Monday, August 31, 2009

Sleep, Glorious Sleep!

I'm doing it, going out on a limb and saying it, typing it and sending it into the blogosphere. I hope I don't regret this: MADELINE IS SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT! The past few nights now, I have put her down around 10 p.m. and she has slept till at least 6 a.m. (Today, it was 7!) Last night, she let out one wail around 11 and then I heard her sucking on her fist at 4 a.m., but she never cried out for me, so we must have both fallen back asleep. She's done this once in a while in the past, but now appears to be establishing some kind of pattern.

This is a HUGE development in Krinkeland. None of my other children ever slept through the night till about nine months. As time has gone on, I have accepted the sleep deprivation, but have never really adjusted to it. It's amazing how my outlook on the day and my productivity changes with even four or five straight hours of sleep. Conversely, if I haven't had at least one good stretch-- watch out! (Todd can testify.)

The older two girls were up during the night-- one complaining about bug bites and the other complaining about curlers in her hair. But that's just a mother's lot in life. And, now that I announced it, Madeline is sure to be up every two hours tonight.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A First Time for Everything

For the first time in my seven-and-a-half years of motherhood, I washed in the washing machine a disposable diaper.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Taking Notice and Sitting Up

Two big things happened today in Krinkeland:

The first occurred while I was getting Madeline up and ready for the day. She was on the changing table when I pulled her into a sitting position to put her dress on over her head. I noticed her little baby body was not really leaning against me, so I finished dressing her and removed my hands. Madeline sat unassisted for a good 15 to 20 seconds before folding herself into a baby accordion. It's so funny, because yesterday when we were with the doctor, she asked whether Madeline could sit up yet. I said, "No. But, wouldn't that be kind of early?" The pediatrician agreed, but said Maddy has such strong trunk muscles, she didn't think it would be long.

The second is that my best friend from high school and her family came to visit. This is the second summer in a row Beth, Eric and Grace have made the trek from Albuquerque, and the first time they've all been to our home. I'm sure our four monster children compared to their lovely one was a bit of a shock, but they handled it swimmingly. The girls played well together and we had some time to catch up, and to look back. It's been a lot of years since I thought about things like the "Blow Horn" and Sara Lee pound cake on the beach. I'm including these photos mostly for their benefit, since they had a camera mishap on the way over. It was a great day.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Well Baby at Four Months

Madeline had her four-month well baby check today. I did not realize until I was sitting in the doctor's office that it was at Benjamin's same four-month checkup that the warning bells began to sound. As Madeline got measured and weighed, I was taken back to the day when the nurse measured Ben's head circumference, then again, then again. I remembered how quiet the pediatrician was, how much time she took examining Benjamin, how she relayed her findings and I asked, "What does that mean?" and how she matter-of-factly told me, showed me pictures in a book, gave her recommendations for tests. Immediately after that came the repeat head ultrasounds and the MRI. Soon after was our first visit to Ben's neurologist. And two years of specialized medical attention followed.

Now, we all know-- well, his dad and I know, and I have told you-- that Ben is perfect and wonderful in every way (except in the ways he is not-so-wonderful, but is instead just a regular three-year-old boy.) But, when the nurse declared of Madeline today, "Weight 80th percentile! Length 75th percentile! Head circumference 75th percentile!" I was proud-- and relieved. When the pediatrician looked her up and down, remarked at her amazing muscle tone, and cuddled her close and complimented, "You're reading ahead in the book, Princess," well, then, a weight I hadn't even known was there was lifted.

The doctor asked, as she always does, "Is she a good baby?" "Oh, yes," I gushed. "She is the BEST baby. She is the kind of baby who makes you want to go right ahead and have another one!" But, don't worry, Mom-- I won't.

