Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Most Gorgeous

I actually overheard Elisabeth, in play, use the word "gorgeouser," as in, "I am gorgeouser than you are." Am I surprised? Only that it took this long.

Lefty

Madeline is getting all of her teeth on one side of her mouth. I mean, first the middle two on the bottom came in, and then she got the middle front teeth on top. But, after that, Maddy got another tooth on the bottom, to the left of those two. And then, another one came in on top, to the left of the big ones. Now, she has cut a top left molar.

Seven teeth-- and five of them are lefties. Does this mean she is right-brained? Don't the experts always say the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body or something like that? Is she going to start leaning to the left?

Todd has pointed out that, in addition to all of our children being blue-eyed and straight-haired like me, it appears they are also all right-handed like me. Maybe this left-toothed thing is like throwing Daddy a bone.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Flip Side

Today we wrapped up Benjamin's most recent battery of medical tests, with a gastric emptying study. Basically, it involved having Ben eat food seeded with radioactive particles (which he could not see, smell, or taste) and then taking a series of scanned images over time, to track the rate at which the stomach empties of food.

From Ben's perspective, this test was a piece of cake, or, I guess I should say, a piece of toast with scrambled eggs. One of the radiology techs explained the plan to Ben while the other let him pick out a DVD to watch. When the first guy brought in the eggs, toast, and juice, Ben immediately started eating and said, "You're a good cook, Jeff." Ben kept asking for more pepper on his eggs, and even on his toast (?) but, whatever-- he ate.

He had to finish a certain amount of the food in a set period of time. Then, the imaging began. Ben had to lay still for one-minute scans, taken at the beginning, and then every 15 minutes for an hour, so, five scans in total. In between takes, and even during them, he just kept his eyes on SpongeBob. He also did this weird, twitchy thing where he kept taking deep breaths and then sticking his belly up in the air, but I guess it was not enough to mess up the pictures.

From my perspective, this test was not as informative and yet more worrisome than the last. In that, I mean there was no radiologist in the room to explain what I was seeing and the significance. Additionally, at the end of the hour, the scans were reviewed and we were told only that we would need to stay another hour, and have Ben re-scanned at the end of that time. This indicated to my master mind, already, that his stomach was emptying more slowly than it should... otherwise, there would have been no need for more images.

One of the techs was quick to tell me, "Just because we had to take more pictures doesn't necessarily mean there's an abnormality. A doctor will have to review them and get back to you." Whew, that put me at ease, because we all know I'm a glass-is-half-full kind of gal. Ha.

Once again, Benjamin was thrilled to collect his cache of SpongeBob stickers and to push the buttons for the elevators. On the way out, he even reminisced about other hospital visits: "Remember when we came here to get my penis fixed and we had to wake up while it was still dark? And it was snowing outside and other cars were crashing into each other? And that elevator had all the colors on the windows? And remember how Grandma gave me a new puzzle that day, too?"

Some days, I want to be four.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Splashdown

As a kind of end-of-summer treat, we took all the kids, along with my sister's family, and Grandma and Grandpa P., oh, and Maria and Rachel, of course, to the Water Park of America. THE Water Park of America. Can you believe it? Did you know there was an official one? We are such patriots.

It was a riot. A totally exhausting riot. Madeline loved it, heading face first into the kiddie pool. I did take some photos, but only of the really little kids, because, once we hit the park, I never saw the bigger ones again. Amanda tried surfing, and lived. She, Elisabeth, and Kazmer took off with Rachel and Maria and hit all the big slides, over and over again. Even Benjamin rode in the huge, round tube down the family slide. He's still talking about it.

I thought we'd make it two or three hours before the whining began. But, that was not the case, no siree Bob. They didn't even want to stop for lunch. Grandma offered snacks, which they scarfed, but they kept on moving... floating... sliding... swimming.

When Madeline became inconsolable way past nap time, I took her out and drove her around so she could sleep. When she awoke, we returned, presumably to find everyone else, help them pack up and shower off, and leave. But, the instant Maddy saw the water, she wanted back in it. I had to wrestle both of us into our suits, after putting her in the back-up swim diaper. (That's a precarious position to be in, I tell you, down to your last swim diaper.)

