Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dinner Table Daydream Dashed

A: "I wish we could go to Germany for three months."
Me: "What?!"
A: "Just move to Germany, and live there, temporarily, like, for three months."
Me: "What?!"
A: "It's just a daydream-- for our whole family to live in Germany for a while."
T: "Well we could..."
Me: "What?!"
E: "NO!"
A: "Calm down.  I was just thinking out loud."
E: "We CANNOT move to Germany!  You have to PAY EXTRA for KETCHUP there!"

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sudden Loss

In all the birthday busy-ness, I neglected to mention the death of a dear man.  Jim, a lake neighbor and dedicated volunteer at the kids' school, suddenly fell ill and died yesterday.  I could always count on him to compliment my singing voice in church, and to share glowing praise of Saints on Stage performances.  We are mourning the loss and know our community will miss his presence.  My condolences go out to his wife Pat, their children and grandchildren.

Monday, July 29, 2013

How I Spent My 39th Birthday

Because so many of you have been kind to ask, this is how I spent my 39th birthday:

As I do most mornings, I awoke before the others, went for a walk with my friend and walking partner, and pulled some weeds in my yard.  Upon my return, everyone was up and gathered in the living room to present me with homemade cards and bracelets, and this long begged-for gift-- a kayak!

The kids and I lazed around a bit, had breakfast and did some laundry, and then I went to my weekly prayer hour in the parish chapel.  Upon my return home, my mom called and said she was on her way with a delivery of Chinese food for lunch.  She did not come alone!  We were joined for lunch by my dad, my sister, my brother and sister-in-law, and ALL of my nephews and nieces.  They liked the kayak, too.

The lovely weather made for a nice takeout picnic on the deck.  (Oh, Madeline wasn't sitting and eating?  That's right, Madeline never sits and eats.)

Did I mention there was dessert?  Naturally, it was Dairy Queen cake.  And naturally, Mom had the decorator put on my age.

All that sugar, and things did get a little wild.

After everyone left, I launched my gift, and it was heaven on water!

It was so fun and so relaxing, and I really enjoyed having a kayak... But then I lost it to the next waiting customer.

Todd came home and said I could pick where we went for my birthday supper.  I picked Jimmy John's.  I really did.

Elisabeth complained she hates Jimmy John's and Benjamin dumped lemonade in his lap... But at least we had dinner entertainment.  (Note, Maddy, again, not sitting and not eating.  She never does.)

The others lobbied for Dairy Queen after supper, but, we still had DQ cake at home!  Plus, we had to get home before rain or darkness fell, because everyone else wanted to try what used to be my kayak.

As we wound down the evening, a friend stopped by, capping a day of phone calls, cards, text messages and Facebook posts.  She brought fresh flowers, because she is just the kind of friend who knows what another friend likes.

Happy birthday to me!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

On the Eve of My 39th Birthday

Dear Lord,

When (if) I wake up tomorrow, I will be 39 years old.  I know you already know this, just as you have counted every gray hair on my head.  I know this thanks to Facebook reminders.  I also have children who tell me things like, "Happy almost birthday!" And, "I can't wait till next day 'cuz it is your birfday an' I am going to make you a special breakfast with bacon and toast! And I made you a card but I lost it."  

Furthermore, I know my birthday is approaching because my children and husband keep reminding me not to enter the window-blocked, locked door of the wood shop, where my gift is reportedly hiding.    Dear, dear God, please let it not be alive.  Also, please let it not be the Vitamix 6300, though, after seeing how the mister was taken by the Costco pitchman's demonstration, we both know this is a futile plea.

I am not excited about my 39th birthday, or, as my earthly father phrases it, "the start of my 40th year."  Of course, he is also the person who says, "Given the alternative, I welcome another birthday!"  How's that for a ray of sunshine?  It's not as though I think 39 is ancient.  I mean, given the average life expectancy of an American woman, I hopefully still have some time.  Given my maternal grandmother's track record, I could be looking at another 58 years or more!  Yet, as my mother puts it, I am turning "the age that does not change."

My husband turned 40 last fall, and he still has his own teeth.  I do have lots of friends who are over 40, and they seem to be going about their daily activities with minimal assistance.  I also have many friends who are younger than I am.  I acknowledged a dear woman's birthday just a couple weeks ago, and she stuck out her tongue at me: "I don't want to be 38."  Some people just don't know how good they have it.