Madeline's four-month stats:
weight: 14 lbs. 12 oz. (naked)
length: 24 3/4 inches-- grew two inches in two months
Screeched like a banshee over her vaccinations and tried to spit the oral one back at the nurse.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Name Says It All

Benjamin and my nephew Solomon (also three) were having a heated discussion in the car today over whether the dog's "real" name is "Scooby," "Scooby Doo," or "Scooby Doo Where Are You." I weighed in that I thought "Scooby" was his first name and "Doo" was his last name, and I gave the boys comparable examples with their own names. Solomon then asked me what my last name was. I told him and asked in return, "Do you know my first name?" He nodded vigorously: "Auntie."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hobo Boo-Hoo

Amanda and Elisabeth, in their lovely big-sisterliness, have taken to calling their little brother "the hobo." It's a term they picked up from an American Girl movie, and they just won't let go. I've explained what a hobo is and reminded them the term does not apply to Benjamin. They don't care.

Apart from name-calling being a generally bad thing, there are problems with this moniker. Sad as it may be, in this age, when one yells, "Don't sit next to the hobo!" in Culver's, people look. Strangers do not know that we do not teach our children homosexual slurs.

Furthermore, Ben has taken up the name as more of a nickname than an insult, and he now uses it to refer to himself in the third person. But he doesn't exactly say "the hobo." At the breakfast table, Ben announced, "No one sit by ho-boy!" Oh, boy.

Potty Talk

He called out in the night. I ignored him. He got louder. I elbowed Todd in the ribs, "Benjamin needs you." The whining got louder. He was clearly yelling, "Mommy!" I hauled my weary bones out of bed at 3:26 a.m. and trudged down the hall. Ben was sitting on the floor in the baby-gated doorway of his bedroom: "I need to go potty."

I'm thrilled our son is finally potty-trained. I'm happier still that he stays dry through naps and night, something that seems a rare feat among preschoolers these days. I wish I could trust him enough to give him free run of the house at night, so that when he wakes he could take care of his business by himself. But, he's a little unsteady with the hands and insists on dumping the potty chair himself. So, for the time being, I choose to get up with him in the night instead of risking stepping in pee puddles in the morning. As long as we restrict liquids before bedtime, he usually makes it all night. Just not last night.

I led Benjamin to the bathroom, sat him on the pot and perched on the edge of the bathtub. Ben needed to talk. I tried to hold the conversation, but soon gave up, closed my eyes, and just listened:
"Mom, how do they make bathtubs? How do they make socks? How did Daddy make these cabinets? I think I have to go poopy. I might have to poop, too. I'm going to try to get my poopy out. When I wake up in the morning, will it be tomorrow? Who are we going to play with tomorrow? I like your toilet. My butt fits on this toilet now. Benjamin's butt fits on this toilet. And Amanda's and Elisabeth's butts fit on this toilet. Your butt and Daddy's butt is too big. I'm done. Can I flush? I'll get my poopy out tomorrow. It's too hard. 'The Very Noisy Night' is my favorite book. Let's read that book in my bed. Will you cuddle with me?"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Silver and Gold

Today, I salute my "new" friends.

I've said it before-- I'm not a great girlfriend. I believe a true friend is one who is there through thick and thin; one you can call when you get a great deal on shoes, one you can call when you need to vent about your in-laws, one you can call when someone you love is diagnosed with cancer. I hold close and in high regard those women for whom I can be all that, and I believe they would be right there for me, too. But, if you're going to commit, you just can't do it for 20 or 30 women. At least, I can't. It's too much. I'm not faulting people who have-- or claim to have-- many friends. I'm just saying that's not me. My circle of friends is small-- loyal and committed, but small-- and that's OK by me.

Until recently, I could categorize my friends in the following ways:
1. high school friends
2. college friend (yep, just one with whom I keep in contact)
3. former colleagues
4. wives of my husband's friends

Then, my kid started school, and I had to-- I wanted to-- meet and make friends with her classmates' mothers. That's no simple task for me. We were new in town, we didn't really have a neighborhood, we weren't really involved in church activities, and we truly didn't know what to expect from the school experience. Our ultra-social kindergartner plunged me into a new existence. She quickly latched onto kids at school and buddied up with children on the playground. I sucked it up and started chit-chatting with the other moms.

