Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Prayers for Healing in the New Year

My wish for the new year is for healing for this girl, and also for my FIL who began chemotherapy today.  While the Lord never promised life without suffering, it is such a helpless feeling to see loved ones suffer.  Praying for peace.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Down a Few Parts

I am sitting next to this princess right now, in a dark, quiet recovery room.  She is not smiling, anymore, but she would be really mad at her mom if I took and posted her photo right now.  She is mostly sleeping, sometimes whimpering from the pain, occasionally issuing a quiet demand, "Ice."

This morning, we came to Children's Hospital for Elisabeth to have surgery to remove her tonsils, her adenoids and a large portion of her uvula.  It was a procedure that had been discussed for some time, but it all came about rather quickly, after a re-consult with her ENT late last week and a surprise opening on the surgical schedule.  Libby has had a lot of minor medical issues on-and-off this year that have all added up to a pretty miserable time.  In the mix of other symptoms have been: repeated strep infections, tummy aches, snoring, mouth-breathing, and congestion... All pointed to this surgery as a necessity.

Libby is mad, and rightfully so, that we scheduled this, cutting into her Christmas vacation, and eating into the return to school and the start of musical rehearsal. We are hopeful once she recovers from surgery we will see her symptoms at bay... The surgeon said it might even be possible to cure her PPS: Pissy Personality Syndrome!

For now, we just want it get her pain under control and get her home.  Thank you for your ongoing prayers.  We feel the love.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

It's an Interesting Life

Disclaimer: This post is NOT a rip on my husband, the man I adore above all others.  It is simply a glimpse into my interesting life.

I'm no psychologist/psychiatrist (though I am a little psycho) but I am pretty sure I have this diagnosis in the bag: My husband has some form of obsessive compulsive disorder.  I learned about it from the movies.  He brushes his teeth for extended periods of time-- twice-- when he gets ready each morning.  He drives around the block to check to make sure the garage door closed.  He often calls me to check that the iron is unplugged.  That kind of thing.

But he is not that way with everything.  Wads of clothes on the bedroom floor bother him not.  The blankets line up unevenly if ever he makes the bed.  He is very comfortable piling dirty dishes on the counter, even as the dishwasher door directly under it sits open.  He seems oblivious or immune to many of the home improvement (home completion) projects around this joint.

Hey, we all got something... And I am oh-so-grateful he is not blogging about my "quirks."

Right now, though, he has just completed a little project where he added more shelving in the pantry.  Until today, the pantry has only held food (my preference and my organizational plan).  However, he purchased new cookware as a Christmas gift, and decided the pots should sit on shelves in the pantry instead of in the pots-and-pans drawer.  So, more shelves.

After putting the kids to bed, I came downstairs to keep him company while he finished this task.  I cannot really help, partly because the pantry only holds one person and partly because I cannot access his brain wavelengths to understand the method to his madness.  Yet, I begin to see what's going on here: the shelves are installed and he has unpacked the pots from their shipping box.  I believe he wants to wash them before he puts them on the shelves.  To do this, he must first empty the dish drainer in the sink of its clean dishes left to dry.

That's the next trouble: He HATES the way the cups and glasses are out away in the cupboard next to the pantry.  I do not disagree-- it's a wretched system... not by nature, but because the 11-year-old who typically empties the dishwasher refuses to follow the plan.  So, often, when someone opens the cupboard to get a cup, a tumbler tumbles out.  That's likely what led to this:

Now, things aren't only falling, he's throwing them... And swearing.  I'm sitting on the couch, watching.  It's all I can do.

Well, not all I can do.

I could get up and help.  But then he might throw cups at me... And swear at me.

When he's done, we'll have a beautifully organized drinking glass cupboard and pantry.   Yet, we will also still have a living room full of kayaks.

The disorder is funny that way.

I asked him earlier whether we might move out the monstrous Christmas gifts, and he looked at me as though I had just invited him to hike the Grand Canyon in suede chaps and a Marilyn Monroe wig, and responded, "Oh, no!  Not tonight!"  He definitely makes life interesting.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hitting the Trails, Hitting the Slopes

We have taken advantage of the beautiful weather the past two days and gotten outside-- on skis.

