Friday, December 28, 2007

I Wanna Wish You a Merry Christmas






I am slowly coming out of my egg nog-induced coma to relive the highlights of Christmas. I cannot recount any of the details, because it all passed in a blur. I remember when I was a child, my mom would say something to that effect every year, and I would think, "Are you CRAZY, woman?! It takes FOREVER for Christmas to get here!" But, it's true. I was mostly ready with the buying and wrapping weeks early, due to the surgery... Then, I was drugged for a few days... Then, suddenly, Christmas was here-- except I couldn't lift anything, and I couldn't eat anything good.

We began with a Christmas Eve lunch with our good friends Alicia, Erik and Annie. We generally don't see them till closer to New Year's, so it was a treat. They cooked. Todd supervised the kids. I sat. As always, when we are with them, I can't help but remember all those years when it was just the four of us. Now, it's the four of us, and our FOUR KIDS-- wild, but wonderful. They started the gift-giving, including a Monopoly game for Amanda. The Monopoly marathon continues today.

Then, it was on to Elk River. Their family joined us, along with Todd's family, and much of his extended family, for church. Amanda spoke up, as usual, during the children's sermon, but didn't embarrass us too greatly this year. A real Christmas miracle. We had Christmas Eve dinner with Grandma and Grandpa R and Auntie Lisa. Shortly afterward, Santa appeared at the door, sleigh bells and a big red bag in hand. Elisabeth hung close to me. When Lisa pointed out that Santa was there, she said, "Yeah, I can see that." He doled out the gifts, and the girls opened their number one requests, so it was all very exciting. After he left, the gift extravaganza continued. We sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and had cake, and everyone went home to sleep off the first round.

The girls slept in Christmas morning, mercifully, until 8. As a kid, I was always the first one up, so I was lying in bed, listening for them. Soon enough, Amanda started whispering and they were up. Amanda headed straight for the stairs, but Libby had to come into our room first. "Mom, is Santa downstairs RIGHT NOW?!" We assured her he was back at the North Pole, and they went down to empty their stockings. We opened our family presents Christmas morning, too, so it was another long run of unwrapping.

Next, it was off to Grandma and Grandpa P's for Christmas Day festivities. We had a big spread-- Kristin's family joined us, and must have been overwhelmed by all the kids-- and then opened even more presents. Solomon and Benjamin each got "big trucks," so it was fun to watch them ram around the living room. Mom and Dad gave us money for Christmas this year. I was planning to use it to buy new bath towels, but then Todd gave them to me for a gift, so now I'm lobbying for a mini-vacation. Todd wants a Blu-Ray DVD player (I guess he wants to vacation in the den.)

Big Christmas Day headline: Ellen and Terry announced they are expecting a baby in July. Please pray for an uncomplicated pregnancy, with a healthy baby and mommy come summer.

We still have one more round of Christmas, with Grandma and Grandpa K on New Year's Day. Merry Christmas to all of you. Rejoice in our Savior's birth!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Feeling Grinch-y


Sorry, regular visitors to Krinkeland... Just haven't felt much like blogging. It's been a rough week around here. I kind of figured I'd snap out of it by now, and be up and moving around. My pain is not severe, just a gnawing soreness that makes me not want to move much. The Vicodin doesn't seem to help much, so I quit taking it today. It's making me (and him) crazy that I can't pick up my son. I know this is a very minor surgery-- and it went well-- I'm just feeling sorry for myself. I'll tell you one thing: I have a new appreciation for my friends who've weathered c-sections. I've accepted the fact that I can't get out of bed by myself, and I've made close friends with my ice pack.

We've all been out of sorts. The kids aren't used to a mommy who lounges around all day. Grandmas and aunties had to wrap up their holiday to-do lists and run over to the rescue. Todd was doing double duty-- working all day and then trying to hold things together at home during the night. Even Amanda came home in the middle of the night from a sleepover at Grandma's, saying she was homesick. Of course, we all miss Ike terribly. There's nothing like the unconditional love and round-the-clock comfort of a furry, four-legged friend.