And I liked it! I felt I had so much in common with these women. Some were new to school, too. Others had already gone down that path a time or two and seemed willing to lead the rest of us. In so many ways, they were so much like me:
*stay-at-home moms or workers with non-traditional schedules
*not too young, not too old
*take their young children with them everywhere
*interested and involved in school and church goings-on
*like to meet for coffee
*frequent Target
*don't think it's obscene that I have four kids

I started learning names and looking for excuses to hang with these women. I even invited them to my house a time or two, so they would feel obligated to return the favor. I don't like to talk on the phone, and Todd and I rarely socialize without the kids, so most of our time together is as families or with moms and little ones. In just a couple years, I have already been through so much with these women:
*illness
*injury
*miscarriage
*unemployment
*pregnancy and childbirth
*ailing parents
*conflict in the classroom
*school fundraisers
*a few too many cocktails
*husbands with home improvement projects

Somehow, summer went by without me spending time with most of them (a new baby will do that to you,) but a group of us met at the park this morning for a play date and a picnic. Everyone brought their tribes of kids (a couple also had others' kids.) We caught up on families' current events, and shared plenty of laughs. Among the things they reminded me today: most girls sooner or later cut their own hair; organic snacks are better for them, but kids will still gravitate toward the Cheetos; don't forget to lock the bedroom door.

You'll know for future reference when I'm talking about this group of friends, because I refer to each of them as "crazy," i.e.: Crazy Mary, Crazy Anne, etc. They are all nuts-- just like me.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ben's Joke

Why were the turtle and the rooster talking to each other?
Because they were running down the hill.

Renaissance Girls

Alternate title: The Day My Boobs Nearly Burst

After seeing great weather forecasts for this weekend, Todd and I decided to take Amanda and Elisabeth to the Renaissance Festival. It's one of those annual traditions with which Todd was raised. I can only take so much of affected accents and women stuffed into corsets, so every five or 10 years does me just fine. We hadn't really been since having children-- my mom agreed to stay with the two younger ones (now that would really have been a nightmare,) and we had some free tickets.

The weather did not disappoint, and, after a typical dispute over which route to take to get there (the fest is smack dab in the middle of nowhere,) we were off. It was different going with a seven-year-old and a five-year-old. They were fascinated by the scene and they liked the idea of being entertained, but Amanda and Elisabeth were really not equipped to sit through the various shows. They did not want to eat anything, and they did want to spend all their time in the shops. But, both girls came home with tales of belly dancers, magicians and firewalkers, in addition to some spectacular face painting.

My one major issue of the day (two, actually) was my role as human milk jug. I fed Madeline as usual through the early morning hours and pumped before we left. I decided not to bring the breast pump because it is electric and I figured (correctly) there would be nowhere to use it. I severely miscalculated how long we would be gone, and the toll it would take on my body. We left home just before 9 a.m. By midday, at the bird show, I was uncomfortable. At 3 p.m., sitting in the face painter's tent, I was in a world of hurt. On the ride home, between 4 and 5, I was in more pain than in the pushing stage of childbirth. In addition to the boulders pulling at my torso, I could not lift my arms. My head was pounding, I was nauseous, I was shaking and having hot flashes.

After arriving home and reuniting with the pump (Madeline was asleep and could not have cared less,) it took about an hour before I again began to feel human. Yes, I know all you other mothers are much smarter than I am and would never find yourselves in this predicament. Aah, motherhood. How did they do it in the Renaissance period? By the way, Amanda really wants one of those fancy costumes.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Incredible Growing Baby


Madeline is four months old today. That must mean it's time to get out the 12-month clothes! Suddenly, I have a new appreciation for the other mothers I pass in the grocery store aisles, carting around babies stuffed into too-small clothes. I used to think, "What's wrong with those mothers?" Are they in denial about their babies growing up? Are all the baby clothes hand-me-downs or garage-sale-specials? (I am certain baby clothes shrink over time.) Do they just not notice-- or just not care?