In all, the kids rode the rapids for SIX hours, and then had to be dragged out of there. Seriously, the chlorine was getting to me. But it was definitely a quiet ride home.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Note

In the craziness of end-of-summer-husband-absent, I had a bunch of half-done posts from the past week or two that I finally got around to finishing. I'm not saying they'll change your life, but, if you want to see what else we've been doing in Krinkeland, please scroll down.

The Mighty, Mighty Elks

Oh, the pride I feel for my alma mater:

Elk River Football Suspended After Alleged Hazing

ELK RIVER, Minn.-- The Elk River High School varsity football program has been suspended while the school district investigates an allegation of hazing and police pursue their own criminal probe, police said.

"We do have an open investigation. Detectives are involved with it," said Elk River Capt. Bob Kluntz on Thursday.

He said the district notified police about the allegation on Wednesday. Kluntz wouldn't characterize the alleged hazing or provide further details, but said it could amount to criminal assault.
(Story continues here.)

Hey, Captain-- while you're at it, take a look at the hockey team.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Important Stuff

My husband called this morning, via some kind of international phone service. I hadn't talked to him much since his arrival in Switzerland, since his cell phone doesn't work there. This strange number popped up on caller i.d. and, thankfully, I answered it. Todd started explaining how he bought some kind of pre-paid international cell phone, which he was sharing with his coworkers, and it cost just 10 cents a minute to call the U.S. Or something like that. But I cut him off:

"OK, whatever. Listen: Dad came over and mowed our lawn because he said it looked like a hay field and he was right. Your mom and I took the kids to the A maze'n Farmyard, and Madeline french kissed a llama. Ted and Kristin had their ultrasound and everything looks good with the baby. They are moving furniture into their new house this weekend. How do I get the trailer to help Ted and Kristin move? Do you really want to go to the State Fair, and, if so, when, because today is the last day I can pre-buy discounted tickets? No, I don't want to make that decision because I hate the State Fair. And I know you love to go, but I also know you want to go on a weekday because weekends are too crowded, but I can't believe you're actually going to take a day off from work next week because you're so incredibly busy. So, are you? I don't care-- just tell me what you want to do. What kind of a hotel chain are we supposed to stay in when we head to Gua's birthday party, so we can get those points on our credit card? Madeline has a new tooth. One of the door handles fell off the van, so what am I supposed to do about it? Do you need to talk about anything else, because Benjamin needs me to wipe his butt? These kids are driving me nuts! I gotta go!! LOVE YOU!"

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NextMD

The children's GI clinic subscribes to this online service called NextMD. The doctor's office gives each patient a registration code, and then you can sign up to get test results, clinic notes, etc. What a great idea, I thought. No more calling the clinic or waiting for things to come in the mail.

Amanda had some blood work done on Monday, so I logged on to find out the results. Nothing there. I called the doctor's office and basically said, "Sorry to call you when you have this online service so I won't have to call you, but there are no results in her account." The nurse told me it takes them a WEEK to get lab results and to link those results to NextMD.

Still seems like a good idea... but a long wait.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Farm Girl

I told my MIL there were so many things I was planning to do with the children this summer... and I hadn't yet gotten around to doing any of them: the Science Museum, the Children's Museum, the zoo, swimming at a nearby community center, bowling... and, with Todd gone and nothing much on the calendar, this would be a good week to do some of those things. So, even though it was plenty hot and humid and the day was half over, we loaded up the troops and headed to the A maze'n Farmyard.

A good time was had by all, but that Madeline Girl, she is a farmer at heart:

Holy Guacamole!


I know parents who swear their kids' favorite food is chickpeas. We have some friends whose daughter, present at any potluck buffet, will always fill her plate with leafy salads. When I babysat the neighbor kids last week, one of the girls scooped piles of mixed vegetables onto her plate, telling me, "I just love veggies."