Yesterday, Todd took the three older kids cross-country skiing at a nearby park. He wanted their first adventure to be on groomed trails... But I think next time they will just head into the backyard and out onto the lake.  They all came home saying it was a lot of work and a lot of fun!  While they were gone, Madeline and I went outside, too-- a little sledding and a little shoveling.  I can handle winter when it's sunny and 37 degrees, and there's lots of fun snow!

Today, Todd said he would take the last nice day before the next cold snap blows in and go downhill skiing at the small resort not far from our home.  While he was on the phone making appointments for Amanda, Elisabeth and Benjamin at Ski School, the siblings were lobbying for the Little One to go, too. So, Todd took all four kids to their ski lessons, and I came up in time for lunch and a little instruction relief on the bunny hill.  It's amazing how exhausting it can be to coach a short person in the ways of the tow rope... Or to dodge the J-bar... Or to hike up the hill, run down the hill... Or to yell, "Make your pizza shape with your skis!" before a child plows into the line of skiers at the bottom of the hill.

Tomorrow, it is Mommy's agenda: putting away the Christmas piles.  Good times.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

On This Very Christmas Night

On this Christmas night, I rejoice in the joy, the wonder, the peace... and the glory of my comfortable bed! 

What an amazing couple of days it has been, and oh, so busy.  I have long since passed the age of When-Will-Christmas-Ever-Get-Here, and now find myself in the permanent time warp of How-Can-It-Be-Christmas-Already.  Still, most of what needed to get done got done, and I treasure the moments we have shared as a family.  

At church with Todd's family on Christmas Eve, we were reminded of all the names of God, and what it means to call on God as Emmanuel, Savior, and Lord.  Looking to the babe Jesus, the pastor asked for children's prayer requests from the congregation, and my child (not the one you might expect) shot her hand into the air and spoke into the microphone, "For all who have cancer."  After church, she told me, "I wanted to pray, 'For my grandpa who has cancer,' but I didn't want to embarrass him.'"

Back at Grandpa's and Grandma's for food, food, food and gifts, gifts, gifts, the littlest child squealed in delight over a visit from Santa and everything wonderful stuffed into his big bag.

Late Christmas Eve, I sat in front of the tree and marveled at its beauty-- something I had been meaning to do for a month.

And then Christmas morning spewed itself all over the living room.  We all marveled at the bounty of lovely gifts, and the fact that the big-ticket items were kayaks and ski goggles for outside play and family time.  No electronics this year.

Off to my parents' house for the big Christmas dinner and tons of fun with cousins.  Is there anything more precious than cozy Christmas pajamas?

The weather warmed, and, with all the new snow, it was also the perfect day to get outside and try the new sleds!  Santa bonus points!

Back home, unpacked and winding down, we received a message from our friend who, for a second year, has been unable to come home to the States for Christmas.  Please pray for Justin and his family, and forward on this information to anyone you believe may be able to help:

And, finally, like a true Christmas miracle, these guys went back to the North Pole.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Self-Evident Truth

This is a time of great anticipation, soon-to-be celebration about the wonderful, powerful, unknown, amazing birth.  In light of that fact, here is something I could have written, but it didn't:


There is no explanation.

Lots of Lights

The children had been begging to "go on a drive and see Christmas lights."  Last evening, we cruised around town, and spent some time slowly driving through a neighborhood where many homeowners traditionally light up for the holidays.  It was really nice (except when Madeline kept crying that she missed something.)

This evening, Grandma and Grandpa suggested we take a drive to a nearby town to see and hear the annual display one homeowner puts up, and times to music, for all to enjoy, and for the financial benefit of the local food shelf: www.clearwaterlights.org.  It was really something:

We stayed for nearly an hour, took video, and some of the kids got out of the car and walked around in the street in front of the display.  Finally, I said we really should be getting home, and Benjamin agreed he could use a bathroom... But Elisabeth exclaimed out the window, "I don't know why ANYONE would EVER want to leave this place!"

