Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye, Old Year

Thirty years ago, when Prince released the song "1999," I was an elementary-school kid, dancing to the apocalyptic tune at basement sleepover parties. It seemed a distinct possibility the world would end in the year the short but talented one declared... But I do not remember being too concerned.

This evening, driving home from visiting my FIL in the hospital and making the rounds on the rest of the day's activities, my son asked me about the end of the year, and attempted to explain to his little sister that tomorrow when we wake up it will be a new year. It seems futile to wax philosophical with a six-year-old and a three-year-old.

Yet, another year has flown.

In light of the recent health concerns with Todd's dad, and the general craziness of the past few weeks, we embraced the opportunity to stay in tonight and just enjoy being together. Time does pass quickly, and life changes in an instant. Welcome the new year with peace and joy and love of The Lord. Well, with all that and a family viewing of "The Goonies" and a lot of popcorn.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Let's Go to the Movies

At this moment, half of my family is at the movies.  It's just one of the things we do.  We are a movie-going family.

With Todd's dad suffering a stroke just after Christmas, a lot of our Winter Break plans have gone by the wayside.  And that's OK; we're not complaining... we would much rather be with Todd's dad.  Plus, the kids still manage to work in plenty of their own fun-- skating with one set of grandparents, swimming with another, playing with all their new gadgets and toys.

The past couple days, however, Todd has really been talking about going to see a movie.  I think it is his stress outlet, his escape.  So, he arrived home from the hospital just in time for a quick dinner and then the call, "Who wants to go to the movies with me?"

Amanda and Benjamin went.  Amanda and Benjamin pretty much always go, if permitted.  (And they are permitted, as long as the time is not too late or the rating inappropriate.)  Maybe they are like their father, thrilled by the break from reality.  Maybe they just like to spend time with him, doing something they know he enjoys.

Elisabeth did not go.  Given the choice, Elisabeth will pretty much never go.  Occasionally, if we are all going as a family to something light and fun, she will go with the flow.  But, in most cases, she would prefer to not go.  Libby is easily frightened, and her imagination runs wild, even-- especially-- in outlandish, imaginary situations.  Libby prefers to stay grounded in reality, and, in reality, Libby really prefers to stay home.

I am somewhere in the middle.  I do like to go to the movies, if the movie has an enjoyable story, an engaging plot.  I like to be entertained.  I do not find violence, gore, terror, crimes against children, among other things, entertaining.  I usually like to see movie versions of books I have read.  I have a few favorite actors that I will see in just about anything.

A few days ago, I saw the movie version of "Les Miserables" and I loved it.  The stage musical is one of my favorites, the music is unparalleled, and the cast consisted of so many fine actors.  Even though there was a little bit of many of the "no-nos" I listed above, the story is such a classic tale of love and loss and faith and conviction-- well, obviously, I just loved it.

I guess it's the "going to the movies" part I don't like.  I hate it when the theater smells or when my feet stick to the floor or it's too cold.  I don't like hearing other people talk and cough and play on their phones.  I don't like worrying about disturbing others if I have to get up and go to the bathroom.  And I definitely do not think seeing a movie is a social activity.  It really chaps my hide when, for some special occasion or just whenever we find two hours without children, my husband says, "Let's go to the movies."  How is sitting in the dark, staring straight ahead, and not speaking something to do together?

I will never get that.

One could argue there's the opportunity to discuss afterward... but that never seems to happen.  The car ride home pretty much consists of, "Did you like it?"  "Yes/No."  "Think the kids are asleep yet?"

Madeline would have gone to the movies tonight, if she'd been permitted.  But, since it's not animated, and since it will get over considerably past her bedtime, she got left in the dust.  Plus, that girl never sits still for any length of time, anyway, so I really don't see the point in taking her.  Not only should I not have to pay for her ticket because she's not going to watch, but I shouldn't have to pay for my ticket because I'm going to spend 90 minutes chasing Maddy around the theater lobby.

I guess I would rather stay home and watch a movie on TV.

But then I fall asleep.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reading Into Things

I am online searching for books for my daughters to read.  Both are avid readers, but, when it comes to title selection, we have some obstacles in our path:
1. Standardized tests show both Amanda and Elisabeth can read and comprehend at a level considerably beyond their age, but with more difficult books comes the challenge of appropriate content.
2. For that reason, I end up pre-screening books to determine whether the interested child will be able to understand and would be receiving age-appropriate content.
3. I do not mind doing so; however, both Libby and Amanda have very different taste in books than I do.

For Libby's current book report project, I recommended one of my all-time favorites, "Autumn Street" by Lois Lowry.  Libby tells me she "doesn't get it," and thinks it's "boring, dumb."  The book is NOT boring or dumb; it is about war and sickness and sudden tragedy and more.  Libby prefers the Harry Potter books.  I was never in that club.