Todd and I watched "The Grinch" on TV last night-- the good, ol' cartoon... not that creepy Jim Carrey remake. At the end, he turned to me and said, "That really is a great Christmas message." So, maybe there's hope for all of us, yet. I'm going to lay down now, close my eyes, and imagine myself in Whoville.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Down One Organ




The photos speak for themselves: first is pre-op, second is recovery, third is incisions on bloated belly. The laproscopic camera went in the belly button. The higher side incision was used to clip off the gall bladder. The largest incision, in the center, was used to pull out the gall bladder. And the purple scribble? That's the surgeon's special mark so he knows he's operating on the correct patient, and the right part of the body.

I know you've all been anxiously awaiting the surgical report. Things have been a little busy around here, and I am quite sore and not drugged enough, so I'll try to keep it brief. I met the team of Johnson (surgeon) and Johnston (anesthesiologist) late in the day at the Abbott Same Day Surgery Center. My gall bladder removal had been pushed back, and then they were running terribly behind, so I didn't actually get into surgery until 5 p.m. They kept the anesthesia light, because I have trouble coming out of it. The surgery took about an hour, and I was awake by the time they wheeled me into recovery at 6:15.

The first night was very rough. I felt rushed to get out of there-- because I really wanted to get home-- but I was in a lot of pain. Apparently, they filled my abdomen with air to get the other stuff out of the way, so the surgeon could see clearly with the camera. This is not gas you can get out the usual way... it just has to dissipate over time... so I felt as though I could not take a deep breath... also very bloated. I was also pumped full of fluids (3 bags worth) because my surgery was so late in the day, I hadn't eaten or drank for nearly 24 hours, so I was dehydrated. Also, this was to counteract the effects of the anesthesia on my habitually dropping blood pressure. The end result was that I had to get up to go to the bathroom every one to two hours during the night.

Today, the pain is more located at my incision sites. I am using an ice pack a lot. I haven't had much of an appetite, but have kept down crackers and toast with my pain medication. The surgeon told Todd the gall bladder was very diseased... had stuff growing on it... I know, more than you wanted to know... so, it was very good it came out. Also, he said, "We did not see any cancer." Did NOT know he was looking for that!

Our First Baby, Our Best Friend





Our beloved dog, Eisenhower, was killed by a car. He went out this foggy, frosty morning, not on a leash, as is our normal practice. But Todd was trying to take care of the kids, and me, and he was keeping an eye on Ike out the window. Ike darted out and everything happened in an instant.

We are so, so sad. The dog drove everyone crazy-- including us-- we know. He barked, he scratched, he jumped up on visitors. He even lifted his leg on the Christmas tree this year (We'll never understand that one.) But, as all you fellow dog lovers know, he was also the most playful companion, the most trusted confidant, the most forgiving friend. He was so tolerant of the children. He loved, loved, loved to go on the boat.

Todd studied dogs the way he researches everything, and only agreed to get Eisenhower after I slipped a photo of him into Todd's lunch bag one day. After we picked him up from the breeder, we began to do everything wrong with Ike, from not training him, to not disciplining him, to this horrible, fateful mistake. But we also cared for him as a member of our family. We loved him so.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Cheer




We attended Elisabeth's preschool Christmas program this morning. Definitely the most entertaining show I've seen in a long time. Elisabeth played the angel Gabriel, which meant she mostly stood in the center of the action and pointed to things. The children belted out their carols. It was a riot. The sheep laid down in the manger and pretended to sleep. The wise men couldn't see out from under their crowns. One of the shepherds got tired and sat down before he made it to the manger. Good, clean fun.

Monday, December 17, 2007

First Reported Injury


Benjamin got a fat lip today. Yes, I was in the room. No, I was obviously not close enough to save him. He did not do it climbing on the hood of his bus... But, the fact that, hours later, he was more than willing to climb on top of the bus proves that he is a slow learner. Or that he is a boy.

He went from playing with the Little People nativity set in the middle of the living room to standing at the piano bench in 6 seconds flat. Then, somehow, he lost his balance and fell backward. I saw it all-- in slow motion-- but couldn't get there quickly enough to stop it from happening. Ben whacked his head on the sideboard, so I was initially worried about that. But, when I picked him up, I noticed his upper lip bleeding, so he must have hit his face on the way down.

My brain immediately went to, "How late is the pediatrician in? Who can watch the girls? Don't forget to cancel the appointment with the picture framer." But, then, I took a breath, blotted the blood, gave a few more kisses and squeezes, and got the demanding brute his "duice."

Baby Day!

