Saturday, March 31, 2012

Things That Go "Bump" in the Night

Todd and I had to do battle with the boogeyman last night. To be more accurate, TODD had to do battle, while I hid under the covers, clutching a telephone for emergency help and a ball point pen for protection.

You see, we were watching television in bed when we both heard a big thump. It was the kind of big thump one expects to be followed by wailing, because it sounded as though one of the children had fallen out of bed-- EXCEPT all of our children were having a sleepover at Grandma's house. So, that was the first weird thing.

Todd and I looked at each other and exclaimed simultaneously, "What was THAT?!" It was just like a sitcom. Thankfully, Todd got out of bed to check, because I wasn't about to risk my life like that. I don't think he was too eager, either, because he first went room-to-room upstairs, and it was pretty obvious the noise had not come from upstairs.

Eventually, Todd made his way downstairs, and I could hear him turning on lights, opening and closing doors, checking deadbolts, and the like. After a while, though, I didn't hear anything. That's when I began to panic.

Part of me wanted to get up and investigate, too... find out where my husband went... come to my beloved's defense... take out the attacker's eye and his privates, too... But a bigger part of me did not want to get eaten. I mean, really, if Todd was already done for-- well, then, who would take care of the kids? And the massive life insurance policy?

So, I stayed put in that bed, and I thought about when we were designing and building this house. True story: I was insistent that the master bedroom be the first room at the top of the stairs. In part, it was so sneaky teenagers would one day have to sneak past Mom and Dad's room to get to their bedrooms. But, mostly, it was so any attacker, upon entering the house and being hungry for blood, would come upon me and The Mister first, and leave our kids alone.

Now, to that end, I make Todd sleep on the side of the bed closest to the door; certainly, there is an element of self-preservation. Hey, give a girl some credit for intelligence-- we all know he didn't marry me for my long legs or my sunshiney disposition.

Anyway, after what felt like a really long time, Todd did return to our room, unscathed and mostly unshaken. We never did find out what the noise was. I won't be getting in line to see "The Hunger Games" again any time soon.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Baby Boom

Welcome to the world!

I know of three families who welcomed babies this week! Plus, there was one last week, and we are waiting on another. Granted, I live in a small town, and, if we play up the old joke, shouldn't a bunch of people at the Catholic church and school always be having babies? Still, it was weird to walk into the Birth Center at the hospital and know there were multiple families to visit.

Congratulations to:
*fellow Birthright volunteer Krista, who welcomed Adelaide Esther on Tuesday;
*my good friend's sister Theresa, who gave birth to Isaac Martin on Wednesday;
*Elisabeth's teacher who became a mommy to Benjamin Matthew on Thursday!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Understanding Engineers

My husband is an engineer. That is not only his profession; it is his personality. I posted one time about something related to my husband/his coworkers/the workplace, and referred to some way in which they are all alike: have a spaced-out look in their eyes because they're not really listening when I talk; go to work early, stay late, order in lunch; talk to the white board or the prototype, etc. One of my friends, who is not an engineer but who works with them, responded by pointing out the engineer "uniform" (chinos and plaid, button-down shirt) and the fact that so many engineers have one-syllable names. All true. So true.

It's hard to explain what it's like to live with an engineer. There are perks: the best sound system in the neighborhood; the car with the latest safety features, purchased at the best possible price; lots of home computers. There are drawbacks: the ability to teach himself to do anything, but no time to actually do it; singular focus means, if I leave for the evening, the kids trash the house while Dad masters the video game; research, research, research.

Sometimes, I think no one gets me, because no one gets my husband. I am NOT complaining-- I CHOSE this life (when I was really young, really stupid, and really in love.) Still, I think others cannot imagine what my days are like... But, then, a friend, like Don, sends me a chain email, like the one below, and I realize I am not an island. Laugh at the truth:

Understanding Engineers #1
Two engineering students were biking across a university campus when one said, "Where did you get such a great bike?" The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, "Take what you want." The first engineer nodded approvingly and said, "Good choice: The clothes probably wouldn't have fit you anyway."