Finding books for Amanda is even more challenging, because her reading level is at least as high as mine, and I surely do not want her reading most of the drivel I go through.  Plus, Amanda is even more interested in fantasy/science fiction/adventure, and those kinds of stories just are not for me.  She is currently reading "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini, on the recommendation of a classmate who reads even more than Amanda does.  I was out at "dragon hatchling" in the initial description of the story line.  However, another member of that same family recommended "The Goose Girl" and all the Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale.  Though queens and knights and battles on horseback and people who communicate with animals are generally not my preferred plot combination, I can say these books are excellent.  I am way more interested than the fifth grader is!

Our area public library system has a link on its website to this NoveList database-- it's one of the best resources we've found so far for finding books on various subjects (and sub-categories) at specific reading levels.  Of course, the Lexile website is another great way to search for any book within a certain reading ability.  Maybe I could have been do some detective work into reading materials for his sisters, because Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew is his favorite series of late.

The bottom line is: I'm just glad they're reading.  I've always said it's OK with me if a kid wants to read the back of a cereal box-- as long as there is reading going on.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dazed and Confused

It was a long day.

I will not be filling this blog with continual posts about my FIL's health. He and his wife are both private people and it is not my news to share. However, I know so many of you are wondering about him and are thinking of all of us, so, let me just say, in the words of one of our favorite children's books, "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse":

"Today was a hard day. Tomorrow will be better."

Ardy has been awake and confused. He is beginning to say more words, and it is clear none of this makes sense to him. None of this makes sense.

The coming days are crucial. Ardy needs his space and his rest, and he definitely needs your prayers. He seems comforted particularly by the presence of his wife Carol and of his twin brother Arlen. We are all hopeful, encouraged by signs of progress, and uplifted by evidence of fine medical care.

As for me, I find times like this in life make me so acutely thankful of everyday blessings:
*Ardy's chuckles of disbelief
*my husband's astounding grasp of all things medical
*the kids' joy in playing on the ice at Grandma's and Grandpa's house
*so many text messages from concerned friends
*my son's talent at making movies on the iPad
*dinner with the kind of friends who do not care how filthy my house is, or that I neglected to make any side dishes
*Elisabeth playing "Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful" on the piano
*soft, sparkly snow


Be Still

Todd and I have just returned from the hospital, where his father is in intensive care, after suffering another stroke over dinner at home. The symptoms are more severe this time, and it is very scary to see Ardy this way. We know it is even scarier for Ardy and his wife Carol. We are thankful this night for your prayers.

"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Revved Up

Random conversation in the car:

M: "Mom, for Christmas, I am going to buy you a new motor so your car can drive fast."
1. Does she not remember Christmas was yesterday?
2. Does she not realize the car already has a motor?
3. When did I stop driving like a bat out of you-know-where?
4. Is this an upgrade from last week's promised gift of a chicken nugget?

B: "Nooo, you CAN'T buy her that!  It's too heavy and dirty-- who would carry it?"
1. Does he not realize the car already has a motor?
2. Why am I not surprised his only concerns would be heft and filth?  (Probably because he despises manual labor and getting dirty... but, if someone else would lift the engine, he could probably install it.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to All...

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings glad tidings,
announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, and saying to Zion,
"Your God is King!"
(Isaiah 52:7)
We are wiped out after a couple of fun, full days of celebration.  The kids get the Jesus thing, but there's no doubt they love their gifts, too (they are children, after all) and they've had a great time marking Christmas traditions with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.  I have much to report, but, all I can muster this Christmas night is a few shots from Christmas Eve.

...and to all a good night!


Monday, December 24, 2012


Overheard before the sun was really up this morning:
B: "Merry Christmas, Maddy!"
M: "Merry Kissmas, Benny!"
B: "Today is Christmas Eve. So, TOMORROW, there will be presents under the tree, because SANTA comes TONIGHT!"
B: "Oh, and Jesus is born."
M: "What day is it?"
B: "Today is Monday."
M: "Oh. Jesus is born on Monday?!"
“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:16-20)

"Hey, unto you a child is born!" --Gladys Herdman in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Tribute

And, here's one more... a special tribute. This is for you, godparents:
Really not sure where the cigarette line came from. Wow. Thank goodness Christmas is almost here. Someones are very excited (and silly!)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

After a full and busy day, I sat down by the fire, put up my feet and gazed at the Christmas lights. Out of nowhere, my quiet, contemplative time was interrupted by this:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Prayerful Partridge

Due to scheduling conflicts this overbooked time of year, I was unable to make my nephews' school Christmas program this evening... but the school staff was kind enough to let me take in the unofficial dress rehearsal this morning.  Imagine my dismay when I walked in and quickly figured out the children's set would include arguably the worst Christmas song of all time, "The 12 Days of Christmas."  What?!  In a Catholic elementary school?!  Seriously?!

