Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Really. Truly. Cold.

Here are the facts:

Bitter cold this morning with 8 A.M. temperatures around -9 below (wind-chill -23 below) then 0 degrees (wind-chill -11 below) at noon and +4 degrees (wind-chill -9 below) at sunset (4:33 P.M.). Winds today will be from the East-Southeast at 5 to 10 mph.

We encountered our first ever frozen pipe today, which was thankfully thawed by my hair dryer. I bundled up in my coat-that-looks-like-I'm-wearing-a-down-comforter and headed off for a hair cut this morning. The traction control system on the van was working overtime, and I saw a car that had obviously skidded off the road and right into the side of our local library. I also saw kids jumping up and down to warm themselves as they waited for the school bus. I recalled being "cold" in Southern California when it would sometimes be in the 40's as I waited for the bus in high school. Little did I know what it means to be *cold.*

Friday, December 05, 2008

Mercies, Great and Small

Today we are drowning in used Kleenex, children's Tylenol, and (adult) Benadryl. A nasty cold has descended upon us. I am the only member of the household who remains unaffected, which is a tremendous blessing considering the fact that I spent the entire day with a screaming one year old glued to my hip. We were forced to ask our small group from church to relocate tonight's meeting (normally held in our home), as Wes seemed destined for a trip to urgent care. As it turns out, though, he improved quite a bit this evening and calmed down enough to play a bit and pad around the house in his Christmas jammies. I was grateful for this small mercy, and we were all happy to see the snow falling beautifully outside just before we tucked the kids in for the night.

Speaking of mercy, I ran across this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and felt it should be passed along:

"A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes - and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thankful, Thankful

Our Thanksgiving Day was quiet and lovely. Joel has been working through the typical insanity that surrounds grocery establishments at holiday times, and so we decided to spend the day at home -- just the five of us. We started the day with some special breakfast foods and a viewing of the Macy's parade. Corrie was enthused beyond measure to see Ariel dancing around on roller skates in her fantastic bikini costume during a performance from The Little Mermaid Broadway show. Jack glanced at a couple of balloons, but otherwise entertained himself by bouncing around the room. Wes, as he typically does these days, entertained himself by trying to climb on any stationary object in the vicinity.

After the parade viewing went by the wayside, we gathered the kids and had them tell us what they are thankful for this year. We started a "Thankfulness Book" with them last year, thinking that it would be fun to look back at their responses in the future. This year, the items included Mommy, Daddy, grandparents, and birds. This reminds me . . . Corrie came back from our home school co-op last week with a thankfulness tree. On each leaf she had written something that she is thankful for. I looked over the leaves, smiling at each sweet thing she had said, until I saw a leaf with "Corrie" written on it. I asked her if she was thankful for herself, and she replied, "of course." Can't say we haven't endowed the child with a good sense of self-esteem.

After some rest, and a viewing of the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, we enjoyed a very tasty turkey and some nice side dishes, including one outstanding green bean dish with a butter and white wine sauce. The children ate very little of our exciting feast, though Corrie did eat a copious amount of cranberry sauce. We had pumpkin pie for desert, and we all watched Jack as he very meticulously ate all of the whipped cream off of his slice without tasting one bit of the pie.

We always miss being far away from our families on days like this, but it was a good time of laughing with our kids, feasting together, and pondering all that we have to be thankful for.

Corrie is currently fascinated by pilgrims.
Jack enjoying his breakfast. Or is he? And can someone please explain to me why my children cannot keep their food on the plate? Notice the runaway bacon.

Wes is happy and ready to eat.
Bring on the food.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Reformation Day / Ho-Down / Halloween

We love our church. Our small OPC church plant in Saint Paul is filled with great people, of all different ages, who occasionally enjoy defying (or at least stretching) the Presbyterian and Minnesotan stereotypes. An example of this was seen on Friday night, as we held our second annual Reformation Day celebration. The event was commemorated with a dinner and square dance in the church basement. And, since Reformation Day coincides with Halloween, costumes were welcome. There was a lot of excitement out on the dance floor, demonstrating that we are not *always* the "frozen chosen." Our kids had a great time -- especially Corrie, who was a square dancing pro. She did experience one moment of terror when one of the men from the church entered the room dressed as Darth Vader, but she recovered when she realized that it was only "Henry's daddy."