Our prayers and good thoughts go out to Melissa and her family. At this hour, she is preparing to undergo a Cesarean section to deliver twin girls. What a fantastic early Christmas present!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mealtime Melee

We had another battle at the lunch table this noon-- and we were in public. Todd told Elisabeth she could not have any chips until she ate her Subway sandwich. So, she took the ham off of the bun and threw it at him. The move was not well received.

I tell you-- the constant food monitoring is one of those parenting issues no one explained to me. I am boggled by how much time and energy is spent trying to determine whether my children eat enough, or too much, whether they eat the right kinds of foods, whether their diets are balanced... and, then, whether they poop the way they should.

These days, Amanda cleans her plate, as long as it's something she's willing to eat; and she's willing to eat more and more things every day. Elisabeth eats nothing-- and it shows. We get probably one good meal a day in her, and it's usually breakfast. The rest of the time, she just doesn't eat. This may explain why she is holding steady at 29 pounds. Benjamin has been a good eater, but he's still painfully thin. He gets all that liquid supplement. But, now, it seems as though he doesn't actually eat much of anything. He mostly plays with his food, throws it, or chews it up and then spits it out.

I tell you one thing, watching those three eat sure makes me lose my appetite.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

In the Olden Days

Amanda asked me today, "Mommy, did they have electricity when you were a kid?" I honestly think she was a bit surprised by the answer.

Reason for the Season



We attended Amanda's school Christmas program Friday night. For me, it was a chance to be really thankful that we are able to send her to a parochial school. No Hannukah songs, no "Happy Kwanzaa" signs, not even a "Happy Holidays" in the bunch. This was 45 minutes of Christmas hymn singing, complete with a live nativity scene (some of Amanda's classmates got to play sheep) and lighted Christmas trees.

I'm all for religious freedom, and I thank the Lord every day for the brave men and women who protect and defend our nation and its ideals. Still, in our lives, this is the Christmas season. And, it brings me great joy to be able to surround my children with examples of Christian living-- and they have some great ones in their kindergarten and preschool teachers.

We are looking forward, too, to Elisabeth's program next week... Not so much for the Sunday school pageant, as it tends to be a bit chaotic. Still, I am thrilled when the end-of-show hymn sing is "Silent Night" or "Joy to the World" and not "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Jesus' birth is the reason we celebrate. My kids are getting old enough to begin to understand that, even if they don't really appreciate it. I look at my own son and have trouble fathoming the concept. "What Wondrous Love Is This?"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Slow Learner

Dear Lord,

Why don't I ever learn? The day, the week, the month were going so well... But, a week after we saw the neurologist who said, "Ben looks great. Just as I've been telling you all along, he's fine," Mommy has new reasons to fret and fear. The neurologist went on to actually dispute some of the geneticist's observations about Benjamin's facial features. Doctor of Neurology said he believed some of Ben's dysmorphic features were not actually inherent to Benjamin and his makeup. Rather, his features were displaced due to the size of his head. He said it could mean something totally different if a child with an average-sized head had eyes and ears that looked like Ben's. I left the neurologist thinking, "Well, great! Ben is making strides (literally) developmentally, and, in another year or two, he'll grow into his head and won't even look funny."

Fast-forward to today, and the girls' regular dental checkups. We started seeing a pediatric dentist after Amanda wouldn't open her mouth for our guy. I like this one. He's older, very smart, very connected in the medical community... a little odd, a big talker... He actually develops medical devices on the side (so he always likes to hear what Todd is up to) and he sold one of his ideas to a big medical company here, in exchange for funding for his free clinic in St. Cloud. After he told me the girls both checked out great, I opened my big, fat mouth. I just wanted him to take a look inside Benjamin's little mouth.

I started with my standard speech, "Our son is extremely wonderful and healthy, but he has some 'little physical oddities'--" The dentist cut me off, "Yeah, I can see that." I went on to tell how we've seen so many specialists, and no one can find anything wrong with him, and how we've decided to cut back on the doctoring. I said we're not interested in labeling Benjamin... The dentist said, "It's not about putting a label on the child. It's about knowing where that child is going. As parents and as doctors, it is extremely beneficial for us to know what to expect. We can be proactive and preventative. We can also treat problems before they become big issues."

He went on to ask all about the different specialists we've seen, and to offer his own strong opinions about who was good, bad, and otherwise. He made a strong suggestion that we take Benjamin to see a developmental pediatrician, on the inkling that there is something to his set of characteristics. Would you just shut up and look at his teeth?!