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

God is Good, All the Time

Much to post regarding Elisabeth's role as the "Spirit of Christmas Past" in the fourth grade production of "A Christmas Carol" and Madeline's performance in the preschool Christmas program.  For tonight, though I have two prayer requests:

First, please join me in offering a prayer of thanksgiving in honor of my SIL who today received a long overdue and well deserved promotion.  God is good!

Secondly, we ask prayers for my FIL and MIL, as the results of his latest PET scan are sucky at best.  You may get details and follows his story here: www.caringbridge.org/visit/harlanrosendahl.  May the Lord of Glory grant them grace and peace, along with the reminder that the product of love is, indeed, joy.  God is good.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

And a PART-ridge in a Pear Tree

All the Krinkeland children are body-part obsessed.  It has been this way for as long as I can remember.  Not a day goes by that conversations don't include words like "butt" and "boobs" and "penis" and "bee-gina."  Mooning and pantsing and crotch-grabbing goes on in this house.

I don't know why.  I blame my husband's gene pool... because I can.

I consider myself a pretty modest person, and I prefer not to see myself naked, so I sure don't want anyone else ogling my bits.  I definitely am not like the mom of one of my brother's friends who, while her kids were growing up, regularly walked around the house naked, and when my mother once asked her about the practice, she replied something about it being the best way to keep her boys not interested in girls.  Yeah, you will only catch me au naturale when I am actually in the shower, but, yes, the little peepers do occasionally find me there.

When the two older girls were four and almost three and the boy was a new baby, we had to move out of our old house before our new one was completed, so my parents lovingly took us in for a couple months.  One day, one of the girls walked in, unannounced, on my mother (her grandma) who was changing out of work clothes and into pajamas.  "Grandma!" the astute youngster exclaimed, "you and Mommy match!  You have the same FUR!"

So, maybe it's the age.

This evening, I had Madeline sit down and sign Christmas cards for her two preschool teachers to go with their gifts.  She willingly obliged, and even added artwork after she practiced signing her name:
Sweet, right?  I thought so, until I heard one of the older sisters ask who each person was in the picture, followed by, "What's THAT?!"

"Her pwivate pawt."

I'm not sure if I should narrate these for the teachers or not.  When Daddy saw the drawings, he thought the scribbles were beards.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Just the News I Needed

It's been a trying Monday at the start of a really full week, so I needed this little bit of "good" news about my vice:

Diet soda drinkers rejoice: Report says aspartame is not bad for you

To put it in perspective: A 150-pound woman could drink 20 12-ounce cans of diet soda a day without exceeding the safety threshold for the artificial sweetener.

(Niiice... I just make it under the threshold.)

Merry Christmas to me!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

More Sounds of the Season

Just because a proud mama with her own blog can, I am now going to post more clips from my kids' school Christmas program:

(Benjamin is the cutie in colorful argyle in the front row, right of center.)

(Elisabeth is the stunner in the white gown in the front row, left side.)

(Amanda is front and center in a black dress with a white print, and a little black sweater.)

Madeline's preschool program is coming up in a few days.  Now, that should be something!

Night of Wonder

We did not make lightly the decision to send our children to a Catholic school.  Truly-- my parents spent their careers as public educators; Todd isn't even Catholic; the public schools in our town have an excellent reputation.  And we visited a number of both public and parochial schools in the area before choosing a destination for our first-born school girl.

One moment I distinctly remember was when we attended the parent information meeting for prospective kindergartners at the public elementary school down the road.  As the principal and other administrators and teachers discussed the many fine points of the institution, one of them described the various programs and events that take place during each school year.  This included a "Winter Celebration" which would look at different cultures, beliefs and practices tied to the chilly season.  Todd and I both looked at each other in horror and mouthed, "NO CHRISTMAS PROGRAM?!"

That wasn't the only factor.. and was not the deciding one... but, this week, when I sat before the stage at my kids' religious school and took in their Christmas program in all its glory, I was so thankful.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Day Before the Day Began

Many days do not go as planned.  In fact, that's true for pretty much all days.  From the first piercing pitch, I pretty much knew today was going to be a disaster.