I vow to hold on to 39.  I hope it will be a wonderful year of personal growth, health and happiness.  If not, I will be grateful to live it, anyway.  I thank you, Lord, for the past year, and for all you have in store in the year ahead.  Help me to know You, to love You and to serve You with all my heart.  Also, help me to appear pleased with the Vitamix 6300.



Friday, July 26, 2013

Shop of Sadness

I stopped in at the florist's this morning, one of those errands I had been intending to check off my list all week. The shop was busy, which is not unusual for a Friday, but I was struck by how especially busy it was. There must have been five people working in the tiny shop; I didn't even know five people worked for the florist. As I made my way toward the counter, I was struck by something else: the owner, an acquaintance and parishioner at our same church, who is always loud, gregarious and large-gestured, was subdued, speaking quietly and closely with two customers, a man and a boy. I nodded as I passed but she did not even look up. At the counter, I told one of her assistants what I needed. As she turned to retrieve the proper paperwork, my eyes followed her, and then stopped at a large, stone statue of an angel whose arms were being filled with stems in beautiful pinks and whites.

Reality hit.

The owner and all the workers in the flower shop were making arrangements in memory of the 16-year-old sweetheart killed in a car crash this week. Her wake was this evening, with the funeral tomorrow. I think the man and boy carefully selecting each perfect rose were the girl's father and brother. As I awaited my order, I overheard the shop owner sharing tales of loveliness from the teen's kindergarten teacher and from others who had called or come in to order flowers to honor Emma.

I do not know Emma. I never met the girl. But I know many, many people who are hurting this week, reeling from the sudden, senseless loss of Emma. She must have been amazing... everyone says so. It's not that I think people would have said terrible things if they thought someone who had died was a terrible person-- but I think then they would just say nothing.

Saddest of all is the Mommy Me. A girl-- just a girl-- is gone from this earth. Yes, she is on to her heavenly home, and, if I truly live the faith I profess, I should be celebrating Emma's gain of eternal life. But I ache at the knowledge her mama misses her; her mama and her daddy most of all, but, by all accounts around these parts, everyone misses Emma. In that sadness, I offer the usual trite sentiments, but they are all I have.  I am praying for Emma, her family, her friends, and all who miss her.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Funny Guy

I read this book today. A bunch of my friends have talked about this guy, and, they're right-- he's funny. But you can decide for yourself:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dangerous Drives

It has been a dangerous couple days on highways here.  Though we did not know these victims personally, the losses are felt community-wide.  Please pray.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Dog's Life, Saved

The children talked me into buying a life jacket for the dog.  That was pretty much our entertainment for the day.

Carry-on Jones

Ducking for cover

Riding in style



Not swimming, just p*ssed

Snuggling with my other boy

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mother's Wisdom

Today I read "The Little Book of Mother Teresa" by Sangeel Duchane.  I cannot say I was shocked by anything I read, because details of her life and vocation are widely known.  However, every few pages or so the little volume highlighted quotations from Mother Teresa, and those did strike me as just... So... Right.  I started taking photos of my favorite quotes with my phone, so I would not forget.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


I worked part-time through high school and college as a lifeguard and swimming lessons instructor.  Though it had its drawbacks, as all jobs do, it really was a pretty good gig.  The dress code was Lycra and flip-flops, the schedule was never too strenuous, if I got hot I just jumped in the water and if I got cold I just got out.  Plus, I got paid better than my friends who flipped burgers or folded jeans for a paycheck.  Some days, I swear, I wish I had never let those certifications slide.  I could still be perched in a stand, blowing a whistle and barking the rules.

It's also nice to have the perks of being able to help my kids with their strokes and feeling comfortable watching them in the water.  But watching kids in the water is a full-time job.  I was reminded of that today.

In my years working at pools, I lost count of the number of times I pulled weak swimmers to safety.  A little one would tumble in from the side, wade out over her head or lose his grip on the edge.  Kid goes down, quickly and silently; kid gets pulled up, sputtering and splashing.  No big deal.  Happens all the time.

But today it was my kid.  And it shook me.

Todd was working on a house project, Madeline was sleeping, and Benjamin wanted to swim.  I pulled my lounge chair to the end of the dock and cracked my book, while he stalked minnows with his fishing net and tooled around in his inflatable raft.  Soon, Elisabeth and Amanda joined him in the water.  They were working really, really well together-- which is such an unusual thing in Krinkeland-- and, so, I was just dazzled listening and watching as the older sisters encouraged their brother to go deeper, jump farther, hold his breath longer.