Thankfully, the pull of my handsome and talented nephews was greater than my urge to flee the grating strains of music, and I stayed.  I stayed to hear the story... and I came home and looked it up.  Leave it to a Catholic elementary school music teacher and her colleagues to develop a program around a much more important meaning for "The 12 Days of Christmas."  Now, if you do research-- and it does not have to be all that diligent-- you will learn that there is no deeper, "real" meaning, based on biblical doctrine, for this totally secular Christmas song.

I don't care.

What other, more clever and more spiritual, people have done is tie meaning to these annoying, repetitive words, giving them depth and purpose.  I do not know if the teacher used a published program of if she tied together herself this story and all its related hymns, but, the running thread of the Christmas program was a drama based on the very old carol-- which I had never before heard-- "The New Dial":

What are they that are but one?
What are they that are but one? We have one God alone
In heaven above sits on His throne.
What are they which are by two?
Two testaments, the old and new,
We do acknowledge to be true. What are they which are but three?
Three persons in the Trinity
Which make one God in unity.

What are they which are but four?
Four sweet Evangelists there are,
Christ's birth, life, death which do declare.
What are they which are but five?
Five senses, like five kings, maintain
In every man a several reign.
What are they which are but six?
Six days to labor is not wrong,
For God himself did work so long.

What are they which are but seven?
Seven liberal arts hath God sent down
With divine skill man's soul to crown. What are they which are but eight?
Eight Beatitudes are there given
Use them right and go to heaven. What are they which are but nine?
Nine Muses, like the heaven's nine spheres,
With sacred tunes entice our ears.
What are they which are but ten?
Ten statutes God to Moses gave
Which, kept or broke, do spill or save.
What are they which are but eleven?
Eleven thousand virgins did partake
And suffered death for Jesus' sake. What are they which are but twelve?
Twelve are attending on God's son;
Twelve make our creed. The Dial's done.

 An awful phone-photo, I know, but the "calling bird" in the navy shirt is my nephew Kazmer.

It was lovely to get a new take on a Christmas song which I previously despised.  Now, it was not as lovely as hearing and seeing those little boys perform; I would watch them do just about anything.  But, it was much lovelier than witnessing not one but two barfers at this morning's dress rehearsal.  Seriously, everyone: Sanitize your kids-- that is not the kind of Christmas gift you want.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Allow Me to Anticipate

I got my first email advertising an after-Christmas sale.  Ugh.  I know it's a common complaint-- with school supplies going into stores in July and Halloween decorations being set up before school starts and Christmas lights getting strung before Halloween-- but, really, with this, of all holidays, could we please celebrate the blessed birth before we're zooming on to the next thing?

Yes, I start Christmas shopping on Black Friday (OK, sometimes in August...) and, yes, we put up our Christmas tree shortly after the hunter-gatherer stomps through the woods and cuts it down over Thanksgiving.  However, even this Ms. Impatient recognizes and honors the season of Advent and the value of time, the importance of waiting.

Recently, one of my children asked me why there's no Christmas tree up at church.  A week or so earlier, another had commented on the lack of Christmas hymns (truly, they were on the radio in early November) as in, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel AGAIN?!"  It was the perfect opportunity for me to explain about the church year, when it begins, what the season of Advent entails, and especially that the Christmas season-- at least according to our church calendar-- BEGINS with CHRISTMAS.

I like how every kid gets to a stage where they want to discuss the pink candle and what it means.  I love how that is an excellent time to talk about rejoicing in eager anticipation and how we mark that Gaudete Sunday, or the THIRD SUNDAY, in Advent (I liken it to the "seventh-inning stretch") and not the fourth Sunday, as all kids seem to think, which is "sliding into home."

My husband just turned and asked me when Christmas is; when I replied that Christmas Eve is on Monday, he got a really panicked look on his face.  I understand that feeling, too.  Even our nine-year-old commented in the car, "I just can't believe how fast this time is going!"  When a nine-year-old thinks that way, the days must be speeding by.  There's hardly a moment to eagerly anticipate... but there is so much to eagerly anticipate... that we must prepare our hearts to receive His coming glory.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.
(from Philippians 4:4–6, Psalm 85:1)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

From a Distance

You know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover... but I am certain people are thinking plenty of interesting things about Krinkeland every time they pass this way.  I actually kind of like the kinds of things you can tell about our family just by looking at the outside of our house.
Children live here.  Granted, they are not artistic enough to build good-looking snowmen or dedicated enough to see through to the end any snowman project... but, still, they've left their mark on the joint.

