Thursday, July 13, 2017

Chicken Legs, Eleventyteen, Double Toothpicks, ELEVEN

Today is Benjamin Todd's eleventh birthday.  The day always conjures much joy and many memories throughout Krinkeland, particularly because Ben makes sure he is always seen and heard, and never forgotten.  What can I tell you about my Number One Son at this juncture in his life?  Let's see...

11. The current loves of his life are fishing and video games.
10. He is quite an adventurous eater, always gravitating toward bold flavors.
9. The boy is a hog and a bum, plowing through snacks in the pantry and stuffing the wrappers under his bed.
8. Benjamin's current goal in life is to play football-- on a screen, in the yard, on a team.  He plans to play professionally one day, quarterback, naturally.
7. Like his older sisters, Ben has some funky teeth, with the permanent ones growing in behind the non-loose baby ones.  There's a dentist visit later in the month to address this issue.
6. He doesn't exactly initiate chores, but will always willingly do whatever is asked of him, whether it's his job or not.
5. Ben loves anything sticky, and all things that make annoying noises.
4. His shoe size is 2, pants and shirts are 10, and he favors those athletic socks that go up the leg.
3. Benjamin's favorite place to go is anywhere where he can be the only kid.
2. He's really getting into power tools, particularly when Dad is not paying attention.
1. Ben is still super affectionate, and never tries to go to bed without a big hug and kiss for Mom.

Benjamin celebrated his birthday by inviting four friends (including cousin Solomon) for a swimming-fishing-eating sleepover last night.  The rest of the day was spent with the usual running around town, to and from activities, but with an added layer of zombie from the night before.  Dad and Biggest Sis had a boring meeting tonight, and Second Sis had rehearsal, so we Three Musketeers went off on our own adventure.  Welcome, Eleven!  Happy, happy birthday, Benjamin Todd!  Jesus loves you and Mommy does, too.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Not So Fast

"Mom, I've decided I want to do all my school shopping online this year, and avoid the mall."
(WHY is she thinking about SCHOOL SHOPPING during the second week in JULY?!) "Sounds great to me!"
"OK, good.  I've already made out my list and put things in the cart."
"Just for your planning purposes, you should know it's going to be about $700."

Ummmm.... NO.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Word Play

Even though it's summer vacation, there is still plenty of learning going on in Krinkeland.  Madeline joined a book club with her classmates.  Elisabeth is tutoring a younger student.  Amanda is taking driver's education.  Benjamin is figuring out odds for his favorite football teams on Madden 2017.  It's all good.

Maddy, of late, has had a lot of questions regarding language usage and vocabulary.  My journalism background comes in kind of handy, but I also find myself wishing I was an English teacher.  First, she asked me about the word department.  The context was Maddy asking me what exactly a department store was.  Since I know as much about shopping as I do about words, this was not a problem.  We even discussed the difference between a department store and a discount department store, and branched out into the term "big box store."  However, the next day, she asked me what DNR stood for, and became more puzzled when I explained it was Department of Natural Resources.  What does the word department mean here? I fumbled more over this definition... and had a moment of appreciation for all who learn English as a second language.

Maybe it's a shopping thing, but, today, Madeline asked me what a rear was.  I said that word means your bottom.  "My butt?" she asked, because bathroom humor is always in style.  I nodded.  Maddy was quiet for a few moments and then asked, "So, why do they say 'the rear of the store?'"  I broadened my definition to the back or the back end.  She's still thinking.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Sendoff for Margaret

Today was the funeral for Harlan's mom, Margaret Rosendahl. She inherited all of us when her son married Todd's mom. We definitely considered her a grandmother to Todd and our kids' great-grandma. Margaret lived a full life, blazing a trail through university studies, a teaching position, and tons of volunteer work, particularly through 4-H and her church. We all enjoyed the memories and photos shared today of this beloved woman and her interesting life. 97 years of love-- we should all be so lucky.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Play Day

My kids played together today, all day, all together. They were a little too silly in church. They conspired while ordering breakfast out so they could share and try more dishes. They hid from me to avoid chores at home. They helped Daddy choose the best 2x6 at Menards, named her "Delilah" and sang to her all the way back to the garage. They set up a nail salon in the den and beautified one another. They banded together to separate themselves from the crowd at a neighbor's graduation party and renamed the grandpa's dog because they were in agreement he did not seem like a Gus. They walked the dog together. They took a bike ride and played at the park. Right now, past bedtime, they are hauling out board games and declaring Family Game Night.

I am documenting this because I want to remember it always and forever. Every day is not like this. Sometimes I sigh and describe them as "best of friends, worst of enemies." Sometimes they are more the latter. True confession: I once attended a parenting seminar-- that was moderately helpful-- and, during the question-and-answer session, a plain, mild-mannered man stood and asked, "My children are all grown, or nearly grown, and, well, they just don't like each other. What did my wife and I do wrong? How can we fix this?" His questions cast a sad shadow on my heart, and I panicked a little, thinking that might describe my family, too. Sometimes it does. We talk about it. We work on it. And sometimes, today, we have a very good day.