Now, I can identify... I just can't keep up with this incredible growing baby! One of the cool days this week, I dug into the pants section of Madeline's clothes. The six-month size was too short and too tight. The nine-month size was the right length, but made her look like she had a beer belly busting out of the waistband. So, 12-months it was! I called my mom and warned, "Stop shopping! The 18-month outfits you've already purchased and socked away for Madeline's birthday will NOT fit her NEXT APRIL!"

I spent the rest of the week trying to cram Madeline into some of the cute outfits she only got to wear once. (You'll notice in her photo today her pants are too short-- they're not supposed to be capris.) Then, I packed up two more boxes of too-small baby clothes... and reminded myself to rejoice, knowing my baby is healthy and growing. Or, as Grandma would say, "Your kid is a pig." But I know she means it in the most adoring way possible.

For my friends from afar, I wanted to tell you a little bit more about Madeline. She is quite possibly the best baby ever. Madeline is so, so happy. If her eyes are open, chances are she is in the middle of a belly laugh. She is very strong-- not yet rolling over, but pushing up off the ground and trying to sit up, especially when strapped into her car seat. She has rolls on her legs and chins on her chin, and, you can tell from all the photos, she also has huge blue eyes and that great hair.

Madeline is also very wet. She drools constantly, so her main accessory is the bib. She still doesn't sleep the greatest at night, going to sleep between 10 and 11 and waking around 3:30 most mornings to eat. But, she definitely eats well, and usually goes right back to sleep. Madeline does cry sometimes, typically due to hunger, gas, or dirty pants-- and she has plenty of all three. Madeline likes the swing, which is good, because she spends a lot of time in that thing. She doesn't mind taking a bottle or a pacifier. Madeline can pull out the pacifier from her mouth and also grabs at toys.

I really like Madeline.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Something to Chew On

The three children who have teeth were at the dentist for their checkups. It was a more-interesting-than-usual visit, considering Benjamin's contraction and recovery from HSV. Oh, and had I mentioned Elisabeth got it, too? The dentist again explained the viral nature of the condition, and the basic impossibility of preventing spread between siblings, and how there's no need to try to isolate the children-- even during a breakout-- since the vast majority of the population carries the virus... just not everyone gets a canker or cold sore.

On top of all that, Amanda has also been complaining of mouth pain for the past week or more. Todd and I had both examined her frequently enough to know it was not HSV. Rather, we noticed in the back of her mouth what looked like fingers of gum tissue growing over her back molars. Or, we realized, it could be new molars erupting through the gums-- and that made a lot more sense. Amanda has been lamenting the pain, and using it as an excuse to ask for a milkshake every time we are out.

I knew this checkup was approaching, and encouraged Amanda to just wait it out. But she was complaining so much, I also sought the advice of other moms. When two families were over for supper recently, I asked the mothers to check out Amanda's mouth. Each peered in, then compared Amanda's molars to their own daughters', and both agreed Amanda was cutting new teeth. After they left, I said to Amanda, "See? Mrs. B. and Mrs. B. agreed with me. You are just getting new teeth." Amanda responded, "Yeah, Mom, but they are just moms. I mean, it's not like they're actually dentists. I mean, they may want to become dentists, but they would have to go to a lot more school for that."

When it was Amanda's turn to see the dentist today, I explained about her gums hurting, as well as my (and the other mothers') suspicion. Before even looking in her mouth, the dentist said, "Yep, I'm sure it's new molars. But there could be another reason your mouth hurts, Amanda-- you talk too much."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On My Mind

It rained all day, and, apart from the weather, I could really sense the gray cloud hanging over Krinkeland. My heart is heavy with the worries and fears of families we know fighting sickness and disease. I look at my own children and I think of the kids who are without one of their parents-- for a day, for a month, forever.

I am thinking of Todd's cousin's family. Danine's husband, her college-graduate son, and her high-school-aged daughter are reeling from Danine's recent death from cancer.

One of Amanda's classmates has a dad who underwent lung surgery today, and who is dealing with a possible cancer recurrence. Please keep Wade in your prayers.

