Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I do not know what it says about the strength or style of our parenting, or attitudes from society at large, or the developmental stages of our youngsters, but this is fascinating-- ALL four children agree, without a doubt, in all circumstances, Jerry is always good and right, and Tom is always bad and wrong. The cat is the perpetrator and the mouse is the victim. Why?
Monday, April 29, 2013
Sunday, April 28, 2013
The weather heated up and so did our family schedule!
Friday evening, Amanda and Elisabeth had their first soft all practice. It had been delayed due to snow, cold, more snow, and wet cold. Then, suddenly, Friday it was warm enough that they wanted to practice in shorts and t-shirts!
The dawn of Saturday took my two youngest right to the lakeshore, where they tried to quad-handedly (and unsuccessfully) cause ice-out by pitching landscaping rocks toward the melting sheet of ice. The day unfolded into full-on spring cleaning, from a thrift store donation run to window washing. Then, we got cleaned up ourselves and saw the amazing and talented godson-nephew-cousin Solomon in his musical theater debut as the adorable Baby Elephant Bird in his daddy's high school's production of "Seussical the Musical."
Today brought the long-awaited family birthday celebration for Krinkeland's newest and cutest four-year-old. Madeline received some much-craved attention, along with some super-cute gifts from all those who know and love her best. There was outside play and inside play and play all around... until it was time to pack up and take Elisabeth to her first dance competition.
My father put it best: "Wow, this is a whole world I never knew existed." Yep. I have many posts worth of material. For tonight, however, I will just report that Libby's team received platinum scores for both routines they performed, jazz and tap. I understand that is good. And, Libby loved every minute of it.
It was the kind of weekend where, upon reflection, in addition to feeling tired, I feel oh, so fortunate. I am grateful my children have so much family around to shower them with time, attention, affection and gifts. I am thankful my children are excited to go wherever, whenever to support their siblings. I feel indulged that we can afford to pay for these activities for our children.
We are blessed.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
1. It was created here in the U.S. after I was out of high school. Also, I never really would have been "taken" to work by either of my parents, since they were both teachers and it was already my "job" to be a student at the very same workplace.
2. I gave up my career as a journalist for my vocation as a mother upon the birth of my first child, so I have never had a place to take a child to work, though I have offered for the kids to visit my "workplace" and fold laundry, empty the dishwasher, make grocery lists, and the like, but no one has ever taken me up on it.
Anyway, if you really want to know the history, here is a link to cut-and-paste:
For the first time I can recall, Todd's company hosted an official Take Our Kids to Work Day event. Daddy was excited about what he and his coworkers were planning. Considering all the hours Todd puts in at work, and how passionate he is about what he does, it wasn't the worst idea. Still, as a child of teachers, I am not crazy about my kids missing school for any reason. Then, on the other hand, what Todd's company does is interesting and there are many educational aspects to it. So, after consulting the principal and having some exchanges with teachers regarding assignments and follow-up, I consented.
Dad and his three school-aged kids were up bright and early. There had to be a discussion about casual, but presentable, dress. Todd asked if I could drive the kids to his workplace later, so he could get some actual work done, but I shot down that idea. Then, they were off to work.
All three stayed with Daddy all day. The employees had set up various activities, stations and experiments, including: making name badges, mock job interviews, and lots of other questionable and dangerous things that should probably stay unmentioned. I hear there are photos, but I have yet to see them. So, I will just include statements from various "working" members of Krinkeland on this special day. You decide who said what:
"I interviewed for four jobs, and I got hired for them all!"
"I got hired in the D&R department."
"I think we should play 'Pin the Tail on the Investor.'"
"I was hoping we would order Chinese for lunch, but it was pizza."
"It was weird pizza."
"Daddy helped me make this part and then we dipped it in this stuff. Then, we baked it at, like, 1000 degrees. But Dad did that part."
"Tony was my favorite at work." (Dad: "There is no 'Tony' at work.")
"I touched a dead lady's arm. Her fingers were all crinkly."
"I should have worn boxer shorts to work."
"Sorry we were late for piano lessons, but it is kind of hard to get three kids in the car at the same time to go somewhere."
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
It is Journalism 101-- or Life 101-- people. ALWAYS assume your microphone is on. Always assume someone can hear you. Never utter words for which you may later have to apologize. Even though it was a "rookie mistake," this sort of error breaks decency standards and unwittingly violates audiences. Some lessons must be learned the hard way. He deserved to be canned.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Rather than dwell on the swift passage of time and the ache of not having a babe in my arms, I will instead share four things I love about Madeline Kate:
1. I love that she makes up and sings her own birthday song-- because none of us could do it right.
2. I love that she still has funny ways of saying lots of words, like "pantake" and "manky."
3. I love that she joyously opened each gift and even more enthusiastically hugged the giver before moving on to the next one.
