Saturday, August 30, 2008

6-Year-Old Words Out of 2-Year-Old Mouth

People warned me my third child would never speak. "He won't have to," they'd say, "because he has two older sisters to speak for him." My experience is that is NOT so. In fact, I think he talks more, uses bigger words, and especially strings together words in "sophisticated" sayings for his age. My sister has noticed it, too. We were in a restaurant this week, and she commented that it catches her off guard-- all these words coming out of this high-pitched voice attached to such a tiny body.

While getting ready for bed, I reminded Benjamin we needed to brush his teeth, because he didn't want sugar bugs. "Euw," he responded, "That'd be really gross." He also balked at getting on his pajamas, trying to distract me by saying, "Just wait a minute," "I gotta tell you something," and, "Hey, I got a joke for ya."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Heteroflexible?! I'll Give You Something to be Flexible About

As if we didn't have enough to worry about, being the parents of girls... I came across this column in the newspaper and nearly lost my lunch: "Heteroflexible..." I sometimes think my main goal as a mother will be to teach my daughters they don't need anyone, and they should not sell themselves short to "earn" the affections of a boy. Then, some other times, I think it might just be safer and easier to lock them in their rooms till they're 35.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Clean Bill of House

Glee overrides guilt. This having-someone-else-clean-your-house thing is SO WORTH IT. I was gone all day, and I came home to a TOTALLY CLEAN HOUSE! I've heard others say it's not worth the money... no one cleans your house the same way you would... you still have to do a lot of the work... Well, all I know is my HOUSE WAS CLEAN! I don't just mean bathrooms and the kitchen floor. They dusted the wood blinds and the baseboards. They vacuumed in a way that makes the carpets feel fluffier. They cleaned out the lint and soap scuz from between the washer and the dryer. I think I'm a fairly neat person, but I don't get my house this clean each week.

Sure, there are the drawbacks. I let Elisabeth go to bed without brushing her teeth, because I couldn't bear to see toothpaste globs in the sink again. I didn't feed my kids breakfast because I didn't want them to get crumbs on the floor. We all have to make sacrifices. Best birthday present ever. I am currently scheming to turn this service into an anniversary gift, and then a Christmas gift.

This endorsement, by the way, in no way diminishes the work of the "Lazy Husband Cleaning Service," which consists of my mother and my sister, and has been called into duty in the end stages of each of my pregnancies. Their hard work-- for no pay, just heartfelt thanks-- while I rested my big belly, pales in comparison to the work of my current house cleaners. Still, hard as I've tried, I haven't been able to convince Mom to leave her job and her own household duties, or Ellen to ignore her three kids with their own messes, to clean my house on a regular basis.

Why Do They All Wear Cowboy Hats?

Up early this morning... Couldn't get back to sleep after Todd slam-danced around the room, dressing to go to the gym. When Amanda got up, I was flipping channels on the TV and she crawled into bed next to me. If you are not properly prepared, I do not suggest watching country music videos with a six-year-old: "What are those two people fighting about?" "Why did that girl run away from home?" "Whose dog is that, anyway?" "Can we get a pickup truck?"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cleaning House

The cleaning service started today, and, I have to admit, I'm feeling kind of guilty about it. I know it's my birthday present... but my super-secret plan is to turn this into some kind of permanent arrangement. Yesterday was spent "cleaning for the cleaning lady;" it truly did take most of the day to pick up enough so strangers would be able to get in to dust and vacuum.

That's kind of been my rationale in trying this route. I know it's a luxury, and maybe I am just lazy, but I think I work pretty hard around the house. Just doing laundry and making meals, and cleaning up after meals, all while taking care of the kids, managing all their needs and activities-- these things definitely fill my days from sun-up to collapse-in-bed-at-night.

Still, as a stay-at-home parent, as a wife, as a responsible adult-- isn't cleaning the house my job? I know I am not the only one out there struggling with this. I recently got an email from a friend with a very active two-year-old, who was basically asking, "How do you (any of you) do this?! I can't get one room clean and she's ravaging the next one."

I know the feeling. That is one thing that has definitely changed, for me, with the third child. I no longer have a CLEAN house... I feel fortunate to have one clean room; and, I can no longer set out to just clean the whole house-- it's more like a room or two a day, every day. The kitchen floor may get swept three times a day, but it only gets washed on my hands and knees once a month.

The worst time is when we are expecting guests, which is often. My tactic is to make a list, itemizing everything from dust the blinds to empty the ice maker. I type the list and begin crossing off items about 24 hours before company's arrival (I can't start earlier, because the kids will just mess up everything again) and then I just tackle as many items as I can until the doorbell rings. I have yet to actually complete all the items on the list.

