Sunday, March 31, 2013
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
1. hard boil eggs in the oven: This is super-simple with much less mess than the traditional method. Place a medium-large egg in each cup of a muffin tin. Bake at 325 degrees for 28 minutes. Take out of the oven and immerse in ice bath, as usual. I tried this and the eggs are cooked perfectly and very easy to peel.
2. dye hard-boiled eggs with Kool-Aid: I had read about this one and wasn't sure, so I waited till my cousin tried it and said it worked. Just dissolve one envelope regular, unsweetened Kool-Aid in one cup of warm water and set eggs to soak. The colors are bright and the smell is so much more tolerable than traditional dye pellets dissolved in vinegar. Plus, I think Kool-Aid stains are easier than regular dye stains to remove from the clothing of my over-zealous-decorator children. Yellow (lemonade) does not work well unless mixed with a bit of orange or other color.
You can thank me by making some egg salad with lots of crunchy veggie bits, chilling it properly, and bringing it over for lunch. You're welcome.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
With the kids off school this week, snow still on the ground, and no sunny vacation destination in sight, I am trying to come up with some fun ways for us to all spend some time together. Yesterday, we made the southward trek to visit my 97-year-old grandmother, something and someone I have seriously neglected this long winter. Today, I took three of my children and two of my nephews to the Science Museum.
My family has an annual membership to the museum, which is something we have tried to utilize more, even though it is a long drive and a full day's activity for us. My nephews had not yet been to the museum, so it was doubly fun to have the chance to introduce them! I had my rear in gear for once and landed us on the museum's doorstep when it opened at 9:30 a.m. That was the best move of the day, as the kids pretty much had full access to each and every exhibit for at least the first hour of the morning. By 11 a.m., when my troupe was already ready for lunch, families were waiting in line 45 minutes just to enter the museum.
There were many amusing moments of the day, including:
*all the children having a heated discussion over which form of matter snow takes; then, whether Amanda's shirt was also a solid
*one of the museum volunteers guiding our group through a fossil demonstration and divulging one of the samples was "fossilized poop"
*my kids trying to explain the Omni-Theater to the boys before we entered
*Elisabeth, Kazmer and Benjamin taking part in a tangram puzzle race and Ben winning
*Libby and Kaz conducting a Cell Lab experiment while the others looked on, and arguing with the volunteer about how to correctly compose a slide of cheek cells; then, placing the slide in totally the wrong place on the microscope and wondering why they couldn't see anything
*Solomon standing before the mummy exhibit, looking for a long time, and then asking me, "But, where's the mummy?"
*all of them asking to stop for ice cream on the way home, but then declaring in the doorway to Culver's, "Wow, those chicken strips smell good!" and eating an entire second lunch in the middle of the afternoon!
I consider it a true blessing to be able to give the kids these fun, learning experiences. Now, that doesn't mean I'm some wacky science nerd (read: not my mother) and that's why it's also a blessing that these children have each other. I could turn them loose on an exhibit and read my book! Happy Spring Break!
Sunday, March 24, 2013
I am obviously way behind and am not going to get to everything tonight. Here are some of the things I have been meaning to write about:
*the kids' pre-Holy Week activities at school
*North Dakota's personhood amendment
*the Sisters' Spectacular and Surprising Spa Saturday
But, today, about today.
Palm Sunday is the day we usually celebrate Easter with Todd's mom, stepfather and sister. We had a lovely, laid-back kind of day (well, as laid-back as we could be with 180 hard-boiled eggs awaiting color! Yes, insanity runs deep in the gene pool.) We visited Grandma and Grandpa's church for a lovely Palm Sunday service, complete with a meaningful message, great music, anointing and blessings, and, naturally, palms. Then, it was back to Grandma's for good food and drinks, and fun family time together. The kids enjoyed baskets full of toys and treats. We played competitive games of 500 and Clue. And, of course, we ate, ate, ATE.
What a marvelous kick-off to Holy Week. I am really looking forward to what this week will hold. Please keep in prayer:
*my friend Kristen who is entering the Catholic Church this week
*Jesica, the orphan we sponsor in Tanzania
*my parents, sister and I as we embark on a day trip tomorrow to visit my grandma, with eight children in tow
*our new Pope Francis
Oh, yeah, and congratulate my parents: today is their 41st wedding anniversary. Crazy kids in love! Wow!
