Friday, January 30, 2009

Daddy's Home!

There was some concern (mine) that yesterday's post might be offensive, or mean. While I have no trouble being self-deprecating on this blog, I prefer to leave it at that. So I thought I would try a different tactic in relaying the news:

For the past two-and-a-half years-- ever since we moved here and Todd took a new job-- Todd and I have had a nearly daily evening phone conversation that goes something like this:

(phone rings, supper is almost ready, kids are screaming)
Todd: "Hi."
Andrea: "Where are you?!"
Todd: "Just leaving work. If traffic moves OK, I'll be home in an hour."
The exchange would continue, with Todd explaining how there's always more work to do than time to do it... and how he can't control the traffic... and how he's sorry he's not there, but he'll help the kids with their homework later... and we should go ahead and eat without him.

I'm pretty good at getting myself worked into a tizzy, but all you stay-at-home moms know how difficult those witching hours-- between the end of school and suppertime-- can be. I have found myself constantly begging Todd to come home earlier, to call in advance if he thinks he'll be late, to never be late. By the time I would hang up the phone, my guts would be churning.

Last Friday, I had a very different feeling in the pit of my stomach, when I heard the door open and the kids cheer, "Daddy's home-- in the DAYTIME!" Like so, so many others, Todd was laid off from his job. He had called me earlier to tell me. He kept his composure; I was a wreck (thinking mostly about the unnecessary $26 expenditure I had just made at the school book fair.) Of course, Todd had already called his contacts and put out feelers about a new job. This is not a crisis for him-- I think he really likes what he does-- he just needs to find a new, more stable environment to do it in.

This is no big secret; no one is ashamed. Todd's company was simply not operating in the black, so the leaders pretty much let everyone go. We are not in panic mode, yet. Just praying for something to come through, and soon. In the meantime, I am searching for a new form of therapy, because I'm no longer allowed to go to Target, and he is always hogging the computer.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Couch Cushion Castle

Why is this so much fun for kids? Give my children a pile of blankets and access to the couch cushions, and they can play for hours in their fantasy abode. One day, they actually made townhouses, "just like where Uncle Teddy and Auntie Kristin live." Benjamin's physical therapist is partly to blame, because she is always encouraging him to drag the cushions off the furniture (strength-building) and put them in different arrangements to suit her other sneaky torture purposes (balance, jumping, more strength-building.) But there's something inborn about this, too. No matter how tired I am, or Todd is, no matter how many messes we've cleaned up in a day, it's hard to say no to the fort-making-- because we remember how much fun we had.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Preschool Review

We had Elisabeth's parent-teacher conference at preschool. It was a nail-biter, I tell you. I mean, we know she's brilliant, talented, and beautiful... However, most of the time, at home, she prefers to show us conniving, whiny, and capable of inflicting pain. And, how are things at school? I truly have no idea, because, whenever I ask Libby about her time at preschool, she just grunts and shrugs.

So, it was quite a relief to get her teacher's glowing review. "She's just so, so smart. Extremely intelligent. Very advanced for her age," Mrs. H. said. Now, if you've ever met a preschool teacher worth her weight in animal crackers, you've probably discovered she can find something positive to say about even Dakota Fanning, inarguably the creepiest child to ever walk the planet. Still, we were glad to hear she could identify our daughter's intelligent-- if sometimes misguided-- ways.

It really threw us for a loop when the teacher told us she and her co-teacher thought Elisabeth would grow up to become a teacher, because she's always so helpful to the friend sitting next to her. I left the conference with a lighter heart... maybe my kid is one of those who is an angel for others, and just saves the devil for me. When we got home, I hugged her and told her I was so proud of her. I gushed that Mrs. H. had said such nice things about her, and I was so pleased to be her mommy. Libby pulled me close and whispered in my ear: "I know. I'm a lot smarter than Amanda."

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Brother, a Bride

Benjamin's favorite bedtime stall tactic is to drag his blanket into our bedroom and ask whichever of us is not putting the girls to bed, "Tan I 'nuggle wif you?" It generally works, because who can say no to that?! Of course, once he climbs onto the bed, he has another agenda. "Let's watch TV," he'll say. "Where's the 'mote control?"