So, is my frustration shared? Am I justified in feeling guilty? Do you have any suggestions to help the guilt pass (because I really like the idea of NOT having to clean my house every week?)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Digging Our Way Out of Construction

We found out last night Elisabeth's preschool opening will be delayed one week due to construction at the church. There has been a big building and remodeling project going on all summer, but, we peeked in the preschool room and found it untouched, so I'm not quite sure what difference one week is going to make... but I guess we can't do much about it. I think Libby was secretly pleased when she figured out that means another week home with Mommy and Ben.

Meantime, we got Amanda's school bus assignment. Due to construction on our road (though currently not the stretch where we live) they had her walking to a bus stop that is literally six blocks away. Well, no siree, Bob! I called, using the "catch more flies with honey" tactic... and got the pick-up moved back to our driveway, where it belongs. She will still be on a different route from last year, but, all is well, because she knows this driver. He drives the route Amanda "accidentally" found herself on more than once during the previous school year. An added bonus is that this separates her from the boy who created a few bus problems last year.

Monday, August 25, 2008

All Grown Up and Nowhere (Fun) to Go

This morning's errands included getting the van's tires rotated and picking up a building permit application for the deck. Oh, what an exciting life I lead! This got me thinking about all the "grown-up duties" that no on tells you about-- you just do them. I mean, the dentist reminds you to floss, and the doctor teaches you about monthly breast self-exams (or not, as new research finds.) But there are so many other things that are necessary for a functional, productive life.

When I was first out of college and working full-time, I had a friend who lived alone (Yikes! I never did that.) and she came to work one morning laughing at herself. She had a nice apartment with a washer and dryer in the unit. The evening before, the dryer had started smoking-- actually started a fire. After the fire department was called, the building cleared, and the problem discovered, the experts called my friend back into her apartment. There was no real damage, but the fire marshal and the building superintendent wanted her to know the problem, to prevent it from happening again. The dryer's lint trap was literally inches thick with fuzz and debris from her laundry. My friend hadn't even known where the lint trap was, much less that she was supposed to empty it between loads.

I guess I've learned about most of these things from my parents. My dad is especially fastidious about car and lawn maintenance, and money management, and my mom about housekeeping and cleaning up after yourself. ("Who left these crumbs on the counter?!") Still, no one calls up or sends a postcard in the mail to say, "Don't forget to buy water softener salt!"

I started to make a mental list of un-fun, sometimes expensive, but necessary chores:
--renewing driver's license
--changing the furnace filter
--balancing checkbook (Sorry, Dad. I don't do that, but we're getting by.)
--getting oil changed
--rotating tires
--putting on screens/taking off screens/washing windows
--sending sympathy cards
--cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer
--filling water softener with salt
--donating to church
--trimming shrubs
--cleaning carpets
--looking for unauthorized charges on the credit card statement
--winterizing the lawn mower/boat/etc.
--arguing with the cable company
--filing taxes
--paying taxes
--registering to vote, and voting

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Week in Pictures

Feel more like resting than writing... But here are some glimpses into our busy past few days, including: a visit to the Amaze'n Farmyard, a trip to the zoo, a day at the state fair, and Oliver's baptismal celebration.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Well, It Could Be an Event

Never really got into the Games... In fact, I found the Olympics especially annoying when I was producing local TV news, because they made shows go on late, and then took up news time reviewing events and results. However, with nothing better to do this summer, Todd and I have spent some evenings cheering on the U.S. of A. in Beijing.

One day, Elisabeth had taken a nap, so she was not ready for bedtime when the others went down. This gave her the added bonus of some one-on-one time with Daddy. They curled up on our bed, watching the Olympics, while I was off doing something really important that I can no longer recall. The next morning, I asked her, "Which Olympic events did you watch with Daddy?" She replied, "Mustard making." "What?!" "Yeah," Libby reiterated, "they were making mustard." Well, I myself was stunned and confused by the speedwalking event, so I figured it was just possible she was right. Later, I told Todd and he laughed. Apparently, during the commercial breaks, he was flipping over to a Discovery Channel show, "How It's Made"-- on mustard.

A Farewell

My Uncle Rudy has died. Didn't know I had an Uncle Rudy? Well, his real name was Duane; Rudy was just a small-town nickname. And I didn't talk about him much, because I didn't know him well. He worked construction, and he was gone for long periods of time.

