Friday, February 28, 2014

Bound for the Big Time

Daddy and I had the opportunity and privilege of attending our fourth Kindergarten Round-Up at the kids' school, because Baby is soon off to kindergarten!  The meeting was fine (we can do this in our sleep by now) but Little Girl was kind of funny.  She is the only one of the four children who was not all wound up to go.  When I asked, "Are you really going to go to kindergarten?!" she shrugged and said, "Nah, I think I'll stay home with you."  

During the parent presentation, the kids had the opportunity to play in and explore the kindergarten classrooms.  Madeline met up with some of her preschool friends and soon warmed to the scene.  By the time we retrieved her, she was talking about my kindergarten teacher and riding the bus with her big brother and sister.  No rush.  Fall will come soon enough.

The best part of the evening was when we got a look at the tuition agreement: FOURTH CHILD FREE. Finally, one who earns her keep.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What Time It Is

M: "Mom, don't worry-- If you need to ask 'what time it is' you can ask me, because I wore my watch today!"
M: "You did?  That's great!  Do you know how to tell time?"
M: (indignant) "Of course, I do!"
M: "Great!  What time is it?"
M: "Mickey Mouse!"
M: "No, what TIME is it?"
M: (long pause) "Four o'clock."
M: (looking at the sun) "Are you sure?  I was thinking it's about 10 after nine."
M: "Nope, it's four o'clock."
M: "How do you know?"
M: "Because the little hand is on the four and the big hand is on... nothing."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lessons in the Lobby

Thank goodness for the the two, young mothers, standing very near me in the lobby of the gymnastics gym, and their very firm opinions on everything.  I guess I am technically eavesdropping... But they have been yammering on, loudly and at length, and I finally figured out I could learn from them-- because they have it ALL FIGURED OUT:

On moving to an even smaller small town:
"It'll be a little weird because I have always been a city girl, but I think I will be nice because I will just have so much more free time, because there won't be anything to do."

On building a house:
"I am planning to get everything I want, so I just know I am going to have to go to the building site every day."

On moving closer to the in-laws:
"It will just be so nice, because my mother-in-law is a hairdresser, so she doesn't really work, like, normally."

On being a two-working-parent home:
"It's just so hard, because all of our friends work, so, when there is a snow day or something, we don't have anyone we can call and who is just sitting at home, doing nothing, and say, 'Hey, can you go pick up my kids?'"

On working with middle-school students:
"I couldn't handle it.  I was just, like, 'Why do your parents let you have this attitude?'"

On charter schools:
"The small class sizes must be great-- I bet the kids get lots more field trips that way."

On healthy eating:
"Oh, I know.  I just told my husband, 'We are going to have to get a membership to Costco.' I don't make my own bread, but I do eat a lot of brown rice."

And, after all of this, the real gem:
"I told him, 'Don't ever criticize what you don't know.'"

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Things do not happen by chance.  Our God is an awesome God.  I don't understand every message, but I am taking them to heart.  Got a fun one today.

Driving to and fro, on this busy day, in this hectic time of year, I found myself "daydreaming" about what else I could be doing: "I wonder if I could volunteer at a hospital to cuddle sick babies," I thought.  A crazy thought, I know.  Can't exactly say where it came from.  But I have always been comfortable around the NICU, enjoyed regularly visiting my nephew, and have dropped in on other friends and their babies to offer a bit of a respite.  

Still, it was an odd thought to suddenly consume my overstuffed mind.  Though not infants, I have a houseful of charges myself... And my younger nephews and nieces sure keep me supplied with warm fuzzies.  Thought dismissed.  At the end of this very long day, I sat down to make a few more lists, send a couple more emails, post a latest status update, and this appeared before me:

Cool.  Not accidental.  Powerful.

(As an aside, let us leave any Steve Hartman comments out of this.  I've had a few exchanges over the years with the well known reporter who once worked in the same market as I did.  Let's just say his social and interpersonal skills didn't always match up to his storytelling talents.)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

