Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hooray, Hooray!

We're on our way! Our summer vacation starts today. Black Hills of South Dakota, here we come!

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Stitch in Time... and My Wrist Still Rests

In honor of my 37th birthday, I visited the office of the orthopedic surgeon to have the stitches taken out of my wrist. I have been counting down the hours since my surgery nine days ago. In my very narrow mind, this was the day for which I had been waiting.

Though the cyst removal was extremely minor surgery, it was still very, very difficult to do, well, anything, with my one arm bandaged. I tried to keep it clean and dry and elevated and away from danger. I was trying to be a big girl and let everything heal; but, whenever I had to ask for help from my husband or one of the kids or one of the parents, I felt like a helpless schmuck.

So, this morning, the bandages came off and the stitches came out. I had about 45 seconds of "freedom" with my naked wrist. Then, the nurse cleaned the area and covered my incision with glue, steri-strips, a fabric sleeve, and a rigid splint. After a long and informative, but frustrating, meeting with a certified hand therapist where I got a long list of exercises to be done five times a day for the next three months, I was on my way.

In three more days, I can submerge my hand in water.

In five more days, I can begin to massage the scar so it does not adhere to my tendons.

In four more weeks, I can begin to lift items weighing more than two pounds.

In 12 more weeks, I can cease these machinations and resume my life. Man, what's it like for people who have actual injuries, illnesses or truly invasive surgeries?! I chose my own splint and went with the high-end silicone scar pads. Happy birthday to me!

Showboating

My husband was having some friends for work over last evening, so I made celebratory plans with a friend of my own. We did something I've always wanted to do: see a show on the Centennial Showboat. Now playing: "The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: A Sweeney Todd Melodrama." It was SO MUCH FUN! Great theater put on by very talented college-student actors. And such a beautiful setting on Harriet Island. You should go.

Of course, if that's not your style, I also recommend our local community theater's production of "Kiss Me, Kate," which is also a riot. Or, you could see my BIL in the chorus of "Anything Goes" at Minnetonka Theatre. Go, theater lovers! Sit in air-conditioned style and support the arts! You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Best Dress


I'm wearing my favorite dress. I have it in three colors. I know the fashion experts say that's a big no-no... but it's a safe bet the fashion experts also do not shop the clearance racks at big-box stores. They probably also advise against taking self-portraits with your phone. Oh, and, by the way, I don't care.

Often in summer, especially, I wear dresses. I find them cool and easy, and have better luck getting them to fit my post-baby body, compared with shorts. The maxi skirts camouflage a whole host of ills, to my untrained eye, but even short knits like this one end up looking OK.

I love this dress. It is easy to care for, easy to get on an off (with one arm,) can be dressed up or down, and is figure-flattering. I get compliments nearly every time I wear the dress. I resist the urge to say, "It's three years old. I bought it at Wal-Mart. It only cost $3."

Celebrating the little things today. My dress.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fish Kill

The goldfish is dead. I did not purposely kill said fish, but, alas, the scales are on my hands (well, my one good hand.)

No one cleaned out the fish bowl this past week-- surprise, surprise-- and the water was so murky, I could hardly see poor Goldy. I hurriedly transferred the fish into a smaller bowl, emptied out the rocks and castle, scrubbed the bowl, rinsed and rinsed, filled the bowl with fresh water, added the conditioning drops, and returned Goldy to a clean home.

An hour or two later, I looked and the fish was. not. moving. I don't know if I got the water temperature wrong... or didn't wait long enough for the conditioner to kick in... or left some soapy residue in the bowl... or if it was just Goldy's time. I swear that fish lived for, like, five years-- but, when I looked, it was only two.

Anyway, I pitched the fish in the trash and got on with life. When I told the others, Amanda said, "Good." Todd, on the other hand, was pretty ticked. I'm telling you, as I told him, there was no malice on my part. However, I'm thinking there were days when Todd felt as though Goldy was his only friend.

Once again, Krinkeland is pet-free. For now. Rest in peace, Goldy.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Two Great Gifts: Friendship and a New Book


My friend Beth visited today! OK, OK, her husband and her daughter, too... But I was most excited about having my friend in the flesh for a day! Since they live in Albuquerque, and since I have a houseful of offspring, these meetings don't happen often enough.

The day was lovely, and I could go on and on, but the people to whom it meant the most are Beth and me-- and we already know.

