Saturday, January 6, 2018

Sweet Siblings

My husband came upstairs and found me folding in the laundry room.  (If ever you are looking for me, it's a safe bet-- I am probably folding in the laundry room.)  "It's so sweet," he stage whispered.  "You have to some see-- it's so sweet!"  I went to see, but I already knew what he was going to show me.  I knew because just a few minutes earlier I had been listening outside the den door and I'd had the same reaction as Dad.

Our two middle children, 11-year-old Benjamin and 14-year-old Elisabeth, were watching an NFL playoff game... together.  Elisabeth was asking questions and Benjamin was answering the questions, throwing in colorful quips about the strongest players and the playing histories of the teams.  It was a rare scene, a welcome scene.  When I first heard it, it stopped me in my tracks, and stopped me altogether from scolding them for sitting on their rears, staring at a screen, doing nothing productive.  I let them be... together.  Dad was in the den, watching the game with those two kiddos, until he slunk away to find me and tell me how they were getting along... together.

Football is one thing.  Being football fans is something totally new to our family.  Neither Todd nor I was never much into football.  I was raised in a home with a sports-minded father and brother, and Todd's dad followed the home teams, but it certainly never bothered me that Krinkeland wasn't into football.  It left Sundays open for Jesus and brunch and shopping and playing cards and folding laundry.  But, then Benjamin began to show an interest in football, and, when he gets an idea in his brain, there's no getting it out.  So, he watches some games and texts his grandpa and masters the Xbox football games.  Now, I have never noticed Libby showing an interest in football until today.  I don't know if she's looking to impress Grandpa or some boy, or if she just wants to keep up on the cousins' conversations, or if she's just utterly bored, but it does not matter.  What matters is that they are getting along and enjoying time together.

Years ago, I attended a parenting talk by a popular priest who was also a radio host.  Yes, I still giggle over the idea that a priest would be an expert in parenting... but it was really more about fostering spirituality in the family.  There was a huge crowd and a good discussion, but nothing earth-shattering.  Of course, my children were very young at the time, and I didn't have so many of them, so most of Krinkeland's big, looming crises had to do with potty-training and avoiding choking hazards.  During the question-and-answer portion of the event, a man stood and went to the microphone.  He was middle-aged, dressed in a worn flannel and work boots, soft-spoken.  "Father, we need your help," the man said plainly.  "My children don't like each other.  Is there anything their mother and I can do?"

He explained how his three children, now grown, had had a challenging, but not uncomfortable, upbringing.  He said all their needs were provided, discipline was fair and equitable, and everyone knew they were loved.  However, as they grew, they all just seemed to not care for one another.  They fought.  They did not help one another.  It was a heartbreaking story.  As you might imagine, the priest did not, could not instantly solve the problem.  The man and his question has stuck with me as my own family has grown.

Just this week, I pulled my two youngest children out of the backseat because they were beating on each other over who got to sit on the right.  Earlier today, one child told me she couldn't decide what she didn't want to do more: stay home alone or watch her brother's basketball game.  I also overheard one sibling ask another, "Hey, want to do something?"  And the other mumbled, "Nah," and went back to her show.  When the two oldest girls were preschoolers and would fight over a toy or call names, I would make them sit on the sofa holding hands until they both apologized.  When they got into middle school, the same two were once so vicious throwing barbs at one another that I forced them to sit at the kitchen table and each make a list of the other's positive attributes.

I know they love one another.  I hope.  It often seems they do not like one another.  I carry that other dad's pain with me, and I vow to work harder to make sure that is not the way of Krinkeland.  My husband's observation and joy tonight is a good sign.  I won't make them fold laundry with me, or finish packing away the Christmas decorations, or get a jump-start on spelling practice.  I will just let them enjoy football together.  And I'll smile from the other side of the door.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The St. Nick I Knew

I came across this in a social media feed today and just had to share.  It was created and broadcast the year I was born, so, obviously, I did not see it.  But, 20 years later, I did have the privilege of working with this man.  Like any other human, Dave Moore was no angel, but he was a character, and a darling, and the most amazing storyteller.  Not that long after my stint as an assistant on "Moore On Sunday," Dave Moore died.  It has now been well more than 20 years since we worked together.  I cherished the time we shared in the newsroom, and all I absorbed just from being around him-- how to spin a yarn and the much more valuable trait of how to make people feel important.  These weren't exactly lessons, no wisdom he was determined to impart, but just how Dave was.  He could be exasperating and exhausting, but everyone still wanted to be around him.  This sort of story shows why.  Maybe this piece will warm your heart the way it does mine.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas to All!