Understanding Engineers #2
To the optimist, the glass is half-full. To the pessimist, the glass is half-empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Understanding Engineers #3
A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer fumed, "What's with those guys? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!" The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such inept golf!" The priest said, "Here comes the greens-keeper. Let's have a word with him." He said, "Hello George, What's wrong with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?" The greens-keeper replied, "Oh, yes. That's a group of blind firemen. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime!." The group fell silent for a moment. The priest said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight." The doctor said, "Good idea. I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there's anything she can do for them." The engineer said, "Why can't they play at night?"

Understanding Engineers #4
What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers? Mechanical engineers build weapons. Civil engineers build targets.

Understanding Engineers #5
The graduate with a science degree asks, "Why does it work?" The graduate with an engineering degree asks, "How does it work?" The graduate with an accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?" The graduate with an arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

Understanding Engineers #6
Three engineering students were gathered together discussing who must have designed the human body. One said, "It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints." Another said, "No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections." The last one said, "No, actually it had to have been a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?"

Understanding Engineers #7
Normal people believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

Understanding Engineers #8
An engineer was crossing a road one day, when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog, and put it in his pocket. The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn back into a beautiful princess and stay with you for one week." The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket. The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you for one week and do anything you want." Again, the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket. Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess and that I'll stay with you for one week and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?" The engineer said, "Look, I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog - now that's cool."

Hope you enjoyed a chuckle and thought of Todd.

The Talking Frog

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What a Card

I spent the afternoon designing invitations for Elisabeth's First Communion and Madeline's third birthday. No, you're not all invited; I just wanted to show you how cute they are:
Dazzling Lime Print 5x7 folded card
Send Shutterfly Valentine's Day cards to those closest to you.
View the entire collection of cards.

Party On Collage Birthday Card
Send custom cards from Shutterfly for St. Patrick's Day.
View the entire collection of cards.

I did these on Shutterfly, one of many photo sharing/photo project websites. I think most of them can be obscenely expensive. But, naturally, once I ordered one project, way back who-knows-when, the company started sending me promotional codes to order more stuff. Funny how that works.

I sat down to make the communion invitations today because (1) we already received the invitation to my nephew's first communion, just two weeks before Elisabeth's and (2) I had gotten an email from Shutterfly with a coupon code for 10 free cards! Well, those were so easy to do, and required absolutely no creative input on my part, that I wanted to make birthday invitations for Madeline, too. Now that I had the hang of things, the second card design went even more smoothly, until I got to the checkout. Stingy Shutterfly wouldn't let me use the discount code twice.

Well, I was not about to spend $2.59 PER CARD for the invitations, so I emailed my SIL, who I know has used Shutterfly in the past... and she gave me her code! Yay! Cards done! Money saved!

Oh, and by posting the cards on this blog, I get another $10 coupon! Double yay!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Taking Note

Elisabeth has taken to leaving me notes. I don't think she's quite yet at that hormonal threshold when it's just too painful to communicate face-to-face. I think it has more to do with being pleased with herself for learning cursive handwriting, as well as having an adorable collection of mini-notebooks.

Last night, when Todd and I returned home, there was a letter waiting on my pillow. Just a general, "Hi, Mom, Welcome home. Hope you had fun. Can't wait for tomorrow! Love, Libby."

This evening, while putting the girls to bed, I commented on their room looking like a squatter's refuge-- as it always does. Instead of picking up the dirty laundry from the floor, Libby sat down on the bed and picked up a Hello Kitty spiral-bound and a nub of a pencil: "Dear Mom, Sorry about the room. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Love, Libby."

Hopefully, tomorrow, she will figure out it has nothing to do with "hope" and will stop apologizing about "the room" and just pick up her junk.

Happy Anniversary!

My parents this weekend celebrated 40 years of marital bliss! OK, I'm sure they would claim every moment of the past 40 years has been blissful... but, hey, they're still together, still hanging out, still loving life, still doting on their three children and three in-laws and three thousand grandchildren. I pray that my husband and I follow in their footsteps.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Chipmunk in the Den

Well I guess the title of this post says it all.

In Krinkeland, the kids generally roll out of bed earlier than the adults. I'm not ashamed to admit it. Those kids get up too darn early... and I don't come to the meeting until I have to. So, Amanda woke up whenever she did, and she meandered downstairs to the den, as she usually does, plopped down on the couch and turned on the television. At some point, I thought I heard the door to the deck open and close, but that was about it. And I wasn't all too sure that was what I heard.