Last evening, we started flipping channels and stopped on the wedding of that oldest boy in the family with 18 children. After watching the ceremony quietly for a couple minutes, I asked Ben, "Are you going to get married some day?" He answered, "Yep, when I get bigger. And I'm going to wear a pretty dress like that one." I told him, no, he'd be the one in the suit, but he pressed on. "I'm going to be so beautiful." I asked whether he thought he would find a lovely bride to marry-- someone as pretty as Mommy? "No, I'm going to marry someone as beautiful as that (pointing to the young bride on TV.) I'm going to get married to Margaret (his physical therapist,)" Ben said. I pointed out that Margaret was already married, and asked Ben whether he knew that Mommy was already married, too. I pointed to the wedding portrait on the wall and Ben commented, "Aaawwwww, dat's tute."

Family Truth, Revealed

Amanda was chosen by her music teacher (who doubles as service coordinator) to read scripture in church on Sunday. Many kids had roles because this was the kickoff to Catholic Schools Week (think School Spirit Week for the parochial sector.) Anyway, we practiced her reading-- the word "Corinthians" was the hardest part-- and she had a special rehearsal with the other kids on Friday.

After everyone was done, the teacher reminded the kids they would rehearse one last time on Sunday morning, before mass. She told them even though church starts at 10, they would need to arrive at 9:30 to get last-minute pointers and instructions. Amanda totally outed us by announcing, "Mrs. S., I think we might have a conflict on Sunday morning. My dad doesn't like to get his butt out of bed, so sometimes we're late to church."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dream Weaver

One of the girls got a pot holder loom in her Christmas stocking, (didn't you have one as a kid?) and Amanda discovered it this week. She has not put it down, and likely will not until she uses up the world's supply of nylon loops. While weaving, Amanda told me, "You know, Mom, I think I've found my purpose in life. I think I was put here to make pot holders. It's just so easy. I caught on really quickly, and I'm really good at it." Well, I thought, things could be worse. She feels she has a purpose... And it does not involve playing video games all night, or eating human flesh. Still--

I asked her, "Really? You think that's the reason God created you? To make pot holders?" Amanda replied, "Either that-- or to love animals. Or, maybe I'll open my own pot holder design business."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Beauty of a Freebie

This hot tip came courtesy of my SIL, who is decidedly NOT a cheapskate, but is definitely a shopper. She called and said, "I know you don't wear much for makeup (understatement of the century,) but I know you like a bargain-- and I just got free $50 night cream!" It stems from a federal lawsuit involving the lack of department store sales on cosmetics. To settle the suit, stores are giving away high-end makeup products to anyone who purchased any kind of cosmetics from a department store during a decade-long window. (You just have to sign a piece of paper that says you did it... And, yes, I did wear makeup-- once.) The giveaways started on Tuesday. There were still boxes of products at Macy's when I stopped by this afternoon.

Find out more here:
"Retailers to give away cosmetics to settle lawsuit"


Today is the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. On January 22, 1973, I was but a twinkle in my mother's eye, but my MIL was already expecting my husband. The only society I have ever known is one that values the "right" to "choice" of a mother over the right to life of a child.

This issue has become a driving force in my life, determining everything from the doctors we see to how I spend my volunteer time and charitable donations. As an expectant mother, especially, this year, my heart aches for the loss of these lives and the grief of these parents. Please join me in prayers for all.

National Right to Life
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life
Prolife Minnesota
Blogs 4 Life

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Body Count

I dread writing about this, because I'm over it, but, since I've done it before, it seems only right to wrap things up. For those of you keeping tally in the screened porch saga, the final score is: City Council 4, Krinkeland 0. After four separate rounds with the Planning Commission and City Council, we were refused a variance and summarily dismissed from last night's meeting. My cell phone began vibrating, as I sat in a first grade parents' meeting; it was Todd on the other end reporting, "Things ended badly. I went nuclear in there. We crashed and burned."

For those who live in the area, you can catch the awful details in replays of the meeting on the public access channel. Though Todd lost his train of thought and his composure, we do believe our request was well within city guidelines, and we may, in the future, explore other ways to have a screened porch. For now, as my mom reminded us, "You can't always get what you want." (Did you know she can double for Mick Jagger?)

I slept last night... Todd didn't. But, as we rehashed the situation one last time, I was struck by the length and cost of the process, and what all has gone on in our lives as we allowed ourselves to be wrapped up in this battle. There was a lot of planning, a lot of meetings, and a lot of money involved before we even got to the final meeting stage. Then, the first meeting was the same day as our level 2 ultrasound; the last meeting was the same day as Benjamin's checkup with the geneticist. You can't really compare the health of your children to permission to build a screened porch.

