting. Yes, BOTH girls are really getting into it! Eva likes to count everything- her bites at dinner, her fingers and toes, puzzle pieces, popcorn kernels, cars on the street, etc. Although I have no frame of reference, I tell her she is a good counter too... except she always skips sixteen. Trying to work on that.

Hope enjoys counting too. It seems that the second child learns a lot of "second-hand" knowledge, probably through osmosis. Whenever Eva starts to count anything, Hope listens to "One..." then jumps in, eagerly grinning, with "Dooo!"

Fun little ladies, they are.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

October 4th, 2008

We had a much needed day away over a month ago now, and though we didn't plan much for the day, it ended up being one of the best days of my life. Seriously. It was as if fate was on our side, bringing one beautiful, perfect circumstance our way after another. As I said, we planned very little, but God planned a day that refreshed us deeply. In my opinion, it is a common misconception that your wedding is supposed to be the best day of your life... or maybe the birth of a child... but this day was awesome because it was nothing extraordinary, just many perfectly simple details strung together. All that, with none of the agonizing suspense or endless planning of the above mentioned "best" days.

We got up around 9 that morning, and lazily loaded our bikes onto the car, gathered up the girls and their gear, and set off for the charming little village of Welch. It is situated down in a valley, next to a lazy river. The last 5 miles on the road to Welch are narrow, windy, nestled down in a glade of hardwoods. As you get a glimpse of the town center, you might think you've stepped back in time. The perfect way to begin a relaxing day.

The Trout Scream Cafe and Post Office (above), the Welch Mill (below)

The plan for the day was bike riding along the Cannon River Trail, we rode half of it- from Welch to Red Wing, about 20 miles round trip. It was a crisp fall day. In the shade we were chilly, but in the sun (or after pedalling 20 miles) we were warm. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and it was that happy bright blue, almost a Rocky Mountain sky...

We picked up the trail at the old Welch train station then rode for a few miles before having our picnic lunch beside the river. We were sitting 20 feet from a mature elm tree, home to a Bald Eagle. We didn't actually get to see the bird, but a handful of locals stopped to ask if we had spotted him that day. On one side of the trail was the peaceful river, tall bluffs, and limestone cliffs. On the other side was farm land and evidence of civilization. Both views were totally enjoyable. The leaves were just starting to change. Here and there we crossed over creeks or gullies on sturdy wooden bridges. We pointed out interesting wildlife and plants to the girls as we went. The rode along, happily mesmerized by the motion of the bike trailer, eating snacks and playing with a few toys.When we arrived in Red Wing we hoped to find a sweet park to play at, but the park was only a few picnic tables and big, old trees. Eva had very much been looking forward to playing at a playground, but Eric seized the moment and taught her how to climb trees instead. When it was time to go, we could hardly pull her away from the her new found tree-home.

Hope wandered about unsupervised (mostly) for awhile until she got herself stuck inside the bike. She seemed pretty relaxed, despite her predicament.

On the way back from Red Wing, we noticed a small, hand-made wooden sign on the side of the trail. An arrow pointed up the hill side away from the river, and the sign read "Sculpture Garden". We didn't know what we would find, but opted for a little side trip anyway. As we walked up an overgrown path through the woods, we passed an elderly Asian couple decked out in blaze orange and carrying rifles. When we asked what they were doing, we got a confusing reply... but we eventually realized they were hunting squirrel. Who knew!?! I laughed. Hard. The trail to the mysterious sculpture garden took us up, up, up...

Then delivered us into a large clearing, where there most certainly were many sculptures alternated with fruitful apple trees. They were cool sculptures too, stimulating interesting conversation and observations from all of us. Eva's imagination ran wild, creating a whole new universe of life surrounding the sculptures. I should have taken pictures of all of my favorites, but I only captured the mosaic turtle. I am a sucker for anything mosaic, and this one was extra cool because it was a collaborative effort between the artists and students from Red Wing High School. I'm also a sucker for any opportunity to channel the creativity of young people.
Across the orchard/art display we could see some old buildings. It turns out, this whole area is the Anderson Center, a premier artist retreat. Loaded with history, these old buildings house all kinds of artistic endeavors, projects, ideas. Artists here are giving an interpretation of this modern world, in a setting that draws out homesickness for times gone by. A very cool place. Most of the buildings, including a killer greenhouse, were locked, but we pushed open the door to a water tower. We climbed the dark, spiral staircase to the top for a view of the whole river valley area. This was the absolute highlight of the day for all of us. The top of the tower holds a small room, reminiscent of Prince Edward Island lighthouses. The perfect escape, a place to read or nap, or just think. There were a few good books up there, a chess set, and a space heater. In our mind's eye, we imagined every intimate moment those walls had seen. The girls enjoyed standing on the edge of the balcony surrounding the water tower and looking at the ant-sized world below.