Sometime later, Amanda climbed the stairs and walked down the hall to her bedroom. She dressed for school, brushed her teeth in the kids' bathroom, and put her pajamas in the laundry room. Then, she walked through our bedroom, on her way to use my hair brush in our bathroom. Over her shoulder, Amanda casually tossed, "Mom, Dad, there was a chipmunk in the den this morning. It just ran across the floor while I was watching TV. I opened the door and shooed it out."

Rapid thoughts darted across my brain: How did the chipmunk get in the house? How long was it in the house? Which kid left cracked open the screened door? Why can't those kids ever close the screened door? Was it really a chipmunk? Could Amanda tell the difference between a mouse and a chipmunk? Was it that same chipmunk that was hanging around on our deck last summer? Do chipmunks carry rabies? How did she get it out? Why didn't she scream? Are there more? Why didn't she ask for help? How did Amanda know how to get the chipmunk out?

But, as quickly as they came, the thoughts departed. I just hefted myself out of bed, patted my eldest on the head, and said, "Way to go, Kid. Nice work."

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Was Like Baby, Baby, Baby, Oh, NO!

Justin scares the bebiebers out of me!

OK, I am not afraid of the *real* Justin Bieber; he is just irritating enough that I'd like to slap that smile off his face sometimes. Of course, if I was that talented-- or had that hair-- maybe I'd be arrogant, too.

No, I am talking about the life-size, cardboard cutout Justin who lives in our home. It was a 10th birthday gift to Amanda. Yes, something for which she actually asked, and, yes, something on which I actually spent real money.

Cardboard Justin was really cool the morning of Amanda's birthday, when he stood in the living room and welcomed her to double digits. But, ever since then, he's been nothing but a stalker, a lurker, a cardboard creep mocking me with his perfectly printed grin.

I pull into the driveway, look through the front windows and think, "Who's standing in my living room?" It's Justin-- and it's not just "One Time."

I stand up and come around the corner after working on the computer and nearly scream as I run into a smiling, motionless young man. It's Justin.

It's not only me who has a problem with the frozen form-- I've caught Elisabeth karate-chopping the Boy Wonder. Justin just stands there, grinning and bearing it.

Todd and I returned home from an evening out to find Justin face-down on the living room carpet. "I just couldn't take it. He scared me," the babysitter explained. Who could blame her? Hours after the children went to bed, she was still being watched. So much for "One Less Lonely Girl."

So, I am now devising a plan on how to off Justin Bieber. Putting him out in traffic would surely cause a jam. The fire pit seems barbaric. I'm not handy enough to turn him into a kite. Can't imagine any place would accept him as a charitable donation. Well, "Never Say Never." Suggestions?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Yee Haw, Seesaw!

We spent the afternoon watching kids ride bikes and build sand castles at my parents' house and then returned home to find the ice nearly out on our lake. Just a typical March day in the Upper Midwest.

Crazy! But I'm not complaining... and neither is Madeline:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Trash Talk

I know it's St. Patrick's Day and not Earth Day, but I'm not even Irish... and I do have an environmental platform today, so, deal with it.

After ushering kids out the door following last night's sleepover and then spending the rest of the morning at a very enjoyable Birthright gathering, I started the laundry, put Madeline down for a nap and the headed outdoors. If I had to choose a Number One Household Chore, it would pretty much be any kind of yard work. I really like to trim shrubs, pull weeds, anything I can do outside. It's just such a nice change of pace, and with this crazy weather, how could I not take advantage?

With the snow totally gone, there is a long list of clean-up chores, and I certainly couldn't tackle them in this afternoon's two-hour window. So, I picked up sticks and burned what was in the fire pit. Then, I took a garbage bag and walked around my yard, picking up trash.

If you haven't ever been to our home, this will be kind of difficult for you to envision. Basically, we live on a small, city lot, with the lake on one side and a busy street on the other. I choose to direct pretty much all my attention to the beautiful, serene scene out the back side of my house. But, when all those cars drive by, they see the side of the house and the yard that faces the road.