I pointed out that a couple of the syndromes the geneticist had considered (and discarded) included dental abnormalities, and that we had noticed how crooked Benjamin's front teeth are. (It's very obvious.) He said Ben has a cross-bite. Basically, he has an under bite on one side, and an overbite on the other. This should not affect his ability to eat or to talk-- clearly-- but it will require correction. The dentist's suggestion: Get Ben on a pacifier. Really. He said a Nuk (yes, that brand specifically) will help broaden his palate and realign his teeth. So, that would be the least invasive way to proceed, and the most ideal, since he is so young.

I think I need mommy therapy.

Naturally, none of my children has ever had a pacifier-- or a bottle, even-- because I didn't want the battle of taking it away. My children were breastfed. My children are not attached to pacifiers. My children say "please" and "thank you," and read books or do puzzles more than they watch TV. Now, a dentist is telling me this will HELP my son's teeth. How many hours a day over how many months? Till the problem is fixed. Great. We'll get him walking, and he'll be walking around with a plug in his face.

And, if, instead, we pack up our perfect son and move the whole family to a remote island... Will anyone care about Ben's teeth, then? Of course, that's not realistic, because Elisabeth would never be able to decide what to wear for the trip.

When I sat down at the computer to write this post, I first checked email. In the inbox was a chain letter-- some personality profile that had to do with desserts. But, when I opened the letter, there was one line at the top that had nothing to do with the rest:

God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

I could go on and on about how unusual, and comforting, it was to find that message there. But, it's what I've come to expect from the Big Guy.

It's Hip to Have Surgery

Please pray today for our friend, Jason. Todd's bosom buddy since before puberty is undergoing a hip replacement. He had the other one done a while back, so he knows what he's in for. A young life of arthritis and the drugs that treat it have taken their toll.

I call Jason Todd's "other wife." Heaven knows, I can't handle him on my own. They have long phone conversations, commiserating about the heavy loads they carry as providing men for families of five. They mull over home projects and electronics purchases. They need each other, and it's good to have friends.

Jason will have a trying recovery ahead of him, but, hopefully, it will be fairly brief. The doctors, nurses, and therapists love to see him coming, because he's about half the age of most hip replacement patients, so he should bounce back quickly. Pray, too, for his wife, Maren, who will be steering the ship solo for a while.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On the Move


Benjamin continues to make great strides in the gross motor skills department. He has skills. These days, he is climbing up and down the stairs. He has also begun standing on his own. He stands up next to a piece of furniture, sometimes does the little push-off, and stands there grinning. If you don't look right away, he starts waving his arms in the air. Once you look, he plops down on the floor. He also climbs furniture, speedily.

I know, I know. I was worried for those long many months that Ben would never move. I am not bellyaching now. It's just that I'm learning. We've never done "boy" before, and, boy, is he a boy.

Seeing Green

We finally bought some of those compact fluorescent light bulbs. Todd has been researching and comparing... looking for something that lasts longer and would be more cost-effective. These are billed as "environmentally friendly" because they're supposed to last four times longer than regular light bulbs, and use much less energy to put out the same amount of light.

So, when we were at Costco, Todd finally took the plunge and bought two packs of bulbs-- enough to change out all the recessed cans in the toy room. They cost four times more than regular light bulbs, so they better last that long. We hate them.

Here are the problems: They take a while to "warm up" and the glow they cast is totally unnatural. The room seems dim. Also, Todd points out, while these are supposed to be more environmentally friendly, the fluorescent bulbs also contain mercury, which makes them a disposal hazard. We can't win for trying.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Boyfriends

I finally picked up Benjamin's 12-month portraits. Todd and I have made a tradition of taking each child to a professional photographer for one special portrait to capture the one-year mark. For these, and most of our family photos, we have gone to a local man and wonderful photographer, Chris. I also consider him a great teacher and a personal friend.

Chris did not take Amanda's one-year portrait, because he was undergoing treatment for cancer. Thanks be to God, he is back to health, back to doing what he loves, and back photographing my family! I would include some of the pictures here, but scanning would be direct copyright infringement, and, after our conversation this morning, I think he just may check out the blog and I would be BUSTED! I will include a link to Chris' website at the bottom of this page.