We are too lazy, or too busy, or both to thoroughly clear away snow from the drive... and we are obviously not mechanics... or we might be redneck hoarders with the extra vehicle parked out front.

We have our God on... Well, not Jesus-- yet.  But we're clearly waiting...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grandma's Little Ornaments

While searching for other photos on my phone, I came across these gems, taken a couple weeks ago, as all the cousins decorated Grandma's "kid" Christmas tree in the basement.  Well, it was all the grandkids, except for Amanda and Elisabeth... one was at a party with a friend and the other was laying next to me because she was just beginning to get sick.  The absence of the two oldest, girl cousins could explain why Grandma later said she couldn't imagine what had gone on during the decorating party because the tree looked as though someone(s) had literally chucked handfuls of ornaments in its general direction.

I really love this one of "E.T." 

By the way, her cast is off and her foot is all healed, so she is once again running laps around everyone (never really stopped.)

Another Grandpa in our lives-- Todd's dad-- is back in the hospital with double pneumonia.  We stayed to visit only a few minutes, as the cultures are not yet back to know what kind of pneumonia this is... and we don't want to catch it... but more because he was clearly exhausted and feeling so poorly.  We would be so appreciative if you would continue to keep Ardy, and his wife Carol, in your prayers.

All the Pretty, Little Houses

The kids each got to build their own gingerbread houses at Grandma's and Grandpa's. Can you tell whose is whose? (I only guessed two correctly; Dad got one.)


Saturday, December 15, 2012

What to Say...

Along with the rest of the country, Todd and I cannot comprehend the horrific mass school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.  We are praying for the victims and their families, and all who are affected by this violence.  It is unconscionable.  I have had to turn away from the news coverage-- unheard of for a former news producer-- but, as a mother, I cannot take it.

Todd and I lay in bed this morning, discussing what to tell our children.  At present, we have decided to tell them nothing.  There is simply no value in scaring them.  If we cannot wrap our brains around what has happened, how can we expect our children to be able to do so?

The kids have not seen the television news coverage, because we do not have it on when they are around or awake.  It also just happened to be an especially busy day at school on Friday,,, between assemblies, a special luncheon, projects in kindergarten, newspaper reporting in third grade and more, I just don't think the administrators were aware of what was happening at another elementary school across the country; if they had been, at a Catholic school, everyone would have stopped to pray.  Certainly.

I am not saying we will be able to shield them all from this-- or anything-- forever.  And, if and when their friends or others begin to talk about it, I will be here to reassure their safety and to answer their questions as best I can.  In the meantime, a friend posted these tips from a well-known mommy blog regarding how to talk to your children when tragedy strikes.  I am not saying these tips are absolute for every child, every family, every situation, but they make a lot of sense to me.

Where Did the Week Go?

I apologize for the lack of posts this week... there's just so much going on this time of year, and no time with which to write about it! Here are some quick updates:
*Todd's dad is home from the hospital, but still struggling with symptoms related to the head trauma he suffered in a fall last weekend. Thank you for continuing to keep Ardy in your prayers.
*Todd's stepdad, Harlan, got some great news this week when a scheduled scan showed no sign of cancer in his body. He also continues to make great strides in his recovery from hernia surgery. I am sure as the cancer-free months continue to stack up behind him, the more confident Harlan feels about all that is ahead.
*Jones is still chasing his tail.
*Amanda, Elisabeth and Benjamin had an awesome Christmas program at school... I will work on posting video soon.
*Those three are also taking part this weekend in a fundraising holiday concert for SOAR Regional Arts, the start-up community theater organization founded in part by my sister and BIL  There is another show tomorrow afternoon. Come if you are able!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'm Thinking of Something...

While riding in the car, the children decided to entertain themselves by playing "I'm Thinking of Something." Clearly, the best thing about driving a minivan full of kids is just being able to listen to their exchanges:

Madeline: "I'm thinking of a color that is the same color as a purple flower."

Madeline: "I'm thinking of a color that's the color of ice cream."
Elisabeth: "White."
Madeline: "No... and it's mint chip and chocolate and Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches."
Amanda: "Strawberry?"
Madeline: "No, I said ice cream sandwiches!"
Benjamin: "And cookie dough?"
Madeline: "Yes."
Elisabeth: "We give up."
Madeline: "Black and white!"

Benjamin: "I'm thinking of an animal that's like a big, black monkey."
Amanda: "Gorilla."
Benjamin: "Right! How did you know?"
Amanda: "Well, a gorilla is pretty much the only, big, black monkey there is, except it's not actually a monkey at all. It's an ape."
Benjamin: "Oh."

Madeline: "I'm thinking of a tall animal that is yellow and has a long, long, long neck. And it is a giraffe."