We walked the 78 steps down and closed the heavy iron door. It was awesome.

At the bottom of the tower, we decided to pacify our hungry tummies with a fresh picked apple. I figured that I hadn't eaten anything so purely nutritious in months. Every bite was full of up to the minute fresh enzymes, vitamins and minerals in top condition. Talk about eating locally! And for those of you who keep track- I am wearing my "uterus" shirt in this picture (again). What would a perfect day be without the perfect, well-worn t-shirt?

On the way back down to the bike trail, Eva picked me a heavenly bouquet of fresh, fall wildflowers.

We took a gentle pace biking...

And when we arrived back at the car, we found the girls like this:

The ingredients for a perfect day: beautiful weather, exercise, surprises, art, good food, exploration, natural beauty, adventure, history, hiking, cheerful children, flowers, being with the ones you love most.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What are the other moms doing right now?

Are they picking up toys? Are they scratching their heads over dinner? Are they completing their evening routine by plopping down on the couch at ten o'clock to play Dr. Mario? Are they procrastinating Christmas planning? I freely admitted recently, "I'd like to be a fly on your wall, to see how home-schooling works in your house." The other mom laughed, "I don't want any flies on the wall!"

I've been struggling a bit lately with feeling isolated. The bulk of my world is within these four walls; the bulk of my time is spent with three small children who's needs are many. Though I am quite pleased with my life and my daughters are a joy to me, I can give in to the sin of self-pity. Usually I carry on with life, being moved along by the tyranny of the urgent, not realizing that I haven't talked to another adult all day. And on top of that, I haven't left the house in three days. And as if that wasn't enough, I realize that all the time spent in this house has been rather unproductive to my eyes. The work of a mother's hands is, after all, never done and always undone. Then it hits me, "I deserve better than this. My life should be more interesting. My adventures are too mundane. Seriously, I am adventure mama ;)" This is the voice of my own flesh speaking, and not a voice I should listen to. But listen I do, with eagerness sometimes. So I'm galloping off again, fighting a battle that wasn't meant for me. Praise God, He has given us every good gift in Christ Jesus. When I stop listening to myself and start preaching to myself, I remember that God is all powerful, and all-knowing, and loving too. With a bigger, better view of God, I am at peace with life right where I am. In fact, I embrace it. I smile when my three year old offers to pray for her mommy at breakfast, knowing that God is at work here, within these four walls. I am puttering along, haphazardly doing tasks that will demand my attention again tomorrow, but God is doing something that won't be undone.

God was kind to me this week by bringing me around to this old post. I was refreshed and encouraged by this woman's perspective, realizing again that staying at home with my children is not about laundry. Or dinner menus. Or constructive playtime. Or flawlessly executing feed/sleep/wake schedules. Here is the excerpt that spoke to me most strongly, telling me that I am adventure mama-

You are not a STAY at home anything. You are a woman on the move, a woman on a journey. You are in perpetual spiritual pilgrimage. You are following
your Master, your children traipsing behind. Everyday you are packing up
and leaving behind one spiritual, emotional, physical time and space…
are growing, your children are growing, your role in His Kingdom is growing….and at day’s end, you are somewhere very different. In a different heart space, in a
different time space, in a different spiritual space. Take it seriously. You are
not stagnantly staying anywhere. You are leading your children towards the
Promised Land. Don’t get side-tracked, don’t laze about, don’t linger behind….God is moving before you, the Cloud is guiding you----Pack up and follow!
Here's where this post turns into a comedy...are you wondering what other moms are doing right now? They are doing exactly as you are! I guffawed when I read Terri's post today. Don't go any further before clicking over to Terri's post! I have been contemplating writing something of similar nature...very, very similar indeed. Here's proof (I took this picture on November 5th)-

We are enjoying our tree as it gathers leaves through the month. It has been a delight to give thanks with friends and family as they've added their words to the tree. I'll have to post them all later...