4. I love that Madeline lights up a room with her smile and her giggle, with her sparkling eyes searching for mischief, with her unique and bold sense of style, with her magnetic personality that makes it so impossible for any of us-- especially Mom-- to let go.
Happy, happy birthday, Madeline Kate! Jesus loves you, and Mommy does, too.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
On Friday, my parents took my three older children and my two oldest nephews-- all the cousins who played the winter basketball season-- to see a show (game) of the Harlem Globetrotters. Since the game would go late into the evening, Grandma and Grandpa said they would take the kids home with them for the night. Well, when the preschool set caught wind of these plans, they were not having them. So, I suggested Oliver, who is almost five, come to our house, along with his one-year-old brother Elias, to have a special sleepover with cousin Madeline. Bingo.
That boy was so excited. He also took the sleepover thing really seriously. Oli's suitcase was packed, including sleeping bag, stuffed panda, and toothbrush-in-Ziploc. The boys accompanied me to the store for snacks and supper. Shortly thereafter, Eli went to bed like a little champ, but the "older" cousins were just getting warmed up.
They were so excited and so sweet, I just couldn't crack down on them. There was a lot of fort-making and bed-jumping going on. And those two did consume a lot of snacks. Finally, close to 11:00, I said Maddy and Oli did need to go to sleep. So, they did.
The next morning, Oliver was dressing himself and making breakfast suggestions and packing up his suitcase-- though he let me know he and his cousin had big playtime plans before he would be ready to return to his parents. Though the event was nothing special, I did do my best to fulfill all requests. And these little guests are welcome anytime!
It's a similar situation living in a house. We have been here only six years, and, even with four children and a dog, the home is not worn out-- it is just in serious need of refreshment. When we built and moved into this house, it was under seriously dramatic and traumatic circumstances: the real estate market was tanking; I found out I was pregnant and eventually gave birth; construction happened through a long, cold, windy winter on the lake; Todd was the general contractor and also wore the hats of many subs, all while trying to juggle his sole-income real job; two little girls needed our constant attention and care... So, when we did have the opportunity to move in to this house-- half-finished and undecorated-- we did.
The funny thing is-- similar traumatic and dramatic circumstances followed us into the house, because, it turns out, that is just life. So, there is still much of our house that is undone, style-free, in need of a new look. In this long, cold winter and spring, I am beginning-- with help-- to take on little projects.
Todd and I are not big fans of change as far as our living spaces go. We buy furniture to fit a certain space and never rearrange it. We hardly ever buy new furniture because it's such a trying task. We have been known to buy a new something decorative for a wall, only to bring it home, hang it up, and decide we better liked what was previously there. We do have similar tastes, but not much style sense. I've told the story so many times it's worn out-- about how Todd pored over paint samples for days, only to select Navajo White, the official blah of cookie-cutter contractors everywhere.
Thankfully, I have a number of friends with excellent senses of style and design. One, in particular, who comes by her skills both naturally and professionally, never volunteers how badly our home is in need of design help, but comes willingly when asked to give suggestions. Also thankfully, my father likes to paint and does an excellent (and free!) job.
First up: the den. All we did was change the wall color and the placement of the kids' portraits... But I think it makes such a difference! Even our 10-year-old furniture, with some hand-me-downs and occasional sale finds thrown in, still works. With an unlimited money and time budget, I would add the crown molding and that coffered ceiling I covet, but, for now, it's good.
Sometimes, you just need a fresh perspective.
Monday, April 15, 2013
25 Things Not To Say To Grieving Parent
Due to the level of trauma, individual fear, lack of social understanding and society’s phobia about and denial of death, most people do not know how to support another human being in grief. Parental bereavement is a life experience that cannot be conceptualized without first hand exposure. Therefore, friends, family, coworkers and others comforting the bereaved parent are at a significant disadvantage in knowing how to effectively support their loss. Although there is no right comment to articulate to the bereaved parent, it is well known what comments are damaging to those who are suffering this life changing devastation.
The following is a listing of some of the most common statements expressed to bereaved parents, that, unbeknown to the supporter, are extremely distressing for that bereaved parent to hear.
1. Time heals all wounds. (or time will heal you)
The death of a child leaves a permanent hole in a parent’s heart and it takes a life time to learn to live with the hole and without their child. As alcoholics/addicts are never considered “recovered,” neither are bereaved parents.
