Sunday, November 28, 2010

Squashing the Bug

Well, it appears Amanda's pukiness was not the result of an escalating, chronic GI problem. We have to blame a regular, ol' tummy virus. How do I know? Because Benjamin got it after her... then Madeline... and today Elisabeth. Each followed the same formula: four to six hours of sickness, followed by a big nap, then easing back into eating with toast and Gatorade while Mommy washed all the sheets and towels and clothes in sight. I'm not saying it's great fun, not by any stretch of the imagination, but at least it's swift, and at least everyone is getting it out of their systems. That's how you do it when you're a mother of four.

Now, back to boiling the doorknobs...

Benjamisms

Mom: "Ben, stop sassing me."
Benjamin: "Ben, stop sassing me!"
Mom: "I mean it."
Benjamin: "I mean it!"
Mom: "Do you want to go sit in your room?"
Benjamin: "Aah... I'd have to say 'no' to that one."

"Mom, I love you! I'd love you even more if you'd let me have a drink of your pop!"

"Dad, why won't you put up the colored Christmas lights? We need a little color in our life!"

"My favorite time of year is Christmas... and Halloween... and Easter. You can keep Valentine's Day."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Marauders in Bethlehem

The day began with my annual pre-dawn Black Friday shopping outing with my mom. The event is becoming less and less fun each year, as store hours get crazier and my kids' Christmas lists get more specific. Still, we came, we saw, we bought, we drank fountain soda, we laughed.

The day is ending with totes and stacks and piles of Christmas decorations all over the house. The kids wanted to get started, as we're anticipating getting the tree this weekend, but I'm so tired this evening, it's not going to get finished. I'm not complaining about the lack of sleep, mind you. It's my own fault and, therefore, falls into the same category as hangovers and sunburn. Still, I just don't have the gas to finish what Elisabeth began, when she lifted the lid from the first box of decorations, unwrapped a sheet of packing paper and asked, "Aw, remember this angel?"

We did have a lot of fun setting up the kids' nativity set. I l-o-v-e the Fisher-Price Little People Nativity Set. My mom has one at her house and she-- I mean, the grandkids-- has so much fun playing with it, she leaves it out all year. But, at least once a week, I hear her exclaim, "Ah! The marauders were in Bethlehem again!" Because Oliver or Madeline swooped in, rearranged all the people and knocked over the stable.

It was the same problem here this evening. In addition to the standard nativity scene, I had ordered additional Little People sets of The Inn at Bethlehem and The Three Wise Men. What fun! I guess I didn't realize that our nativity set already had wise men in it; this new set had camels, tents, and palm trees. The new wise men figures are identical to those we already had, so Libby quickly paired each with his clone. Both she and Benjamin seemed a little confused by the inn. I reminded them Mary and Joseph were traveling when it was time for the baby Jesus to be born and there was no room for them at the inn, which I explained was like a hotel. So, Libby quickly lined up all the people in the little beds and started yelling, "We're full!"

Ben mostly kept ripping the animals out of Madeline's hands. He really didn't like her sucking on the sheep. I did explain that this was the kids' nativity set, they needed to share, and they really needed to keep their mitts off my nativity! Merry Christmas to you, too!

(By the way, when looking up the links to the above listed toys, I discovered they are ON SALE right now on the Fisher-Price website! Yeah, not so when I ordered in October.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Swan Lake


As the children and I sat down to lunch, in floated the entertainment: swans. This time of year, we occasionally see a pair of swans hanging out near our house... but any larger gathering of the pretty white birds only happens more on the southwestern part of the lake; I'm guessing it has something to do with the wind from above or the springs from below, or both. Still, this cold and snowy noon, as we sat down to our soup and sandwiches, three different groups of more than a dozen swans each swam back and forth outside our windows. Quite the sight-- and the sound. I took some noisy video, too, but it seems too large of a file to upload. Oh, well... swans are better seen than heard.

Pre-Turkey Tummy Trouble

We began our holiday weekend with a trip to... the clinic! Of course. Amanda spent some time Tuesday night throwing up. As any mother of four knows, that should not automatically warrant a doctor's visit. However, since this child has also had a perpetual stomachache for the past eight months, among other digestive issues I shall not divulge here, her father and I were concerned about an escalating condition, possible intestinal blockage, who knows what.