Todd will have "his guys" build a deck this spring, so we should at least have some kind of outdoor living space come summer. In the meantime, it's on to another of the 5,000 projects that need to be done around here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Checking Up, Checking In

Benjamin had his annual visit with Dr. Smile-and-Shrug, also known as Let's-Take-New-Photos-and-See-If-He-Looks-Funnier-Than-Last-Year-or-Not-as-Funny, M.D. Don't get me wrong-- this is a knowledgeable and kind woman, outstanding worldwide in her field. But, when she listened to my lengthy review of Ben's growth and progress over the past year, then examined him up and down, and finally declared, "Well, he definitely has a huge head," I thought to myself, "I should have gone to medical school."

As Gary Gnu used to tell me when I watched "The Great Space Coaster" over a bowl of Cheerios, "No gnus is good gnus." And, on this day of huge news (duh, Barack Obama was sworn in as 44th President of the United States, and all of our lives became instantly better,) Todd and I were pleased as punch to get no news, genetically speaking, about our son. He is 27 pounds and just shy of 35 inches today, growing steadily, if a little on the small side. Right on cue, he showed the good doctor his painted fingernails and toenails, and the lineup of temporary tattoos on his belly. He read to her from a book: "That guy don't have hees gasses on! Doze guys paying bassetball!"

The doctor did ask whether we would consider returning in another year, "just to see" how things have or have not changed. Sigh. We might.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Creature Features

My kids looove animals... Must be the Grandma P. in them, because they sure didn't get it from me. This was a Wild Kingdom weekend for us, so they were all in their glory.

We visited Grandma and Grandpa K.'s new puppy, Casey. He's a nine-week-old yorkie-poo, and the cutest little ball of black fluff. The children were thrilled with him and would not give him a moment's peace... until he had an accident on the floor and Grandpa put him in a time-out.

Then, everyone visited the local nature center with Grandma P. for a presentation by The Bug Guy. I stayed back, while Auntie Ellen helped herd the critters (human and insect.) She reported Benjamin and Elisabeth were very adventurous and brave when it came to holding the millipedes and cockroaches, and they even got down and dirty with some tarantulas. Amanda, however, worked the whole hour to muster the courage to give a couple bugs little pats... and after that she still had nightmares.

Today, we went to Swan Park, possibly the best spot in the world for the public to view hundreds of trumpeter swans. The sights, the sounds-- unbelievable.

Then, we saw the movie "Hotel for Dogs." It was cute-- a good message and some laughs, including the requisite poop jokes.

Now, it's no secret I'm a party animal, but, tonight, I'm dog tired. Another long weekend, but, tomorrow, my mutts go back to obedience school.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I Love Him So Much

Benjamin tried every trick in the book to delay nap time: "Let's dance!" "Read me a book!" "Sing me a song!" "Let's play a game!" After hearing my "No" to each of his requests, he gritted his teeth and muttered, "It's a good thing I love you so much."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Proof There is a God

I have heard some parents' heartfelt plights of late, parents of teenagers and young adults, whose offspring are declaring, "There is no God." They are argumentative and adamant, pointing to "scientific proof." So, today, I offer my reasons-- current, relevant, unavoidable reasons-- that prove God is:

1. Beloved blogger Stephanie "NieNie" Nielson is well enough to begin blogging again. NieNie and her husband survived a small plane crash that left them severely burned, in critical condition for months. Family cared for their four young children. Today, her pained fingers began typing her new story. (Read her blog or donate to her family by clicking on "NieNie," above.)

Partly Cloudy

Every time I talk to Mom, she comments, "But isn't the sunshine beautiful?"


Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still

School was canceled because of the cold (-20 temp, -38 wind chill.) So, I guess you could say we are "frozen in." This should be a welcome chance to catch up on writing thank-you notes and organizing closets. However, it is well known that I leave the house on a daily basis to avoid such housework tedium. Plus, it's really bad timing, since the house was cleaned yesterday... and I have a standing 24-hour goal for no major messes. Again, I typically accomplish this by packing up the kids so they can make their messes elsewhere.