After cleaning up in back, picking up random items that had either blown into our yard or washed up on the beach, I walked around to the front, and headed straight for the end of the driveway. Why? I knew there would be lots of trash to pick up-- there always is. Here's some of what I gathered along 80 feet of road frontage:
*pages from newspapers
*candy bar wrappers
*two fast food drink cups-- one from a restaurant 20 miles away
*broken, plastic containers
*a used, disposable diaper
*at least 100 cigarette butts

Gross, right?

This is my life, people. My home. Keep your butts to yourself.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Toddler's Day Out

While tucking Madeline into bed, I asked her what was her favorite thing about today. For the record, it was a great, big, wonderful day to be a two-year-old in Krinkeland. It's Pi Day, and also National Potato Chip Day, I understand. But Maddy didn't have time for those official "celebrations." She was too busy being a kid, and, with the great weather, we managed to cram it all in today... so Maddy listed it all tonight:

swimming in my pool
sitting in hot tub
ice cream
see Bebe 'Lias
pay outside with Lucy
ohnge duice

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring in My Step

I know all of you who live in this area agree with me, but I feel I need to say it, just to document: This weather is awesome! How can you not feel good when, in the second week of March, it's 65 degrees and sunny outside?!

Combine the warm temps with the extra daylight from daylight savings time, and life is good! It's amazing how much my mood was lifted when I got to drive Elisabeth to dance class under full sun this evening, compared to pitch darkness last week. The kids have been outside every chance they get-- riding bikes, shooting hoops, flying kites, blowing bubbles, playing on the swing set. At the grocery store, Amanda asked if we could buy seed packets. A little premature...

I keep thinking, even if the temperatures dip and more snow falls, it will never get cold enough to really feel like winter. Even before the calendar says it, spring is here! After we picked up Libby from dance, we drove by Dairy Queen, and the drive-thru had a line down the block. Now that's a sure sign of spring!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ruff Crowd

OK, I have so much to tell you... But there's no time, because all of us in Krinkeland-- whether we want to or not-- are moving full-steam-ahead toward opening night of the Saints on Stage production of "Disney's Beauty and the Beast Junior." Not only do I not have much access to a computer these days (see previous post) but I am so exhausted I am hardly functioning... and I think most people would say I am the member of this household who is least taxed, at this point.

But, I just have to relay this cute story from life because by next week I'll forget!

Amanda has gotten this bright idea that she wants to look into becoming a junior dog handler. We were talking to a dog breeder, who also happens to be a fifth grade math teacher (so she and Amanda were on the same brain wavelength) and Amanda decided this would be something interesting to explore. So, she has been doing some reading and considering the possibilities. She tried to convince her sister it was a great idea, but didn't get very far:

Elisabeth: "That's a terrible idea."
Amanda: "No it's not. You get to learn all about the dogs and work with the dogs, train the dogs. You get dressed up and you go to dog shows and you can win ribbons."
Elisabeth: "I don't get it."
Amanda: "Yes, you do. It's like pageants for dogs."
Elisabeth: "It would never work."
Amanda: "Why not?"
Elisabeth: "Where would you get the special outfits? And how would you get the dogs to wear them? That's like torture. Dogs never like to wear clothes."
Amanda: "The dogs don't wear clothes. Dog shows are just regular, naked-fur shows."
Elisabeth: "Oh. I knew that."

Friday, March 2, 2012

Until Closing Night

Don't expect much news out of Krinkeland until after March 11. All the computers in this house have been confiscated by a man posing as a lighting designer, for use in what he claims will be an enchanting production of "Disney's Beauty and the Beast Junior." I don't care what he does with all this equipment, as long as he gets it off my kitchen table.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Substitute Attachment

Amanda's teacher got called to jury duty, so the class has a substitute teacher. Coincidentally-- or not, since it's a parochial school in a small town-- this is the same sub who is slated to come and teach Elisabeth's class when her teacher goes on maternity leave later this month. The girls both adore their regular teachers, but, tonight, while I was putting them to bed, they were discussing this beloved sub:

Amanda: "I can't wait for Mrs. B. to come back, but I also love Mrs. E. She is so nice. But Mrs. B. is our regular teacher and you tend to attach to your regular teacher."
Libby: "Yeah, but Mrs. E. is so nice, I think she will be easy to attach to."
Amanda: "Oh, she is nice, and she is so easy to attach to. She already knows all of our names. The first day, and she looks at all of us and calls us by our names."
Libby: "Attached."