The pediatrician ordered a repeat abdominal x-ray, but it did not show Amanda to be significantly backed up. Wow, after only eight months on Miralax-- will wonders never cease? Upon exam, the doctor again noted Amanda's enlarged thyroid gland, but once again the blood work did not indicate a problem. While examining Amanda's abdomen, the doctor did say she felt a "fullness" that was not explained by the x-ray. While it could easily just be muscle, or nothing, the pediatrician said she would feel better once we took a closer look.

Since we were already at the clinic, and since the radiologist was not too busy at the hospital next door, she sent us over for a periumbilical ultrasound. Even though it's rare in children, I had also inquired about gall bladder disease, since we have a wide family history and since I struggled for years before having my gall bladder removed. So, she asked the radiologist to look at that, too. Amanda found the bed in the ultrasound room to be much more comfortable than the pediatrician's exam table. She also really liked the dimmed lights. I sat next to her, pretending to watch the gray blobs on the screen but really spying on the tech and the doctor and their expressions. Stone-faced. The scan went on and on and on... and, thankfully, was totally fruitless.

The pediatrician wants to start Amanda on a reflux medicine in addition to her fiber supplement and laxative. Todd and I are not nuts about all the meds. We also are not nuts about an eight-year-old with near-daily stomachaches for the better part of the past year. One of my friends wants me to take Amanda to see her "witch doctor homeopathic guy." I might. What wouldn't I try to help my kid?

In the meantime, Amanda and I returned home from our morning at the clinic and hospital to face another medical crisis:

marker face

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Still Little

In the midst of set-up for a crazy, fun, math-themed family night at school, we had our makeup parent-teacher conference with Amanda's teacher. We had already sorted out the phy. ed. issue... and we were very pleased with Amanda's marks overall... but we still wanted to talk to the teacher, to get her perspective, to review Amanda's standardized test scores and the growth we hope to see, and to hear about plans for a kind of accelerated track that is already going on for reading and will soon begin for math.

All is well, and we are looking forward to Amanda getting excited about the new challenges headed her way. The teacher did have glowing words about our first born, but, then again, so did we. We also talked about her "areas for improvement," mainly taking her time and always turning in her best work. The teacher looked at Todd with a penetrating what-kind-of-beastly-father-are-you gaze when he asked, "What about the B+ in social studies?" After she regained her composure, she reassured Daddy Demanding the grade could easily result from one not-quite perfect test or large assignment.

I reassured her we are not monsters-- we just want to continue to see growth in our child, we want her to be challenged and exposed to new material, to enjoy coming to school, and to be excited about learning. The teacher agreed, yes, yes, all those things are important. But, she also reminded us to look at the whole child: When it comes to making decisions about higher-level math and reading, she is not only considering inborn intelligence and standardized test scores; she's also looking at personality and all the factors that contribute to a child's success.

"Remember, this is only third grade," the teacher told us. "They're still little." Shot to the heart. Oh, how I love that someone else still sees my little girl as a little girl. She knows multiplication and cursive handwriting. She's too big to carry around and she already looks at me as though I'm stupid. But, she is still little.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Musical Chairs

My mom and dad got new chairs for their living room, so I got a hand-me-down for our house. The bedrooms in our home are not huge, but they are just big enough to put a chair in the corner of each room. Oh, how I love a chair in the bedroom! It's a place to read and look out at the lake, a place to plop down and put on socks, a place to stack that pile of clean laundry, a place to hang the not-quite-dirty jeans for another day of wear tomorrow.

I took the old chair from Mom and Dad and put it in our bedroom. The chair from our bedroom went down into the den. The chair from the den graduated to the living room. Now, everyone is settling into their new spaces, and looking quite lovely, I might add. I am enjoying the change of scenery, which should last a few hours, until my husband gets home and tells me he liked everything better the way it was. Ready for my response? "Oh, yeah? Well, then you move it all back."