For now, I'm going to medicate my self-pity at the Thanksgiving Tree.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Welcome Baby Thor!

This is old news for most, but I still want to take a moment to celebrate the arrival of the newest Patenaude. Thorvald Cash Patenaude was born on November 1st, 2008.

His proud Papa Ryan(a near celebrity on this blog) could not stop talking about the wonderful labor and delivery they experienced. And how absolutely perfect his new baby boy is. In a 20 minute phone conversation, he used the word PERFECT more times than I can count. He even elaborated on the incredible stitching skills of the MD (and Ryan knows good sewing...). Baby Thor weighed in at a very healthy 9 lbs. 3 oz., which gives the older generation of Patenaude men pride in their ability to "throw a big calf."

Thor's dear Mama, Stephanie, reiterated that the 48 hour labor guessed it- PERFECT! And, she did the whole thing with no drugs. Way to go, woman! Stephanie is submitting beautifully to the colossal changes that motherhood brings, sounding so relaxed and confident.

Ryan is currently working on a math and science education major, so he put his knowledge to work creating this lovely graph. I believe this was after about 30 hours of labor. No, I can't interpret this graph for you, but wherever I see high peaks and the word contractions, I start to feel it in my back...
For the record- Eric, if you're reading this, please do not try to graph my contractions in the future. Seriously, ignorance is bliss (or near bliss, if you're in labor)!

We can't wait for December 12th when we get to hold you, Baby Thor!

Good Morning!

I hate my new layout, but don't have time to fix it. Ugh.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

47 Tips for a Successful Shopping Trip

Alternatively titled: World's Longest Post
Second alternative title: Why Other Mothers Know Not to Attempt This

As a young mother, I am always in need of helpful suggestions in parenting, planning, housekeeping, etc. Last Monday, I went on a memorable trip to the shopping mall with three little girls, three and under. Here is my advice for anyone planning a little outing.

1)Wait for the perfect moment to leave the house. It must be when no one is scheduled to nap, have a bottle, eat lunch, or have quiet time. Also, it must be after 9:30am so that the stores will be open. Therefore, you will have a window of 45 minutes from 11:15-12:00.

2)Using forward thinking, realize that you might run into lunch time with this outing. Force your three year old to eat a small bowl of cheerios and milk, just in case she gets hungry. Forget to feed your one year old because you still aren't used to giving her three square meals a your mind, you're still exclusively breastfeeding.

3)Begin preparations to leave the house. Pick the smallest diaper bag you have and try to fit as few things in it as possible. You never end up needing them anyway, right?

4)Review your plan: go to a nearby shopping destination in order to buy that one dress you and the eldest child have been admiring during the lean month of October. That sounds easy!

5)Upon realization of the ease of this mission, decide to add one more store. You will attempt to return a gift and perhaps there will be an equivalently beautiful dress at this store, allowing you to make an even exchange and eliminate #4.

6)Silently praise God that the weather is so wonderful you will not have to wrestle with bulky coats, blankets, and accessories. Forget that it is actually too hot outside for the fleece pullover you are wearing.

7)Begin loading the children into the vehicle by directing the eldest to load herself, being mindful of traffic.

8)Load the middle child, mobile and unpredictable, into her car seat in vehicle. Require the youngest and least flexible child to wait in the house alone, crying her eyes out.

9)Return to house, load youngest (still crying) child into car seat, make last minute decision to bring expired coupon for aforementioned dress, lock doors, leave the house.

10) Discover that youngest child's car seat is quite bulky and difficult to lift, tug, pull over the top of other children already in car seats. After straining one's back and silently uttering something other than praises, situate car seat in the very back of the vehicle.

11)Realize that eldest child has chosen not to load themselves and is instead scavenging chewing gum from the driver's seat region. Award the child's disobedience with the promise of specific consequences upon arriving home.

12)Endure crying over consequences while loading and buckling eldest child into car seat.

13)Open driver's side door. Get in. Start vehicle. Look at clock and realize that you have used 30 of your 45 minutes to simply get out the door. Shrug your shoulders (what else can you do???)