Mom: "My turn-- I'm thinking of an animal you will never guess, because this is a really hard one: It's a long, thin, rodent-like animal with a long tail. And it swims in the lake and it eats crayfish and sometimes people make expensive fur coats out of it."
Amanda: "Capybara?"
Mom: "No. Capybara?! I would never play capybara."
(lots more guesses)
Elisabeth: "Ferret?"
Benjamin: "Weasel?"
Mom: "No, but you are very close. It is like a weasel."
Amanda: Mink!"
Mom: "Yes. Very good."
Amanda: "My turn-- I'm thinking of an animal that is the largest rodent in the world..."
Mom: "Capybara."

Madeline: "I'm thinking of a place that has a black-and-white sign."
Amanda: "That auto parts store over there?"
Madeline: "Nope."
Elisabeth: "That restaurant?"
Madeline: "Nope."
(lots more guesses)
Madeline: "No! It has a black-and-white sign and there's just one slide."
Mom: "Oh, I know! Creative Kidstuff!"
Madeline: "Yesss!"
Elisabeth: "Mom knows everything."

Elisabeth: "I'm thinking of a number between one and 30."
Mom: "23."
Elisabeth: "Awww, how did you guess it right away?"
Mom: "Because I know 23 is your favorite number."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Papa Prayers

We have a mixed bag of prayers-- some in thanksgiving, others in petition-- for Todd's dad and stepdad today. Todd's stepdad, Harlan, had a hefty roster of medical appointments today, and came out with wonderful results. Not only is he healing well from his hernia surgery, but his CT scan was cancer-clear! Yip, yip, yippee! I know he and Connie thank you, as we all do, for your ongoing support and love. You can continue to follow Harlan's recovery and return to full health on his CaringBridge site, here. Meanwhile, Todd's father remains hospitalized, under watch in the intensive care unit, as his brain works to heal from a hard, outdoor fall that caused bleeding in two areas of his brain. Todd and Lisa visited again today, along with, of course, Ardy's wife Carol. Ardy's condition seems about the same as yesterday... he is alert and talkative, but still in considerable pain and is suffering noticable symptoms from the trauma. Thank you for keeping in your prayers Ardy and his healing.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snow Dog

This dog loves the snow. LOVES it! Even in the cold and blowing, he cannot get enough of playing in the snow. The kids have been pretty good about taking Jones out in the snow, giving him rides on their sleds and such. However, it can be a lot to charge the big ones with watching and caring for a dog AND a three-year-old, so, eventually, Jonesy gets banished to the warm house with Mommy.
We had to make him a little perch so he could watch the kids playing outside in the snow.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Church of Krinkeland

We tried our best to make it to church this morning. We really did.

The snow began just before midnight around here, and, by the time Todd and I roused after a night of lots of coughing and poor sleeping, we had at least six or seven inches on the ground, and it was still falling, rapidly.  The children were out rolling around in the white stuff before 8 a.m.-- and were loving it.

Since they were all raring to go, I addressed our snow removal foreman, using the dangerous combination of wifely manipulation and Catholic guilt.  Now, keep in mind that my husband has been literally in bed with influenza since Tuesday, and, much as he wanted to, he did not feel well enough to attend last night's birthday dinner for our dear friend Lisa.  But, this morning, I deemed him healthy enough to get outside and clear the driveway of a half-foot of wet, heavy snow because I wanted to go to church.

I do not know how to run the snowblower.  Todd was not interested in teaching me.  I made about two passes, if that, across the front porch with a shovel before ruling out that option.  But my barb about "You know if it was a Monday and you had to get to work, you'd get this driveway cleared" got to Todd, and he bundled up and set out.

Two hours after he began, the driveway was cleared enough to at least attempt a trip into town, and mass was half over.  Todd also came into the house ready to drop.  And the snow was continuing to pile up right behind him.

As I calculated the impossibility of making it to church this morning, I mainly had to kick myself that I didn't think when I came home last night to leave my car out, up at the top of the road or in the short, flat driveway of the cabin next door.  Then, I thought about how the children and I had been to mass the previous day, to celebrate the holy day, and how we also all attended the mid-week mass at their school.  I knew there would have to be a today-only special plan.

I am not making excuses or justifying our absence in the pew.  Or, maybe I am.  That Catholic guilt does run deep.  I can count on one hand the number of times my family ever missed Sunday mass while we were growing up-- so it had to be for a darn good reason.  And it should be.

Going to church is so enjoyable.  (Well, going to church with kids maybe not so much, but...)  I always feel a great calm sitting in the presence of the Lord, and am uplifted to be celebrating with like-minded believers within our faith community.  I think it's a great foundation for our children and I love, love, love that it's something we share as a family every week.  Depending on work schedule and family makeup, I have had periods of time in my life when I've gone to church every day, and those have been really good times.