Clarification

Benjamin told me at preschool today they made Stone Soup-- you know, from the old folk story about a village where all the people say they have nothing, but each contributes a little something and it comes out a beautiful soup. I asked Ben, "So, did you eat the soup?" He replied, "Yes, it was good. But we didn't eat the stone."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Valid Point

While scoping out the pantry, Elisabeth asked why I buy food in cans. (I don't buy that much canned food, I swear.) I answered that canned food is typically cheaper than some fresh or even frozen foods. I also said cans are convenient because the food is sealed inside and, therefore, lasts a long time. I added that both of these factors make canned food a good choice for food shelf donations. Amanda asked, "If people come to the food shelf because they can't afford to buy food, how can they afford to buy a can opener?"

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Baby

We call Madeline "The Baby"-- not just as in "Where's the baby?" or "Don't hit the baby" but like it's her name. I just overheard Benjamin scold, "No, no, The Baby!" And the girls come home from school cooing, "I missed you, The Baby." I don't know who started it, or why... Odd, I know, and it's only a matter of time before Maddy first gets confused and then gets disgusted by the nickname.

A Whole New World

It's the end of the first quarter, so we had parent-teacher conferences at the girls' school. I have to say, as a kid, I never fretted over conferences since I always got good grades (though no one will deny I could also be a mouthy snot. The more things change...) Now, as parents, we have never been too worried to walk into a classroom and to sit down in those little chairs. And-- don't get me wrong-- the conferences we did have went well. Still, Mommy is doing some extra thinking today.

We met with Elisabeth's teacher, a wonderful woman with whom we were already familiar because she was Amanda's first grade teacher, too. She marveled at how different two children can be when they come from the same family. Yeah, yeah, tell us something we don't know. Elisabeth's test scores and report card were glowing and lovely, but, when I reviewed the section on "personal development," I laughed out loud. The teacher asked what I was laughing about and I pointed out she had marked as areas of strength for Libby "practices self-discipline" and "uses time wisely." The girl refuses to go to sleep at night and then has to be shaken to the core to get her out of bed in the morning. And, out of all the kids, when she's ticked off (which is most of the time) she's the hitter!

No, the teacher assured me, in class Elisabeth is "such a doll." She said she sits quietly and finishes her work quickly, but well. She raises her hand to participate in class discussions, but does not blurt out the answers. She is helpful and a good example to her classmates. In fact, if there's one "area of improvement" she could suggest, the teacher said she wished Libby would use more expression when reading aloud, and also speak up more in class! Will wonders never cease.

The conference with Amanda's teacher was canceled because, unfortunately, the teacher was sick. That was a real bummer because I'd been wanting to talk to her. It's not that we think our first born is MIT-bound this year or anything, but we've always assessed her to be fairly intelligent. Amanda is clearly not as interested in being an academic as she is in being a social butterfly and also the teacher's pet. She seems to zip through her school work with disregard for neatness, completeness, and, sometimes, accuracy. It's apparent she won't willingly take on more challenging work, because then she might have to, well, actually work.

I emailed Amanda's teacher and said we would like to reschedule the conference. She responded immediately, writing, "Let's meet soon as I wanted to conference with you as well." Until that email, I was just mostly annoyed with my child... Now, I'm a little anxious.

Amanda's teacher did leave her class folders, with the kids' report cards and work samples, so we got to take those home. Third grade is the first year for letter grades, and, let me tell you, it's a different ball game! Up until this point, if a kid's report card had mostly "satisfactories" with a few "outstandings" thrown in for good measure, all was well with the world. I mean, a parent should only get bent over "needs improvements," right? Amanda is a good student, a good girl, the joy of our lives, BUT-- what jumped out from the page at us?! A B- in physical education! B-! IN GYM!

Come on. We are not the kind of parents who would demand straight As... are we? (A topic for another post.) But, I maintain, much as my own parents always did, it's not about any particular letter grades as long as a student is doing her best. It is well known the offspring of the Krinkeland gene pool are unlikely to be olympians. Though nothing is impossible, I cannot even walk straight, and even my husband only excelled at those individual sports. Still, I got As in gym-- just for trying, so, I suspected something was up with gym class.