We have had an absolutely glorious weekend celebrating the birthday of a King!  The kids' last day of school before Christmas break was Thursday, so we had Friday and Saturday for final holiday preparations.  Elisabeth had a baking day with friends, and there was lots of cleaning before and after.  There was also wrapping, lots and lots of wrapping.  Thanks to a snafu involving the United States Postal Service, or an online photo card company, or both, our Christmas cards still have not arrived, so I did not get those sent.  Benjamin and Madeline took a trip to South Dakota with Grandma R. to celebrate with Grandpa R.'s extended family.


I have yet to post videos from all the kids' Christmas concerts... lots of good music coming your way eventually!  With Christmas Eve on a Sunday, it seems we had lots of churching-- I love it all!  We spent our traditional Christmas Eve with Grandma R. and Lisa, followed by Christmas Day with Grandma and Grandpa P. and the rest of my family.  I was sorry niece Lindy was home sick, and nephew Thaddeus is still working on his goals to be able to bust out of Children's Hospital.  One of my most sincere prayers this season is for Tad to be able to come home soon.

The weird cousins continued their annual tradition of interpreting the Christmas story in original story and song.  Here it is.  (You may be disappointed.)  So, that's the entertainment portion of this blog post.  The line of the day goes to one of my big girls (I am unsure which, as I am listening from the comfort of my bed, as Dad and the kiddos assemble and test Libby's gift of a countertop pizza oven: "I just love gifts from Dad!  He picks out the best things we didn't even know we wanted!"

 In this season of great love, I am grateful for wishes fulfilled and deep affections shared.  I wish you peace, and also ask for your prayers:

*For Thaddeus, that his health remains stable, and he becomes better at eating and staying awake so he can come home to all of us
*For all battling viral bugs this holiday season
*For all FOUR gym babies due this spring and early summer
*for S & J and their unborn child
*for T with recent breast cancer diagnosis
*for S as she awaits biopsy results
*For M, M, and all those receiving cancer treatment
*for Eddie's continued recovery and return to health following his heart transplant, and for his donor's family
*for the opportunity to visit Gua this week, and for her to have a good week
*in memory of Buppa, following the 21st anniversary of his death
*for all those missing loved ones who have died in the past year
*for orphans-- of all ages and in all places-- without families at Christmastime, that their intended parents may find them soon
*for MERCY

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Boy Star

Just by the chance of the calendar, this weekend was Benjamin’s weekend in the spotlight, and, boy, did he shine! On Saturday, he served mass for the first time at our church. When I told the other, older altar servers Ben was nervous and they needed to have his back, he scolded me and said he was NOT nervous. Yet, when the priest asked Ben if he was nervous, he didn’t really answer, but he did seem to visibly relax once the priest said he, too, was nervous the first time he served. Father reminded Benjamin to just not make a big display of it if he made a mistake and no one would notice. Sure enough, after mass was over, Ben said he’d made a couple mistakes, but none of us noticed.

Then, Sunday afternoon, Benjamin had his first performance with the Norh Star Boys’ Choir. He’s been singing with the Cadet Choir, a training/feeder group, for only about two months, and Benjamin’s TWO FULL PEWS of fans agreed they sounded great! I’ll post videos of th small group’s songs once I get them uploaded to YouTube. Ben has made a nice friend in the group and seems to enjoy the instruction from the directors, and especially the camaraderie with all. Todd was a choir boy, so I know he and his mom get a little thrill as they stroll down memory lane with our boy.

Amidst the rush and madness of this season, we rejoice in these sweet, family times. Happy, happy day!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tad Love

There's a new guy in my life: Announcing nephew Thaddeus Nathan!  My sister gave birth to a baby boy yesterday, but a lot of excitement and some technical difficulties kept me from posting about Baby Tad.  I am over the moon!

Boy got to arrive at 35 weeks, because both he and his mother had some interesting things going on medically.  So, Tad will be in the hospital for a while... but doesn't he look absolutely perfect?!

I got to be at the hospital when he was born, and I snuck along to the NICU to witness his baptism before dashing back to the surgical waiting room to wait on his mother.  Now, I'll hang back (maybe) and await his homecoming.  Then, I'm going to love him up all the days of my life.  When his nurse would turn away, I would lean in and whisper in Tad's ear, "You are MINE."  I don't think his parents appreciated that much, but, like they always say, you can't choose your family.