So far, the kids and I have:
*done three loads of laundry
*played dominoes (The girls kept changing the Mexican Train rules, but insisting, "That's the way Grandma taught us, and she's a really good dominoes player.")
*made beaded bracelets
*built with Legos
*rollerskated in the living room
*done stamp art
*practiced piano
*practiced spelling words
*planned Amanda's birthday party (seven weeks away)
*played Mommy/Daddy/Kid/Boyfriend (???)
*watched "Pet Star" on Animal Planet
*found every item in Ben's "I Spy" book

While folding clothes, I thought to myself, "The kids will probably be getting hungry soon. I should start working on lunch." Then, I looked at the clock-- it was 8:55 a.m. Heaven help us:

Dear Lord, Thank you for giving us this special, unexpected time together. Thank you for Pixos and Alien Matter Makers, but you can keep the Moon Sand and Play-Doh. Thank you, in advance, for the shower I will hopefully get today. May the girls find something quiet to do this afternoon, so I can rest when their brother does. Help me to not choke their father when he comes home late and comments, "What did you do today? I wish I had a day at home to do nothing." Amen.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Use Your Words

People tell me all the time, "Your kids are weird." Sometimes, they say "funny"-- but I'm quite certain they mean weird. I think others get that idea whenever my kids open their mouths to speak. All three children have been fairly early talkers, they form complete sentences, and they use pretty big words. My mom blames me. Never any baby talk in this house... I talk to my kids like we're colleagues. Heck, this is my workplace, and sometimes theirs are the only conversations I have all day.

Now, I'm no intellectual. (Stop laughing now.) I don't use words I can't spell, and try to not misuse words if I'm unsure of the meaning. But, I think when you read a lot, you pick up some lesser-used vocabulary terms. Also, when writing in different styles, for various forums, it's often necessary to come up with many ways to say the same thing. Plus, it's just so much more interesting to say, "You petulant child!" instead of, "Stop pouting!"

So, today, I share some of my favorite words and phrases. Look them up, if you don't know what they mean (and you care.) Work them into verbal and written exchanges. There's so much more out there than "good" and "a lot."

haricot verts ("Harry-Co Ver," sounds like someone fun coming to dinner!)
whirling dervish

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesdays with Todd

It was one of those weird days, the likes of which I cannot recall, when a series of circumstances aligned and Todd stayed home from work. He didn't do it on purpose. First, he had to clear the driveway of two-foot drifts of snow. Then, his car wouldn't start. He left it out overnight because the garage was full (more on that later) and, since this morning was the coldest in two years, no juice. I was waiting for him to suggest he would just take my car to work. Even though it was 20-below and I had no plans to go anywhere, I never like being without a car-- just in case of emergencies (like big clearance at Target.) Anyway, he didn't ask, so I didn't offer.

Todd spent most of the morning trying to get his car started. When that didn't work, he decided to clear out a spot in the garage, so he could push the car in, warm it up, and hopefully get it going. The garage was full of my car and my dad's pickup. Todd borrowed Dad's truck last week, so he could go to the UPS freight warehouse and pick up a tool he had bought. Todd didn't want to pay the $125 in freight charges to have it delivered to the house. So, he borrowed the truck, drove 40 miles out of his way, had the guys help him tie down the big delivery, and slowly drove the crate into the garage. At that point, he figured out it weighed 700 pounds and he had no way to get it out of the pickup. "C'mon, Honey! Move your belly and help me heft this thing!" He couldn't very well ask the neighbors for help, because they all moved away. He couldn't call my dad (bad back,) his best friend (bad hips,) or my brother (works for the shipping company Todd refused to pay.) So, it sat there till today.

The grand plan involved going to Menard's to buy chains, building a ramp out of scrap wood in the shop, hunting down the two-wheel dolly, and devising some sort of pulley system. No, I didn't take photos... I was busy making sure Todd's life insurance policy was up-to-date. By the time he got the crate out of the back of the truck-- and he DID get the crate out of the back of the truck-- it was afternoon, and he could hardly justify driving an hour each way to work just a few hours.

So, Todd spent the rest of the day playing Life with Elisabeth and shopping for an ice auger on Craig's List. I did laundry and wrapped birthday gifts for our nephews. Now, you have a glimpse of what a typical day would be like if we won the lottery. Notice I did not say this is how our life will be when we retire-- Todd and I have big plans for retirement. We're going to do what we didn't do in our youth: sit by the lake and get stoned.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Strange Bedfellows

Mama ain't been sleepin', 'cuz nobody ain't been sleepin'.