We went to the gym to meet with the teacher. Though I've seen him around and said "Hello" in the past, I wasn't sure he knew me. "Oh, yes," the teacher said, "I know who you are. I have Amanda and Libby in class." Calmly, I asked, "Could you please explain to me your grading criteria so I can better understand Amanda's phy. ed. grade and how we can improve it?" He smiled and nodded. (He's been doing this for a long time.) "Your daughter should spend more time playing the games and less time talking to her girlfriends." Seems reasonable.

At home, I sat on the couch with Amanda and reviewed her report card. She seemed to focus on the A in reading and the A+ in math. "Yes, we are very proud of you, Amanda," I said. "But what about gym glass?" I told her what the teacher had said. She listened and, when I stopped and asked, "What do you think?" Amanda answered, "I think Mr. M. is probably right." We talked about how the teacher said she is very good at the sports-- when she actually plays them-- and about how some of the boys in her class are so competitive she gets discouraged. We were in the process of making a less-chatting-more-playing plan when Amanda said, "I'm getting that tight feeling in my throat, Mom-- like I can't swallow." So we stopped... and hugged.

I know Amanda is working hard in phy. ed. today. I would much rather take a B- than to make my kid want to cry, but I know that's not what a good parent would do. My throat started feeling tight, too.

Amanda's school work folder also included our laugh of the day. She must have had to "interview" a classmate about a prized possession and then write about it:

Hey, everybody! Skyler keeps his Legos in his drawers!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Good Chores, Bad Chores

I'm sick of writing about sick kids-- now Benjamin has the Mystery Fever... And I'm tired of writing about being tired-- two kids screaming in my bedroom overnight from nightmares, including Amanda, who was sobbing and trembling around 5:00 because she'd just had a dream that "WE SOLD MADELINE!" and I couldn't laugh because Amanda was truly distressed but, by the time I got her calmed down, I was wide awake but too lazy to actually get up so I laid in bed and answered emails on my phone, emails that were full of typos because of those teeny, tiny keys.

So, right now, I'm thinking about chores. Housework has been an especially hot topic of late in Krinkeland. When Grandpa P. agreed to repaint the big girls' bedroom, I said it came with one stipulation: the room had to stay (reasonably) clean. In the past week, they've had their good days and their barely passable days, especially Elisabeth. At a minimum, the girls are expected to take their dirty clothes to the laundry room, put away their clean laundry, and make their beds. They are also responsible for cleaning up the bathroom after they use it-- especially washing the toothpaste globs from the sink, feeding the goldfish, and taking their dishes to the sink after meals.

Other chores are not strictly assigned, but, whenever a child is hanging around me, particularly in the kitchen, I'll ask that kid to set the table, or empty the dishwasher, or torch the creme brulee (just checking to see whether you're paying attention.) I know these-- and more-- should probably be regularly assigned chores to my children. I believe there is huge value in having kids help around the house, particularly to me and my People-Magazine-reading time. Todd also mentioned a couple weeks back, after Amanda spent the afternoon helping him clean up leaves in the yard (for which I later learned Dad secretly paid her $5,) that he can't wait until the children get a bit older so he can assign them chores like mowing and shoveling... very important, especially since our other yard man, Grandpa P., is, sooner or later, going to revolt.

I actually like yard work. When it comes to chores around the house, I'd much rather be pulling weeds and trimming shrubs than sorting socks. Incidentally, I put off sorting socks so much that both my mother and my MIL regularly gravitate toward the laundry basket in an attempt to make things right. The problem with working in the yard is trying to keep four children safe and entertained while I do it. Hence, the hostas did not get cut down before the snow fell... and the old stuff will be rotting in the rocks come May.

Among some of the blogs I follow there has been an ongoing discussion about children and chores, what they can and should do, and at what ages. Everyone has different opinions and it is all fascinating to me. I welcome others' views and comments on this issue. Apart from that, was there a point to all this? Oh, yes, some physchoanalysis, please. What does it say about me that these are the chores I love and the chores I loathe?