But, this brings me to a different topic... One I feel I can share because I am secure with myself and secure in my marriage. The topic is BOYFRIENDS.

I was working full-time in my chosen profession by the time I was 20 years old. These were not the most glamorous days-- driving a radio station van through every parade route in the metro area-- but they were stepping stones to my career. I worked as a community newspaper reporter, a radio station promotions coordinator, a television spot news dispatcher and assignment editor, and in various assistant roles before becoming what I wanted to be-- a television news producer.

Still, I got my first major market TV job by age 22. That's a somewhat precarious post. I thought I knew everything (I really knew nothing,) and I was in the position to be calling some shots. Most of my colleagues, including people working "under" me, were at least 10, if not 20, years my senior. Some refused to follow my lead, some just ignored me. Then, there was Larry.

He had at least 25 years on me, in age and experience, but he respected me-- my opinions and ideas, my decision-making abilities, just me as a person. I adored Larry. Other young producers and I would argue, "He's my boyfriend. No, he's MY boyfriend!" Naturally, Larry was happily married... I was a newlywed myself... And there was nothing untoward involved-- just great fun on the job, the rush of deadlines, pride in our product, and mutual respect.

It's the same with Chris. Way back when, he was an editor at a small town newspaper where I worked as a high school and college intern. At the time, he had a young family, but was always working, working, working. As a high school student, I felt I knew him, because he was always popping onto the school campus to take a photo or to interview me for some great accomplishment or another. When I went to work for the paper, he taught me many things, specifically about photography. He showed me everything from how to frame a shot and hold it steady, to how to develop film, to how to lay out the story on the page. (We pasted up by hand in the olden days.)

So, today, Andrea's boyfriends. Don't worry-- Todd knows all about them. Most of these men are somewhat older than me. As far as I know, all are happily married, fathers, all-around good guys. I'm not about to run off with any one of them... But I'll admit I've pondered the idea. I've already named a couple by name-- sorry to make them blush. Others, I'll be more covert about, to protect the innocent.
1. Chris, the photographer
2. Larry, the director
3. my OB/GYN
4. one liberal, ranting senior producer
5. one former news director (the only one I liked at all, actually)
6. Dave Moore-- I think it's safe to name him, since he's been dead for years.

And, in a related list, here are Andrea's "boyfriends" in Hollywood:
1. Matthew McConaughey
2. Denzel Washington
3. Stephen Baldwin (yes, Stephen)
4. Philip Seymour Hoffman
5. Seth Rogen
6. Taye Diggs

While we're on the subject, Todd's "girlfriend" list would definitely include: Charlize Theron, Ashley Judd, Liv Tyler, Kate Beckinsale, Mila Jovovich... Predictable. The only oddball he drools over, if you ask me, is Lindsay Lohan. And, I don't think he'd like it much if he knew I put that in print. Good thing he never reads this.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fear and Loathing

On a related note, Amanda shook up the bedtime routine with a special request from on high. We were just winding down with prayers, through the "God Blesses" and thanking God for all the blessings in our day. Right before the final "Amen," Amanda clasped her hands together and squeezed her eyes shut: "And Lord, please make my mommy pregnant with twins tonight-- a boy and a girl, so we will have three (including Benjamin) babies to love."

Now, Department Store Santa already promised to bring Amanda what she asked for. I wasn't entirely sure about the other Big Guy. I stayed downstairs, wrapping Christmas presents, until Todd was asleep-- just to be safe.

Getting That Baby Fix



We finally made it to visit our friends Todd and Sasha and their "new" baby, Tahlia. Tahlia is nearly two months old already, but I was waiting for a day when we were all healthy! Sunday, with not a sneeze or a sniffle within earshot, we headed out after church for a "brief" visit.

Of course, nothing is brief with my family. We had to stop three times on the way to their house (a 40-mile drive,) for food, potty breaks, etc. So, naturally, we were late. I'm sure they loved that, with baby Tahlia and 3-year-old Shaylee probably well ready for naps. We said we were going to stay for just a "few minutes," but that was more than gobbled up with just the removal of coats and boots.

Shaylee introduced my girls to the beauty of TiVo: "What do you want to watch? We can watch anything. It's all on, ALL THE TIME!" But then she cried when Amanda gobbled up all the apple slices from their communal snack bowl.