It was a very good day.

Friday, June 23, 2017

What the World Needs Now

My big girl is stuck on the musical soundtrack "Dear Evan Hansen" and left it playing today in the car, so I heard this song, "If I Could Tell Her."  (The theme continues with the same message, another song in "Disappear.")  I haven't seen the musical, and only know the bits about it I could glean from this year's Tony Awards show and from listening to the music.  But you don't need to know the story to get the message, and it's something that strikes me.  Add it to the list of missions by which to try to live.  The people in my life are nothing short of AMAZING, and it's my duty to make sure they know that, and that they know I know that.

Speak aloud the kind words.  Issue the compliment.  Write the note.  Give the hug.  (That's a huge one for me.  Offer the hug... receive the hug... hug back... repeat... for all time...)  Don't just think it.  Don't tell yourself you'll do it next time.  Don't put it off till never.  None of us knows how much time we have, or whether another opportunity will ever present itself.  We don't like to think about that, but we have to admit it's the truth.

To drive home my point, I also saw this story, posted by one of my favorite storytellers.  We're all jerks sometimes.  We get selfish and sad and angry and we take it out on each other, even when-- especially when-- it has nothing to do with the other.  Make it right.  Be the love.  We all need it.  The world needs it.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Pull Me Up

This is a picture I took immediately after my new feat.  Do I look proud of myself or what?

I have a lot of posts rolling around my brain about an attitude of wellness, physical fitness, CrossFit and all that jazz... but I never seem to get the words organized and off my fingertips.  This little post is just for my benefit, bragging rights, posterity: I DID A PULL-UP!

I have been working out 5-6 days a week for two-and-a-half years.  This week, six weeks shy of my 43rd birthday, I did my first pull-up.  I could never do a pull-up in phy. ed.  I certainly couldn't even giggle at one when I joined the box.  To be honest, it wasn't even on my list of goals for this year.  It was becoming a running joke with me, a line I used to help relax newcomers to the gym, "Well, I've been coming here for more than two years and I still cannot do a pull-up." 

Then, at a workout a few days ago, my coach encouraged me to reduce the size of resistance band I was using for assistance.  My progression had gone from: two purple bands to one purple/one black, to one purple, to one black/one red, to one black.  Coach swapped out the black for the red and I cranked out a few pull-ups relying on just the thinnest band for help.  One of my friends (who progressed to pull-ups a while back) said, "Andrea, if you can do strict pull-ups with a red band, you can do a kipping pull-up with no band."

I went home and I thought about it, and I just decided: Tomorrow when I get to the gym, I am going to do a pull-up.  The next morning, I went to the gym and I forgot about my personal pledge.  I remembered it when walking by the pull-up bars after I had completed the long workout, which included deadlifts and wall balls.  My arms were tired.  I didn't say anything to anyone else, but decided to give it a shot, anyway.

It wasn't pretty, and there was some kicking involved, but I pulled my chin over that bar.  My gym friends cheered and tried to get me to try again, but I was good with one.  For now.  Maybe I will never do another pull-up, but hopefully that was the first of many.  Strong feels good.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day!

We had a lovely Father's Day, celebrating Todd, the Dad of Krinkeland, my own dad, and all the special dads in our lives. It's been a rough time emotionally, however, especially because the death anniversary of one dad-grandpa just passed and another is coming soon. Madeline came into my bedroom last night sobbing mightily. It took a while for her to be able to verbalize what was wrong, and she finally spit out, "Memories!" I tried to soothe her so we could talk more, and, within her sadness was a longing for her grandpas and the wonderful times they shared. I validated Maddy's feelings, telling her I miss them, too, and I confessed a little secret: I said sometimes I play old phone messages just to hear their voices. So, we did that.

Today , she told me she got in extra cuddles with Daddy and squeezes with her surviving grandfather, "He gives the best slobber kisses!" Can't imagine where we'd be without these amazing men.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Realistic (Bossy) Cousins

Cousins five-year-old Elias and eight-year-old Madeline were assembling a jigsaw puzzle with an ocean life scene:

E: "I like this picture because it's realistic. Is that what it is-- realistic?"
M: "Yes, that's exactly what it is. This is a realistic scene because it's what the ocean actually looks like. Well, it's what the ocean could look like so I guess this is realistic fiction."
E: "Realistic fiction?!"
M: "Yes, that means it could happen like this even though it didn't exactly happen."
(They go on to have a discussion about the best way to proceed with puzzle assembly, and agree on the tried-and-true border-first method. M holds up two puzzle pieces and turns them in various configurations.)
E: "What are you doing now? I'll tell you what you're doing now-- you are screwing it up."
M: "No, Eli, I'm thinking. Is that allowed?"