I told the children the snow and Daddy's sickness were preventing us from making it to mass, so we would have our own service here at home for the second week of Advent.  Amanda and Elisabeth got right to work, while Daddy and Benjamin took off their wet-with-melted-snow pants and curled up on the couch, and I prayed I hadn't set back my husband's recovery by sending him out into the elements.  Madeline and Jones really didn't know what to think about any of this.

Libby chose all the hymns, and led us in the singing of those hymns.  Amanda used her bible and my lector's workbook to find today's scripture readings.  The girls also got out their daily devotional book and chose to read part of a picture book on the story of Jesus, since "Advent is about getting ready for His birth."

We all gathered in front of the fire place, lit two candles for Advent (and two other decorative ones, because if one Krinke kid gets to play with fire, ALL Krinke kids must play with fire) and began our service.  The older girls led us in word and song; we talked about what was chosen and why; and we discussed what the verses taught us.  We all took turns sharing our prayer intentions-- it was so lovely that each of the four children prayed for Daddy to get better, and they also had their own sentiments to share.  I let it go on and on, calling a stop to the prayers only when Madeline prayed for "Santa to bring me more and more presents."  Then, we said the Lord's Prayer and adjourned to the lunch table.  (Well, in-between there was a lot of candle blowing-out and relighting so others could blow out.)

It was all just really nice.

Todd and I got to exchange grins when one of the children came up with an appropriate, new idea or shared a thought that was particularly astute.  I didn't get too bent out of shape about how anyone was dressed for "church," though I did have to put down my foot when Underwear Boy made an appearance.  Even Jones got to be present at our service.

Now, no worries-- I have no intention of starting the Church of Krinkeland.  This is not the inaugural post of a cult leader.  In no way did we suggest to the children that this would be a regular thing or that it was not important to make it to mass, if at all possible.  But this was our own way to worship, and I cannot believe my God would be displeased.

Friday, December 7, 2012


This time of the year, from Advent through the Christmas season, is a time of tradition.  For all of us, there are family gatherings, parties, decorating and shopping, holiday programs, and more.  The focus is on the Christ child, but there are many ways to hit that mark.

Each morning, the kids go to the Advent calendars and look to the Elves on the Shelves.  The school-aged peeps are rehearsing for their Christmas concerts.  We've been shopping and wrapping, wrapping and shopping.  I spent a lovely evening at my MIL's church, attending a Christmas tea and hearing from an inspirational speaker, along with my MIL, my SIL and my mom.

And this week we started another fun way to focus on the season... it's another of those things I had just forgotten for too long... something I love and love to share with the kids, just as my parents did with me.  It's the book "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson.

Only one of my kids has already heard the story-- read to her class by a teacher.  For the others, it is new, and entertaining... the lesson will hit them later.  It's one way I love to learn the Christmas story.

The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain and set fire to Fred Shoemaker's old broken-down toolhouse.

The toolhouse burned right down to the ground, and I think that surprised the Herdmans. They set fire to things all the time, but that was the first time they managed to burn down a whole building.

I guess it was an accident. I don't suppose they woke up that morning and said to one another, "Let's go burn down Fred Shoemaker's toolhouse" ... but maybe they did. After all, it was a Saturday, and not much going on.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Father of All Illness

My kid has been sick, so I have been grouchy about having to stay home and play nurse.  But now that my husband is ill, the Lord has revealed to me true suffering.

Todd has influenza (type A, which is bad, apparently.)  He is truly sick: fever, headache, body aches, sore throat and this violent cough.  He has slept away pretty much the past two days, and he really is not any better.  Todd did have a flu vaccine this fall, and right now is not feeling as though that was worth it.  We know of a couple other families that are also sick with flu, so it is apparently going around.

It does no good to tell Todd something like that, however.  You know how there's that sort of woman who acts as though she is the only female in the history of humankind to ever be pregnant?  That is exactly what Todd is like as a sick person.  He came home from the clinic, flopped onto the couch and announced, "Well, here it is-- the first time in my life I have ever been infected with a serious disease."  He then proceeded to Google "influenza A" on his phone to find evidence to refute my eye-rolling at his declaration of a "serious disease."

I have had to reassure the children that no, Daddy is NOT dying, at least not of influenza... and I have had to threaten to lock Todd in his room so he will stop spewing his flu germs all over the house.  I have also warned him that if I contract influenza from him, he will have to take another week off of work because I will be just as sick as he is.  And I plan to let everyone know it.