The girls and Ben were "swimming" just off the side of the dock.  Ben was mostly practicing his front float, and Amanda was encouraging him to coordinate arm and leg motions into some semblance of the crawl stroke.  Libby really wanted Ben to keep jumping off the end of the dock without his life jacket.  (They had been doing this for a while, and then one sister or the other would help him back to the ladder.)  Both sisters turned and went ahead, climbing up the ladder out of the water.  Ben bobbed along behind them, or so I thought.

When it soon became evident that his face wasn't cleaning the surface of the water enough for Ben to get a clear breath, and his panicked eyes were staying open as he went back underwater, I jumped up.  "He's struggling!" I yelled.  My husband, who had also come to the end of the dock to watch the kids swim, leaned back and said, "Go get him!"  I don't think my husband would not have saved Ben-- heck, his arms were probably long enough he could have just reached from the platform and grabbed our son-- but I think he just froze and didn't know what to do.

I jumped in, fully clothed, and lifted Ben by his armpits.  He was coughing and crying, and I knew he was fine and I told him so.

It was all a matter of seconds and feet... But it was so, so scary.  The older sisters kept apologizing, "Sorry, Mom.  He said he could make it."  And we turned it into a lesson of How to Know When Someone is in Trouble/What to Do If You Are in Trouble.

All's well that ends well.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Full House, Full Heart

My weird children regularly use their hour of television time to watch reruns of the sitcom "Full House," which originally aired in prime time from the late 1980s until 1995.  I somewhat remember the program, but I do not recall being fully enamored by it-- maybe, as a high-school-college-aged girl, I really didn't hit the right demo.  I still don't really get why my children love it so... the story line of a dad raising his girls after his wife dies, with the help of his corny, comedian best friend and his hunky, rock band front man brother-in-law.

Yeah, even though I say I never really loved the show, I can objectively admit that actor John Stamos is a good-looking man.  It just is not something that can be argued.  What's more, through my work in the crisis pregnancy and pro-life arena, I have come to appreciate, even admire John Stamos for the work he does as the celebrity spokesperson for a fantastic organization called Project Cuddle.  Project Cuddle aims to save newborns from abandonment and place babies in adoptive homes, by assisting birth mothers, particularly those who may be hiding their pregnancies, in all matters and means possible.

What's more, I admire any person who does not take him- or herself too seriously.  So, when I saw this clip from "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon," I knew it was something both my daughters and I would appreciate.  It did not disappoint:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mini Medical Minds

Elisabeth had a doctor's appointment this morning. My newly certified, permanent babysitter was with Grandma and Grandpa; it was short notice to lean on family, as usual; and the appointment was at such an early time it seemed unwise to try to foist the younger siblings on a friend. So, I took everyone to the clinic, a decision I would unsurprisingly come to regret.

Two hours, two lab visits, a trip to radiology and a stop at the appointment desk for a return visit later, and we were on our way. I had, at my breaking point, called Grandma to the Rescue, so I can only assume things could have been even worse.

That said, while sequestered in the exam room, the Littles had one very amusing exchange:

M (pointing to the cotton ball under E's Band-Aid): "Oh no, Libby! It's a good thing we're at the doctor, because I think your stuffing is coming out!"

B: "No, silly! People don't have stuffing. We have tissue!"

M: "Yeah, right."

E: "No, really, Maddy, he's right."

M: "Ewww."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thinking & Hoping & Praying

I read some really good stuff from Mother Teresa today, but this always tops the list:

I don't have time for blogging much because I am busy praying.  Please join me in praying for:
*my FIL Harlan, and his caregiver my MIL Connie, as they settle into his new cancer treatment routine
*newborn Blaise, hospitalized with a fever
*newborn Daniel's mother Karla
*baby C
*Elisabeth, with ongoing upper GI concerns
*preborn Jackson and his mother Jessica
*Benjamin and his grandparents, on his sleepover week
*Kailee and Chase as they prepare for marriage

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Child's Review of the Church

One of our many weekend activities included attending the wedding of my cousin Andrew and his bride Maria at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

The children were very excited to attend and they had lots of questions.  It kind of surprised me, but then, they pointed out, even the oldest girls had only attended a couple weddings in their short lives.  But, then again, it totally makes sense because Todd and I are definitely way past the stage in life where all our friends are getting married.  Plus, it really isn't much of a mystery why when Todd and I are invited to weddings, most often our four, loud, sticky, mangy children are not necessarily included on the invitation.  So, it was very kind of the bride and groom to include them.