In addition to the talking, and the catching up, and the eating, and the kid-playing, and the photo-taking, I had an added bonus to this day: a new book for Madeline. Beth always buys my kids good books as gifts. We are both avid readers... so are our kids... so it all makes sense. However, Beth could not have known the service she was doing me by buying Madeline this book.

For weeks leading up to this day, Maddy has been obsessed with this book. I could recite "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" by memory. I started hearing "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" in my sleep. I was really sick of "We're Going on a Bear Hunt."

Finally, with this new gift, Madeline has moved on to "I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean." It's actually a pretty clever book. Funny. But ask me how I feel about it in two weeks. Let the obsession begin!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ol' One-Arm Reports

So, as it turns out, having surgery on one's wrist, even very minor surgery, is still kind of a big deal... especially when one is more than a little bit stubborn when it comes to sedation and pain medication... especially when one is a mother to four young children... especially when one's husband is in Germany. Thankfully, one has helpful and supportive family who take over when one is too pig-headed to admit the issues are mounting.

Here are some of the challenges of having one working arm:
*opening child-proof pill bottles
*typing
*putting on a bra
*changing poopy diapers
*washing dishes
*washing hair, especially long, beautiful hair-- also, two-year-old hair
*texting

Even with all the help, the Big Man was met, upon his return, by: dirty kids, a cranky lady, and lots of piles. Welcome home, Dear.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wristful Thinking

I had surgery today to remove that cyst on my wrist. A very minor procedure-- though, as always, I had my share of "interesting" occurrences-- and things did go as planned. The one factor not in the plans: Todd being in Germany. Thankfully, the Rs are providing round-the-clock child care, and my dad was my chauffeur. I'm still thinking it was a stupid, stubborn move on my part not to reschedule.

Details, once I can type again.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Helping Hearts and Hands

I've been doing some more volunteer work lately for two of my favorite organizations: Birthright and Missing GRACE Foundation. Yeah, neither has a wonderful website, but both do amazing things for babies, women, families. I believe in their missions, so I help.

While doing some manual labor at the GRACE Center this evening, I was reminded-- and, now, am compelled to remind you-- that needs exist year-round. We sometimes feel the tug to help others around a special, personal anniversary... or during the holidays... or at year's end when we're assembling receipts for tax purposes. But charitable organizations do incredible work, every day of the year. To do that, they need your money and they need your bodies.

The executive director of Missing GRACE told me donations are at an all-time low. Many at Birthright would like to see the office open for more hours during the week, but there are not enough volunteers to staff additional shifts. Our local food shelf put out the all-call for volunteer help on distribution evenings. My MIL helps with a summer food program for low-income kids who rely on school lunch. At Amanda's request, I took my two older girls and two young friends to pack dry foodstuff at Feed My Starving Children a couple weeks ago. Our volunteer session was filled with groups of kids from the YMCA.

Today, I took the kids with me. I think it's important for them to spend their free time doing more than just swimming and playing on the computer. I also want them to see what kinds of things are important to Mommy-- so they can find out just what is important to them, too.

Give... volunteer... do something.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Who Doesn't Like Free Stuff?

For a while there, I was having computer problems... then, printer problems... then, other computer problems... so I quit trying to print store coupons from the Target website. It was kind of a shame, though, because there are sometimes really good coupons on that site.

Then, last week, my mom was telling me about some good deals, so I returned. I've noticed a couple deals where I can get stuff for free: Basically, the item is on sale in the weekly ad, and the coupon price is the same as the sale price. Last week, it was a two-pack of Sharpie markers and also 20 prints from the photo center. This week, it's a roll of Scotch tape.

I'm just sayin'... you know you're going, anyway.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Adventure Boy Wrap-Up

We are all in rest mode after a whirlwind of birthday activities. I think we have finally ushered in the Year of the Five-Year-Old:

On Thursday (one day post-birthday) Benjamin got to go on his special adventure with his godparents and his cousins. Since it was-- surprise, surprise-- rainy, the trip was to an indoor destination:



Benjamin was on cloud nine to to "boy stuff" with his cousins. Thank you, Auntie Ellen and Uncle Terry! The highlight, however, of the event, was the mode of transportation-- Auntie's "new" conversion van! Ben was the first in our family to ride in it... with its faux wood interior, mini-blinds on the windows, and disco track lights around the ceiling... his sisters are so sore!