A couple weeks ago, the kids started playing musical beds, as we began to look at the bedroom situation in preparation for the arrival of the new baby. The arrangement we settled on is by no means permanent, but everyone seemed happy with the results. The big, immediate change is the two girls are sharing a queen-sized bed. Weird, I know, but they love it. There is some fighting and kicking, along with a prevailing request from Amanda that Elisabeth wear socks to bed. But, for the most part, it's all giggling and pillow talk.

The bunk beds are now in Benjamin's room, and he seems unfazed by the transition out of the toddler bed. He did start last week, however, another stint of waking up during the night or early in the morning. He would say strange things like, "There boogies in my mouth," but I could eventually get him back to sleep much more easily than I could myself.

Then, Todd left on his fishing trip, and Amanda started her bout of insomnia. By the third night of waking multiple times to find her standing over me or trying to tuck herself into Todd's side of the bed, I was exasperated, to say the least. We had a little midnight heart-to-heart, and she finally spilled more than "I just can't sleep!" Amanda said, "I miss Daddy. I hear noises in the night and I don't feel safe in the house when he's gone." Model parent that I am, I finally told her I would pay her a quarter if she stayed in her own bed till 7 a.m.

With the drama queen, it is sometimes hard to tell when something is really a problem... and when Amanda is telling the truth, or just what she thinks we want to hear. But, surprise, surprise, Daddy got home yesterday, and she slept all night last night. Of course, I was still up a couple times, thanks to Baby Kicks-A-Lot.

Now, I'm not complainin'-- just explainin'. You think I'm absent-minded... You think I'm rude... You think I'm mean. It's all sleep deprivation. That, and, also, I'm absent-minded, rude, and mean.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Year, New You

The other day, Elisabeth put on her "exercise outfit," went into the living room, cranked the "High School Musical 3" soundtrack and started moving. Then, she stopped, paused the music, walked across the kitchen and opened the pantry door. She took out two cans and walked back into the living room. I asked her what she was doing, and she said those were her weights. Who let the girl watch "Oprah?"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Preschool Musical

We're passing the hours while Daddy is gone... It's always a good time for a dance party:

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ice Fishing Widow

Todd is gone on his annual ice fishing trip (translation: play cards, argue politics, drink beer, and take pictures of each other's butt cracks.) I do not begrudge him the trip. He works hard, and should get a couple days each year to play with his boys. I told him before he took off, "I want you to go, have a good time, just... DON'T LEAVE!" Then, I grabbed onto his ankles and got dragged across the kitchen floor as he headed for the door.

It's not the separation. I think time apart can be a good thing. It's not that I don't understand the need for escape. I, personally, have run away from home many times, but the police keep bringing me back. It's that he left me with:



the other thing

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Master of the Bleeding Obvious

Well, it has happened... another milestone in this baby-carrying life. For the first time this pregnancy, someone who didn't know I was pregnant came right out and commented on it. Then again, that's not exactly true. Way back at 10 or 12 weeks, my mom cornered me and said, "I know what's going on here. So, when are you finally going to admit it?"

Anyway, I took the two younger kids for haircuts this morning. The past couple times, their usual stylist has been gone, so today she remarked it had been a while since she'd seen us. Then, she turned and looked at me, pointed at my belly and said, "There's a baby in there!" For so many months, it's a risky move. I mean, I could just be fat. But, apparently, we have turned that corner. The belly bump has erupted. And, I have those occasional "practice contractions" or random pains that cause me to grab under the baby and hold on. A dead giveaway.

In past pregnancies, getting to this point would have been a big relief. I would no longer feel the need to explain why I was ordering two value meals at McDonald's, or why my wardrobe consisted mostly of my husband's sweatshirts and slip-on shoes. Then again, I've never been really big on announcing, "I'm gestating. I'm carrying a new life. I'm the picture of fertility." And this time around, I really don't give a rat's butt what anyone else thinks. Whoopee! The hair lady knows I'm expecting. Break out the cigars. Or, how about an eyebrow waxing on the house?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cerebral Pudding

My brain has turned to mush. I know you've all heard previously intelligent mothers bemoan the effects of pregnancy, but, when you add caring for three other children and approaching middle age, I am positively dull, dim-witted, dumb.

You should have seen this champion speller in the doctor's office waiting room, filling out a medical history form that asked about medications taken. I wrote on the line: aceti--, acete--, aceta--, acetamin--, acetamen... TYLENOL.