14)Drive to other store. Get out of vehicle. Set up double stroller (aka: the semi).

15)Repeat steps 7-11 in backwards order, securely situating younger children in the semi (ahem, stroller).

16)Enter store, making the mental choice to not check time on one's cell phone for the sake of a clear conscious.

17)Find elevator. Allow eldest to operate elevator buttons.

18)Upon exiting elevator make a bee-line for girls clothing dept. Realize that eldest is not making a bee-line, but has chosen to marvel at displays of useless children's toys. At second glance, realize that eldest has acquired a shopping cart/stroller and is loading useless children's toys into the vast expanse of a shopping cart. Decide to ignore this inconvenience and attempt to complete mission.

19)Choose four dresses that might compare to above mentioned dress. Cajole eldest into trying on all four dresses.

20)Watch with intrigue and pleasure as eldest looks in mirror after trying each dress and assumes fifth position (think ballet), followed by a lovely twirl. One dress twirls above the rest and becomes the intended target.

21)Waste time examining winter accessories since eldest recently lost winter hat.

22)Head to check-out area, walking slowly so as to remain in the sight of eldest pushing overloaded shopping cart.

23)Quickly exchange item for dress, receiving $4 gift card to boot.

24)Wait as eldest uses bathroom.

25)Repeat step 17. Breath a sigh of relief that commandeered cart will not fit in elevator with semi and two people.

26)Sit on small bench in very hot entryway to feed youngest a bottle. Blankly stare at all the passersby who give knowing smiles.

27)Repeat steps 14-15 backwards. Drive to original destination.

28)Repeat steps 14-15. Appreciate the well behaved nature of three small children.

29)Walk straight to desired store, using will-power to avoid any money/time traps along the way. Rejoice over will-power! Walk straight to desired dress, celebrate your willpower!

30)Oh, eldest will not walk straight to said dress and instead must touch every beautiful thing along the aisle.

31)Snag the beautiful dress in two sizes and drag star-struck 3 year old to dressing room. Cram semi containing two babies into small dressing room.

32)Encourage eldest to quickly disrobe. Wait forever while child finishes this task.

33)Adorn child in beautiful, red dress. Watch as she admires herself in the mirror, twirling the whole time. Decide that the size 4T is best, cute with room to grow. Breathe a sigh of relief, as that was fast and easy!

34)Sigh with disbelief as eldest child opens dressing room door, giggles, and sprints away.

35)Holler, jump up, run after 3 year old, leaving babies alone in dressing room to entertain themselves with fussing.

36)Discover that 3 year old has entered another (locked) dressing room. Listen as the wily child giggles at her foolishness.

37)Demand that child come out. When child ignores request, determine to get the child out yourself.

38)Begin to crawl under dressing room door. Acknowledge that grown women are not designed for army-crawling in dressing rooms. Thank the Lord that no one is watching, as you are now stuck under the dressing room door. Smile at three year old who is laughing. Wave to your imaginary audience with your feet (what else can you do?).

39)Pry yourself out from the door. Watch child run out of dressing room, only to make a mad dash into original dressing room, locking the door behind her.

40)Listen to babies cry with fear at being trapped in dressing room with spiteful preschooler.

41)Learning from previous experience, reach with arm under dressing room door, grasping for unruly child. Grab onto three year old's calf. Pull screaming three year old across dressing room. Demand (again) that child open the door.

42)Re-enter dressing room, announce through clenched teeth that eldest child should expect another consequence upon arriving home. Instruct eldest to remove red dress and put on original clothes.

43)Detect a pungent odor rising from the semi. Locate youngest child responsible for odor. Lift child out of stroller, determined to change stanky diaper in dressing room. Discern "blow-out" status of diaper, noticing the stench spreading to your own hands (ew!) and shirt (gasp!). Return child to stroller, unchanged, deciding to deal with this adversity in the comfort of home.

44)Ignore three crying children. Quickly clothe three year old. Emerge from dressing room area with three still crying children. Efficiently pay for dress and matching headband. Thank cashier for allowing you to use expired coupon. Smile sweetly at all the smart mothers in the store without their children.

45)Repeat step 27.

46)Arrive at home at 2:05. Feed children sandwiches and send them directly to bed for naps, not forgetting to administer two "consequences". You should take a nap too.