These are not my children.

I recognize the importance of vegetables in a healthy diet. Love them myself. I can make whole meals out of veggies, and often have, having spent the better part of two decades a vegetarian. But my kids, not so much.

Some of them are better vegetable eaters than others. Madeline was not much a fan of the green baby foods, but who is? Now that she's totally on table food, she'll put just about anything in her mouth. Benjamin loves cold pea salad, broccoli with cheese sauce, glazed baby carrots, buttered sweet corn. (Do you sense a pattern?) The older girls have many more rules and regulations to their spartan vegetable-eating. Amanda will eat raw carrots. Elisabeth will eat cooked carrots. Amanda likes green beans only in green bean casserole. Both like celery, which is a given, since it has absolutely no nutritional value.

What's a mother to do? I figure my best bet is just to make and serve at least one vegetable dish at every meal, and to strongly encourage all the kids to try it. Tastes do change over time, and sometimes it works. This brings me to today's point: guacamole.

I made chicken tacos for supper on Sunday, so my sister and BIL brought chips and guacamole. I'm not a big guac fan myself, but I know lots of people love it. I have, on numerous occasions, offered it to my children. In particular, I have urged Ben to try it, due to the high "good fat" content. In response to the guacamole, I have received the most horrendous expressions and exclamations. Until now.

We were just getting supper to the table as Ben clamored around our ankles, whining, "I'm hungry!" He asked if he could have some tortilla chips and I consented. He crawled onto the seat next to his aunt and demanded, "I want some of that dip." Ben tried the guacamole and said, "Mmmm, good!" I looked at his face and, sure enough, he wasn't lying!

Ben proceeded to polish off tablespoon after tablespoon of the green stuff. And, when I left to take Amanda to a doctor's appointment at 7 this morning, Benjamin was sitting at the kitchen table with Grandma, eating leftover guacamole for breakfast. This is the kind Ellen bought, Wholly Guacamole, which I think you can find in the deli.

And, yes, I did realize while writing this that the avocado has a pit and, is, therefore, botanically a fruit. However, Wikipedia assures me in the culinary sense it is often treated as a vegetable. By the way, my children love fruit.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Talking With My Boy

Todd is away on a week-long business trip to Switzerland and Germany. He didn't want to go. I didn't want him to go. But, it cannot be helped. His absence does give me time to have some really great chats with the other man in my life:

Benjamin: "How many nights is Daddy going to be gone?"
Mom: "Six nights."
Benjamin: "He's going to sleep in a hotel for six nights?"
Mom: "Well, technically, five nights. It's going to take Daddy all day and all night tonight to get where he's going, so he'll have to sleep on the airplane."
Benjamin: (laughs) "Daddy's going to sleep on the plane?! But he CAN'T!"
Mom: "Why not?"
Benjamin: "He has to fly the plane!"

Benjamin: "Are you going to be 100 years old when you die?"
Mom: "No one knows how long they'll live, but I hope to be very old when I die. I don't know about 100, though-- that's really old."
Benjamin: "I'm going to live to be 100."
Mom: "Well, I hope so... but we can't be sure."
Benjamin: "Yes, we can-- just eat lots of broccoli."

Benjamin: "When I grow up and get married, will you be the grandma to my kids?"
Mom: "Yep."
Benjamin: "But I can't marry Amanda or Libby, right?"
Mom: "That's right. They're your sisters. You have to marry someone who's not already in our family."
Benjamin: "But I can't marry Julia." (Her family spent yesterday at our house; we see them rarely, but Ben often talks about Julia.)
Mom: "Why not?"
Benjamin: "I asked Julia to marry me, but she said 'no.'"
Mom: "Why?"
Benjamin: "She says I'm a talkie-talkie."
Mom: "What?"
Benjamin: "JULIA SAYS SHE DOESN'T WANT TO MARRY ME BECAUSE I TALK TOO MUCH!"