I borrowed my brother's and SIL's digital camera and lost the battery charging cord. It was a couple days before Christmas and I didn't want them to be without it, so I made a special tour of electronics stores, trying to buy a new one, and ranting at sales clerks when they told me it wasn't made anymore. After calling and confessing to my family that I feared the cord was gone for good, I found it in a random kitchen cupboard.

While writing a previous post, I wanted to use that expression that means, "magically it appeared," but I couldn't figure out how to type it: Wa-la? Wah-laa? Vwah-lah? It bugged me all day. At 11:40 p.m., I awoke to Benjamin crying and found him in his bed, doing a passable chameleon impression, sticking his tongue out and in. I deduced he had a piece of hair or fuzz stuck in his mouth... Either that, or his teeth felt like they had socks on them (same thing happens to me after I drink tequila.) After a few swipes at his lips and a cup refill, I went back to bed, and it came to me: "Voila!"

But the worst revelation came yesterday, when the girls found and unloaded a box labeled "GIRLS' ROOM KEEPSAKES." Yeah, we're still unpacking after two-and-a-half years-- Wanna make something of it? They rediscovered their adorable ballerina music/jewelry boxes, and a complete collection of coin and piggy banks. Since both are saving for the yet-to-be-scheduled-likely-won't-happen-for-a-decade trip to Disneyworld, they decided to empty all the banks and consolidate their funds. Amanda took out the plug from a beautiful, hand-painted piggy bank with her name on it. I remembered it as a baby gift from two former co-workers (and really didn't need to remember anything since their names were printed on the back, but, even so, I had remembered something.) Amanda exclaimed, "Whoa! There's 50 bucks in here!" Yeah, right, Kid. I reached in a couple fingers and fished out... a 50-dollar bill. Though I don't know for sure, I'm guessing that money must have been part of the original baby gift, and I just never noticed it was in there-- for nearly seven years. If it had been a gift from someone else, I'm sure I would have put it in the real bank, not the porcelain one. Either way, it turns out my numb-mindedness began with the first child. When I told Todd the story later, he scolded, "How could you just lose that much money?" I was stunned. "I didn't lose it. I found it."

Oh, and here's a special note to the person or persons who gifted $50 to my newborn first born: "Thank you so much for the gift of money for Baby Amanda. We plan to save it in the bank for her. We can't wait for you to meet our daughter and see how quickly she is growing! Your generosity is much appreciated." There, that was painless. Didn't even need to tear apart the house looking for a postage stamp.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Have a Disease

Target had Christmas decorations 90% off today. For about $8, I bought enough lights to rival the Griswolds. If I don't hide the loot well, Todd will comment, "You have a disease." Yes, Honey, I do, and you're footing the bill for treatment. Trust me, you don't want to see me off my meds.

I told my MIL what I was up to, and she remarked, "I could really use one long string of clear lights." Ta-da! I pulled out a new box. And, the next time my BIL puts on a concert and needs to decorate, I will have another artificial tree to donate. I draw the line at discounted food (unless I'm planning to eat it in the car on the way home from the store...) So, you shouldn't have to check the expiration dates when you open next year's gifts.

At the checkout, many a sales clerk has reviewed my loot and asked, "Do you do daycare?" or, "Do you have a business where you resell this stuff?" I just look bewildered and shake my head. However, Todd has pointed out the local McDonald's is conducting on-site interviews this week. (When I stopped to return a couple Redbox movies, a guy asked me how to turn on the store computer so he could apply.) And Google keeps sending me spam e-mails soliciting work from home to make thousands. I thought shopping was my job. I don't understand why people don't pay me to do it.

Monday, January 5, 2009


The girls went back to school this morning, Todd back to work. Though we didn't take any big trip (never traveled more than 30 minutes in any direction from our house,) we were busy and having lots of fun together these past two weeks. Benjamin has been wandering the house, asking, "Daddy? Daddy? Where Daddy go?" Well, Daddy just called and said he has to fly to Colorado tomorrow for work. He'll be back Wednesday night, but leaves Thursday on his annual ice fishing trip. Appears as though we jumped right back in to our regular routine.