On Friday afternoon, we packed up and headed out for Ben's chosen birthday activity: a hotel stay and water park visit. I'm not sure which child was the most adventurous and, therefore, had the most fun. Everyone had a ball!

After we returned home on Saturday, we went to supper at Grandma and Grandpa R's for more presents... more food... and more fun. Now, I am declaring enough with the birthday celebrations-- until the next one.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Saturated

My friends who live in these parts now have a running joke: "Oh, good, it's raining. We really needed it."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Boomerang Life

Elisabeth was doing "nah-nah-nah-boo-boo" to Amanda about a pack of glow sticks given to her by a friend's mom. I told Libby, "You know, there are 15 in that pack. You could share at least one or two with your sister. If you always share with her, she'll always share with you." The little sister must have been taking too much time mulling over her options, because Amanda finally muttered, "Yep, life is a boomerang. It all comes right back at ya."

Kick that, Karma. Forget it, Forrest Gump. Krinkeland has its own Awesomer Philosopher.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gimme FIVE!


Benjamin Todd is five years old today! Here is a list of the Birthday Boy's demands:

1. Jump off the dock with Kailee in the water to catch him.
2. Eat at Burger King.
3. getting his own fountain soda at the gas station
4. Daddy home from work early
5. brinner
6. white cake with NOT-homemade frosting
7. Legos, Legos, Legos!

We met all demands to some degree of satisfaction. The jumping off the dock turned into a 15-minute whining session that was delaying the other swimming lessons, so, with Ben's permission, I finally pushed him. I did let him come in with me to Superamerica to get his own fountain soda... but he dumped it all over the floor before we got to the checkout. (Yes, of course I got him another one. I am not that heartless.)

In lieu of a birthday party, Ben wants to go to a water park, so that will be Krinkeland's weekend activity. I am, however, starting to worry about de-evolution... we're spending so much time in the water this summer, I'm on the lookout for gills. But it is what they all love, so we will be wet.

My son is a joy, a challenge, a pint-sized intellectual with the heart of a giant. Every day, I thank the Lord that I get to be his mommy. Happy, Happy Fifth Birthday, Benjamin Todd, Child of God!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Girl of Few Words


The Child Who Does Not Speak said, plain as day, in the Target aisle today: "SpongeBob." And it was. Atta girl.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Techie-Talkie


Over the weekend, I finally got a new cell phone. It seems weird that it would be such a crisis... But I guess we really do live in an age where we are somewhat dependent on that kind of stuff-- at least, I am. Lots of other people say they aren't... but I suspect they are lying; that, or, they just have not yet been spoiled by the convenience-- and I have. My biggest issue in not having a cell phone was about the children. I was just panicked whenever I was away from them that something would happen to one of them and no one would be able to reach me. Made me want to stay home a lot more, that's for sure, and that's probably a good thing.

So, the biggest obstacle to getting a new cell phone was my tech-savvy husband, his ridiculous and impractical habit of extensively researching everything, and his unrealistic set of criteria for the new phone. You see, he has his heart set on a latest-and-greatest mobile device that has not yet been released into the market. Finally, we agreed to stay with our current cell phone service provider, and I would get a new phone now, while he would wait for the phone he wants to be released (hopefully to the same carrier.)

The phone I got is obscenely large, technologically advanced, and way over-qualified to be my cell phone. If you are looking for a new phone, I cannot exactly recommend it, because I have no idea how to use it. You can check it out for yourself, here. It looks cool, mine has a purple case (chosen by Amanda,) and I am in the process of downloading all those oh-so-necessary apps. How did I ever live without a Target app?

Learning Their Lessons

We looked out at the lake this morning to discover yet another storm mess from the night before-- dock sections gone, landscaping flooded, weeds washed ashore, and a neighbor's rogue dock section wedged underneath the Jet Ski and its lift. There is some damage, but not as extensive as a week ago. "Get out there!" I told Todd. "I need you to get that dock put together before swimming lessons begin in a couple hours!" (Aren't I good at giving orders?)

So, he put on his trunks and got in the lake-- which, incidentally, was much warmer than the air at that early hour-- while I picked up sticks and loaded the fire pit with more driftwood and weed piles. I was still in my pajamas, which seemed to keep the neighbors at bay (an unexpected bonus.)