And, this post is definitely a shout-out to our friend, Lisa. Her husband Chuck has entered his third week in the ICU, battling severe, acute pancreatitis and the complications that have come with it. Chuck has made significant and steady process, but I'm sure the road to recovery sometimes seems endless. When last we visited a couple days ago, Lisa requested a photo of all of our children. I hope this brings a smile:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sandman

All four kids are napping at the same time. I don't know that this has ever happened before, or that it will ever happen again. Amanda and Elisabeth were worn out from a morning at Tumbling Teddies. Benjamin was worn out from his sleepover at Grandma's. Madeline was worn out just from drooling and being cute.

I don't know what to do with myself. I could get caught up on all the laundry. I could clear off the kitchen counters. I could find places to stash the bulk-size toilet paper, granola bars, and energy drinks I bought at Costco yesterday. Or, I could watch TV and eat cake.

Big Boy

I am getting many signs this week that Benjamin is turning into a big boy:

He had his first solo sleepover at Grandma's. No big sisters bossing him around... no missing Mommy... just Grandpa's undivided attention, his own post at the kitchen counter to help cook, countless puzzles and books, and Play-Doh, Play-Doh, Play-Doh! When Ben woke up this morning, he told Grandma he thought he just might stay another night.

While he was gone, and the bigger girls were at tumble/cheer camp (don't ask,) Madeline and I went to Target. I know, weird, huh? I was pushing my cart through the baby department when I realized I now only have to buy diapers for one kid. Ben just turned that toilet corner and didn't look back. Good thing, too. One grandma gave him a pizza party complete with presents; the other gave him 24 hours of fun, including a "Congratulations, You're Potty Trained" cake!

This evening, we will take Ben to his preschool orientation. I'm still not sure about this one. Maybe he's ready. Maybe I'm not.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Potty Party

Benjamin got his Potty Party at Chuck E. Cheese's. It's not exactly a federal holiday, but instead a celebration established by Grandma to mark the ditching of the diapers. Ben's big day was delayed by a week or two due to busy summer schedules, but everyone was excited to be there today. Ben was bouncing off the walls when he woke up this morning and realized his time had come. He did ask me whether there would be presents at this party, to which I replied an emphatic, "No!" And, then, Grandma showed me up by bringing gifts, anyway. I'm thinking about getting potty trained all over again, just to have my own show.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fishwinked

I've been hoodwinked-- or, should I say, fishwinked. I am not alone. Parents all over town are scratching their scalps and shaking their heads tonight. And Wal-Mart has had a run on goldfish food.

It happened at pick-up for the last day of vacation bible school. "Guess what? Guess what? Guess what, Mom?!" I don't want to guess. "If we memorize all the bible verses for the week and can say them back, we get a prize! And guess what the prize is, Mom?!" I really don't want to guess. "It's a FISH!" Seriously?! What kind of childless dimwit would come up with this idea, and have the nerve to carry it out, but not have the guts to at least warn parents ahead of time?

The theme for vacation bible school this summer was "Crocodile Dock," so, in theory, I guess the prize could have been worse. And, the leader did make her big speech in front of all the kids, about how they could only take home one of the cute, little containers with the darling, little goldfish inside if a parent said it was OK, and if a parent did not say it was OK there was to be no tantrum-throwing. Yeah, right. Like I'm going to be the only mean, horrible, despised parent to say, "No." Even though I said no more pets while I'm taking care of a baby. Even though I will certainly be the one to do the feeding (once the novelty wears off-- probably tomorrow) and the bowl cleaning. Even though I'll have to somehow keep Benjamin from trying to catch and/or kill the fish. Even though I will have to somberly break the news to young, impressionable minds when the fish goes belly-up. Even though I will be the one to dry their teary eyes and, in my best straight face, preside over the fishy funeral. I did limit it to one fish, so there would be no fighting about whose fish still needed to eat or whose fish died first. Some of the nicer moms went home with three.