47) Return to kid's clothing store one week later for price adjustment on dress. And to allow three year old to return hot pink slippers that were thieved in previous shopping trip. Vow to stay out of stores forever.

We love Minnesota!

Or not. This post is for those who live far from the grand display of variety that is Minnesota. You can really never be sure what the weather will hold here. For example: today, November 11th it is 31 degrees. They tell us it feels like 22 degrees, and it is sleeting. Yesterday morning I woke up to 26 degrees.
However, one week ago today, the high temp. was 70, and I was sweating. That's the magic of MN!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Like Father, Like Daughter

Eric left this morning for the annual deer hunting trip. Yesterday Eva told me that she couldn't wait to turn 12 so that she could hunt too. On the other hand, she was perplexed at why Daddy would kill deer...they are so nice! I told her God created deer for us to eat, but she insisted, they are sooooo nice, Mommy! Future vegetarian on our hands? That will pose a challenge in this house.

As she said goodbye to Eric this morning she said, "I want a gun, Daddy. I want one with Tinkerbell on it. I'll ask for that for Christmas."


Thursday, November 06, 2008


We made another trip to the Doctor's office today. We've had some concerns regarding Hope and food allergies, and anyone who has been around us in the last 6 months has been warned of Hope's peanut allergy. I am not an over-protective mother, or much of a hypochondriac. But like most people, my strengthens are also my weaknesses. So, when Hope was 8 months old and she accidentally got a spoonful of peanut butter in her mouth (a BIG no-no, if you weren't aware), I figured my laid back attitude had finally gotten the best of me. Hope responded to the PB with hives and rashes all over her body, but thankfully the reaction subsided within 30 minutes or so.

She had a doctor's appointment scheduled for the very next day, and the Doc was really relaxed about the reaction or pursuing allergies. But she assumed that Hope was allergic to peanuts, for sure. As I scoured the Internet for information, I learned that most kids don't grow out of peanut allergies and that they usually become increasingly dangerous. It soothed my aching conscious to find out that most kids with allergies don't respond to an allergen the first time (unlike Hope), and that if they do respond the first time, it was probably their fate from birth. I decided that it probably wasn't my fault, but I still had a little wrestling with God to do about it since I felt horrible that my child's health was compromised in any way. I felt angry and thought this was "unfair," as if every moment of our lives isn't ordained by God himself. Eric is allergic to cats, deer hide (strange, eh?), and alfalfa. My mom and sister have many environmental allergies, but otherwise, food allergies were unheard of in our genetic line. It didn't make sense to me.

We've removed peanuts from our lives and severely limited tree nuts...and of course Hope hasn't eaten any. Nevertheless, over the last two months, Hope has had two "mystery" reactions, each one fairly extreme. We don't know what caused the reactions, as she didn't eat anything new and we weren't aware of any environmental allergen. The last reaction was about two weeks ago. I was strung out on caffeine and we were away from home. The anxiety of not knowing where this reaction was coming from or where it would take us combined with my caffeine buzz almost drove me crazy. The very next day we made a trip to the Dr. for allergy testing. I requested an emergency Epi-pen as well (co-pay $99, yeow!) which put my mind at ease a bit. The lab did a blood draw...Eva watched with rapt attention.

As I've thought and prayed about Hope and allergies, I have come to a place of complete peace. I did some research about alternative therapies for allergy sufferers and discovered that we could probably reduce her symptoms over time. Halloween came and went with lots of nutty treats, and although Hope didn't eat any of it, she didn't show any reaction to them either. I even let her hold a snickers bar in her hand...sort of tempting fate, I guess. A few weeks ago, one of Eva's friends from church was miraculously healed from many extreme food allergies. I was thrilled for her and her family, and also full of faith for God to heal Hope. Thinking about the coming holidays, with the onslaught of treats and environments where I am not in control, has made me a little nervous though.

Anyway, we reviewed the results from the blood work at the Doctor today. It was absolutely great news! Hope is officially NOT allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, and her only allergies are very minor. On a scale of 1-6 (6 being very severe), she has a level 2 allergy to eggs and also to cats. When I told Eric the news over the phone, he proudly responded, "Just like Daddy!" Ha ha. I told the Pediatrician that Hope eats eggs a lot without any reaction, so she said we probably should just watch her and expect her to completely outgrow any egg allergy she might have. As for cats, we have yet to see how that will play out. Knowing that the "mystery" reactions were still real, we'll keep an eye on her, including avoiding nuts for a few more years.