Todd hogged the baby. He always does. Amanda held her, too, and kissed her, and sniffed her. Elisabeth was not interested-- or maybe she was just playing shy. Benjamin found Tahlia amusing, but he did not seem jealous. As we left, Amanda told us, "I have a feeling Benjamin is going to have a new, pretty baby girlfriend soon."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Special Delivery

I got a mysterious package in the mail. You know how much fun that is? When a box arrives, and you DON'T know what's inside? It was from my cousin, Jennifer. What would she be sending me? A Christmas present? Nah, it was a baby gift.

What-- you think you missed something?! You didn't. Her note said it was supposed to be a new baby gift, but, at this date, it was better called a "Congratulations, your son has a big head" gift!

Think I'm knocking my cousin? I'm not. Hey, she has three kids of her own. Plus, the gift was a soft and cuddly homemade blanket. I thought the timing was perfect. No one really takes the time to celebrate a 16-month-old.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Beautiful Girl (and Canine)


It was too cold to go outside today. So, Elisabeth and I played "beauty shop." She fixed Ike's hair, and I fixed hers. Afterward, she looked in the mirror and remarked, "Amanda just will not believe how cute I am!"

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Our Little Rocket Scientist


Benjamin had his neurology checkup this morning. Always an interesting experience. There is nothing new to report. He still has a big head. He is making vast and consistent developmental progress. The doctor has no new concerns about him, but would like to continue seeing us because, in his words, he has a big boat payment to make.

One interesting tidbit out of this visit: The neurologist said speech development in young children is the number one barometer of cognitive ability. I said if that is so, then I must be raising a household of geniuses. Here are the words Benjamin currently says-- or approximates-- with some regularity:
Hi
Ike
Dada
Sis/sissy
ball
book
duck
dog
kitty
more
juice
snack
up
down
Elmo
apple
'nana
ni-night
poop
uh-oh
ow
nose
eyes
teeth
sock
shoe
bath
water
tree
chair
hot

I might be forgetting some. By the way, the standing up in the high chair thing? I would not classify that as physical prowess or mental aptitude. I think it's just called BOY.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Retraction

Remember how I said yesterday that Benjamin had not touched the Christmas tree? Scratch that. He has mauled, molested, dissected, deformed, and tasted the Christmas tree.

Prayer Works

We went to Moms in Touch this morning. It's always kind of a battle, because Elisabeth doesn't like to play with the other kids and Benjamin is into everything... It's a wonder we get a chance to pray at all. But, I consider it a good chance to center myself, to focus on what's really important. I enjoy the other women and get a lot of good information from them, especially since I am the new kid on the block.

The moms have a pledge that what is said in the room stays in the room, and I don't want to betray any confidences. However, it is interesting how my perspective is changing. When I first started in the fall, and women would share bits and pieces about their lives, I thought, "This is awful. There are so many problems going on in these families, in our school, in the community. I should really be grateful that our family doesn't have these kinds of worries." People are not pitiful or whiny about their stories, just matter-of-fact about what's going on. Now, as time goes by, I find each week I am marveling at how situations change and evolve. I hear updates on how well things are going for this person or that child. It's truly amazing.

For me, it's just ongoing testimony that prayer works. It really does.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Oh, Christmas Tree


It was painstakingly selected and cut down by Daddy and Grandpa. Daddy and Uncle Ted dragged it into the house, set it in the stand, and let it warm up. Daddy strung the lights and helped with the angel on top. Now, the Christmas tree has been standing for exactly three days... It has not fallen over. Benjamin has not pulled it down on himself, nor has he tried to eat it. No one has forgotten to water it. So far, it has been a very good year.

We decided to put it in the middle of the big window this time-- Elisabeth's idea. If you look closely, you can see how the girls helped me decorate. There is an extra-plentiful band of ornaments at the 2.5-3.5-foot height.

Ben just sits and looks at the tree and says, "Ooh." I feel the same way.

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful


More snow today. I watched the news this morning, but somehow was not expecting the actual snowfall we've gotten. It was snowing when I got out of bed, and it's been snowing all day long.