Thursday, March 21, 2013
She wanted to wear a nightgown, but then was concerned she would be cold. I suggested she could wear pajama pants under her nightie. "That's a great idea, Mommy!" Maddy said. I pulled the nightgown over head and Maddy gushed, "Ooh, this nightie is so warm! I love it!" Then, she stepped into a pair of bottoms and sighed, "I wish this nightie came with bottoms, so they would match." I explained that nightgowns do not generally come with pants, because the lack of pants is what defines the nightie as such. "Oh, that's right, Mommy! Good idea!" Maddy said. Of the non-matching bottoms, Madeline said, "Ooh, these pants are sooo soft! They're just perfect!"
Then, she hugged me tightly around the neck and hopped up on her bed. Standing at the foot of her bed, Maddy raised her outstretched arms and yelled, "I am perfect! Perfecto!" Then, she flopped down, crawled under the covers and wriggled around. "This bed is SO comfy! My blankies are so warm and soft and perfect! Now, I'm kickin' my feet. Know why I'm kickin' my feet? 'Cuz I'm so excited!"
Next, we read the same book we've read for every bedtime and nap time for the past week, and Madeline giggled as I read something funny on each page, though she knew full well what came next, and, when we got to the end, she joyfully reexplained the plot (as though it might have gone over my head.) Then, Maddy asked again for clarification, "You mean, I'm the only one going to bed?" I nodded. "That's wonderful!"
She stopped me again during prayers, asking to "God bless more peoples, all my families." Then, she snuggled under the covers and gave a few more leg flutters, contentedly bidding me good night.
All I kept thinking was, How much longer will she be like this? When will she figure out that everything is not "perfect?" At what point will I not be able to solve her problems so simply and so absolutely? Madeline's older siblings no longer have such a Rainbow Brite outlook, so I know some of this will fade, even vanish, soon.
For now, I cling to it-- not only for the way Madeline feels, but for the way her observations, exclamations and reactions make me feel.
Today is the eighth anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day, which was first recognized by the United Nations last year. Find out more through this link: http://www.worlddownsyndromeday.org/.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out this is a day to acknowledge, honor and celebrate all those people who have Down Syndrome-- and to recognize that's just part of who they are. The day has special meaning to our little church and school community this year because one of our families recently welcomed Evelyn, and are loving up everything about her, including Down Syndrome. I have not actually met Evelyn, because that baby always seems to be covered up against the cold... But, if you want to know just how special, amazing and perfect she is, just ask her parents or her older siblings!
All people are asked to mark World Down Syndrome Day by wearing striped socks, loud or mismatched socks, or even extra socks. Get it? How about the date-- it was not chosen randomly. Come on, scientists, you can figure it out!
It is estimated 90% of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome before birth are lost to abortion. That is a lot of little souls missing from this world. Celebrate and pray.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ,
For all the benefits and blessings which you have given me,
For all the pains and insults which you have borne for me.
Merciful Friend, Brother and Redeemer,
May I know you more clearly,
Love you more dearly,
And follow you more nearly,
Day by day.
--St. Richard of Chichester (ca. 1197-1253)
And to think, all along, I had been giving the credit to Stephen Schwartz:
*Part of the morning was spent jointly amongst the siblings, creating Barbie mayhem in the toy room. It all seemed very structured, with a lot of characters, a lot of outfits, and a lot of rules. Soon, I heard Elisabeth call out, "So, are you saying 'yes' to this dress?"
*When I suggested they go play outside, I got excuses ranging from "but all my snow clothes are at school" to "but we're not supposed to play outside on a snow day!"
*Libby organized a fashion show, with she and Madeline as models, Amanda as director, and Benjamin, Jones and I as judges. Signs billing the event were taped up around the house and read, "There will be at least five acts." The way the nine-year-old posed was frightening; even more frightening was the way the six-year-old seriously turned to me and said, "That was definitely a 10."
*I couldn't figure out why Amanda and Libby's cupcakes were wet; finally, I had to explain there is no need to coat the tins with baking spray if you are also using cupcake papers.
*On the heels of the cupcake creations, Ben begged to get out the dreaded snow cone maker. We did, and Maddy stuck her head under the machine when it was on, yelling, "It's having a snowball fight with me!" when the shavings struck her face. Later, she told me, "I don't want mine in a comb; I want it in a dish."