Here are some pictures of our little barnyard critters, and one happy cowgirl.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fall is Here

Minneapolis is truly beautiful right now. Our backyard ash tree is dropping it's yellow leaves. All around our neighborhood, maples are turning bright red and there is a very satisfactory crunchiness to our walks. Our days have been busy, filled with good things like school time, violin lessons, trips to our newly refurbished neighborhood park, and cheering for Wesley, who is on the verge of walking. We also enjoyed a good visit from Grandma and Grandad, and are now looking forward to this week's arrival of Grandma and Papa. I am trying to soak in the last days of semi-warmth before they vanish for a *long* time.

I think he's angry with me because I don't have a picture of him standing and almost-walking.
We went to the pumpkin patch / apple orchard with Grandma and Grandad.
Not surprisingly, Jack enjoyed the wooden train.
Happy Wes.
Corrie in studious mode.
A nice walk 'round the lake.
We also visited the quaint town of Stillwater with the grandparents. The kids loved this horse and walking along the St Croix river. I, however, was wishing for a return trip without kids in order to browse the great antique stores. Double strollers and antiques do not mix.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Day of Contrasts

Corrie's day began like this:

And ended like this:

She was actually fine this morning, but I think was trying to gain some sympathy and attention. I did enjoy the SOS written on the magna doodle, though. This evening, however, she was able to attend a party at her violin teacher's home, because she was one of four student winners of the "Violin Olympics." This was a competition invented by her teacher in order to motivate students to practice violin over the summer months. As I am the one who practices with her daily, I felt that I should also receive a gold medal and a fairy diary, but instead I settled for a night out with my husband and boys. We ate some fantastic food at a new Himilayan restaurant, took a drive over the new 35W bridge and went to one of our favorite local establishments to end the evening with coffee. And so, in spite of the shaky start, the day ended well for all.

Monday, September 01, 2008

First Day Fun

Though we have been practicing our reading and writing over the summer, we chose today as the official kick-off to Corrie's Kindergarten year. I decided that we needed some fun and festivity to mark the occasion, and so Joel and I came up with a few ideas that we hope will become traditional first-day-of-school activities.

First, we set a nice table and made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. We also set out new lunch totes for each of the kids, with a letter from Mom and Dad about what we hope to accomplish and enjoy with them in the upcoming school year.

Next, Corrie and I sat down for some lesson time, and I had her complete a questionnaire about some of her favorite things as a 5 year old. I am planning on having her answer the same questions each year, so that we can see how she grows and changes. We also measured each of them, marking their heights on our basement wall, and took pictures on the front porch.

Finally, we decided that the first day of home school should always involve a field trip. We might as well celebrate our flexible schedule, no? And so, we headed off to the Saint Paul Cathedral, a destination that has always intrigued our little ones because of their association of the building with the cathedral in Mary Poppins. The outing did not disappoint. The building was beautiful, and we were able to hear an organ demonstration as we strolled through the church. As an added bonus, we got an up close and personal viewing of protesters and riot police surrounding the location of the Republican National Convention. The educational opportunities abounded! We also took the opportunity to have a tasty lunch at El Burrito Mercado before heading home for rest and pool play time.

All in all, an excellent first day of school for all concerned.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Interesting Injury of the Day

Jack stumbles, weeping, into the dining room with blood dripping from his mouth.

Me: Oh no! Did you fall?

Jack: Noooooooo. I bumped.

Me: You bumped? Into what?

Jack: I bumped my teeth. On the TOILET! Waaaaaah!

I just don't even want to know.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Chat in the Doctor's Office

Tonight, I finally had to face facts and take myself to urgent care in order to address what turns out to be conjunctivitis in my right eye. As I was not in any serious distress, I decided to take Corrie along for the ride, in part because the girl *loves* the doctor's office. The outing did not disappoint. She read an exciting book in the waiting room, giggled with glee as the nurse took my blood pressure, and was in absolute awe when the doctor said that she could be the assistant while she administered drops and looked at my eye with a blue light. All the while, she filled her role as my chief comforter . . . holding my hand and expressing her concern over my condition throughout the experience.

My favorite part of the night, though, came when the nurse asked Corrie if she got along well with her little brothers. Her response: "Welllll, um, you know, sometimes we can be a little . . . unpeaceful, especially when we take toys away from each other."