The bring spot-- proof Daddy is loved and cared for even if he has a crappy nurse-- the kids are making lots and lots of cards:
Please pray for Todd to get better soon... and for his life to not be further endangered (by me.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mommy Madeline

I am not the fluffy, warm, gentle, sweet, nurturing kind of mother.  But you already knew that, didn't you?  Even though I am cool with that and comfortable with my different kinds of mommy skills, I do sometimes worry that I am not modeling for my girls, in particular, how to "mother" in the loveliest sense of the word.  Well, my fears were assuaged as this unfolded right next to me on the couch:
(Yep, in case you can't see, that's Baby Jones being coddled.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Do you know when I really notice how quickly time passes?  It's when I buy milk.

I reach into the cooler, pull out a jug, and look at the number stamped near the neck.  It's a necessary habit for someone who lives in a small town and shops at a mom-and-pop shop.  Sometimes the milk has been sitting in the refrigerator for a while; sometimes, a new shipment has arrived and the milk will be good for weeks.

When I consider the date, I often think, "Wow, are we nearing that spot on the calendar already?"  Or, sometimes, I think about everything that will happen, all that must be done before the date stamped on the carton.

It's so true what every person older than me advises: Time just passes more quickly the older you get.  My kids are so excited for Christmas, opening each door of the Advent calendar and wishing the days away.  I remember being like that-- kind of... sort of... not really... not as much as I would like.  Now, I just stare wildly and ask, "It's December ALREADY?!"

And it's not just December... not just a couple jugs of milk... it's life.

Some days may feel as though they are passing with the most excruciating slowness, as when I am trapped at home with a sick child whose only desire is to sit on top of me while I have no choice but to breathe in her virus-laden air.  (The fact that she is currently marching around me in circles, toting an electric guitar and screaming "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" is what I would call evidence of a return to health.)  But, when you put those days-- even the slow days, especially the slow days-- end-to-end, they make up years that speed by in blurry streaks.

I just have to shake my head and ask, "When?  How?" when I see a scene like this:

Yes, that is my 10-year-old, video-calling her grandfather to get help with her pre-algebra homework.  Never mind the fact that they live only 10 miles apart and I probably could have arranged to get them together the "old-fashioned way."  She thinks the technology is cool, and I think it's cool they both know how to use it.  But the scene stuns me because of where that time went:

MY 10-year-old, is video-calling her grandfather to get help with her pre-algebra homework.
*I have a 10-year-old.  That makes me the mother.
*She has a grandfather.  That guy is supposed to be my dad.
*Normal, non-Trekkie people like us can video chat, on a Tuesday, in the toy room.
*She is learning pre-algebra.  This is a near-impossibility because she was just born... and I'm not even sure how that happened, because shouldn't that make me a teenage mother?

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Home with a View

I looked out the window at one point this afternoon and saw a boat on the lake.  A boat.  On the lake.  On December 3.  In Minnesota.  That's why I love this state and the people in it.

It was a pretty beautiful day, with sunshine and temps in the 50s... but it was a beautiful day to hang Christmas lights on the house, or to walk the dog-- but a water cruise?!

Unfortunately, I spent the day playing nurse to a feverish nine-year-old.  We did not play outside or really do anything else fun, except decorate the house for Christmas.

But, when I looked out back and saw that boat on the water, I couldn't help but smile and shake my head.  It reminded me of the many reasons I love living here.  The other day, I was in the yard with the dog and he was watching a huge flock of birds on the lake.  Amongst them were eight swans.  Beautiful.  It was hard to get a photo with my phone camera, especially as they kept floating away from me.  Still, who wouldn't like seeing swans float by their house?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Advice for the Boy

Often, it seems as though most of my motherhood priorities and concerns are focused on Raising Girls.  That is partly because I have three daughters to one son; it is also because girls usually squawk louder to get the attention they want and need; and, it is because people constantly tell me, "Raising boys is easy compared to raising girls," and so some part of my brain must assume it will just happen.

I do hate to generalize and stereotype... and I do figure I must be learning something about raising children of both genders... and I do like to stop talking before I put my foot in my mouth.  For example, I was recently talking to this lovely couple who was expecting their third child.  They already had two little girls and did not know the gender of the one on the way.  As someone who has never "rooted" for one gender or the other, I was playfully discussing with them the benefits of having either a baby girl or a baby boy.  I said, "I had two girls, too, and when my third child came along, I had no idea what I would do with a boy!  Well, of course, maybe that has had too much of an impact on him-- Benjamin is not exactly a Man's Boy.  But I think that might be what happens when you hang out with two or three sisters all the time."  The man replied, "Oh, well, I have six older sisters and I am the only boy.  I still think I'm pretty manly."  Yikes.