*Amanda told me at dinner, "Mom, I always think of you as Elfaba." (That may quite possibly be the greatest compliment within a music theater family.)
Friday, March 15, 2013
In addition to meeting the super-friendly staff and getting a tour of the bakery-cafe, the girls got to score and bake their own baguettes and decorate sugar cookies. They actually learned quite a bit about baking and the baking business, and surprised the managers with how much they already knew! In the process, we worked up quite an appetite, so we stayed for supper and took home some baked goods for the post-sleepover breakfast.
If you are looking for a different kind of party, or an outing for a scout troop or other group, I highly recommend this one. Included with the per child rate is a cookie and a drink, a coupon for a kid's meal for use on a future visit, and a $5 donation to charity.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Unless and until we preserve the right to life for every human being, from conception to natural death, none of us is safe. We must be as outraged by the death of every innocent child as we are by this precious loss. They are all precious.
Husband Accused Of Strangling Pregnant Wife To Death
March 11, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 36-year-old member of the Texas Army National Guard has been charged with strangling and killing his wife and their unborn child, according to authorities.
The Dakota County Attorney charged Roger Earl Holland with two counts of second-degree murder on Monday.
According to the charges, police were dispatched to the couple’s Apple Valley home on Thursday, March 7 on a report of a female in cardiac arrest. Upon arrival, Holland met officers yelling, “She’s in here, please help.”
Officers found Holland’s wife, Margorie Holland, at the bottom of the stairs, unconscious, not breathing and cold. Margorie Holland was also 15 weeks pregnant.
She was transported to Fairview Ridges Hospital, where she and her unborn child later died, according to police.
“This is an extremely sad and tragic event for a mother and her unborn child to die, allegedly, at the hands of her husband and child’s father,” said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom.
Officers spoke with Holland at the hospital, who said they had a good relationship, no financial problems and were currently in the National Guard. He said they both had been deployed overseas previously.
Holland and his wife had been married for about three years and moved into their apartment in December. He told police she had accidentally scratched him in an episode of cramping and then asked him to go to Taco Bell to get her food. He said she then texted, saying she wanted McDonald’s, so he headed there. Holland said when he came home, she was face down on the floor and unresponsive.
Investigators searched the cell phone records of Holland and his wife and found hundreds of texts, including a number of texts that had been deleted regarding money issues, arguments and plans for a divorce.
In the arguments, Margorie Holland said she didn’t trust her husband, that he lied to her and that she was concerned about their financial situation, according to the charges.
In a text on March 1, Margorie Holland said, “Like I hate my life, I hate the man I married, and I wish I could erase the past 3 years.”
The charges state the last text argument found on her phone was the night before she died.
The complaint detailed that surveillance video at the apartment showed Holland didn’t leave his apartment until 9:34 a.m. Thursday morning. Rogers told police he was out getting breakfast and texting his wife. Those texts were sent at 9:29 a.m. and 9:32 a.m.
Officers also found a data entry that may have been related to an internet search on Holland’s phone from March 6, which stated, “if you pass out and fall down a flight of stairs can you break your neck, can your neck be broken if you are.”
An officer examined Margorie Holland at the hospital and found several bruises, bumps and abrasions all over her body. A medical examiner confirmed the superior horns of the thyroid cartilage in her neck were broken, which is consistent with strangulation, not falling down the stairs. The medical examiner also said she had hemorrhaging in her neck muscles, which is also consistent with strangulation.
“The medical exam found numerous injuries on Margorie’s body, including the head, ankles and feet,” Backstrom said.
But according to Holland’s attorneys Eric Nelson and Marsh Halberg this was not a couple in trouble.
“We believe this was a happy couple,” said Marsh Halberg of Halberg Defense.
Halberg said they were planning on moving back to Texas and they were looking forward to the future.
“It appears, to us, this was a couple that had a lot of positive things going forward, despite what you might see in the complaint,” Halberg said.
Holland, and his family, appeared in court on Monday. His family had little to say as they left the courthouse. Holland’s bail was set at $1 million. A grand jury will also look at the case to consider additional charges of premeditated first degree murder.