Except for the steady breeze, it was a beautiful morning for swimming lessons to begin. Our beloved teacher, Kailee, agreed to give it one more summer... which worked out only because she hasn't yet found a job in her chosen field. (If any of you is looking for a stellar worker in marketing/event planning, I would be happy to refer.) We have five families coming to the Krinkeland beach this summer, to get small-group instruction on the lake.

My kids are again paired up with another family-- so the two pre-kindergarten boys have a lesson together, followed by the four elementary girls. Before Benjamin's first lesson ended, I already had my money's worth:


Though the event seemed traumatic, I assure you, in a matter of seconds, Ben was running back on the dock and jumping again. I try to stay away while lessons are going on. Every mommy has at least one whiner-- and you can tell who mine is. Earlier, Kailee had the boys taking turns holding a kickboard to their chests and kicking on their backs. The other little boy would go, get his praise, and stand back up. Ben would take the kickboard, lay back-- but not really, and begin yelling at his teacher, "I don't like this! My ears are getting wet! This is never going to work!" And Kailee would smile down at him and say, "Mmmm-hmmm..." and keep pulling him around the shallows.

When the older girls had their turn, it was a free-for-all. Well, not really-- Kailee had them all under control... it's just that they're all getting to be such good swimmers, they can kind of take off. They spent some time at the end of the dock-- which is so deep this year-- practicing diving, which was very exciting. Amanda came up to the house afterward and said, "Kailee said I'm a natural." Of course, you are, dear.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Slipping, Sliding

With my nephew's skin looking bad and Amanda complaining of swimmer's ear, it was kind of a collective decision to keep the kids out of the lake today. We forgot to consult God, however, who sent us another scorcher! In an attempt to beat the heat and mix things up a little, Grandma and Grandpa set up the wading pool in the yard. I thought I would add an element of surprise with a new Slip 'n Slide.

Who doesn't love a Slip 'n Slide?

Of course, the darn thing broke in about a half hour's time... a reminder to me of why I don't usually buy those things. But it was fun while it lasted. Kazmer was a maniac!

Watching the kids slip... and... slide... I was reminded of two Slip 'n Slide stories:

First, in my pre-children (a.k.a. "working") years, we would always be looking for fresh angles to our "dog days of summer" stories. One day in the newsroom, we got to reminiscing about things kids do to stay cool. For example, I remember when I was a kid, our home did not have central air conditioning, but my parents had one of those window units installed in the master bedroom, and, on really hot nights, we all got to camp out on the floor in their room.

Anyway, one of my friends said there was no better, easier, cheaper way to stay cool on a hot day than with a make-your-own-"ghetto"-slip-'n-slide. She explained how her family and friends were all too poor to buy an actual Slip 'n Slide, so, instead, they would take black garbage bags, tape them together with packing tape into a large sheet, and then run the garden hose over the top. The rest of us laughed and laughed, and asked whether there was any truth to that story... she swore it was fact.

Years later, I was out-to-here pregnant with Elisabeth and was looking for cool ways to entertain 17-month-old Amanda. This was before our life moved to the lake. We had a nice house, but not much of a yard-- no room even for a swing set, really. I bought one of those small, inflatable wading pools, but the only flat place to set it up was smack in the middle of the front yard. That wasn't so bad, except for the fact that I was so hot and swollen, I kept feeling tempted to get in it... and then what would the neighbors say?

While enjoying the air conditioning in a stroll through Target-- and remembering my friend's childhood and her ghetto-slide-- I decided to buy Amanda a Slip 'n Slide. Yes, she was little... but brilliant, right? She seemed really excited by the photos on the box.

We returned home and set up the Slip 'n Slide, again in the front yard. After the babe and I wiggled our bellies into our bathing suits, I turned on the hose and told Amanda to go for it. There was a little problem-- she just didn't get it. Amanda wasn't wary or afraid, she simply didn't understand what to do. But, it was the middle of the afternoon, and with Daddy at work and no other children around, we were on our own.

The problem was, I was pregnant. Very, very pregnant. I couldn't just take a flying leap down the Slip 'n Slide. First, I could not run. Next, there was certainly no way I could get air under my huge body. Finally, the prospect of landing created obvious peril: I was concerned I would either (a) kill the baby or (b) ricochet off the ground with an immense amount of bounce from my round belly. So, I just stood in the yard, holding my arms out in front of me like Superman, and kept yelling instructions. I got louder and louder... but my child just stood and stared (I'm guessing the neighbors did, too) and refused to slide.