We Bring the Diversity

We're at a new stage in Krinkeland-- it's the one where the baby has begun to have her own life outside of Mama's.  Two weekends running, now, Madeline has been invited to birthday parties.  I don't necessarily call that a major milestone, as I don't much care for birthday parties myself... tooooo muuuch draaaama.  With that attitude, it turns out my children don't get invited to too many birthday parties, (I imagine because we rarely have parties to return the favors,) and that's OK by me, too.  But, when my kid gets invited to her first couple, at this preschool stage where she is learning to make friends beyond my watchful eye, it's pretty sweet.  And Madeline gets SO excited!
Last Saturday, her Birthday Girl friend got to invite two friends to go bowling.  Madeline dressed up in a very cute, casual, bowling-appropriate outfit, and toted the completely ridiculous, impractical, sequined gift she had chosen for her friend.  Now, three four- and five-year-olds at the bowling alley, I just cannot imagine... but, the report was: They were a riot!  And that, I believe.  Maddy is still talking about the "special shoes because the floor is very slippery" and how "you get two turns every time, but every time only three pins go down!"
Today, the birthday party was at a local dance studio-- incidentally, the place where Madeline took lessons last year, so, it was again, right up her alley.  Parents were asked to return a few minutes early at the end of the party to be the audience for the dance routine the girls learned.  As I took my little, plastic seat and whipped out my phone for photos, reality set in and that song from "Sesame Street":



I mean, I love this little girl with all my heart, and I wouldn't trade her with another for the world.  Yet, reality is painfully obvious to this mother:  We had before us a lineup of a half-dozen sweet, little girls with pink tutus, ribboned ponytails and bedazzled tiaras.  Then there was ANOTHER ONE-- facing the wrong direction; with her tutu tucked into her panties, and too-loose leotard straps drooping down and showing skin; and navy blue tights with a big toe poking out a big hole; and, not one but two, large, artificial flowers clipped to the top of her head; and a back full of hand-inked tattoos courtesy of her big sister.

(Oh, of course, I forgot to mention the shiner received earlier this week when she took a toy cell phone to the face.  Her other big sister is to blame for that one... or, maybe I am.  Aren't moms to blame for everything?)

She also told me there were three girls named Ava at the party.  I knew about the Birthday Girl, and I overheard another mother addressing her child in this way.  But, the third?  "Mom, there was a GUINEA PIG named Ava!  You probably didn't see her-- she was up on a high shelf."

Count on Krinkeland for your daily dose of diversity.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Warm on the Inside

I know I have not adequately blogged about our extraordinary winter, mostly because I find it annoying and depressing.  We have had alternating periods of extreme cold and heavy snowfall.  If I am counting correctly, school has been canceled for five days, along with two late starts and one early release.  We expect a certain amount if misery in this season, but this winter is memorable, in my opinion, for all the wrong reasons.

Overnight, we received another 8-10 inches of snow, the temperature dropped, and the winds really kicked up.  Todd took on the drifts and made his way to work once he'd cleared a path out of the driveway.  Home-- again-- with all the kids, I informed them today was cleaning day.  I am not completely heartless, so I did bribe them by saying if we all spent the morning working, then we could do something fun for the afternoon.  Two of the four met the challenge.  50% is pretty typical for Krinkeland.

One of my big girls was working particularly hard, and I stopped her, gave her a kiss and said, "Thanks for working so hard.  I love you."  My daughter replied, "I know, Mom, but it's still nice to hear you say it."  The words struck me.  First, I thought, I am the worst mother in the whole world, for not telling her often enough how much I love and appreciate her.  But my second thought was, I must be doing something right if she can articulate her feelings while acknowledging mine.

Later, while we were discussing our afternoon fun, another daughter sincerely commented, "You don't have to give us anything for doing out chores-- it felt good just to have you smile at me when I was working."  Again, I felt awful and I felt wonderful.

Good reminders for us all.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A New Outlook

Between the snow and the usual stress, I need some different messages to improve my attitude.  

Here's a heart-warmer:

The shower was out of soap, and the new bottle of body wash I grabbed was called "Everlasting Sunshine."  Every little bit helps.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


It's time for a true confession:

I am seriously considering throwing out the coat I wore today.  Though it is fairly warm and I like the color, most of the buttons have fallen off, and...
(1) I am too lazy to sew them back on again,
(2) I am too cheap to pay someone else to sew them back on,
(3) I am too embarrassed to ask my mom to sew them back on, because that would mean admitting (1) and (2).

But I would also feel guilty throwing out a perfectly good coat that simply doesn't button.  Maybe I will just keep wearing it without the buttons.  Oh, how the people must talk.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

No One Fights Alone

Adults often do not give children enough credit.

I know I am guilty of this.  I say things, thinking my kids are not paying attention... Or I don't say things, thinking my kids will not understand.  But children are sensitive, and perceptive, and alert.

I notice this particularly in terms of illness.  We have gone through, and continue to go through, some health-related things with our family.  These struggles are not secrets that are off-limits to the children-- some things, they must know because they are directly impacted; also, children's prayer is so powerful, they sometimes must know so they can pray.  However, one of my main parenting philosophies is to only tell children things they must know, things that will benefit them, things about which they can take action.