Margorie’s visitation will be held Wednesday at the Boldt Funeral Home from 4 to 7 p.m., and her funeral services will take place at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church at 10 a.m. Both locations are in Faribault.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
I received in a chain email this wonderful prayer, written by Pope Leo XIII, that reminds us of the Pope's role as the visible symbol of the unity of the Church. In uniting ourselves in prayer with the Holy Father, we also unite ourselves to his celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in which Christ, the High Priest Who sacrificed Himself for the salvation of mankind, is made present to us once more. As Christians, we are called to pray for one another, and we are called in a special way to pray for those whom God has chosen to shepherd His flock:
Prayer for the Pope
O Lord, we are the millions of believers, humbly kneeling at Thy feet and begging Thee to preserve, defend and save the Sovereign Pontiff for many years. He is the Father of the great fellowship of souls and our Father as well. On this day, as on every other day, he is praying for us also, and is offering unto Thee with holy fervor the sacred Victim of love and peace.
Wherefore, O Lord, turn Thyself toward us with eyes of pity; for we are now, as it were, forgetful of ourselves, and are praying above all for him. Do Thou unite our prayers with his and receive them into the bosom of Thine infinite mercy, as a sweet savor of active and fruitful charity, whereby the children are united in the Church to their Father. All that he asks of Thee this day, we too ask it of Thee in unison with him.
Whether he weeps or rejoices, whether he hopes or offers himself as a victim of charity for his people, we desire to be united with him; nay more, we desire that the cry of our hearts should be made one with his. Of Thy great mercy grant, O Lord, that not one of us may be far from his mind and his heart in the hour that he prays and offers unto Thee the Sacrifice of Thy blessed Son. At the moment when our venerable High Priest, holding in His hands the very Body of Jesus Christ, shall say to the people over the Chalice of benediction these words: "The peace of the Lord be with you always," grant, O Lord, that Thy sweet peace may come down upon our hearts and upon all the nations with new and manifest power.
I put off the ear piercing event for as long as seemed prudent... When I gave birth to girls, I was originally thinking 18. I cannot really explain my hang-up, as I was 11 when I had my ears pierced, and I lived. I know Amanda is responsible and capable. It just seemed, well, a permanent way to mar her perfect little body. But my sister-- her godmother-- actually gave me the best advice: If things do not go well, at any point, just take out the earrings and let the holes grow shut.
Amanda received the gift certificate for piercing for her birthday, but had to wait till she was done playing a Guy in the school musical. So, today was the day. She told everyone she knew what was happening, and invited a family entourage to witness the event. Now, Amanda looks just as beautiful as she did previously... But older.
I took a little video, too, which I cannot seem to embed in this post, but go to the link, because it's pretty cute: http://youtu.be/XXzzHmO_RQI.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
When I took my first nearly four-year-old in to meet with early childhood staff, her hair was neatly combed and she was wearing a beautiful outfit, probably one of this Gymboree gifts from Grandma, complete with matching socks and hair bows. I hovered and lingered, ready to explain away any "issue" that might arise. I held my breath when the teacher asked, "What is a spoon made of?" And exhaled audibly when Amanda replied, "Metal." The evaluator turned to me and smiled, saying "plastic" would also have been an acceptable response. Not in our house, I judged in my head. Later, Amanda got frustrated at her inability to replicate a block pyramid and cleared the table in one sweeping-arm tantrum. I scrambled to pick up the blocks, as though the teacher might not notice.
I told my first-born I was proud of her, but I was disappointed in myself-- dismayed she didn't get a "perfect score" and embarrassed she hadn't behaved like a perfect angel.
Nearly a decade later, with Child Number Four, things are different. I am different. I know better now kids are who they are.
Maddy went to her evaluation wearing mostly ketchup and chocolate custard, because we had a pre-game fueling at Culver's. In the waiting area, she announced all the puzzles were "too hard" and instead used my legs as uneven parallel bars to practice her flips. Maddy failed her vision test the first time through, closing her eyes and telling the tester, "I can't see anyfing!" I stifled a giggle.
I still never learned to coach my kids on the answers to those stumper questions that are at the end of every section, even though the questions never change from year to year. So, when Maddy was asked, "What is a window made of?" She replied, "Wood." And I thought she should have gotten at least partial credit. When asked, "Where is your ankle?" Madeline answered, "I have no idea." I silently cheered her, because, who really cares?