LOVE
cleaning the bathrooms
washing dishes by hand
folding towels
clearing off counters/surfaces
yard work
cleaning out closets
buying cleaning supplies

LOATHE
dusting
washing the kitchen floor
emptying the dishwasher
putting away clean laundry
washing windows
taking out the garbage
grocery shopping

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Running on Empty

Madeline has not been feeling well the past couple days. At first, I thought it might be strep, since everybody at a nearby friend's house has it. But the test was negative. The Urgent Care doctor wondered about an ear infection, but then couldn't get a good look at Maddy's ear drums to check. She's never before had an ear infection, so I didn't really know the signs to look for. Since the philosophy these days is not to treat ear infections, I dismissed that one. Then, I assumed it was just some kind of bug where the main symptoms were high fever and cranky restlessness.

Finally, I came to chalking up the problems to teething. While administering a dose of ibuprofen, I noticed one of her molars was all the way in; three others had points poking through. That could definitely explain the irritability.

Well, Maddy's not the only one who's been irritable... With the girl not sleeping, we're all crabby. Todd took pity on me last night and we alternated the crib calls-- He took midnight, I went in at 1:30, he was up at 3:00 and I answered the 4:30 wails. So, instead of just me dragging around my weary butt today, I suspect we are both dragging. Still, when I found this cartoon in a bag of stuff from my mom, I had to laugh. It's my life:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Two-Sheet Trick

Madeline often goes to bed with a cup of milk. I'm sure it's a bad habit, but I don't care. Anyway, when I got her out of bed one day last week, I noticed her cup had leaked and there was a little puddle on the sheet. As I was stripping the bedding and preparing to put on new, I remembered a little trick I picked up somewhere. I don't want you to think I invented this one-- I know I didn't-- but I just can't remember who told me or where I read it:

When making a baby's bed, save yourself some work by doing it in layers. Put down a waterproof mattress pad, followed by a fitted sheet, followed by another mattress pad and another sheet. That way, if a cup leaks... or a diaper... or the baby spits up... or the kid barfs... or the potty training doesn't last all night... All you have to do is strip the top layer of sheet and pad and there's a fresh layer underneath, without having to open drawers and turn on lights in the middle of the night.

Some of the best ideas are the simplest.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Name That Tune


Benjamin has a new favorite game that goes like this: "Mom, guess which song I'm singing in my head." Then, he sits there, with a silly grin on his face. If I start guessing, he says, "Wait, Mom, I'm not done singing yet." He seems to get really irritated if I don't guess the song on the first try. Luckily, his repertoire is somewhat limited, so I eventually get to the right answer. If he asks you to play, I suggest "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," "Jingle Bells," or "The ABC Song."

In what I guess is related news, Ben came storming out of preschool this morning announcing, "Guess what I get to be in the Christmas play, Mommy? I get to be the STAR!" I said what wonderful news that was and praised him up and down. First, I clarified that he understood he would play the role of the star shining over the inn where Jesus lay... and not that Ben somehow thought he was the star of the show, a la Harrison Ford. He reassured me, "Oh, yeah, I get to stand in the middle of the stage and SING REALLY LOUD!" Then, I asked if Ben knew why the teachers chose him to play that role and he said, "It's because I'm so shiny."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wintry Weekend Whirlwind

On Friday evening, we met Grandma R., my sister, and two of our nephews to take in a local kids' theater production of "Annie Jr." This was exciting because the show is published by the same script/licensing company we are using for the first production of Saints on Stage. Yeah, that's what we're calling the new, extra-curricular theater program at the girls' school. The inaugural SOS show will be "Music Man Jr." Performances will be the second weekend in March. Stay tuned for more.

We woke up to *SNOW* on Saturday... and kids begging to go out and play in it!

Wet, furious flakes fell as I was whipping up egg bake and coffee cake for my SIL Kristin's baby shower. The weather kept away one carload of aunts and cousins, but they were coming from the south where the snow came down more heavily, earlier. Baby P. made quite a haul.

Those are my real boobs... not quite sure why they're so pointy, though. To see more shower photos, click here.

That evening, we got together with some other friends from school for the biannual box-top clipping. The school collects every kind of food packaging incentive... Parents send them in with their children, and a small group of us sorts, trims, washes and sends in the collection to get money for the school. Many hands make light the work. Pizza helps, too.