The smoke detectors in our home started going off at 2:28 a.m.   Since everything is hard-wired these days, when one goes, they ALL go.  We quickly figured out there was no fire, which was a darn good thing, because all the children were wandering around in circles, cupping their hands over their ears, half-naked.  Two shut themselves in a bathroom to try to escape the noise, and two others crawled into bed with me and put pillows over their heads.  NOT a solid escape plan.

Because all of the batteries had been recently changed following an annoying beeper in the basement, and because this happened to us once before, the home engineer quickly determined one of the detectors must be malfunctioning.  It didn't take the detective team of Benjamin and Mommy long to figure out which device it was (the flashing red light was the key) and the tallest guy in our house climbed up to reset the alarm.  Eventually, all was quiet, except for two little ones karate-chopping each other across the hall.

Just as most of the peeps drifted back to sleep, the alarms sounded again, at 3:20.   This time, he just ripped the thing out of the ceiling.  Good for peace and quiet; not good for a fire.

The littlest two could NOT settle down, so, soon after, their father stormed across the hall, stepping in pup piddle on the way. Guess Jones got a little freaked out by the smoke alarms.  Well, if kids cannot sleep through sounding smoke alarms, they do not fare much better with a carpet cleaning machine running in the hall outside their bedrooms.

Finally, finally, everyone was out sometime after 4:00.  Alarms for the daddy and the middle-schooler went off at 6:30.  Amanda begged to be driven to school-- which she rarely does-- and I figured it was as good a time as any to take on our charity donations.  "OK," I said, "but you have to bring in all the bags of toys and books because I am wearing Papa Smurf pajama pants... unless you want me to walk into your school wearing Papa Smurf pajama pants."

Before we left, I asked Amanda to take out the dog, so we would not have a repeat of the overnight mess. She took out Jones, and brought him back in, walking him directly through every muddy puddle in our heated garage.  Inside the house, she soon-- but not soon enough-- noticed the dog was making muddy paw tracks all over the floor (the very same floor I spent two hours scrubbing on my hands and knees the day before).  She chased after the dog, leaving her own trail of muddy shoe prints.  Then, she picked up Jones, and he made muddy prints all down her uniform khakis.

Then, she walked through the rest of the house, still wearing wet, dirty shoes, to change her pants.  I found her back downstairs, trying to wipe the dog's paws with Kleenex.  KLEENEX.

All this by 7 a.m.

I tell you, it beats the previous day, when I ran three errands wearing the size sticker down the leg of my new jeans... went into the gas station without my wallet... went back without my keys... and stood in a stupor while my four-year-old mailed 400 Christmas cards (ours and Birthright's) one at a time at the post office mail drop, oblivious to the six senior citizens in line for the box.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Unexpected Side Effect

Regarding ongoing medical issues surrounding some of my children, Elisabeth had a follow-up appointment with the allergist.  I don't even know what to say about all of it, because there are really more questions than answers, so, at this point, I will leave it at the headline: All of Libby's allergy tests were negative.  Yet, prior to testing, the doctor had prescribed a nasal spray that he believed would help Libby, and, alas, it has helped.  That led to the most interesting discussion from our time in the exam room:

Dr.: "So, what do you think of the new nasal spray?  Do you like it?  Has it helped you?"
L: (shrugs) "It's OK, I guess." (looks away)
M: "OK?  Just OK?! I'm not sure what game Libby is playing,  Doctor, but she LOVES the nasal spray.  She told me she began feeling its effects immediately.  She is feeling better, breathing better, and even says she doesn't feel as tired, anymore. The spray is the only medicine I do not have to remind Elisabeth to take."
D: "Libby, is your mom telling the truth?"
L: (nods)
D: "OK, Libby, I have an important question, then: Do you like the nasal spray because it makes you feel better after you use it, or do you like the nasal spray because it's fun to squirt it?"
L: (grins) "Both."