Warmest congratulations to his brothers and sister.  They got to meet him today, and I know they must also be in love!  Welcome to the world, Baby Tad!  Jesus loves you and so does Auntie!

Monday, November 20, 2017


A years-long struggle to get the children to turn right-side-out their pant legs before putting them in the wash has come to a close, with their father's admission he's been coaching kids to pull pants inside-out because "it's better for the pants." By all means, Krinkeland, consider what's best for the pants.

Monday, November 13, 2017

What a Day It Was!

Three years ago this day, anything that could happen did. During a snow-and-ice storm, two kids had out-of-town Knowledge Bowl meets at different schools. Grandpa P. and I went to watch.  (Grandma R. was there, too, naturally... but this story takes some crazy turns in the direction of my wacky family, so we'll leave her alone for now.)  Grandma P. went to my sister's house, to care for children as the oldest was hospitalized with a nasty infection. Then, my SIL Kristin went into labor! 

Uncle Todd pulled out of an important business dinner-- must have been a family emergency for that hard-working man to actually, suddenly leave work-- to take care of one set of littles, while Grandma went to the others. We dashed out of the meet, but an excited Grandpa put his truck in the ditch. Late in the evening, once all households were somewhat settled, I drove to the hospital to sit at the bedside my oldest nephew.  At the same time, at the hospital right next door, the my youngest nephew was making his debut!  

What a birthday story for the adorable Theo!  Here's what I wrote about the events at the time.  Three years later, all's well that ends well, and everyone is able to laugh about that crazy day.  Well, everyone except my brother, that is.  I'm pretty sure he's still ticked.  

Ted: "I warned you guys!  I told you everyone could not leave town-- it was Kristin's due date!"   
Me: "Yeah, yeah, we know... but who actually delivers a baby exactly on the due date?!"
Ted: "My wife.  Twice."

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sometimes It’s That Easy

Benjamin is having a friend spend the night to celebrate the end of the first quarter of school. Just kidding, I don’t know why there’s a sleepover, except that there’s no school tomorrow and I’m a sucker. He was up bright and early, preparing and scheming (but, of course, not actually picking up or cleaning anything.)

Ben: “Mom, can I ask you something— two somethings, actually— about tonight? Even though I️ know you’re probably going to say, ‘NO.’”
Mom: “Probably. But, sure.”
B: “Can we please sleep in the den?”
M: “I don’t care.”
B: “Really?!”
M: “Sure. The only thing is, you can’t play video games all night. Regular, weekend rules apply.”
B: “OK!”
B: “And, Mom, the other thing— can we have milkshakes and popcorn for a snack?”
M: “Like, you want me to get out the blender and make shakes and pop popcorn?”
B: “Yes.”
M: “Yes.”

I’m still trying to figure out what I’m missing that would make those improbable requests... but I’m trying to remain optimistic and thankful. If only they were all that easy to please all the time.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

I apologize I’ve been doing most of my writing elsewhere... but I have a lot of blog posts bouncing around my mind... Meantime, it’s Halloween! Todd is gone for work... Elisabeth spent the evening with a friend... Amanda dressed up (goes with her work at The Costume Shoppe) to hand out candy (15 humans and 1 canine this year)... Benjamin was a Care Bear and Madeline was Cleopatra. The kids trick-or-treated with friends, and the grandparents came by to partake of the spectacle. I ate too much candy and now I’m going to bed. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Medical Terminology, Krinkeland-Style

I'm not sure how it happened, as I never am in these situations, but somehow in the car the kids started talking about seizures.  What is a seizure, what causes a seizure, what to do or not do when you see someone having a seizure...

B: "What is a seizure, anyway?"
A: "Well, it's something that happens in your brain... I don't really know how to describe it..."
B: "Oh, is that when your body goes all rigid?"
A: "Well, it can be, but..."
M: "You guys!  A seizure is when they cut you open straight up to your guts!"
(long, silent pause)
M: "Oh."
(silent pause)
M: "Well, I never had a c-section, either.  I've never been cut into.  I've never even been put to sleep."
B: "Right.  But, also, c-sections are only for mommies to have babies."
M: "Well, I know I wasn't born that way, either, because Daddy's hand slipped when he was making my birth video, and I've seen it all!"