After initially being dubbed "Sports," the back story for which I never really got, the fish was later renamed "Goldie," since that's what they kept calling her, anyway. Yes, I've been assured and reassured by two persuasive daughters that the fish is a girl. So far, Benjamin has only once dipped his fingers in the fish bowl and then licked off the water.

I'm considering writing a letter in objection to this horrible idea, because I am a firm believer that NO ONE SHOULD INFLICT A LIVING BEING ON SOMEONE ELSE. What would have been so bad about the prize being a sticker, or a pencil, or... How about: If you learn your scripture verses and live by them for the next 100 years, you will get the reward of everlasting life?

Hey, I never claimed to be the fun mom.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Doin' the Jitterbug


It's a milestone day here in Krinkeland. Today, Madeline learned to pull down on the toy hanging from the handle of her car seat.

Each of my children has had one of these small, plush toys dangling above their little faces in their infant carriers. Amanda's and Elisabeth's were actually bugs. Maddy's, a shower gift from Grandma-- who I believe also bought the similar toys for the other kids-- is a lion. Between the ages of three and four months, each of my children has learned how to pull down on the toy and make it shake and rattle back up into position.

The older children and I have taken turns pulling the toy for Madeline, so she can see what it does. She has carefully observed, but has seemed more in the mode of being entertained than actually studying for her own knowledge. Benjamin loooves to hang on the lion, whip it around the bar, pull on it in church so it makes its loud rattling noise down the pew.

Today, I was standing in a checkout line, with the Madeline in the infant carrier on one arm and the diaper bag with wallet in hand on the other. The three older children were running circles around my legs, when I felt the vibration and heard the Jittery Pal rattling up its cord. I turned to scold whichever little urchin was leaning over the baby and playing with the toy... But only the baby was there, playing with her own toy. The genius gene lives on.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Living the Lessons

In the car this morning, there was a question from the backseat: "Mom, are you ever afraid?" Amanda asked. "Sure," I replied, "Everyone gets scared sometimes." Amanda said, "Well, Mom, you shouldn't be afraid, because God is always with you."

At lunchtime, I called and called for Amanda, but she did not appear. When she finally came to the table, I asked, "Where were you?" Amanda answered, "Watching TV." Elisabeth nodded knowingly and told her sister, "That's your temptation."

I love Vacation Bible School week.

Monday, August 10, 2009

He Gets Around

Every day here in Krinkeland, we learn something new. Unfortunately, most of it is stuff we wish we never knew... or never had to know. Such is the case today.

A few days ago, while preparing the children for bed, I helped Benjamin brush his teeth and noticed his gums bleeding. I figured I had taken out my impatience with bedtime on my son's mouth, apologized, helped him rinse, and put him to bed. Over the weekend, we were out to eat when Ben started whining and saying his teeth hurt. This has happened on-and-off over the summer, but we had supposed Ben was finally cutting his two-year molars. However, when Todd looked in his mouth, he noticed Ben's gums were really red and swollen. Last night, Ben was awake and crying every one to two hours, not awake enough to verbalize the problem, but begging each time for something to drink.

In between visits to his room, I sat on the computer, searching the terms "swollen inflamed bleeding gums child." I had determined Ben's teeth and gums were suddenly and violently rotting out of his mouth due to the immense doses of sugary nutritional drinks Ben has consumed at naptime and bedtime. However, his dental checkup six months ago was clear and we have recently cut off Ben from the shakes. So, next, I became convinced he had either diabetes or leukemia, as these were the other diagnoses that popped up in my surfing.

At 7:30 a.m., I was on the phone with the pediatric dentist's office. After packing up everyone and dropping the two older girls at vacation bible school, we were off. It took the dentist about five seconds to make his diagnosis: primary herpetic stomatitis, caused by the herpes simplex virus. Yep, Ben has herpes.