Still, I am praising God for answering our prayers for healing and for protecting little Hope all of her days!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Eva's wishlist

Eva is living the rough life of a preschooler right now. She wants to be grown up now, she tells me. But instead, she must learn to obey her parents and submit to us as we train her. I commented to Eric yesterday that I think some of that training is finally taking root. So, as it often goes, today is a harder day for all of us.

During her struggle to nap this afternoon, Eva confessed, "I just want to be God, or the President, or take care of the house and be the mom. I just want to do everything you do, and what I want to do!" I hope, for her own good, that she doesn't get what she has wished for. And I trust, in time, she will learn to bend her will to her Maker's. But, as I was recently reminded- we must not expect more of our children than we can expect of ourselves. “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” Romans 7:15

Monday, November 03, 2008

Fall Fest 2008

I've forgotten to post about the grand costume party we attended a few weeks ago. The theme- Pirates of the Caribbean. It was so fun to dress up, and of course it was a delight to share a fun evening with friends. The evening included a game of touch football in which Eric ruined my white thigh-highs that he was wearing, but caught a spectacular touch down. We went on to eat Bethany's delicious chili (3 different kinds), make caramel apples, beat the tarrrrr (ha ha) out of a pirate ship pinata, take lots of pictures of costume splendor, make many pirate jokes, and enjoy lots of laughter and friendly-ness. We left too early for the apple crisp and outside fire, but I bet that was awesome too! Here is the cast from Peter Pan...I don't know why Tinkerbell insisted on placing fairy dust up her nose!

You can't see them in this picture, but my very green tights are recorded over here...

Our fabulous hosts, Aaron holding Hazel, and Bethany

Most of the lady pirates and Peter Pan. By the way, the pirate dog is a real dog! (L-R: Hannah, me, Leah L., Bethany, Leah S.)

At age 3, Eva was the oldest child, and the only child still awake when the pinata festivities began. She got to whack it quite a few times with the trusty tennis racket before the goodies spilled out. Her eyes were as big as saucers as the pinata was revealed for it's true identity: Vessel of CANDY!

The onlookers admire the pinata. I admire Anna's socks!

We dragged Eric's mom along...doesn't she look great as a pirate?!? And Vance, you are a very scary pirate! Vance told my favorite pirate joke of the night. Q: What is a pirates favorite element on the periodic table? Read on for the answer...

Jason, the engineer, stumped by a baby toy :)?

Kristie managed to stop by for awhile too.

Such a handsome Captain Hook. Don't you just want to kiss him?

Alrighty mates, the answer is: ARRRRGON! I'm off to make some arrrrrabiata sauce, so Arrrrdios.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

For everyone who is already overwhelmed by Christmas

The first time I ever read a blog, it was written by my childhood friend, A. She and I met at family camp back in the '80's, and though she was from Texas and I was from Colorado and then Nebraska and then Minnesota, we maintained a precious friendship. We saw each other for one or two weeks each summer, and we spent one or two (sorry A! my memory is horrible) Christmas vacations together. I'm not certain the last time I saw her face to face, but I think it was in 10th grade. We sort of lost touch for awhile until somehow she got my address and sent me an invitation to her wedding. If my record keeping is correct, we were married on the exact same day six years ago. Approximately two years ago, enter FACEBOOK! Sure enough, the online "social utility" improved my social life and connected me with a long lost friend. I should have known that I would get hooked on her blog...her letters to me as a child were interesting, clever, full of detail. Her talent as a writer just may have been developed through our pen pal relationship...or maybe I'm giving myself too much credit:).

A is awesome! I surely hope I will get another face to face meeting with her in this life. Maybe I'll get to meet her little one, who is set to arrive this spring! Although I don't know tons about A's present day life, I know that she is super organized and resourceful. Here is how her organization and resourcefulness enriched my life today. If you are an earthling, you will most definitely be affected by a certain season that is coming our way. If you're like me, you might be tempted to hide under the bed as soon as you even think about the holiday frenzy (except, Ahh! there's wrapping paper under the bed! Find a different place to hide...). Don't become a hermit, just check it out!