You just have to love the honesty. It doesn't even occur to her that she could say, "Oh, yes, we get along splendidly," and no one would be the wiser. Though my throbbing eye is a literal pain and an inconvenience, I really enjoyed my rare chance to have some time alone with my funny and forthright little girl.

Friday, August 15, 2008

First Haircut

Our baby boy is turning one next week. Unbelievable. It is unbelievable that a year's time has already elapsed, and it is never ceases to amaze me that a baby can change so much in such a short span of time. Can he really have gone from this helpless newborn:

To this laughing, crawling, climbing, bouncing, little guy?:

But, enough of that. The purpose of this post was to show the shearing of Wesley's little baby mullet. As one would imagine, he was less than thrilled with this plan, but hung in there like a pro, even though he was the victim of a new stylist at the ever-popular "Kid's Hair" salon. In fact, so new was this stylist, that she forgot to censor her innermost feelings and let out a loud "Oh No!" when she saw me approaching the chair with the little guy. She did gather herself, however, and we left with a satisfactory result.

Behold, the unfolding drama:

You can't run and you can't hide.

I like my mullet. Let's leave it alone. Please.

Finished product.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Look What I Found . . .

. . . in my basement. 10 points will be awarded to those who can spot Wesley:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Summertime Update

The summer weeks have been flying by, and I am delinquent in posting our latest news. Early this month, we took a fantastic trip to northern Minnesota, where we stayed in a house situated on one of the 10,000 lakes. It was a great time of playing games, relaxing, and watching the kids throw stick after stick and rock after rock into the water. We did have our first encounter with true mosquito country, and became quite used to the odor of bug repellent. I was happy to discover, though, that the skeeters were not the size of hummingbirds, as some had led us to believe.

After our time 'up north', we came home and enjoyed Joel's birthday. He chose to celebrate with a family trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Art. I was not so sure about this choice with our young brood, but it ended up being a good time. The MIA is very family friendly, it turns out. First of all, it is *free*free*free*. Secondly, they have a new 'family lounge' area, complete with family restroom, nursing room, and padded play area for the kids. It was a great place to take a break when the kids were growing weary of looking at the paintings and sculptures. Corrie really enjoyed it quite a bit, especially because she got to meet the Impressionists, just like Katie in one of her favorite books.

Daddy, Corrie, and Van Gogh

We are also enjoying our quiet days at home this Summer. Corrie and Jack love to make themselves busy in the backyard, or with various pretend adventures in the house. Wes is keeping me busy with his desire to crawl, explore, and chew upon *everything*. So far, we have managed to avoid any choking incidents or topples down the stairs. Good times.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Just Had to Share

Perhaps the strangest picture that I have ever taken of my children:

For the record, they climbed up there of their own accord.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

He's Three

Today, my little right hand man turned three years old. He is still young enough to not really understand the cultural idea that his birthday is supposed to be all about him. When I whispered a last "happy birthday" as I tucked him in to bed, he whispered back, "happy birthday, mama." He also kept checking in with his sister throughout the day to see if she was enjoying herself. Even in the midst of opening his presents, he asked, "Corrie, are you really excited?" I love his sweet little self, and can still feel his babyhood when he positions himself on my lap and lays his fuzzy head on my shoulder. But, I can also see him becoming a little boy as he seems to master new things and gain more independence daily. Just in the past couple of weeks he mastered dressing himself, reciting entire Frog and Toad stories, and learning to store water from the hose in his mouth in order to run over and spit it out on the sidewalk. A mother can't help but be proud.

We also spent today wrapping up a fantastic visit from my parents, who helped us celebrate by taking us out to a great breakfast and to the nearby Minnesota Zoo. The kids had a great time. Jack was most excited by the prairie dogs, and mastered a stellar impersonation of the little critters. It was a good third birthday. And, yes, Jack, we *all* had a happy one.

Starting the day with pancakes.
Fun at the zoo.
Prairie Dogs are awesome.What's a birthday without the hose?
A happy, chocolate cake end to the day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

It's Good to Have Time

To play with the watering can:

To kick the ball:

To advertise mom's blog:

To say, "Hey, mom, come see this interesting bug . . ."

"Do you think it's a caterpillar?"

"We'll wait right here until it turns into a butterfly."