Todd occasionally gets cold sores, most often with another illness or a change in the weather. I never thought much about it, though there's no kissing when that's going on. Apparently, though, he was kissing on the number one son, and, according to the doctor, that likely caused Ben's current symptoms. I was told, in children, red, swollen gums appear the first time they have a breakout. And, Ben's mouth is a textbook case. Luckily, he does not have other symptoms, which include high fever and mouth lesions.

So what?
*90% of the population carries the herpes simplex virus. One can pick it up anywhere, but, as mentioned above, there's a likely source in Krinkeland.
*It's highly contagious, but spread through saliva-to-saliva contact. Once again, NO KISSING.
*The effects are more serious on patients with lower body masses. I was warned to keep Ben away from Madeline, and to make sure he does not touch her eyes. A secondary herpetic eye infection can cause blindness.
*There is an additional risk, called a herpetic whitlow, to kids who suck on their fingers, and thus spread the infected saliva to a break in the skin. Ben is a finger sucker, and I'm sure hoping to avoid that.
*Ben should be on a mostly liquid diet, with cool, nonacidic drinks, while his mouth is very sore. One main complication is dehydration, if the child refuses to eat and drink.
*There is some not-totally-understood connection to sunlight. The doctor suspected Ben was infected before last weekend, and then all that time outside at the cabin led to the current symptoms.
*There's no cure. Ben will get it again, but it is highly unlikely to re-manifest itself in the gums. In the future, Ben will get canker sores or cold sores.
*The illness clears up and sores are generally healed within 10 days.

Todd feels awful, of course, probably because I made him feel that way. I can't decide whether to panic when it comes to the other children, my nephews, or anyone else who's had contact with Ben. If this virus is so widespread that 90% of us are walking around with it, I guess we constantly expose each other, anyway. Ben is just unlucky enough to get the miserable part.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pygmalion

Yes, I am the grammar police. While I do not claim to be perfect in my own speech or writing, I do make a concerted effort to be clear and correct. Much of it goes back to my education and on-the-job training. You may not know it by watching those 24-hour news channels or by reading the paper (does anyone still do that?) but the study of journalism does-- or, at least, did-- focus largely on grammar, spelling, punctuation and language.

Now, I've given up the fight on some common writing errors that are really just "rules" that most people never bothered to memorize: there/their/they're, possessive vs. plural, that kind of thing. And, some are quite minor, not exactly incorrect... Still, if they were the pet peeves of my mentors and coworkers, I picked up on them. I remember one anchor who got irked if a script ever read "has got" because it's redundant. Just say "has."

Then, there are others. Things people say ALL THE TIME, and they are ALWAYS WRONG, but we hear them so often, maybe some people think they're correct... or at least passable. Public figures say them. Celebrities talk this way. World leaders can't seem to help themselves. These are the kinds of things that really get me:
"him and I"
"a whole nother"
"she's a girl that" (person=who, thing=that)
"realator"
"nuculear" (Yeah, thanks, President Bush.)

I could go on, but my head is starting to hurt. Todd's head hurts, too, because, whenever we watch television together, I end up screaming at the TV. I swear, I am so glad that cute Bachelorette Jillian finally found her guy and got off the airwaves, because "him and I" were sick of listening to her.

Here's a little hint about the "I/me/she/her/he/him" thing: When you're not sure which to use, try leaving out the other person. For example: "Him and I went to the movies" or "He and I went to the movies?" Take out "I," and you would never say, "Him went to the movies," right? So, it's "he." Easy. Works the other way, too: "Do you want to eat with Bill and me?" or "Do you want to eat with Bill and I?" You know you wouldn't ask, "Do you want to eat with I?"

I'd be a really awful teacher because I have NO PATIENCE for anyone who is not my actual offspring, but this lesson will keep you from getting a grammar citation. I don't know why I just wrote all that. I'm crabby.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The "New Economy"

We got a postcard from the company that made our kitchen countertops, advertising that it now also offers home mortgages. I'm still scratching my head over that one.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Souvenirs, Snacks, Contests... And, Somewhere in There, Basketball


Grandpa P. took Amanda on a "date" this evening, to see a professional women's basketball game. It's something the two of them have been talking about since Amanda first began showing an interest in the sport. He invited Elisabeth to go, too, but she gave her usual line: "Nah, I'm more into fashion than basketball."