She did slip a few times, but not purposely, and the Slip 'n Slide ended up being no fun at all. I guess that's why the package says it's geared for older kids.

We had some older, much wilder kids on the Slip 'n Slide today... which could have led to its early demise. But it sure was fun while it lasted!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Just Thought You Should Know

Benjamin was following me around like a puppy dog this evening, clearly wanting to tell me something but not sure how to do it. "Mom..." he would begin, and then stop. "Mom?" He would try again. Finally, I stopped what I was doing and turned to him: "What is it, Benjamin?" Ben took a deep breath, "Well, Mom, I just wanted to tell you I'm thinking about going to sleep tonight without my underwear on under my pajamas. I want to leave them off. Is that OK, Mom? I just wanted you to know."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Once Bitten, Twice... Bitten

I can't decide which I despise more: getting bug bites or wearing bug spray. I really hate bug spray-- the way it smells, the way it feels, the way it tastes. (Why do I always end up with bug spray in my mouth, anyway?) So, generally, I forgo bug spray. But this has to be, like, the worst ever season for mosquitoes.

Out this evening, celebrating the shared birthday of two friends, a group of us decided to go on a sunset boat cruise around the lake. By the time we returned to the dock, the buzzards were out in full force. We all slathered our exposed skin with Skin So Soft, compliments of our friend the Avon Lady. And our hostess sprayed the perimeter of the deck with straight DEET. That combination cut down tonight's mosquito bite total to approximately 2,311.

When I could stand it no longer, I got up to leave. I heard the friend sitting next to me breathe a sigh of relief, because I'm sure she was really tired of looking at my underdrawers whenever I hiked up my skirt to scratch my thighs.

Now inside and away from the blood-suckers, I am covered in welts. Todd asked how my evening was, and I replied, "Itchy." I am bitten between my fingers, in my scalp, and on the pads of my toes. Time to go take a Benadryl or two and scratch off what's left of my skin.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

So You Think You Can Feed?

Amanda and Elisabeth were recounting again at lunch the work they did volunteering at Feed My Starving Children-- how many meals they packed, how many children they would feed and for how long. Benjamin piped in with, "Oh, yeah? Well, Jesus had only two fishes and five loaves of bread... and he fed thousands of people. And, when they were done, the leftovers filled 12 baskets."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

An Honest Day's Work

We spent the day cleaning up storm damage-- here and at my parents' house. Our damage felt pretty significant, but it was mostly contained to the lake shore: landscaping washed away, lift canopy torn off in ruins, dock pieces blown off and broken, Jet Ski lifted off the lift and tossed up on the beach, literally hundreds of pounds of weeds washed up in front of our house. At my parents' house, the severe winds took out the power, along with a number of large trees, and one of those fell onto the lakeside shed.

Once we had assessed the situation here at home and secured what we could, we headed out to Grandma and Grandpa's to help clear tree limbs and such. My brother showed off his mad chainsaw skills... and my children mostly whined about being asked to do work. So, here are some life lessons learned-- or reinforced-- today:

*It's a lot of work to live on the lake.

*Even if you don't live on the lake, but instead have relatives who live on the lake, you will get put to work. But that's what family does.

*It's difficult to enjoy the beauty of a day (the calm after the storm) with blisters on your hands and the stench of drying seaweed in the air.

*It's both a blessing and a curse to be the woman/wife/mother in the family; outside jobs get put on the back burner whenever a kid needs something-- which is all the time.

*Don't offer to pay your kids a penny for each stick they pick up, unless you have a lot of cash on hand. I am out $11.38... and the yard is not yet stick-free.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Damaged

We were driving home from the girls' theater camp performance when the thunderstorm warning went out. We pulled into the driveway and shut the garage door as the blackest wall cloud approached. Just as I got the kids into the house, the tornado sirens sounded and we all headed for the basement.

As is typically the case, the worst of the storm passed quickly-- or so we thought. Still, in those brief moments in the basement, Madeline pooped her pants... Elisabeth cried she was hungry and needed chips... and Benjamin declared he had to go to the bathroom. When the sky began to lighten, Todd made his own all-clear announcement, and I headed to the kitchen to throw together supper. The kids followed me upstairs, but, after looking out the windows, they begged to return to the basement.

Yes, the dark clouds had passed, but the wind picked up with a vengeance. In our nearly five years here, we've never seen anything like it.