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Seven Kids

As a favor to some friends, I agreed to take three of their children overnight, because they were planning on some late-night lake entertaining at their house. While I wasn't dreading the event, I certainly wasn't thrilled. Todd was working late and it was me, alone, with seven children.

Despite my reservations, things went swimmingly. The kids ate what was offered when it was offered. They didn't cry or yell or otherwise act out. There really wasn't any fighting. Just one toy got broken and I do believe it was an accident. Each of my three older children was perfectly matched in age and gender to a visiting friend, so there were playmates all the way around.

Sure, the four-year-old boys swooped in and felt up the Barbie house and all its inhabitants... but the six-year-old girls had already moved on to Webkinz, by then. Yes, there was some discussion over whether to have regular popcorn or kettle corn for snack time, but they all agreed on a movie to watch. All the children went to bed, when told, with only minimal giggling, and slept till 7:30 the next morning.

What more could I ask for?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Story Time


I know the video/audio sync is off on this... not sure why... but I thought the sound was so sweet, I had to share, anyway.

Valleyfair

The folks at Todd's company decided to host a family picnic and fun day-- at Valleyfair. We had never taken the kids to the area amusement park, frankly, because it was too expensive and just seemed like too much work. With one of those factors out of the way, off we went.

Madeline stayed home with Aunt Lisa, which was a blessing. Another blessing was the weather-- upper 60s and cloudy, so no one was melting and the crowds were tolerable. Benjamin, Elisabeth and Amanda had a ball:





Having not been to the park in, oh, a dozen years, I can tell you I was equally delighted and dismayed to see that it had not changed. Sure, a few new rides here, a few old ones gone there, but, mostly, the entire place and all its inhabitants were stuck in 1988-- from Prince blasting out of the shrub-standed speakers to the big hair/big butts/big mouths on the ride-goers. Tattooed couples had their hands in each others' back pockets, and I had my finger down my throat.

It's all right, though. Just getting me good and ready for the state fair.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

You Ever Try Drinking That Stuff?

Well, today did not go as planned. Due to a scheduling mix-up, possibly my own confusion, when we got to the hospital we were told Benjamin would have the UGI/SBFT (Upper GI Soft Bowel Follow-Through) test-- not the eating test I described in yesterday's post. That shouldn't have been such a big change; I knew he was having one test today and the other in two weeks. However, this was the test Todd was especially interested in, and I would have liked him to be there, to see the results on the screen and to ask all his questions of the radiologist.

I really would have liked Daddy to be there to help the boy with the drinking of the barium. He's much better at that kind of thing. For me-- who am I kidding, for Ben-- it was a total nightmare.

A full hour was wasted trying to cajole my son into drinking the stuff that I knew full well was nasty. I sang songs, read books, bribed, promised, teased, counted, threatened. I love being at a children's hospital, where the staff is great with kids and knows every trick in the book. But, no amount of Nesquik was going to mask the chalky yuck.

The radiologist was even kind enough to page the gastroenterologist and talk with her at length about the purpose for the test and exactly what she was looking for. They determined it was important to get all the contrast into Benjamin. After some time, I finally consented to the use of an NG (nasogastric) tube. The doctor explained to Ben that he was going to put a small tube up his nose and down his throat into his stomach; then, he could push in all the barium needed, without Benjamin tasting any of it.

Ben, justifiably so, screamed and thrashed and threw a total fit. It took four radiology techs to hold him down, while I stood at his side, wearing my sunny smile and telling him it would be OK. All the while, I was raining on the inside.

Luckily, Ben quickly rebounded once the NG tube was pulled. The next trying part came while we walked and walked and walked the halls of the hospital, in an attempt to get the barium moving through Ben's system. He was tired, and he was hungry. And we were both covered in contrast.

In all, it was about three-and-a-half hours until the radiologist was able to see everything he needed to see. The most wonderful part of the experience was that the radiologist conducted the entire test, so he was in the room the whole time and was commenting to me on what he saw. There's no waiting for results this time.

The news is: As far as the doctor could tell, Benjamin's anatomy is totally normal. All the organs are appropriately sized, in the right places, and connected to each other the way they should be. There are no unexpected kinks or loops or other abnormalities that would explain why Ben has such difficulty gaining weight.