So, when I came upon this post from a friend this evening, I thought, this is just the kind of thing I should take to heart, and share:
I just think this is an amazing list! - Corey

1. Play a sport. It will teach you how to win honorably, lose gracefully, respect authority, work with others, manage your time and stay out of trouble. And maybe even throw or catch.

2. You will set the tone for the sexual relationship, so don't take something away from her that you can't give back.

3. Use careful aim when you pee. Somebody's got to clean that up, you know.

4. Save money when you're young because you're going to need it some day.

5. Allow me to introduce you to the dishwasher, oven, washing machine, iron, vacuum, mop and broom. Now please go use them.

6. Pray and be a spiritual leader.

7. Don't ever be a bully and don't ever start a fight, but if some idiot clocks you, please defend yourself.

8. Your knowledge and education is something that nobody can take away from you.

9. Treat women kindly. Forever is a long time to live alone and it's even longer to live with somebody who hates your guts.

10. Take pride in your appearance.

11. Be strong and tender at the same time.

12. A woman can do everything that you can do. This includes her having a successful career and you changing diapers at 3 A.M. Mutual respect is the key to a good relationship.

13. "Yes ma'am" and "yes sir" still go a long way.

14. The reason that they're called "private parts" is because they're "private". Please do not scratch them in public.

15. Peer pressure is a scary thing. Be a good leader and others will follow.

16. Bringing her flowers for no reason is always a good idea.

17. Be patriotic.

18. Potty humor isn't the only thing that's humorous.

19. Please choose your spouse wisely. My daughter-in-law will be the gatekeeper for me spending time with you and my grandchildren.

20. Remember to call your mother because I might be missing you.
1. Play a sport. It will teach you how to win honorably, lose gracefully, respect authority, work with others, manage your time and stay out of trouble. And maybe even throw or catch.

2. You will set the tone for the sexual relationship, so don't take away something from her that you can't give back.
3. Use careful aim when you pee. Somebody has to clean that up, you know.

4. Save money when you're young because you're going to need it some day.

5. Allow me to introduce you to the dishwasher, oven, washing machine, iron, vacuum, mop and broom. Now please go use them.

6. Pray and be a spiritual leader.

7. Don't ever be a bully and don't ever start a fight, but if some idiot clocks you, please defend yourself.

8. Your knowledge and education is something that nobody can take away from you.

9. Treat women kindly. Forever is a long time to live alone and it's even longer to live with somebody who hates your guts.

10. Take pride in your appearance.

11. Be strong and tender at the same time.

12. A woman can do everything that you can do. This includes her having a successful career and you changing diapers at 3 a.m. Mutual respect is the key to a good relationship.

13. "Yes, ma'am" and "Yes, sir" still go a long way.

14. The reason that they're called "private parts" is because they're "private". Please do not scratch them in public.

15. Peer pressure is a scary thing. Be a good leader and others will follow.

16. Bringing her flowers for no reason is always a good idea.

17. Be patriotic.

18. Potty humor isn't the only thing that's humorous.

19. Please choose your spouse wisely. My daughter-in-law will be the gatekeeper for me spending time with you and my grandchildren.

20. Remember to call your mother because I might be missing you.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What She Feels Like

Madeline has started something interesting of late.  I find it equal parts fascinating, frightening and sweet.  In certain situations, her whole demeanor changes in a dramatic way, as she falls to the ground and just lays there, or she begins sobbing, or she slumps her shoulders and turns her face to the wall.  Then, when I notice and ask what is the matter, Maddy says, "I just don't feel like myself."

I have never heard anyone utter this statement, much less a three-year-old.  It seems so ambiguous... yet self-aware... yet vague... yet specific. 

The first time Madeline said, "I just don't feel like myself," and sighed and rolled back onto her tummy, I was certain she must be getting sick.  I mean, why else would she say that?  When you are ill, you are not like yourself, I think.

However, now that she has uttered the phrase on a couple more occasions, I have been able to observe the circumstances, and I am growing more confident that when Madeline says "I just don't feel like myself," what she means is, "I am not happy."  More specifically, it is her three-year-old way of saying, "I am not happy because things are not going my way."

Kids say weird stuff all the time, so I am amused that this is another of weird phrases in the playbook of this particular weird kid.  I do find it sweet that Madeline says this, because it means to me she is generally happy: happy is when Maddy feels like herself.  It fascinates me that is my three-year-old's overall outlook on life, one of happiness.  But it also frightens me that she is so able to verbalize her emotional state, and that it apparently turns on a dime.  I cannot imagine the teenage years with a girl who "just doesn't feel like (her)self."

Fortunately, at this age, Maddy seems to quickly and easily switch back into "feeling like (her)self."  She was certainly all smiles at this evening's Night in Bethlehem at Grandma's church.  It is always a fun night of history, activities and entertainment-- a great way to kick off the Advent season.