They were also very excited to visit the cathedral.  That part, I understood, and I started thinking it would probably be a good idea to take my kids to see big, beautiful, unique area churches.  Seems like a good idea, and a simple one.

I can tell you know, having attended the wedding-- which truly was a lovely affair-- the gleam had worn off for my small, spiritual sightseers.  After they ran up and down the front stairs 10 or 20 times, checked out the restrooms, and staked out seats amongst their cousins and grandparents, they were over it.

"Well, you finally got to see the cathedral; what did you think?" I asked Elisabeth.  She wrinkled her nose.  "Umm, not so great."  "What do you mean?" Todd interjected.  "This church is so beautiful-- it gives you an idea of what so many of the churches look like in Europe."  Libby cut him off, "Yeah, we'll, they didn't build this one with air conditioning, and it is way too echo-y."

Sorry, God.  I liked it.

Above all, congratulations to the happy couple, and best wishes as you begin your married life together!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dear Benny

My son is seven today.  It does not seem possible, and, yet, I know it must be true, mostly because he woke me at the crack of dawn by stage-whispering in my ear, "Mom, I'm seven!"  It was later in the morning, after opening this slime laboratory amongst his gifts, that I remembered to take a photo of the Birthday Boy.  As I snapped this one, he remarked, "But, Mom, you can't really see that I'm smiling behind this mask."

My boy makes me smile, makes everyone smile, with his mischievous grin and goofy giggle, his lame jokes and his tall tales.  Ben is a mama's boy and a little man rolled into one.  I love the dawn of each new year for the excitement of anticipating how he will grow.  So, I cannot wait to see what the next year will hold for Benjamin.  For the immediate future, however, it's all Legos, all the time.

Happy birthday, Benjamin Todd!  Jesus loves you, and Mommy does, too.

Friday, July 12, 2013


What used to be the site of a defunct bank, and then a long-vacant lot, is now a new city park, complete with splash pad!  And this was a beautiful morning to check it out!  All the space needs now is a good food truck... I will get right on that.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


A: "Mom, you didn't exactly marry Dad for his looks, did you?"

Me: "If you get busy and get all your chores done now, then we can all do something fun, like play a board game."
B: "Is that all you got, Mom?"

E: "I CAN'T clean up my room-- I don't feel ready!"

A: "Did Madeline take a nap in my bed?"
Me: "Yes."
A: "I thought so-- my softball trophy was tucked under the covers and all my Build-A-Bears are naked."

M (crying hysterically): "I just hate Libby, because she always tells the truth on me!"

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Attack Dog

The children excitedly called us outside this evening, to show us Jones' "natural talent" or Jonesy's "new skill we trained him to do."  Apparently, he chased out some chipmunks that had climbed up the rain gutter.  However, by the time Todd and I arrived, it was just a dog attacking a downspout:

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Thes Have It

I am working on an article this evening for our local newspaper, promoting the upcoming community theater production of "Fiddler on the Roof."  Due to both the backgrounds of the directors and the setting of the story, it is necessary to refer to Ukraine.  Or, is it the Ukraine?  That oh-so-helpful internet gave me my answer here.

However, this does not answer for me why it is that every Midwesterner I know (myself included) say "the Dairy Queen" at all times, but, with equal consistency, also speak only of "Burger King."

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Holiday Weekend

We are at the end of an absolutely glorious, long Independence Day weekend, celebrated in true Krinkeland style.  We had company every day, with plenty of good conversation and raucous laughter, lots of good food and cold drinks, boat cruises and tube rides, jumping on the water trampoline with its really fun launch and balance log, fishing, bonfires and more.  The weather was wonderful, and, when clouds finally rolled in this afternoon, we welcomed the opportunity to catch up on neglected errands.