This is what we expected. And, believe me, it does feel good to cross off another item on the list. Results from the other tests this month will provide more pieces to the puzzle.

I can hear my mom say, "When are you going to stop looking for answers that probably don't exist?" (I know, I've been talking about my mom as though she's dead. She's not-- she's just in Alaska.) But, the fact of the matter is, when both the pediatrician and the GI specialist say, "Your son is not gaining weight. This is a medical concern," I am compelled to follow their advice.

Benjamin instantly bounced back from all the trauma, telling me even as we left radiology, "I love you so much, Mama." As we were wrapping up, my SIL stopped to say "Hi." Kristin looked as worn out as I felt. She spends her work days in surgery... I was really glad we just had a morning in radiology.

Benjamin playing doctor in the radiology waiting area

Oh, I forgot to mention my return trip to the pharmacy netted a substitute ear drop prescription for Elisabeth, with a $5 copay, instead of the $85 one. And, while I was taking care of that, Amanda was taking care of this:

Amanda minus both front teeth

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Doctors, Tests, Medicine

I don't know how to title this post. It's about our day. It's about doctors' visits.

Let's start with the big stuff: We are all fine. The kids are healthy. The weather is beautiful. I'm excited about three books I picked up from the library.

But, it's still been one of those long and trying days. A day where I think a lot of "what ifs?" A day where I ask, "What are you trying to tell me, God?" A day where I wish I had just stayed in bed... or just stayed home and played outside with the kids... or just sat and read one of those library books.

Benjamin had his initial visit with his new pediatric gastroenterologist. We liked her, so, if you are in the market, see me for a recommendation. You'll remember this appointment came about after Ben's four-year well-child visit showed he had gained just one pound in one year-- proof that his rate of weight gain has again slowed dramatically and that he is significantly underweight for his age and even for his smaller stature.

We told the doctor the main things we notice with Ben (apart from the unchanging numbers on the scale) are that he never eats too much of anything in one sitting and he seems easily satiated. The doctor said this could be caused by a number of things and she suggested a whole battery of tests. When she again brought up the possibility of cystic fibrosis, I nearly screamed out loud... but, then, she explained there are other pancreatic enzyme conditions that are NOT CF, but that are in the same ballpark.

In the next two weeks, there will be blood tests and stool samples. (Oh, joy! Who wants the first stab at holding a cup under the boy's butthole?) We will hold off on the endoscopy and colonoscopy, but it sounds as though those super-fun tests may be in Ben's future. He will have a barium swallow study, to give the doctor the most complete look-- without being invasive-- at Ben's anatomy.

First up, tomorrow actually, is another radiology test. (Sorry, I don't have the orders in front of me and I'm too lazy to get up right now to get them, so you don't get the name.) Anyway, with this test, Benjamin will eat food seeded with radioactive particles and then have a series of x-rays to watch the food progress through his digestive system. One theory is that Ben's stomach empties more slowly than usual, so, when he says he's full, he's full. If that were the case, it could be Ben can't take in enough nourishment in one sitting to sustain him and cause weight gain.

The best part of Benjamin's visit to the gastroenterologist came when we were three-quarters of the way home (the pediatric GI clinic is about 40 miles from our house, a good hour's drive) and I looked in the backseat and asked Ben, "Where's your blanket?" Since we'd left home so early in the morning and were headed to a strange, new place, Linus wanted to drag along the security blankie, and I didn't have the heart to refuse. Surprisingly enough, I did have the patience to turn around the car and drive back to the clinic, where the beloved blanket sat waiting for us. I would have asked the nurse to mail it, but I think we're going to need it for tomorrow's hospital visit.

When we did finally return home, I traded out kids and took Elisabeth to the clinic. She has been complaining steadily for three days of ear pain. Libby does not usually complain... about anything... except that her shoes aren't sparkly enough and I won't let her wear makeup. With no fever or other symptoms, I doubted it was an ear infection, but I figured I'd better take her in. (Actually, Libby pretty much insisted, after Daddy helpfully suggested, "Maybe a spider crawled into your ear while you were sleeping and made a nest." Nice.)