So, they know Grandpa K. suffered a series of strokes and has had to come back, in the past year, from significant neurological damage.  They know Grandpa R. has esophageal cancer and continues to receive treatment.  That is the scope of things.  We pray every day, but these issues are not the center of every conversation.  I answer questions.  We carry on.  For the most part, the children do well, and most adults could learn from their attitudes and coping mechanisms.

Sometimes, though, I am caught off-guard by how much they know and how much they internalize.

One of the cool things about the kids attending a parochial school is that there are daily prayer requests broadcast over the public-address system: "Let us take a moment to pray for a teacher who is headed into surgery at this hour."  That kind of thing.  I think it's wonderful.

Last week, however, one of the prayer requests was for a boy Elisabeth's age who was hospitalized and undergoing some tests, and Libby was so worried.  "He had a stroke, didn't he?" she asked me.  "I know he had a stroke."  I know the boy's mom a bit, and that was not the case, but I believe Libby caught wind of his symptoms and the associated diagnostics and drew her own conclusions, because his case sounded like what she'd seen with her grandfather.

Yesterday, Benjamin came and asked me, "What color is Grandpa's cancer ribbon?"  At first, I did not understand the question.  Ben explained he was writing out a card for Grandpa R.  "I think the cancer ribbon is pink, but I'm not sure," Ben said.  I explained the pink ribbon is generally a symbol for breast cancer, but I wasn't sure if esophageal cancer had its own ribbon color or not.  So, we googled it.


I'm thankful for my kids helping me to learn new things... especially to learn they deserve more credit.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Our youngest child recently discovered the "spinny thing," a.k.a. Sit N Spin, which had been sitting under the toy workbench, gathering dust, in the playroom.  I am sure I purchased it at least a decade ago, and each child has gone through his or her own Sit N Spin phase, which I have wholeheartedly welcomed, because what's more entertaining than a toddler/preschooler spinning herself silly?

You are welcome.

Friday, February 14, 2014

All You Need Is Love

I have this post building in my brain about love... But that's going to take more energy than I have at the end of this long day, long week.  Instead, in honor of Valentine's Day:


All you need is love.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Doing Away with Life

I could not go to bed without sharing this international news item:

I have been following the political progress for quite some time, but seemingly with disbelief.  Apparently, I am that crazy kind of mom who does not allow her children ultimate authority over, well, any decisions, much less those of life or death, because, THEY ARE CHILDREN, with developing minds sometimes incapable of determining what they want for lunch, or which movie to see, and certainly WHETHER THEY STILL WANT TO LIVE.

Now, with the law's passage, I have no words, except, May God have mercy on our souls.

And, I guess, Down with Belgians.  I mean, isn't that what they're continuing to push with this kind of legislation?

God did not promise life without suffering.  God did promise eternal life, and an unfathomable love to get us there.  God will not rescind those promises.  God does not come up short.  People must stop selling themselves that way.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Our Kind of Olympics

My kids were very excited about following the Winter Olympic Games.  Then, the Games actually started, and they sat down to watch with me... And they were bored.  However, this particular performance has finally piqued their interest:


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Writer's (Reader's) Block

Our youngest child is not much of a writer.  Well, that is, unless we're talking about songwriting, in which case she's a master.  But that is another topic for another post, and it requires video.  No, I am talking about printing-- the alphabet, her name.

I do not believe the child is unintelligent or lacking in fine-motor skills.  I do believe the child's mother has not spent enough time with her, working on her printing.  You would think I would be better at this by now, what with the experience I've gleaned from preparing the other children for kindergarten.  I know they have to work harder when parents saddle kids with long first names.  I know the teacher considers a child a step ahead of the game when she prints with upper- and lower-case letters.  But I still haven't done anything about it.

Well, that's not exactly true-- I did ask the preschool teachers, but they said they are not worried, so why should I be?

Lately, Madeline has taken to writing strings of letters across sheets of paper.  She only uses certain letters because those are pretty much the only ones she knows: M-A-D-Y... maybe O, H and L. 

Then, she passes off the piece of paper to me or Dad and asks, "What does this say?"  Dad will cock his head, determine she is serious, and sound out, "Ly-OOO-ee?"  Maddy cracks up, "Dad!  Don't you know how to READ?!"