At the end of the evaluation, when I sat down to meet with the teacher and get Maddy's test results, the evaluator said, just as she had with each of my children, that my daughter had done beautifully. I said, "Of course she did. She's freaking awesome!"
And if she'd said anything different about my child–- I'd have told her there was something wrong with her test.
Monday, March 11, 2013
One headline is that our darling niece Lucia had unplanned surgery. She had a red bump on her eyelid that was causing some trouble and, following a visit to the specialist, it was decided to take care of things this very day. Lucia's parents report she did swimmingly, and I cannot wait to see her and squeeze her for myself.
Another surprise came off the school bus this afternoon. My son stormed into the house, yelling, "I have news! I have big news!" Indeed:
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Amanda, Elisabeth and Benjamin all had roles in this production, and it brought us great joy to see them shine on stage. These children are our stars! We could not be more proud of Amanda as Benny Southstreet, Libby as a tourist and Hot Box dancer, and Ben as a school kid and guy; we are also proud of Madeline, who permitted the child-rearing-by-committee which she has had no choice but to endure all these weeks.
Now, the sets are struck, the costumes are in the laundry, and it's on to all those other things I've been putting off in my life.
"It is brilliant going to the theatre and being forced to sit and listen and think about life. It can be almost a near-religious experience." --Emily Mortimer
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
She began yesterday telling me, "I need to go to the docker. You need to take me to the docker." It could be because Madeline has recently been more interested in doctors and clinics, as she gets dragged along pretty much whenever one of her siblings has an appointment. But, I think it has more to do with her craving attention. So, whenever she has raised her "docker" request, I try to take a few moments to sit with Maddy and give her what she needs.
However, just to be on the safe side, I do ask Madeline about her symptoms, "Why do you need me to take you to the doctor?" Maddy's replies:
"My froat hurts."
"My head hurts."
"My tummy hurts."
"My froat feels like it needs to see a docker."
"I need to take some froat medicine to make my tummy feel better."
"I have a broken heart."
Well, now, I do, too.
Monday, March 4, 2013
My first-born child changed my life in wild and unimaginable ways, and she continues to grow into a wildly imaginative person! Naturally, on this day, I have been reflecting on the years with her, but, particularly this year, this weekend-- since her birthday fell on the same day of the week as her birth day-- I have been reflecting upon her birth. Maybe I have previously blogged Amanda's Birth Story (but I am too lazy to go through the archives.)
As the weekend began, Todd and I were home, playing the Waiting Game. We watched Friday night television-- probably TLC, maybe "Trading Spaces," if memory serves. I sprawled on the floor, unable to get comfortable and watched my undulating baby belly. We half-joked the baby I would never come out, because I was already overdue and the baby was still so active.
After dozing for a few hours, I got up very early in the morning to go to work, because that's what I did in those days. Later that morning, halfway through a live, two-hour news show, my water broke. I dashed to the bathroom in a commercial break, but, since no contractions hit, I continued working and kept my mouth shut. After the show, a brief meeting and a little desk tidying (I would never go back, as it turned out) I left.
Todd and I filled the rest of the morning and early afternoon with puttering and preparations, finally heading to the hospital to start the labor augmentation process. It was a cold, quiet, low-key weekend and the nurses were excited to have some action. But we didn't bring much action. Labor and delivery with Amanda was long and slow, but her birth was nothing short of miraculous.
Amanda made me a mommy. She made Todd a daddy. She made grandparents, aunts and uncle out of a whole slew of people.
Now, more than a decade later, Amanda's presence in our lives makes us something greater every day. She is the best sort of person: good and kind, considerate and compassionate, interested in the world around her, funny, smart, talented, curious, warm and loving.
Can you tell I am proud to be her mom?
Saturday, March 2, 2013
This morning, I had 10 inches of my hair cut off. Just got sick of the long and needed a change, I guess. Plus, Amanda needed a short hair cut to fit the boy role she is playing in the musical, so it was kind of a show of solidarity. The best part was that the cut-off hair could be donated to Locks of Love!
Then, this afternoon, Benjamin got on the scale and tipped it at 40.0 pounds! That means his new, more calorie-dense diet is working! The goal is for him to gain a pound a month for the next six months, but, in three weeks, Ben has already gained 1 pound, 6 ounces! Overachiever.