2. There must be a reason he/she died so young, so early, suddenly, etc.
That may be true but the unbelievable pain will not allow a parent to contemplate that possibility and life seems beyond reason at this point.
3. Everything happens for a reason.
Again, this is true from a spiritual perspective but a parent cannot think at this level until much further in the grieving process.
4. He/she is in a better place.
On a spiritual level this is true but from a parent’s perspective, in early grief, their pain says their child needs to be with them.
5. God needed him/her.
6. He/she was needed in heaven.
7. God had bigger plans for him/her.
8. You should be happy he/she is with God.
And for some reason I (the parent) didn’t?
9. God takes only the good ones, the best, the special ones, the pretty ones, the best ones, etc.
Even sideway compliments are hurtful when the pain of loss is so excruciating.
10. God needed another angel.
Our suffering will not allow parents to think beyond the pain.
11. It’s God’s will.
Grieving parents may not be able to compartmentalize this theory at this point and may be experiencing anger at God for creating this situation.
12. God won’t give us more than we can handle.
This pain is not comparable to any other life experience and not only do others not understand but the bereaved parent is unsure as to whether they will be able to handle this level of pain.
13. You’ll get over it.
A child’s death is something a parent never “gets over.” One only learns to live with the pain and live differently.
14. You’ll be back to your old self soon.
A parent who has experienced the death of a child will never be the same as they were before that loss. A parent changes in every conceivable way and parts of their previous life dies with the child.
15. He/she wouldn’t want you to be sad.
If one has not experienced the death of a child there is no way to understand what a parent feels. Further, no one knows what a deceased child would want for their parent.
16. It’s not like he/she was your only child.
17. You still have other children.
18. You can still have more children.
Children are not interchangeable. We love our children individually and each is not replaceable.
19. This too shall pass.
No, it will not. It will take a life time to move through this grief.
20. You need to move on.
The speaker has no idea of the magnitude of the loss. Grief is a process and one needs to address their entire being: spiritually, emotionally, behaviorally, cognitively, physiologically, socially, relationally, etc.
21. You will be able to move on and teach others about your pain.
Although this may be true in the future, it is difficult to imagine not feeling this pain and doing anything else with it in early grief.
22. Don’t let this consume you.
Grief over the death of a child does consume a parent and it seems like a very long time before a parent feels in control of their life again.
23. Do you still miss him/her?
This was their child and they have to live the rest of their lives without him/her. As long as they are gone, they will miss them.
24. This will make you stronger.
Bereaved parents don’t want to be stronger. They want their child back.
25. I know how you feel; I lost my grandmother, uncle, mother/father, and pet.
Parental grief cannot be compared to any other relationship loss. The inexperienced cannot understand that the parent loses not only their child and that relationship but also a major part of themselves.
1. Say the child’s name.
2. Say “I’m sorry.”
3. Give unexpected gifts to the family, to the other children, offer to run errands, shop, take kids to school, bring food, and demonstrate to the family that you care with your actions.
4. Call the parents to give them someone to talk to.
5. Don’t compare your loss as it does not compare to the loss of a child.
6. Say “there are no words for me to say to you.”
7. Say “I cannot imagine what you must be feeling.”
8. Be silent and listen to the parent.
9. Research support groups and give this information to the bereaved parents.
10. Remember the child and mention them at holidays, family gatherings, their birthday, their death date and other occasions.
11. Create ways to memorialize/honor the child. (Plant a tree, have a balloon release, plan a meal honoring the child, donate to a cause, create a scrapbook or art project, create a tradition about/for the child, email the parent when you have a memory about the child.)
Parental grief does not “go away” or “get better,” it just changes over time. Remember the above and you will become a positive part of a parent’s grief journey and not an invalidating memory during the worst time in their life.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Thursday, April 11, 2013
As I looked out across the probably-never-going-to-thaw lake, I tried to remember last year's ice-out date... because I was certain it was really early in April. Turns out I didn't blog about last year's ice-out date. There were plenty of April photos showing green grass and kids playing outside without snow boots. So, I went back another year. There, I found a few complaints about the cold spring, including this one.
Some things never change.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
If you read this blog with any regularity, you've probably noticed I am very inconsistent when it comes to honoring the birthdays of those I love. Sometimes, people get big, long, gushy posts... sometimes, they get little shout-outs... sometimes, I ignore their special days completely, but that does not mean they are any less important to me.
This is a tribute to the Birthday Woman and her past week on the planet.