Todd and I wrapped up the weekend by attending a fundraiser for Love INC. A conglomeration of churches in our area is starting a local chapter of this national non-profit organization. It serves as a clearinghouse to provide services-- food, clothing, housing, furniture, utilities, etc.-- for families in need, while spreading the message of Christ's love. (INC is an acronym for In the Name of Christ.) With winter and the holidays approaching, there are always higher needs and calls for help. Love INC is gearing up to lend a hand.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Watery

After a couple false starts, we finally got a handle on the decor for the big girls' bedroom. We bought new bedding and found a coordinating paint color everyone could live with. The name of the color is "Watery." Amanda and Elisabeth love it-- and each insists she was the one to choose the shade. Todd is not crazy about it, but says anything is better than Vivacious Pink. I think it's kind of subtle, but still pretty. The name, I could do without... "Watery," to me, describes graves and diarrhea.

Grandpa P. did all the painting and now we are putting things back together. The room is still a little sparse... but, give them time and they'll clutter things up.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What is Kefir?


While visiting a family we love earlier this year, my friend and I started talking about our kids' eating habits, which morphed into a conversation about our girls' "digestive issues." My friend went to the refrigerator and pulled out a big jug of organic raspberry kefir. She said her daughter loved it and it seemed to help to "keep her regular." I offered a cup to Amanda, who downed it and said, "That was a yummy yogurt smoothie."

After we returned home, I started buying bottles of kefir for my family. Amanda, Benjamin and Madeline all drink it and call it "milkshake." Elisabeth is not crazy about kefir, but, then again, if anyone finds something Libby is crazy about, could you please let me know?

I found that Costco sells cases of single-serve bottles of kefir. So, I've been buying those, too. Other people-- like my mom-- have asked me, "What is kefir, anyway?" I have to admit, the question puzzled me a little. Wasn't "Kefir" just the brand name for the organic drinkable yogurt? Wasn't it just a less sugary form of Danimals? I first handled the question by simply putting it out of my mind. But, that seemed less than responsible of me. So, today, after buying another case of kefir, I googled "What is kefir:"

Kefir is a cultured, creamy product with amazing health attributes. Kefir's tart and refreshing flavor is similar to a drinking-style yogurt, but it contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly 'probiotic' bacteria found in yogurt. The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine symbiotically to give superior health benefits when consumed regularly. It is loaded with valuable vitamins and minerals and contains easily digestible complete proteins.

For the lactose intolerant, kefir's abundance of beneficial yeast and bacteria provide lactase, an enzyme which consumes most of the lactose left after the culturing process.

Kefir can be made from any type of milk, cow, goat or sheep, coconut, rice or soy. Although it is slightly mucous forming, the mucous has a "clean" quality to it that creates ideal conditions in the digestive tract for the colonization of friendly bacteria.

Kefir is made from gelatinous white or yellow particles called "grains." This makes kefir unique, as no other milk culture forms grains. These grains contain the bacteria/yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk proteins) and complex sugars. They look like pieces of coral or small clumps of cauliflower and range from the size of a grain of wheat to that of a hazelnut. Some of the grains have been known to grow in large flat sheets that can be big enough to cover your hand!. The grains ferment the milk, incorporating their friendly organisms to create the cultured product. The grains are then removed with a strainer before consumption of the kefir and added to a new batch of milk.


I know, I kind of wish I hadn't read that, too.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pssst... I'm Cheap

The internet is abuzz with cheapskates like me, scoping out the Black Friday deals that have already been leaked-- like Target's.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Last Hurrah

Another 60-degree day in the upper Midwest in NOVEMBER?! Time to get out in it! Grandma P. and I took advantage of the unseasonably beautiful weather by loading up my two little ones and my sister's two little ones and taking them to the zoo. While Como Zoo is open year-round, some of the exhibits were already closed for the season, some of the animals moved to warmer environments. Still, we clearly weren't the only ones with this idea; there was a good crowd for this date on the calendar.

The main mission of the morning was to see Buzz and Neil, the polar bear brothers, in their new exhibit. They were a riot. One paced back and forth along the edge of the pool, while the other did laps of backstroke, complete with flip turns.