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

World Mental Health Day

Here's an issue about which I haven't blogged, but about which I should, because we all need to become aware and active: Today is World Mental Health Day.  It seems to me a HUGE disconnect that today's society is by and large so open, so accepting on so many extremely personal topics, but mental health still seems shrouded in some kind of taboo.  We must guard, keep watch, and treat our minds the same way we do our hearts and our souls and, of course, our physical bodies.

In the past six months, two families known and loved in Krinkeland have lost beloved teenage sons to suicide.  We have a sweet young friend who is wrestling with anxiety and self-doubt and has developed trichotillomania.  Just today, to honor the day, another young woman we know and admire took to social media to share her battles with an eating disorder.  I have multiple friends who, whenever I ask about their teenagers, reply, "I'm just trying to keep him alive."

One of my favorite bloggers is a fantastic writer who is also very open about her ongoing battle with depression.  Sometimes, her work is hilarious.  Often times, it's dark and scary and I don't understand it.  Yet, I try to understand it.  I stay with her in the dark and await her announcement of return to light.  I pray the cycle continues, because it is far preferable to the alternative.

There is a well-known musical about mental illness called "Next to Normal."  It is so scary and powerful.  The last time the production toured and came to our area, some friends had seen it and recommended it to Todd and me.  We saw it and were changed.  Still, when our friends said they loved it so much they were getting tickets to see it again, we worried.  "Next to Normal" did not feel like fun entertainment.  It felt like a trial.  You can decide for yourself, if you choose to watch it here.

Depression, anxiety, rage, focus issues, impulse control... there are as many mental health conditions as there are people who struggle with them.  We all need to be aware, be sympathetic and share the struggle.  Do not turn a blind eye.  This does not go away.  Of the examples I gave above, all are intelligent, resourceful, and come from two-parent families of means.  They are male and female, of various races and ethnic backgrounds, at different stages of development, education and careers.  There is no way you could classify people that would make some group immune to mental health challenges.

We cannot be so jaded.  I am guilty of having immediate judgmental thoughts when a friend casually mentioned that both she and her husband take antidepressants.  "Am I the only person in this group who is not medicated?" I thought.  But if I am, maybe it is only for now.  But if I am, definitely I should be grateful.  But since I am, that should make me even more obligated and available to offer an ear, to lend a hand, to be a true friend.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Beautiful Brace Face

Our darling 15-year-old got braces today. She is not happy about it; neither is our bank account. But it is what it is, and we must remind ourselves things could be much worse. We have a reasonable and cautious family dentist who held onto his wait-and-see approach until after she lost all her baby teeth. Months out from that point, it appeared the overbite and bottom-crowding would not correct itself. So, we juggled a bit to decide how to have the least impact on Amanda's role in the school musical, as well as how to hopefully avoid having braces on for other major, upcoming events, such as senior pictures-- YIKES! Amanda's mouth is some new kind of sore, but isn't she all kinds of adorable?!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Plastic Semantics

"Mom, what is that?"
"It's an emesis bag."
"A what?"
"A barf bag."
"What? Why?"
"It's from the hospital, from Daddy's surgery. A helper gave it to me when we were leaving, just in case Dad got sick in the car, but he didn't."
"Oh. An emesis bag."
"But, Mom? It's just a Ziploc bag and a paper towel."
"Yeah. But not really because the bag is not brand-name, it's generic."

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Getting Cut on a Birthday

Today is my father-in-law Harlan's birthday.  He would have been 64 years old.  We celebrated in Krinkeland by taking in Todd for double hernia surgery.  He has needed the operation for months now, after injuring himself in the spring doing heavy dead lifts at the gym.  There just wasn't a "convenient" time to have surgery-- is there ever?-- and so Todd was just marching on tolerating the pain and shoving his guts back in whenever necessary.  We have dubbed this year "The Summer That Wasn't" because of all the things we did not due, many because of Todd being out of commission. 

He was dreading surgery because he is an awful patient, and I was dreading it because I am a terrible nurse.  That said, things are going pretty well so far this night.  The painkillers make his brain loopy but his pain tolerable.  The kids are fascinated to see Dad laid up.  They're also more anxious and out-of-sorts than usual, but I didn't really expect them to be helpful.  My parents swooped in to be parents today, so I could be at the bedside.  Todd has had many well-wishers check in.  I think we're both just hoping for a little sleep.

We have, of course, been remembering Harlan especially this day, too.  Todd had his hernia surgery where Harlan had his cancer surgeries.  Todd's general surgeon even assisted Harlan's surgeon on his major operation.  The kids and I took some time this evening while Todd was resting to make apple crisp and sing to Grandpa.  He lives in us.