Saturday, June 10, 2017


I am probably unnaturally thrilled with this flower.  It is the only bloom I got (so far) from the two, young peony bushes I planted last summer when we reconfigured our backyard landscaping.  I LOVE peonies.  They are pretty and they smell good and they contain the most wonderful memories.

When I was very young, we had a fernleaf peony shrub-- my mom just called it a fern peony-- that had fine, pretty leaves and beautiful, deep red blooms.  For special occasions, like the last day of school, my mother would snip off blooms and wrap them in wetted paper towels and I would clutch the flowers and take them to my teacher.  Later, my green-thumbed FIL Harlan would rave about peonies.  He said "pee-OH-nees" and I hear his voice every time I see them.  My sister even eschewed traditional arrangements to have bouquets of peonies as her wedding flowers.

So far, it's just the one, pale flower on my little bush.  I hope there will be more, and I am leaving it be.  Before I even had a chance to tell my mom about it, however, she must have sensed by peony panic.  When we were last at her house, she said, "Would you like some flowers?  I am going out to my garden to cut you a bunch of peonies."  There are, however, limits to a mother's love.  She added, "But I'm not cutting you any of the dark ones.  They're too pretty and I don't have too many."

Thursday, June 8, 2017

School's Out for Summer

Benjamin and Madeline had their last day of fourth and second grade yesterday. Today was the final day at the middle school and the high school. Everyone is now on summer vacation, with varying degrees of excitement, but I think I am looking forward to this the most! More kid time... more relaxed schedule... more fun! Remind me I said this when the first one whines, "I'm bored!"

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


Child 2: "What's with the mascara?"
Child 1: "What do you mean?"
2 (in an accusing tone): "I mean, I've noticed lately that you've been wearing eye makeup every day, and I want to know why you're doing that."
1 (shrugs sheepishly): "I don't know. I've just had a lot of big stuff going on lately, and I figured I should at least make an effort."
2: "That's what you call it-- 'making an effort?!'"
1: "Yeah, I'm just making an effort to look nice. It's no big deal."
2: "You do look nice. You always look nice. You are a beautiful girl and you don't need all that makeup. That's all I'm sayin'."

Saturday, June 3, 2017

This is Love

Last evening, Todd and I saw-- heard-- Diana Krall and her jazz band in concert.  It was a wonderfully enjoyable evening, sitting in the dark, holding hands, listening to a beautiful voice croon classic love songs.  I called it "date night," so I guess that's one expression of love.  I handled the faux-crisis texts from the kids, and he drove home after the concert, even though he was exhausted from a day of work travel.  Love.

Today was chock full of activity and errands, one thing after another, and none of it much fun.  Todd and I eventually opted out of an evening social invitation, because we were just so tired.  We were getting home late, but I couldn't stand the thought of eating out or getting takeout again.  So, I quickly assembled the ingredients for a simple supper-- make-your-own pizzas-- but one kid used all the sausage before the other kid got to it.  So, I rummaged around in the refrigerator, looking for the bag of sausage crumbles because no one can ever put the sausage crumbles back in the meat and cheese drawer, and I bumped a large Tupperware container of chicken noodle soup, knocking it out of the fridge.  Soup spilled all over the fridge and everything in it, the cabinet across the way, and me.  I yelled so loudly and so obscenely.  I was SO MAD AT MYSELF.

Todd came running, mostly because he wanted to shut me up, and probably also because he was worried about everything in the kitchen being ruined, because we are kind of a worst-case-scenario family.  He pulled everything out of the fridge and took apart the fridge and cleaned up every bit of that chicken noodle soup.  That is love.

He did some pretty crazy stuff in the process, like throwing away perfectly good condiments "to make room for new condiments;" and lining up all the beverages on the front lip of the top shelf, leaving lots of space behind because of his strong philosophy that everything be immediately and easily accessible.  I did not question or criticize him too much because that is also love.  When he really started to flip his lid, I redirected him by offering him the rest of the pizza.  While eating, Todd looked down and counted slices and asked, "Wait, Andrea, did you get any pizza?"  Love.

When the mess was cleaned up, I drew myself a bath (because there was soup in my hair,) poured a glass of wine, and shut the door.  Todd went to the movies.  Sometimes, going to your separate corners is a most excellent expression of love. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wiener, Wiener, Chicken Machiner?

Of course, we're crazy-busy-- Tis the season, right? School and kids' activities are wrapping up... Summer and kids' activities are kicking off... But, no matter how full the days get, I never lose sight of what's important, and I make sure I always do what's best for my children. So, I bought the good hot dogs.

But, now, I'm worried about the chickens... and the English language.