Elisabeth has been a big help in taking down and packing up the remainder of the Christmas decorations. I swear, while the holiday season flies by faster each year, I become more and more sluggish about putting away the stuff. Or, maybe it's about finding places to stash the three cartloads of Christmas clearance I bought at Target.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Big Bang

Todd spent a couple days cleaning out and organizing his wood shop, in anticipation of the arrival of more new tools, and gearing up for the next round of projects in the Eternal Cabinet Plan. While out in his lair, he came across a big firecracker-- a gift, I think, received and then stowed away for some special celebration. Like, a dark, snowy night at home?

He came in and told me, "I told the kids tonight I would light off that big firecracker we found in the garage. What do you think?" My response: (You can hear it now, can't you?) "I think that's a stupid idea-- cold, dangerous, and just plain dumb. I'm not bundling up the kids and going outside to see it. It's probably a dud, anyway. What would make you think to do something like that when there are so many more pressing jobs around this house? But, you already promised the kids, so I guess it doesn't matter what I think, anyway."

The kids got into their pajamas, turned off all the lights in the house, and lined up their little chairs in front of the big glass doors in the den. Amanda held the telephone-- Daddy said he'd call with a "heads up" when he was ready. After a while, we saw him, bundled up and moving like a Yeti across the backyard. He trudged out onto the ice, with the girls commenting how they hoped the ice was thick enough and did I think the firecracker would melt the ice and Daddy would fall into the lake. Through the curtains of blowing snow, we could hardly see him. Then, the phone rang, and we all waited at attention. We watched Daddy try to light matches again and again and again, oohing and aahing over each little flame before it was extinguished by a fat flake. Finally, ignition. Daddy tried to take off running, but slipped on the ice and fell on his butt. He managed to scoot away as sparks started flying.

That thing sparkled and spewed all different colors for a good two minutes. We clapped and cheered and loved every second of it. I would have taken pictures, but there's a reason why you never see photos of a winter, nighttime fireworks display in white-out conditions. I had to eat my words. It was the best entertainment Krinkeland had seen in a long time.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Food, Glorious Food

It sometimes feels as though meal times suck out all the energy from this house. I know I must summon everything within me to keep my cool.

First, there's Benjamin. Sometimes he eats... Sometimes he doesn't... Always at least half of his food ends up on the floor. He's the one child we have who actually likes green vegetables, but we're always trying to pump him full of more calorie-dense foods so he can catch up to other boys his age.

Then, there's Elisabeth. Girl does not eat. Our approach thus far has been to put a "taste" of each of the dishes on her plate at each meal, and to demand that she tries all of them. After that, if she doesn't eat what's before her, she gets nothing else till the next meal. Since she is 5 and weighs about 33 pounds, this plan does not seem to be working.

Finally, Amanda. This child also turns up her nose at anything green, but displays a hearty appetite around the clock. She does NOT have a weight problem, but she does have some pretty unhealthy habits we're trying to break. We NEVER use words like "fat" or "diet" to describe anyone or anything. However, we have had many conversations with her about "taking your time," "enjoying your food," "letting your brain catch up with your stomach," chewing.

She is listening... kind of... Amanda was watching television when she told me, "Mom, I can still eat the foods I love and lose weight." She pointed to a NutriSystem commercial.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Questions We Could Do Without

"Daddy, why is one of your ears pierced?"
"How come you rolled your eyes when you answered the phone?"
"How come you're not answering the phone?"
"Can I answer the phone?"
"Mommy, when will I get long boobies like you?"
"I told everyone in my class we have the biggest house on the lake. Is that true?"
"Why are some of my toys in that box?"
"Mommy, why does it take you so long to get up?"

Thursday, January 1, 2009

And a Happy New Year

We spent New Year's Eve in a place neither Todd nor I could ever recall celebrating before: at home. It really wasn't much of a celebration, or much of an "eve," since we had been out all day-- the kids at Grandma and Grandpa's and Todd and I at "Grease." But, we thought it would be fun to welcome in the new year at home with just our family, playing games, having treats, and letting everyone stay up as late as they wanted. Ben made it till about 9. The girls held on to see the ball drop-- which they found strange and hilarious-- but only in the Eastern Time Zone. Both were snoring by 11:01.

New Year's Day is always our annual Christmas celebration with Grandpa and Grandma K. The kids were excited to spend the day at their place... and to get more presents, of course. I was kind of a party pooper, bogged down with a cold or some flu-like crap. Todd likes to say, "That kid is really kicking your butt." But I think this is more of a seasonal malady. Anyway, the photos show our great day. Some of the sights-- I just can't explain.