In five days' time, my sister has endured the worst. I am not talking about the kind of week when you get laid off from your job or you have to put down your dog or your home goes into foreclosure or you find out one of your parents has ALS or your husband runs off with your best friend. I am talking about something more devastating than all that other stuff put together.
I wish I knew what to say to her. I wish I could "fix" it. I wish I could take away her pain. But, I can't, and Ellen knows I can't. She probably wishes I would just go away-- but I can't do that, either.
Even with a broken heart, Ellen has endured. She will continue to persevere, with a deep faith, unwavering strength, gentle grace, and even a bit of humor. In the worst of all times, she smiled at me (could have been gas.) Through tears, she thanked others for helping her. She looked beyond herself, expressing concern for her husband and for her boys.
My sister has a trust in the Lord that does not waver. It stuns me. It inspires me. It pushes me to dig more deeply, share more openly, pray more passionately. Ellen's faith is with her in her darkest hours, and I know it will bring her to brighter days.
Here is to a glorious year ahead, one where we cling to our precious memories as we make new ones.
Happy birthday to my sister (and Ted's,) Terry's wife, Noel's daughter, Ted's daughter, Gua's granddaughter, Kazmer's mommy, Solomon's mommy, Oliver's mommy, Elias's mommy, and Michael's mommy! Jesus loves you, and I do, too.
Monday, April 8, 2013
The boys did tell me after the incident that they could not really be expected to watch the baby while "Plants vs. Zombies" was on the Xbox. Silly me.
What really struck me, though, was supper time. I am used to feeding a fairly large family-- I do have four kids of my own, after all. So, if I know how much to make my four kids, the addition of four kids should mean double the food, shouldn't it? Wrong! My sister has warned me these boys eat, and, I can attest, THESE BOYS EAT.
Between seven children (one of mine was at dance class) we went through: a full bag of chicken fries, a bag of frozen peas, two quart-sized jars of fruit, eight dinner rolls, half a loaf of pumpkin bread, and a half-gallon of milk. Four of the children also had cups of the soup I made for the adults, along with a roll of crackers. The littlest one sat in his high chair for nearly an hour-and-a-half. He consumed all of his chicken and all of Madeline's.
The eating was impressive.
I am not envious of my sister's grocery bills... But she must get a lot of satisfaction out of everyone so enthusiastically eating whatever she cooks. I mean, chicken fries and peas is not gourmet, but I will feed my nephews any time, especially when they eat like that!
Sunday, April 7, 2013
This is the kind of thing that happens in my world, all the time. I do not know what I am doing wrong, raising these kids. At the least, I cannot figure out why no one warned me of the perils of encouraging children to be honest, compassionate and intuitive.
The three-year-old was occupying herself with crayons in church this morning, coloring very nicely and quietly by herself. Then, she tugged on my sleeve and insisted on proudly interpreting her drawing:
"See this person? That's you, Mommy." So sweet-- I had big eyes and a wide smile and hair and everything. "Now, this guy is Daddy. He's crying because he has to marry you."
Friday, April 5, 2013
Ellen's story is here, and, before you read it, I must warn-- her eloquence belies her grief: http://thebeaudrybeat.blogspot.com/2013/04/hard-day.html
Please pray for comfort and peace. And, may your thoughts be with the family as the prepare for delivery, and say "hello" and "goodbye" to their little one. The coming days, weeks, and months will be hard, so hard, but they will see them through, with God's grace and your support.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
In the exactly one month since Amanda turned 11, she has needed all new uniform pants and blue jeans (and, though we restocked the closet, I still catch her trying to wear the too-short ones); has needed new tennis shoes because her current ones are too-small and falling apart; has been registered for the babysitting course at the hospital, which was surprisingly expensive; and has needed a new prescription for eyeglasses, when her current glasses are only eight months old! And now... NOW... she wants contact lenses, too! We haven't even made that consultation appointment with the orthodontist, yet, but I am sure that will follow next week's dental check-up.
Once that babysitter's certification goes through, I am thinking about letting Amanda work off the cost of those contacts by helping me herd the siblings. If this is the price tag on 11, I cannot even imagine what 16 will bring.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Even after a professional, live demonstration, a thorough read-through of the printed directions, and repeated consultations with the MIL, a seasoned Tupperware director, The following video is what actually taught me how to use my Tupperware can opener. Unfortunately, I also now have the permanent visual in my mind, and, if you choose to watch it, you will, too: http://youtu.be/8PBMuYWHx_U.
Warning! This is vulgar and offensive. (And funny.)