Well, Elisabeth has swimmer's ear. How could a swimmer/lifeguard/water safety instructor not diagnose this at home? Anyway, swimmer's ear is, in fact, a bacterial infection of the outer ear canal... so she needed medication. Off to the pharmacy we went. Twenty minutes later, the pharmacy tech informed me that our brand formulary copay for this particular kind of ear drops is $85. I asked the usual questions about whether there was a generic equivalent (no) and whether they had the correct insurance information (yes.) Then, I asked them to call back the doctor (our regular pediatrician is on vacation; this was a partner) and ask whether there was a comparable medication he would be willing to prescribe that would be better covered by our insurance.

By this time, the ice cream was melting-- either from time spent in the cart or from the heat radiating from my shortening fuse. When it became clear the process was going to take a while, I took Libby home. Now, it's been a couple hours, and I haven't called to check on the prescription. I will. And, then, I'll have to go pick it up-- and hopefully pay a less expensive tab.

Then, I'll have to decide whether it's OK to wait and start the medication tomorrow. Since I will be at the hospital all morning, starting very early, with Benjamin, Grandma agreed to take the girls to her house for the night. I don't think she planned on this ongoing babysitting task when she showed up this morning. So, I'm not the only one who's taken some knocks today.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Screamer and the Biter

It is one in the same: Madeline.

I've never had a biter before. She is the first. You can see it coming-- Madeline gets all ticked off about being kept from something or out of something, and she'll come right at you, mouth open wide, and clamp down on the first body part she meets. It's not so bad yet, since she only has five teeth; but, it's certainly not good. Todd noticed the other day that Benjamin had the unmistakable bite mark on his forearm. Interesting that he never yelled out in pain or injustice... makes me wonder what the big brother did to instigate the bite.

Still, I could use some advice on how to deal with the biting. So far, we've sternly scolded Maddy, which causes her to immediately fall to the floor, wailing and thrashing. I can hear my mom say, "Bite her back," and I'm not opposed to that idea, either. But, if you have any successful break-the-biting tips, please send them my way.

At the same time, Madeline has entered the joyous screaming stage. This, all my children have gone through, to some degree or another. I have to say, however, that Maddy seems to be the worst. She screams for the attention, and for the sheer pleasure of using her own voice. Madeline will sit in the shopping cart and scream so hard her face turns purple and her eyes bug out of her head. It's pretty funny, actually. But, sometimes it's not. She also screams in the car.

Above all, I think she screams because she is misunderstood. While no 15-month-old is a great orator, Madeline seems to have a more limited vocabulary than most-- she certainly says fewer words than my other kids did at this age. So, she screams to get across her point... I think her point is to give me a headache. And she does.

I know this won't last. It seems we just got out of the screaming phase with my nephew, Oliver. Madeline shrieks much the way her cousin did. And, when not screaming, she is speaking the same strange blend of Mandarin-Czech-Swahili that for months tumbled out of that little boy's mouth. And, now, suddenly, Oliver tells me, "Hi, Auntie. Hello. Hello. Go Gamma's house."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Join the Party

At the supper table-- don't you love those mealtime discussions?-- Amanda asked, "Mom, what does it mean to be a Democrat?" I tried to switch into eight-year-old understanding mode, and generally explained about our nation's system of government, how it works, and that a political party is a group of people who all hold basically the same beliefs about the country and how it should be run.

Elisabeth butted in-- again-- about how she is not a Democrat but an American. I don't know how many times I have explained this, and I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but, I swear to my liberal-minded friends, we have never suggested that being a Democrat is un-American or that conservatives are somehow the only true patriots. So, I launched into a general description of the two main political parties, and what one believes if one is a Democrat or if one is a Republican.