Uncle Rudy was husband to my Aunt Pat, who I've always adored. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, baby gifts all arrive at my house, without fail, with Uncle Rudy's name at the bottom, too. What's more, Aunt Pat, Uncle Rudy, and their three daughters have taken the most wonderful care of my grandmother, who lives very near to them.

In just a few short months, cancer ravaged his entire body. Uncle Rudy fought-- when he did not want to fight. He fought for his family. So, today, I honor Uncle Rudy, as Aunt Pat's husband; as Wendy, Lisa and Cindy's dad; and as Thor, Wyatt, Colt, and Drew's grandpa.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cutest Kids (Biased Title)

Check another item off on the back-to-school list-- I took the kids in for haircuts. Amanda went short, Elisabeth got her bangs trimmed but decided to stick with piggy tails, and Benjamin had his first buzz cut.

Since it was "Kids' Day" at the salon, the place was teeming with ankle-biters, which brings me to the topic of, "My Kid Is Better Than Your Kid." Some parents are delusional enough to think their kids are perfect. Many others recognize the flaws as they arise, but rationalize them away by comparing their children to others'. I fall into this category, and I can admit it. We do it with anything, everything:

"Yes, my daughter talks a mile a minute, but at least she's not clingy and hiding behind my knees."

"Sure, my son throws hymnals in church, but doesn't he look adorable in his sweater vest?"

"Well, that may be toothpaste in her hair, but I'm glad it's bubble-gum-flavored."

We do it with intelligence: "Certainly, I wouldn't want my kid to be so smart that she had trouble relating to other kids her age."

We do it with attractiveness: "I think the lopsided pigtails give her character."

We definitely do it with behavior. I actually once overheard a mother say, "I'd rather have a hitter than a biter."

What I find most fascinating is that we do it with health. I've found myself, late at night, bargaining with God: "Fine, if this is what's wrong with him, just tell us. We'll deal with it and be glad it's not something worse." I once had a conversation with a mother whose son was recovering from an acute, life-threatening disease, one that caused permanent cardiac and neurological damage. She said, "He's doing great. He's handling it all so well. And, I just keep thinking about my sister's kid, who is diabetic, and I'm just so glad we're not dealing with something like that!"

We did it with little Oliver. When he was in the NICU, so, so sick, and, even though we knew he was getting better, it was still scary, we'd steal sideways glances at another isolette and think, "At least we're not dealing with that." At least, I thought that way...

So, it is with that great explanation that I can now post this video:

See, it's cute, because his sisters were egging him on and he was parroting. It was NOT so cute the first time he did it, totally unprovoked. I was standing at the kitchen sink and Ben was still strapped in to his supper chair, when he yelled, "Hey! You! Get over here right now, Missus!"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Right vs. Who Cares?

I'm dwelling on what it means to be right... and if there even is such a thing. Certainly I believe in absolute right and absolute wrong. However, in most scenarios, it is a matter of perception. "Right" or "wrong" depends on the set of facts presented. And nearly all the time, no one-- certainly not everyone-- has all the facts. So, in a disagreement, aren't I bound to think I am right and the other is wrong? And, isn't the other person certain to see his or her righteousness from that different view? If so, why is it important for me to always be right? Am I often wrong, but do not know it, because I don't have a different set of facts, more facts, or just a different perception? How does this change over time, and why does it matter?

By the way, Todd said he was disappointed I didn't take Benjamin to the zoo today. I took the girls, and Terry had his two older boys, and Ellen stayed home with Ben and Oliver. In my defense, I don't think Ben cared. He had a great time playing checkers with Auntie and helping with the baby. And three kids in 90-degree heat and humidity all day would have been too much for me at the zoo. But I did tell Todd I was sorry he thought Ben got the shaft. And this issue is not the impetus for the above paragraph-- so there.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Smells Like New Shoes

The heat and the humidity are NOT slowing the activity level in Krinkeland. We visited an area farm today, we're hitting the zoo tomorrow, and we'll try to squeeze in the state fair before the weekend's out. Why? Because school starts in two weeks-- so we have to cram in all that stuff we've been meaning to do for the past two months!

I remember being a kid at this time of year, and wanting to wear my brand-new school shoes on such hot, filthy outings as the state fair. BUT, I remember trying my hardest to not get them at all dirty. Isn't it weird the things you remember?

There are, of course, photos of all above adventures, but the camera is recharging between takes, so those will have to wait.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Clean Yuks

We all get chain emails. I usually read them, but rarely forward them. Even when funny, it seems I find most of the jokes offensive. Must be my liberal-love-everyone-yay-equality college girl personality coming out. So, when a friend sent me these cute, clean puns, I had to share:

Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.