Now, why didn't I think of that?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rainbow Loom Special

E: "Mom, would you like this ring I made?"
M: "Wow, what a beautiful ring! Such pretty colors! You made this on your Rainbow Loom just for me? How special!"
E: "Nah. I made it for Amanda, but she said she didn't want it, so you can have it if you want. I did make a special one for Daddy."

Saturday, December 7, 2013

While Waiting for the Doctor

Dropping Shopping

I unexpectedly found myself with a couple of hours on my own this evening, and figured it would be a good time to cross off a few more items on the lengthy Christmas shopping list. Now home with a splitting headache, I obviously regret that decision.

At the first store, I overheard a dispute between a man and a women over which bulk package of batteries to buy. Ultimately, the woman put down her foot and insisted on the 32-pack of batteries because "there is no way, ever, in all time, we could go through 40 batteries."

Out in the parking lot, I was loading my purchases while trying not to stare at the two men parked next to me, who had two shopping carts and one of those flatbed trolleys all piled high with dozens and dozens of full-head Darth Vader masks. Finally, I jokingly asked, "So, just what are you going to do with all those heads?"  One of the men shot back icily, "Nothing-- if we can't get them to fit in the car."  They turned their backs before I could retort, "No, really, now, I HAVE to know whether this is some can't-miss party I should follow you, to, or if I should call the FBI and have someone run your plates."

The next store had only on-street parking, and it was full.  So, I circled the block and saw a couple getting into a truck. I pulled up behind them, put on my blinker, and waited.  A car driving the other direction then did a u-turn in the middle of the busy street and put his car in reverse in front of me, effectively blocking in the people who were trying to pull away from the curb and blocking out me.

I gave up and spent the next half-hour cruising parking lots, declaring each store too congested for me to enter.  With all this shopping drama going on in my own mind, it's amazing I accomplished anything; but, I still managed to spend a boatload.  I have now decided I am no longer going to be able to shop in December... or on weekends... or in public.

The kids begged me all day today to be able to wrap presents.  Tomorrow, they will get their wish-- I will have them wrapping until they're begging to quit wrapping.  I just pray they don't ask me to take them shopping.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Benny Boy, the Science Guy

So often, I wonder how my boy's brain works and exactly what is going on in there.  Benjamin is an explorer, a scientist, an engineer-- I love it, but it drives me crazy.  He is always asking me, "How does that work, Mom?"  Thankfully, we have this beloved book for when Daddy is away and Grandma is unavailable:

(It really is a wonderful book, and I don't think it's in print any more.  It explains everything from what happens when you flush the toilet to how an airplane stays in the sky.)

Benjamin is even more interested in conducting experiments himself. He has a habit of dismantling ink pens and losing the springs before reassembling, so none of them works.  Todd refuses to punish him or even make him stop; "That's reverse engineering!" proclaims the father who, apparently, never needs to write down anything.

He loves cooking and looking and recipe books; he also likes to make all those scientific concoctions, like homemade play dough and bubble solutions, and that awful, messy one with the cornstarch.  When he asks to make something-- that's one thing. There's going to be a huge mess, guaranteed, but at least I am aware of the plan and the goal.

More often, however, Ben just goes off and tries to figure out things for himself.  This is how I find him eating cherry tomatoes out of his pocket, or smashing landscaping rocks with a hammer, or fishing out acorns from the washing machine.  Ben is particularly fascinated with fluids.  I don't mean that he pees in a corner of his room (not that I grew up with another little boy who would ever do something that disgusting); I mean he likes to play with water and mix it with heaven-knows-what and leave it sitting out.

I found this in the laundry room, after Todd had used it to fill the iron and press a shirt:

(Didn't he notice it was BLUE?!)

The ever more disturbing one is THIS, parked at the base of the toilet in our bathroom:

I do not know what is in this bottle, or why it has been sitting there for days, weeks. I want to throw it away, but I'm kind of afraid to. Every time I see it, I think our family is being featured on one of those TLC shows about extreme hoarders or cheapskates. Or something.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Observations of the Day

Amanda and Elisabeth had appointments with the allergist today.  Amanda was due for her annual check-up to monitor exercise-induced asthma.  Libby had never before been seen by an allergist, and I wanted to get his take on whether Libby might be wrestling with environmental and/or food allergies.  She goes in for testing next week, so, more on that in a later post.