When Grandpa pulled into the driveway, Amanda bolted out the door without so much as a "'Bye, Mom!" She did call from the arena, before the game began, with a report on all the junk food they'd eaten. Then, I didn't hear anything else until Grandpa and Amanda returned. Amanda trudged upstairs, modeled her new t-shirt, and informed me she realized early in the evening that she would be way too exhausted when she got home to tell me about her night, so she used the free pen and sticky notepad she received to write this:

The following is what Amanda wrote-- the way she wrote it-- on a series of sticky notes that comprised the "Lynx's Update":
"So far the Lynx are ahead and ther was a senyors sitasin (senior citizen) dance"
"One of ther best players got hert but ther doing prity good"
"and they played this funny game"
"and now the sun's are a head because they made some realy bid (bad) shot's"
"The Lynx are ceching (catching) up Go Lynx!"
"Ther coch is very prity. and we ate a hool! (whole) thing of cotin candy!"
"The sun's are ahead bye 4"
"The Lynx won!!! 95 to 88"
"WO!OO!"

It appears Amanda needs a little work on spiling and the whole pos's'es's'ive's versus plural thing, but it's still pretty cute.

Dark Cloud of Doom

All this week, I feel as though there is a black cloud hanging over Krinkeland. While everything is well with our immediate family, that is definitely not the case with other extended family members and friends. It's gotten so I don't want to answer the phone, because I'm afraid someone else is calling to tell me something awful. But, with the fancy cell phone, I can't escape the news. Email and text messages just pop up on the screen.

If your prayer list is running a little short, here are some requests that could surely use your attention:
*Todd's cousin, Danine, 51, died of renal cancer on Wednesday. Her funeral is Saturday.
*The organist-- and a great lady-- from our old church, Monica, 60, died of a stroke last Friday.
*Our friend, Chuck, slightly over 40, remains hospitalized with pancreatitis and related complications.
*Laura, the wife of one of my former classmates and the friend of a very good friend, is preparing to undergo brain surgery on Monday to remove a tumor.
*A close friend is going through a painful, personal loss.

Thank you.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dad: Not a Synonym for Grownup

At nap time, Benjamin and I read a book called, "When I Am a Grownup." After the story was over, Ben, in his oh-so-charming-three-year-old way, told me, "I don't want to be a grownup. I don't like grownups. I don't like any grownups. I only like Daddy." See? Even a preschooler can make the distinction.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Home Again

We have returned from our annual trip to "the cabin" with Grandma and Grandpa R. and Aunt Lisa. We stayed a bit longer, as the nice weather appeared just as we were planning to leave. The kids got to hit all their regular haunts-- candy stores, go-kart tracks, crappy souvenir stands, the bison ranch-- and they were thrilled. We took them to Itasca State Park and explained about our state and national park systems, as well as all about the source of the Mississippi River. That day, we ran into one of Amanda's classmates and her family. The next day, we saw a teacher from Amanda's school.

There was also plenty of time to swim and to fish and-- Benjamin's main goal-- to "empty out the lake." We lost count of how many half-full buckets he towed from the shallow water to the beach... but he was having a ball. The three older kids kind of slept, and Madeline and I learned we can be zombies just about anywhere.

Today is Grandma R.'s birthday, and for a present, we left her in peace. I will post photos as soon as I dig myself out from under the mountain of laundry.

Monday, August 3, 2009

APB on the Chucker

I interrupt our time "Up North" on the-closest-thing-our-family-has-to-a-summer-vacation, at the cabin with the in-laws, to issue this APB (all prayers bulletin) for our friend Chuck: He is severely ill and hospitalized with pancreatitis and related organ failure. There has already been one surgery to remove part of his small intestine, and more surgery is in his future. Please pray for Chuck's recovery and health, as well as for his wife Lisa, daughter Grace, and the rest of his loving family.