A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, "I'll serve you, but don't start anything."

Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted.

A dyslexic man walks into a bra.

A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: "A beer please, and one for the road."

Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: "Does this taste funny to you?"

"Doc, I can't stop singing 'The Green, Green Grass of Home.'"
"That sounds like Tom Jones Syndrome."
"Is it common?"
"Well, 'It's Not Unusual.'"

Two cows are standing next to each other in a field. Daisy says to Dolly, "I was artificially inseminated this morning." "I don't believe you," says Dolly. "It's true, no bull!" exclaims Daisy.

An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.

DejaMoo: The feeling that you've heard this bull before.

I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn't find any.

A man woke up in a hospital after a serious accident. He shouted, "Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!" The doctor replied, "I know you can't - I've cut off your arms!"

I went to a seafood disco last week... and pulled a mussel.

What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.

Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says "Dam!"

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why," they asked, as they moved off. "Because", he said, "I can't stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer."

A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan." Year's later; Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him: (oh, man, this is so bad, it's good...) A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


As has been stated here many times, we have slim hopes for the children of Krinkeland becoming athletes. The latest evidence-- Benjamin's "hole in one:"

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Stick a Fork in Me

Yes, once again we are back from the place... and we are all done. The children and Todd have long since crashed, and I'm guessing Grandma and Grandpa P. don't need to see us again for a while-- but we had a wonderful trip to Duluth. In four days, we crammed in the Great Lakes Aquarium; the train museum, the children's museum, and a ride on the North Shore Scenic Railway; Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse; a cruise on the Vista King; hiking, wading, and rock collecting along Lake Superior's shore; Canal Park and the Maritime Museum; and plenty, plenty of dips in the hotel's waterpark.

p.s. For the slower visitors to Krinkeland, "Stick a fork in me-- I'm done" is a colloquial expression that means, "I'm spent, finished, worn out." It refers to a well-done piece of meat.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Travel Prayers

We are off again, for a little family adventure to Duluth. Grandma and Grandpa P. are joining us. My prayers for the trip are simple ones: that the price of fuel continues to come down, that everyone sleeps in the hotel rooms, that no one gets the stomach flu, that the kids have fun and I remember to take pictures, that I don't kill anyone.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cleaning House

In anticipation of the coming school year, I decided to attack the girls' closets. Amanda grows an average of an inch a week, I swear, so we sorted though her stuff and packed up most-- two boxes of hand-me-downs to save for Libby, two boxes for Goodwill. I was pleased with myself to find she actually had a couple school uniforms that fit... Then, I remembered back to last spring, when three weeks before the end of the year she was busting at the seams, and I guess I bought just a few new pieces a little too big.

The real task, now, will be Elisabeth's closet. She's the clothes horse. And, Miss Fashion Plate doesn't like to get rid of anything, because, then, how would she be able to change her outfits a dozen times a day? I've given her the job of going through her shoes now, and getting rid of anything that doesn't fit or looks really gross. If she had her way, she'd toss anything that wasn't a flip-flop. If I had my way, she wouldn't own any flip-flops. Ah, compromise-- the spice of life. Libby just showed me she already knows how to tie her shoes. Huh, wonder who taught her.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Read Between the Signs

The first sign posted outside the play room, I understood. But I sought out the sign-makers for clarification on the second.

Turns out, they meant Ben. Two points of interest here, geniuses:
1. Being six-and-a-half or almost-five does not exempt you from "kid" status.
2. Your brother can't read.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Party Time!

Last week, Grandma R. turned 60. Last evening, she threw herself a birthday bash! The partygoers included a group of mourners from church, eulogizing Connie's last 59 years:

Friday, August 8, 2008

One Exceptional Rant

I don't typically comment on current events, certainly not politics-- that's more my husband's arena. Usually, other people yammering on about such topics is like fingernails on a blackboard to me. But, I must make an exception. I was just surfing the news headlines (once a news junkie, always a news junkie) and I spotted this: REPORT: EDWARDS ADMITS AFFAIR.

(WASHINGTON) Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday admitted to an extramarital affair while his wife was battling cancer. He denied fathering the woman's daughter.

Edwards told ABC News that he lied repeatedly about the affair with a 42-year-old woman but said that he didn't love her. He said he has not taken a paternity test but knows he isn't the father because of the timing of the affair and the birth.

ABC said a former Edwards campaign staffer claims he is the father, not Edwards.

Edwards was a top contender for the Democratic nomination for president, pursuing his party's nod even after announcing that his wife, Elizabeth, had a deadly form of cancer.