Interestingly, however, the doctor observed during his discussion with Amanda that he was growing less convinced over time that asthma may be to blame for her wheezing and shortness of breath while playing competitive sports.  He is trying a different medication and following Amanda's symptoms, but suggested she may, in fact, be dealing with a condition called vocal cord dysfunction or VCD.  Time and follow-up will tell, but I was fascinated to read about it, particularly the part I have highlighted:

VCD "episodes" can be triggered suddenly, or come on gradually. Many different things can trigger an episode. The primary causes for a VCD episode are believed to be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), extra-esophageal reflux (EERD), exposure to inhaled allergens, post nasal drip, exercise, or neurological conditions that can cause difficulty inhaling only during waking. Other published scientific articles emphasize anxiety or stress as the primary cause; however, more recent literature indicates a likely physical etiology for this disorder. This disorder has been observed throughout the lifespan, from infants through old age, with the observation of its occurrence in infants leading clinicians to believe that a physiological cause is likely, such as reflux or allergy. Also certain medications, such as antihistamines for allergies, can provide a drying effect to the mucus membranes, which can further cause the vocal cords to be irritated or hypersensitive.

This syndrome can mimic asthma, anaphylaxis, collapsed lungs, pulmonary embolism, or fat embolism, and can lead to an inaccurate diagnosis and inappropriate treatment which may be harmful to the patient. Many VCD patients are diagnosed with asthma, but are unresponsive to asthma therapy, including bronchodilators and steroids. Among adult patients, women tend to be diagnosed more often. Among children and teenage patients, VCD has been linked with high participation in competitive sports and family orientation towards high achievement.

Interesting, right?

After the extended clinic visit, I took the girls out to lunch before returning them to school... And we finally got initiated into Chik-fil-A.  I observed another interesting thing there: Ours was not the only table at which grace was said before eating.

Monday, December 2, 2013

On Childrearing and Happiness

Here are some thoughts for the day on raising children and being happy.  They are not my thoughts, but they could be:



Sunday, December 1, 2013

Wrecking the Halls

After we got the tree up-- and up again-- I set aside this afternoon to do the rest of the Advent/Christmas decorating.  There was also laundry, and cooking, and more cleaning up from yesterday, plus some reading I wanted to do and an overdue workout.  So, when Amanda asked if she could get out the Christmas decorations, and the other kids said they wanted to help (as soon as they were done sorting socks-- how's that for punishment for fighting?) I said, "Go for it!"

I knew they wouldn't put things exactly where I would, but, hey, I am no decorator, so, maybe in the long run, things would look better. I knew they would make a mess in the process, but, hey, so do I.  I figured, how bad could it be?

Turns out-- bad.

For a while, it was wonderful. They each took the leads on different project areas, delegated and helped one another.  Many boxes got opened, many items unpacked.  And, it was very entertaining to listen to them interact.  They would give one another advice and compliment each other's creativity.

My favorite part was listening to them reminisce:
"Where are the two, big, white angels that play instruments?"
"Oh, that wreath always goes there."
"Be very careful you don't break that special spinny one that Daddy bought Mommy for a present."

I love that they are tying memories to these items, just as I do to the Christmas decorations at my parents' home.  The one that sticks out for me most is an Advent calendar wall hanging, made from one long piece of felt, with peppermints to mark off the days tied in yarn.  This season, Mom made a replica for our home.  I may have been more excited than the children... At least, it held more meaning for me.

At some point in the afternoon, the glow faded.  And I was left with this:

Yep, my designers lost interest and declared themselves "done," though, obviously, the work was not.  It looks like total chaos, and it was, but, in the midst of madness, there are some great details and touches-- you just have to look closely.  This is my favorite:

So, this evening I hauled some of the empty bins down to the basement.  Then, I sat down to watch a Christmas movie with my little decorators.  That held their attention better than throws and candy dishes.  By the way, "Elf" is the greatest Christmas movie ever... AND, no one should watch "Christmas Vacation" with children present.