This is the kind of weather I HATED when I was working. It's snowing? Well, then, drop everything, and risk life or limb to head into work. More than once, I was in a wreck on the freeway because someone couldn't drive in the snow... So, I eventually got to work to write news stories on other people who couldn't drive in the snow and crashed into each other. I remember once, when Todd and I were newlyweds, the weather was so bad, the boss told me I couldn't go home from work. I was needed early the next day to continue our special weather coverage, so he was going to put me up in the hotel across the street from the station. That night, Todd actually braved the snow and ice to drive INTO the city, to stay with me and order room service and pay-per-view movies on the company's tab.

Now, I just hate it that Todd has to make it home from work in this snow. He has such an insane commute, anyway. I just talked to him and told him to drive safely. He said it was impossible to drive any other way, because all the cars were going about one mile per hour.

That's OK, because I already had my weather worry this afternoon, pacing at the bus stop, waiting for Amanda. All the buses were running late in the snow. But, somehow, again, she got on the wrong bus. She came off the bus saying, "It wasn't my fault this time, Mom. Some adult put me on the wrong bus!" We're three months into the school year... Shouldn't someone recognize her by now? Anyway, she said she immediately knew she was on the wrong route, and told the driver her name and address, so that driver radioed it in and brought her home.

Monday, December 3, 2007

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back


My heart was lifted for a moment, after Amanda looked out the window and declared, "The lake froze. There's ice on the lake!" And Elisabeth jumped in, "But that's just a little ice, Amanda. Under that ice the water is still moving, so IT'S NOT SAFE!" Save one mommy lecture. They do listen to me. They do love me.

BUT, hold the presses and take off the rose-colored glasses. My 16-month-old son has started calling me by my first name. He's never been much for "mama," though he does say "dada," "Ike," and even, occasionally, "sissy." After supper, Todd was calling for me, when Benjamin began to chime in, "An-ree-uh!" Oh, joy.

Holidazzled





Sunday brought more sights of the season. We rescheduled "family night" with Todd's mom and family due to the snow. So, Sunday afternoon, we packed up and headed downtown Minneapolis for the Macy's auditorium show and the Holidazzle parade.

I remember working downtown years ago and thinking, "Someday, if I have children, it would be so fun to bring them to see Holidazzle." A huge bag stuffed with snow pants and scarves, pairs of dripping boots, and 16 scolds of "You MUST stay next to Daddy" later, and I wasn't so sure.

First, we staked out a spot in the skyway, and Lisa and I kept guard while Todd, Grandma, and Grandpa took the kids to see "The Nutcracker" display at Macy's. Surprise, surprise-- the show was empty. So, they also strolled right up and sat on Santa's lap. Turns out, Santa does agree to bring toys, even if Mommy thinks they're annoying... Hmmm... But the kids marveled at the display and bounded back to tell us about it.

Then, we decided to take a gamble on "Minnesota nice," and leave our coats spread on the ground to go get some supper. That was a wild and crowded experience, too. Picture me dragging Elisabeth around the food court, until she FINALLY decides on a ham and cheese sandwich and a piece of fruit. We discovered Benjamin loved Leeann Chin's orange chicken, which was fortunate because Amanda had just declared it, "too sweet."

Most of our reserved seating was still in tact when we returned, but that's when the girls decided they wanted to watch the parade from OUTSIDE. They bundled up and headed down the escalator with Daddy, Grandma, and Lisa. Grandpa, Ben and I watched from our toasty perch. We all LOVED the parade, though I don't know how they lasted in the cold. It was a big night, and there were some late sleepers this morning, but everyone had a blast.

Betty Crocker's Got Nuttin' On Us




We had our annual cookie-baking day on Saturday. Since I got a new house with two convection ovens, I get to host. That also means I get to sweep up sprinkles for the rest of the holiday season... but that's just my one whine, since everyone knows I'm pretty uppity about anyone else cooking in my kitchen.

But I sure was glad Mom and Ellen and Kristin were there to bake, because my skills lie more in the area of washing the cookie sheets. Naturally, Mom had done most of the work ahead of time. But she kept us hopping, rolling and frosting and dipping and packing. We all stocked up on sweets for the rest of the month.

I was also thankful to have Ted there, acting as official gopher and kid-wrangler, especially since Dad and Todd were off on their annual Christmas tree hunt. The photos pretty much set the scene. I love the one of Benjamin enjoying his first Christmas cookie. Elisabeth had decorated it, set it on the kids' table, and abandoned it. Ben scooted right over, stood up, and looked in awe. After double-checking to see whether he was going to get scolded, he dug in!