He placed second in the Iowa caucuses last January but dropped out of the race a few weeks later. He has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential choice for Barack Obama. The former North Carolina senator was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004.

Seriously?! I mean, SERIOUSLY?! As far as I know (and, believe me, this nosy woman asks) my family and friends have no trouble keeping their pants on. Are there opportunities? Sure, there are always opportunities. Dude checking me out at Cub Foods yesterday was checking me out... But I have no plans to visit him in his dorm room at St. Cloud State. I joke with my husband, "Honey, if you think you can get it-- more power to you!" But he doesn't. He wouldn't.

This is not a partisan thing... I rail against anyone who thinks with his/her hormones. But, Bill Clinton pissed me off in a major way, too. I don't care if "everyone's doing it..." I really don't care what your "definition of 'is' is..." YOU ARE VYING FOR/HOLDING THE MOST POWERFUL POST IN THE WORLD. YOU ARE A ROLE MODEL TO MILLIONS. In the case of Edwards, he has faced massive, massive obstacles in his life-- the deaths of children, an ill wife. You can handle that, but you can't control your wheedler?!

Give me a break. The sex can't be that good. Not like it would be with me, anyway. And it won't be with me, anyway! I CAN KEEP MY KNEES TOGETHER. Amen.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Going Green

With Todd gone, again, (this is getting to be a habit,) the kids and I are just hunkered down, making it through the day. We conned Grandma P. out of two meals and some extra-adult-assistance on errands yesterday, so today I figured we'd stay put. I've been occupying myself with interesting chores, such as swapping out silverware for hand towels in the kitchen drawers-- while completely ignoring the crumbs on the floor. The girls have been making a toy tornado in the playroom. And where is Benjamin? He's in the hallway, totally unattended, coloring himself green.

After I got over the initial horror, and before I tried to scrub him, I amused myself by asking him questions:
Mom: "Who did this?"
Ben: (gleefully) "Me! I did this! I did it!"
Mom: "What did you do?"
Ben: "Holor on Benny."
Mom: "Why did you do that?"
Ben: (shrugs) "No paper."

Sad About Skinny Kids

So, Todd is always working on a "plan"-- a plan to make more money, that is. He took the job he has now to get experience to hopefully one day start his own company... that kind of thing. In the meantime, he occasionally hounds me about starting my own business. "You should write a book." "You should put an ad in the paper and help people write speeches, term papers, resumes." We could definitely use the money. I'm all for having a professional outlet. (My college education did not center on wiping poopy.) BUT, we have three small children and this stellar blog takes up all my spare time.

In between eBay stints, Todd has also suggested I start some kind of an online commerce site. "Find a need, and fill it." I have a friend who is an Internet guru, and she's also very creative, so he thinks we could get something going. Problem is: my friend has a well paying job she loves, and I don't have the drive to get anything going. Truth. Plus, I don't have any ideas.

Well, that's not entirely true. I have had one idea, about starting an online store for "skinny kids." With two of my children significantly underweight, I find I am constantly foraging for "slim" pants-- Libby basically wears dresses all the time, and Ben is in overalls (or shorts three sizes smaller than his shirts.) In winter, they both walk right out of their pants. If I buy the correct length, I can't get the waist small enough. Plus, there's that whole arena of high-calorie foods. I know, I know, the rest of us are looking for plus sizes and low-cal snacks... But there is that other side out there.

This brings me to the point: While online this morning looking for school uniform shirts for Amanda, I decided to do a search for a website name. When I typed in, a child porn site appeared. Now, I just want to cry.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Peaceful-- HA!

A new visitor to our house commented, "I just love it. It's so peaceful here." Thought you all could use that good joke.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back From the Place

Yes, we are back from the place. That's one of those sayings that gets repeated in my family... I don't really know why, or how it started. We have returned from a long weekend at the cabin with Grandma and Grandpa R., and Auntie Lisa. It was mostly a time of every-fun-place-to-visit-for-kids combined with a bit of chilling out for the adults. The kids rode the go-karts at World of Christmas over and over and over again, ravaged the candy store, and came home with an entire suitcase full of souvenirs. My favorite moment was when a security guard at the casino asked to see my ID; I looked around and asked, "Why? How old to you have to be to go to a casino?"

Friday, August 1, 2008

Headed "Up North"

We're taking off for a long weekend with Grandma and Grandpa R. and Aunt Lisa. It's our annual trek "up north," which begins with me stuffing half our house into the van, and ends with me bringing home 3 overtired children and 15 loads of dirty laundry. But we're making memories... to be shared here, when we return.