Amanda seemed horrified by the Democratic perspective, so maybe I didn't describe it accurately... or maybe I did. She also asked whether President Barack Obama was the first Democrat we've ever elected. She got really confused when I told her no, definitely not, that it seems the parties basically "take turns" every term or two.

The first born told me she thinks she is mostly a Republican... coming down in favor of the death penalty, but against abortion. (Too much information for an eight-year-old? I know, I lamented it afterward... but she's not just any eight-year-old... and she's going to learn sooner or later.) However, Amanda thinks the Democrats have it right when it comes to government being more involved in the affairs of the people, particularly caring for the poor. I love a little mind at work.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Peacemaker

Earlier this week, my FIL was endowed with a pacemaker. Our family felt a little out of the loop, since we were on vacation when the procedure happened, and were not at the hospital to show our support. However, he is recovering well... when he doesn't try to push himself too hard.

Since Grandma K. got a pacemaker just a few months earlier, our children had some idea of what was happening and why. But, I noticed over the course of the week, whenever we would talk to Grandpa on the telephone or pray for his recovery, Amanda would call it a "peacemaker." I thought it was so cute, I did not correct her.

Amanda must have overheard me talking on the phone, and she asked, "Mom, is it a peacemaker or a pacemaker?" I said the device was, indeed, called a pacemaker, but I didn't make a big deal about it. Amanda was quiet for a few moments and then said, "Well, I'm going to keep calling it a 'peacemaker,' because it's keeping peace in Grandpa's heart."

How to Answer... And Why?

At bedtime, Elisabeth asked me, "Is it OK to pray naked?"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Travelogue

We have returned from our annual excursion to Park Rapids. After good long baths, a welcome night's sleep in our own beds, and about eight more loads of laundry, things will be pretty much back to normal here on the homefront. There is much to report, many photos to show. For, tonight, however, I will stick to the highlights:

*swimming in the headwaters of the Mississippi
*buffalo stuffed animals
*a long-awaited return to slalom water skiing
*"The Wizard of Oz" slot machines
*pig races (really)
*the clear, cool waters of Long Lake
*porcupine pursuit
*A&W root beer floats
*sitting in Paul Bunyan's hot hand
*daily trips to Wal-Mart
*Grandma and Grandpa on the tube
*Mabel's baby Matt

Friday, August 6, 2010

Headlines

*We got one of those Ooma things to replace our home telephone service. It's only been a week or so, so I'm not sticking out my neck with a ringing endorsement... but so far it seems OK.

*I still have not learned-- may never learn-- to keep my trap shut. So, after voicing my concerns last year, the parish priest is this year consulting me (and another of my big-mouthed friends) to establish a permanent tradition and schedule for First Communion.

*To that same end, I am really going to try to get some kind of theater program started this year at the girls' school.

*If you haven't yet seen my sister in "The Sound of Music," you really should. I still can't get over what a great voice she has. I mean, I always knew she could sing. It's just that I typically hear her voice in the little sister context of, "Nyah, nyah. I'm way younger than you are... and thinner." But, her singing is way better than her taunting. Oh, and when you go, at the curtain call, be sure to yell, "BRAVO!" She really likes that.

*My best friend from high school, Beth, and her family are in town. I got to see them just briefly, for lunch, before heading out on a long weekend with my family.

*We are headed out on our annual summer trek "up north." Don't miss me too much-- I'm sure I'll have plenty about which to blog when I return.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Always Entertaining

With the community theater show finally over, we're finding other ways to entertain ourselves:

Amanda finally lost her front tooth. It had been hanging at an odd angle for weeks. Now, she kind of has that "All I Want for Christmas" lisp.



After growing out their hair for a full year ("just like yours, Mom") both girls suddenly decided they HAD to have haircuts. My friend, Anne, was only too happy to oblige. Yes, she made them look adorable... and old.

Madeline has been sharing snacks with friend Ava.

Benjamin is, well, being Ben.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Details, Details

Why is it I will pay someone else to clean my house every other week... but I wouldn't dream of paying a comparable amount of money one time for someone to detail my car? I really wanted car detailing for my birthday. But, I didn't ask for it, so I got tickets to "Wicked" instead. No complaints about the show tickets, but I will complain about having to clean out my car.