Before seeing the animals, we stopped at the playground. After seeing the animals, we moved on to another park for a picnic lunch. As Oliver said once he popped out the bottom of a cool tunnel slide, "That's awesome!"




Monday, November 8, 2010

Color Quest


We are in the process of redecorating the big girls' bedroom. On one hand, the Vivacious Pink that has covered the walls for the past four years is hideous. On the other hand, choosing new paint is hard.

Especially since Amanda and Elisabeth share a bedroom, it's important to me that they have a say in their room's decor. And they are the ones who wanted to get rid of the glow-in-the-dark pink. Thank heaven for small favors. They even kind of agreed on a new color-- something in the light bluish greenish family.

But that doesn't really narrow things. The carpeting is neutral, with a kind of a gold undertone. The woodwork is dark-stained maple, which has the slightest reddish tinge. The paint store has hundreds of colors ranging from the palest green to the deepest blue.

We bought two quarts of different colors-- one beige, one blue-- that looked good on paper and Krinkeland's resident painter (my dad) painted wide swaths to try them out. The girls seemed thrilled with any change and loudly lobbied for the blue. The blue, unfortunately, reminded me and Todd of an aqua shade I had originally chosen for our bedroom. It turned out to be ugly and difficult for decorating; so, one of Dad's earlier painting projects was transforming the master bedroom with a beautiful shade of Golden Fleece.

Neither sample color was going to fly. To really make ourselves nuts, we took photos of the room and uploaded them to Sherwin-Williams' Color Visualizer. Todd spent hours on the computer, trying out different shades, though really getting a feel for none.

There will have to be another trip to the paint store... But I want this project done before I host a baby shower this weekend. So, the next choice is a committed choice. It's just paint, right? I keep telling Todd, it's just the kids' bedroom... Do we really have to like the color, or can we just stay out?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

This morning was like many others-- kids up at the crack of dawn, parents ignoring them, kids screaming for breakfast, parents relenting. Since we went to church last evening, we didn't have the Sunday Morning Scramble. As we were slowly moving about and making our plans for the day, I noticed something strange: the clock was wrong on my cell phone. Then again, something's always wrong with my cell phone... So, I turned it off, removed the battery, and let it rest. Shortly thereafter, however, I noticed the clock was also wrong on the computer. Then, I checked the other computer. Yes, I really went through all these motions before I realized Daylight Savings Time had begun, and life was, technically, happening an hour earlier in the world outside our house.

After laughing at myself, I scooted from room to room, changing all the clocks-- to exactly the same time. I mean, I reset 10:26 to 10:26... and didn't notice until I was all done, so then I had to go back and begin my task again.

This is supposed to be the fun time change, where we "fall back" and gain an hour. But, I gotta tell you, all of Krinkeland was out of whack all day: Benjamin could not nap; Madeline was falling asleep during meals; the older girls kept running out of things to do because, somehow, the day seemed longer; everyone was whining and beating on each other by 6:45. Luckily, they're all now in bed. I better double-check the alarm before I turn in, too.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Prayers in Sickness

Please say an extra prayer for our little friend, Ava. She's the 15-month-old daughter of our dear friends, hospitalized this day with a really severe case of croup. Ava will be OK-- she's getting steroids through regular nebulizer treatments... but she's sick and sad and needs her mommy constantly... it's tough on everyone.

By the way, remember that horrible, nasty cold I had last week? The one that stuffed me up like a pressure cooker and gave me blinding headaches? The one that made me want to lock the bedroom door and curl up in the fetal position-- except I couldn't because I had four kids to take care of? Well, now Todd has it. But, from the way he carries on, his case must be much, much worse than mine. You might want to pray for Todd, too... that I don't kill him.

Worth a Chuckle or Two

Benjamin: "If Daddy gets much older and saggier, I'm going to have to be the Man of the House."

Elisabeth: "When I'm a grownup, I'm going to have a birthday party every year. I'll even have a birthday party when I'm 100! Unless I'm dead... Well, then, I'll invite you to my birthday party in heaven."

Elisabeth (in a darker moment): "I'm going to move out and get my own house when I'm 16. I'm going to buy a mansion, because, by then, I'll have a thousand bucks!"