Monday, February 10, 2014

Flying Time

M: "Mommy, what is that on your skin?"
M: "What?"
M: "All those brown spots and stuff.  What are they?"
M: "Oh, those are just spots-- moles, sun damage, age spots.  They don't mean anything-- just that Mommy's getting old."
M: (look of horror) "You're getting OLD?!"
(Pause for internal compliment on my eternally youthful appearance and attitude, and then realize the child is not actually complimenting me; she is just confused, and maybe scared.)
M: "Well, sure, Honey, everyone gets older.  That's how life works."
M: "But, I mean, you are OLD?!  Old like a grandma?  Are you going to BE a grandma?"
M: "Well, I hope to be a grandma someday.  But I will only be a grandma if you or one of your sisters and brother get married and have children."
M: "Oh.  I sure hope I get to marry Johnathan.  That's my plan.  I can't marry Joey, because Lyla is going to marry him."
(Pause to thank myself for mellowing out and finding joy in this exchange. When the first kids were in preschool, I would have been repulsed and incensed by "marriage" talk.  I didn't even let them have Wedding Barbie.  Be your own womyn, girls of mine!)
M: "Why do you want to marry Johnathan?"
M: "Because we have so much fun playing together at school!"
M: "What do you play?"
M: "Spaceships.  And house.  Every time we play, he's the dad, and I'm the dog."

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Prayer Requests, All the More

I follow CaringBridge sites mostly using an app on my iPad-- I see the pros and cons others delineate about CB pages, but I find such value in "lurking" and learning about friends-of-friends, acquaintances, friends and loved ones, without having to pry.  It is important to me to know specifically how to pray, when to pray, for what to pray.  

The app tracks sites I visit regularly, tells me when there are new posts to sites, and orders the sites by which ones I have most frequently visited.  I just went through and "cleaned up" my list of people I follow, taking off those who have been healed or well for quite some time, as well as some of those who have died.  I keep following some sites of the deceased, because families sometimes continue to use CaringBridge as a blog/journal/memorial.

Now, there are 37 CaringBridge sites on my roster.  (Heading it, always, by the way, is my FIL Harlan! awaiting PET scan results this week.  Please lift up Harlan and my MIL Connie:

So many prayer requests.  So many struggles.  So many beautiful stories of healing.  So many beautiful stories of prayers answered, not in our way, but in God's.

That number overwhelms me... But, what consumes me more is the people who elect to not be so public about their fears, their grief, their joys, their hopes.  Please join me in praying for them, too:

*for the amazing Solomon, as he celebrates his golden eighth birthday
*for the overwhelmed
*for discipleship
*in thanksgiving, for three parents who swooped in and took over when I caught a bug
*for the H kids, in their fear and questioning
*for Dan, Jen and Erin, on the second anniversary of Shannon's death
*for the unborn and the preborn
*for Teresa, who puts on a brave face through pain and treatments, and continues to lead her family
*for my grandma
*for Baby C to get her forever family
*for predators' victims, and for predators
*for middle school students who suffer in unseen and misunderstood ways
*for Jenny, in honor of her fortieth birthday
*for fairies to come and clean my house (or maybe just drive a bulldozer through it)

Sorry, I was doing so well there for a while... No wonder God has trouble taking me seriously.  Just pray.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Speaking and Listening

Somebody was the lector (scripture reader) for school mass this week, and somebody's mother couldn't help but record it on her phone:

When Benjamin finished, my mom said, "Wow, that was AMAZING... especially for a kindergartner."  And I said, "Well, Grandma, he is a first grader."  And Grandma turned the same purple as her sweater.  I like to think of it as Purple Pride.  She also muttered,  "Well, it's not so easy when you have 10 to keep track of."

Sorry God, for whipping out my phone during mass... And thanks for your personalized message about stubborn- and hardheadedness.  "So maybe they will listen, and maybe they won't."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Plenty to Say, No Energy to Type

I have a dozen updates spinning 'round my head... But the day is drawing to an end, and I just spent the past 45 minutes-- when I could have been blogging-- scrubbing flecks of black paint from my bathtub.  (Full story: It's musical-creating season and we have a seven-year-old boy). So, I am just going to leave you with some good thoughts, and some good books, which I have recently read during time when I could have been blogging, that you should read.

Good Kings Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

Determined to Matter by Jen O'Hara

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Showcase Blessing

We wrapped up the annual Catholic Schools Week festivities with this evening's Student Showcase.  It is an arts show and recital in which students volunteer to take part.  Both Amanda and Elisabeth played piano solos, and Benjamin sang a solo.  They all did very well, and we are so proud of our little performers (a.k.a. HAMS.)  Ben did let us know that next year he plans to dance-- ballet.  OK, Billy Elliot.  The kids' individual performances got recorded on a different device and will take me a while to find and download.  Amanda also sang with some of her fellow middle schoolers, so, for the weekend, I leave you with their blessing:
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>