If I am honest, I have long met the Fourth of July holiday with equal parts love and loathing. When I was a child, it seemed a fun day plunked in the middle of lots of fun, endless, summer days. Since my father's (and also, actually, my godfather's) birthday is on July 4, we never tired of the jokes about who the fireworks were really for.  As a young adult, I was typically working on the holiday, which never made me happy, but it was guaranteed to be either a dull and newsless day or an eventful rush of drownings, fireworks mishaps, and drunk driving tragedies.  When my parents moved to the lake, we had a beautiful, new place to celebrate the holiday, and we often invited friends out with us.

Then, we had our own children, and then we moved to the lake.  My parents were gracious enough to surrender hosting to us; it was just easier to stay put with our little kids.  Even though it is easier, it is still a lot of work, and I have always been grateful the day is for "just family" (and friends close enough to be called family) because they never have high expectations, and they always pitch in to help.

Two years ago over the Independence Day weekend, we were hit with waves of strong thunderstorms that caused considerable damage to our lakeside property.  Landscaping, lawn and beach washed away; the dock, boat and Jet Ski were all damaged; tree branches covered the yard.  Our faithful family swooped in to help, and the celebration was low-key that year because there was so much to repair.

It was seeing my father-in-law Harlan try to help that weekend that my whole outlook changed.  He was red-faced, moving slowly, taking long and frequent breaks, and he was silent, even for his quiet self. "He is not OK."  I thought it to myself, but I didn't know what to make of it.  I pulled aside my husband and told it to him.  Todd shrugged, which is Todd's response to pretty much everything.  I hissed it to my sister-in-law Lisa, who agreed, and said she'd been discussing it with her mom.

In the weeks that followed, there was a family road trip, with more troubling signs.  Doctor visits and tests were arranged.  Finally, about two months after Independence Day, he had a diagnosis: esophageal cancer.

The following July, last year, was a joyous time.  Harlan was doing well.  The surgery and treatment worked.  Everyone was together.  It was just HOT.

Now, to this Independence Day, where both my FILs are in health-changing positions: Todd's dad Ardy is getting along swimmingly, after some serious health problems that began plaguing him around the Christmas/New Year's holidays.  His doctor visits continue and his wife is a caregiver with a watchful eye.  They joined us for supper and a boat ride on the Fourth.  Meantime, Harlan is facing a new battle, with a metastasis of his cancer.  Treatment begins tomorrow, and we will all be there in spirit.  

The knowledge made this Independence Day celebration all the sweeter.  When parents and children and grandchildren and dear friends can all spend a day in leisurely love and laughter on the lake, it is a very good day indeed.

God bless America, my home, sweet, home!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Gloriously Independent

Happy Independence Day! Happy birthday, Dad! Happy Day-Krinkes-Get-In-Gear-For-Summer Day! It was a really glorious day.  Details on the 5th.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pre-Holiday Thanks

I am sitting out by the fire, watching smoulder the last of the brush I was charged with burning.  The sun has long set.  The children are wiped out, deeply sleeping through even the loud, random "booms" from random fireworks set off around the lake.  It has been a deliciously long and busy day, one in which I am thankful for so many things.

I am thankful for time spent with friends this morning, meeting new people, catching up with friends, celebrating birthdays, being entertained by so many children-- all at someone else's lake place.

I am thankful for parents who took kids to the movies, while I got a jump-start on the preparations for tomorrow's festivities.

I am thankful for a husband who always takes the longest and most difficult route, but who always gets it done eventually (and perfectly.)

(I mean-- REALLY-- where does he come up with this stuff?!)

I am thankful for a baby boy, born today to friends Steph and Ryan!

I am thankful that my sister's family got out of the house safely and authorities were able to take care of a gas leak without damage to person or property.

I am so thankful for family and friends who will spend the day with us tomorrow and who will (hopefully) not mind I am typing this list instead of scrubbing the bathroom floor.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Worries Are All Wet

I was driving home from a shift in the Birthight office, heavy of mind and heart... Not with one specific worry, but with the many concerns that come with the ebb and flow of life.  At a stoplight near a Christian-owned car dealership, I read this on the electronic billboard:

"Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:36)

That seems about right, I thought.

I continued to think and pray and hope and think.  By the time I arrived home, I still had no answers.  (That seems to happen to me a lot.)  I needed a hug, a peppermint bon bon ice cream cone, a vodka, and a nap... not necessarily in that order.  But my people were not in the house.  

This is where they were:

I started thinking, If July 2 is the first opportunity we have had this season for a family boat ride, then that's another problem right there.  And that, at least, is a problem about which I could do something.