That thing is a PIT. I needed a shovel. It's not so much the food... OK, it is the crumbs, but I do have rules (the kids can only snack on dry, non-sticky stuff-- only I get ice cream in the car.) but, more than food, it's the STUFF. Kid stuff. Stuff kids apparently need to take with them to go anywhere, even just to the gas station down the street.

The car was so full of the stuff the kids drag into it (but never seem to drag out) that I had to create an organizational system to clean out the car. I lined up in the garage open cardboard boxes labeled: garbage, unopened snacks, dishes, laundry, shoes, kid stuff, mom & dad stuff, and stays in car. The shoe box got so full I had to take it inside and empty it halfway through the job.

The car is now fairly clean. It is not spotless. I could not sell it in this condition. The Sharpie scribble on the way back armrest is not going anywhere. But, it's a heck of a lot better than it was. This means, tomorrow, I'm going to become the Clean Car Police Chief. That should be fun for all my little criminals-- I mean, riders.

For the record, the only thing less enjoyable than cleaning out my car is cleaning out my car with the "help" of three children.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

No Nap

In theory, Benjamin is supposed to be napping right now. In reality, the boy slept till 10 a.m., following a night of bad dreams and cuddle demands... so, a nap was never really in the cards. I laid down with him for a while, but then got irritated by the twitching and left him to his own devices, with the order, "Take a nap!"

About a half-hour later, I made my way down the hall and pushed open Ben's bedroom door. The room was a mess of mayhem, with dresser drawers opened and emptied and piles of books on the floor. The middle of Ben's bed was a quivering mountain of covers and stuffed animals. From deep within the mountain, I heard a buzzing sound.

"Benjamin!" I hissed. From one side of the mountain, a skinny arm emerged. At the end, a little fist was clamped around his new electric toothbrush-- still spinning. Wordlessly, I confiscated the toothbrush and the arm retreated. As I left the room, I again demanded, "Go to sleep!"

Ben did not. About a half-hour after that, I was in the kitchen making supper when a mostly naked Ben slithered down the stairs. He tried to fake a sleepy expression, but, fake sleep is something we see every day in Krinkeland, and Mommy was not fooled. "You didn't take a nap," I said. "So, what happens now?"

I'll give it to the boy. He had his answer down pat. Looking out at me with those piercing blue eyes, from under long eyelashes, using his best big-boy expression, Benjamin vowed: "I won't whine. I won't cry. I won't pout. I'll eat a good supper, and I'll go to bed early."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Her Days in the Hills


With our play finally out of the way, we got to see my sister starring as Maria in "The Sound of Music." You should see it, too. In my never-to-be-humble-and-obviously-biased opinion, it was really good. The singing, in particular, was spectacular.

Get more information by clicking on the Elk River Star News article, or find out how to order tickets through the community theater's website.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Curtains for Us

"Ding, dong, the Wicked Witch is dead."

The play is O-V-E-R and we are D-O-N-E. There is so much to say about this community theater experience... but I'm not sure where to begin... and, if I did begin, I'm not sure where I would stop. So, I will just say it was an experience. Amanda and Elisabeth had a ball being on stage, and I was so proud of them. As for me, if I again get an itch for a hobby, I'll keep looking for something that doesn't take such a toll on our family life.

We celebrated the close of the show with a cast party at our house. Guests stayed till 3 a.m.-- a lovely night, but another reminder that community theater and motherhood are not the best mix. Now, the girdles are laundered and the dancing shoes are packed away. My dark hair will fade, as will, eventually, the green pallor from my face. I'm looking forward to packing a summer's worth of fun into the remaining month before school resumes.

Many thanks to family, especially to my husband, who had to take on all new roles at home, in the midst of a very busy time for him at work. And, the most sincere thanks to the grandmas, for their willingness to pick up the slack whenever and wherever Daddy could not be. Your names are in lights on my marquee.