Benjamin: "If the packages are too heavy for Uncle Teddy (UPS man) to lift, he should lay down a board and push the boxes up it. That's called an incline plane."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mrs. Meyer, Foam Home


While doing my shopping this week, I was really crabby. Trolling the cleaning products aisles, I impulsively threw into the cart a little gift to myself, Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Basil Liquid Hand Soap. I tried this hand soap somewhere, sometime, and I just fell in love with the scent. It's not strong, not floral, not fruity-- it just smells good.

I can't, however, out and out declare this my favorite hand soap. The Bath & Body Works stuff is an equal, maybe even better, contender, because it comes in FOAM. If Mrs. Meyer's was foamy... my life would be complete.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Game Day


Today is Todd's Super Bowl Sunday. To the rest of the country (I first typed world-- how nationalistic am I?), it's Election Day. To Todd, it's the dawn of change, all wrapped up in a big bowl of excitement, with plenty of anticipation sprinkled on top.

I hate politics... but Todd finds nothing more interesting. He had the laptop open early this morning, double-checking our polling place (had not changed,) polling hours (never change,) and which judges should get his vote (is it really an election when they're all running unopposed?) Then, after we jockeyed for position in the bathroom to get ready, he helped me load up the kids in the car so we could head to the polls together.

OK, this is the second or third year running that I have walked in to vote, given my name, signed on the dotted line and received a ballot. In our state, you can be preregistered to vote or you can register at the polling places. We are already registered, but, shouldn't an election judge ask for ID or something?! My corruption sense is in high gear, detecting grounds for fraud.

Anyway, I stepped up to the outermost voting booth and started coloring in ovals. I got done with the easy ones... threw my token votes at the one-candidate ones... wrote in my girlfriends at the unknown ones... and, all the while, hissed at my husband to stop talking to me. He had taken the spot next to me and kept asking me questions while filling out his ballot. "Who are we supposed to pick for county commissioner?" I shifted into prissy school girl mode and told him, "Shut up! Voting is an individual exercise. NO TALKING!"

I am putting down the little ones for naps and taking my peace now. I know I won't be able to get on either computer tonight... or either television... and there's bound to be a lot of pacing. But Todd is loving every minute of it.

Vote.

p.s. I looked online for an image of the "I Voted" sticker to include with this post. They are also printed in Spanish.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Where the Red Fern Grows


As I returned Elisabeth to class after a morning doctor's appointment, we passed a volunteer leaving the school. Libby bemoaned the fact that the woman was leaving, because she comes in to read aloud to the first grade class; Libby realized she must have missed story time-- a favorite part of her day/week.

I asked her what they were reading, and she told me, "Stuart Little," a classic. Grandpa P., also in the car, agreed. But, my dad said, he remembered in all his years of teaching, one book he read over and over, more than any other, to his classes of middle schoolers. A title didn't immediately pop into my head, so I had to ask: "Where the Red Fern Grows" by Wilson Rawls.

Ah, how could I have forgotten?! This book is a true classic. I didn't even ask Dad whether I could borrow it from his collection to read to our children. I knew I had read the book so many times throughout my childhood the binding had broken and the hard cover had separated. I also didn't consider requesting the book from the library, because I knew I would be reading it at least three times-- with the two older girls, with Benjamin, and, eventually, with Madeline. It was straight to Amazon, to order a permanent addition to the Krinkeland library.

If you have not read this book, you must. I suggest a hardcover edition with no illustrated book jacket, and I would steer you away from any audio recordings, at least for the first exposure to the story. Keep a clean slate.

This is a lovely, lasting tale about a boy and his dogs... and, oh, so much more. I got caught up reading the reviews on Amazon. Among my favorites:

If this story doesn't burst your heart with joy and then rip it out with painful agony, you are dead and worse. If you think you're dead, it will awaken and electrify feelings you didn't know you had. If you are looking for answers, you will find them all in this simple little tale of perfectly ordinary and unassuming heroes of epic stature. (OK, this reviewer fancies him-/herself a writer, but, hey, who doesn't?)
and
Buy it for every child that you hope will develop true grit.