Monday, March 31, 2014

The Proposal

Well, it all seems a little early for this, but who am I to question how the younger generation operates?

We have had our first marriage proposal in Krinkeland.  The recipient was Benjamin.  The proposer was his friend and classmate Kate.

This is a photo of the happy couple from our church festival last summer, so I guess I should have seen this coming.  They even dress alike.

Benjamin was a bit reticent to tell us, probably afraid for our reaction... And initially just reported on his day, "Kate said I was cute."  I later got a more complete report when the mother of the bride informed me of her daughter's intentions.  I asked Ben about the proposal, in front of his father and sisters, and our boy immediately flushed all shades of pride and embarrassment.  "She asked me in the lunch line, in front of everyone!"  Well, what did our Benjamin say?  "I said 'Yes,' of course!"

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Break is Sprung

Spring Break is over and still there is no spring.  Ugh.  Well, let me rephrase: It was beautiful today-- 60 degrees, the windows were open, the flip-flops were on, and the sidewalk chalk was making dust... but I hear rumors of cold rain and snow for the next few days, and continuing into next week.  Double ugh.  Apart from whining about the weather, what did the kids and I DO during their week-plus off from school?

No, there was no fancy tropical vacation for the residents of Krinkeland.  There was not even one of those stay-cations.  Sure, we still spent plenty of money over this break, but it was mostly on takeout pizza and new shoes.  As I was herding the kids through bath time and bedtime, because it is once again a school night, I started thinking I better make a list of what exactly we DID do over Spring Break... or the (mostly) unmemorable moments may be lost forever:

*We played musical bedrooms.  Didn't even have to move any furniture this time around.  Two kids who were previously in separate bedrooms decided to bunk up, and two kids who previously shared a room decided to split.  All amicable.  And an excellent excuse to CLEAN THOSE BEDROOMS.  I drove a Bobcat around each bed and into the walk-in closets and all is lovely, for now.

*We made two hauls to the thrift store.  Seriously.  Cleaning out those bedrooms yielded two full vanloads of clothes and toys.

*We went shopping, for: lots of groceries, birthday gifts for other people, tennis shoes and flip-flops for the kids, and workout clothes for Todd.  Don't look now, but I think "working out" (translation: shopping for workout clothes) has become Todd's new hobby.  For those with poor memories, this hearkens back to '06, when "woodworking" was Todd's main pastime.

*The kids got to spend lots of special, fun time with each of their three sets of grandparents.  Lucky!

*We bathed and brushed and walked the dog.

*We took a road trip with Grandma and Grandpa to visit the kids' great-grandma, my 98-year-old Gua.  She knew each kid by name and temperament and seemed miffed Todd had to work.  We went out to lunch and my kids were their usual awful selves, but no more awful than usual.  I am the last person to make excuses for their behavior, but, as I watched the littlest one gallop around our table in the private dining room after her third trip to the restroom, it did strike me that it may be unreasonable to expect them to sit for a long lunch immediately following a two-and-a-half-hour car ride.

*Each big girl had a night for a sleepover here with friends.  There were snacks.  There was nail painting.  There was karaoke.  And, yes, there was sleep.

*We had some chance encounters with people we love, like when we sat across the restaurant from these two lovelies and their parents.

*We saw some movies.

*Just today, Amanda had her special one-on-one day with Auntie Ellen.  I didn't get a lot of details, but I did get a lot of sly grins.

As much as I could have really gone for palm trees and fruity drinks, this was a good way to spend a week, too.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

War of Words

I just witnessed the most awesome argument between my two older daughters and I feel compelled to record it before I (or they) forget:

E: "Uh-man-DUH! You just spilled that water all over me! Nice going! Didn't you even look? Plus, I have to pee, and now it looks like I already peed!"
A: "Oh.  Whoops.  I didn't realize the cap was off the water bottle.  Here it is."  (Throws cap at sister.)
E: "Thanks a lot, I'm all wet!  You sure are acting like a teenager already-- you don't care about anyone but yourself!"
A: "That's not true.  It's not true that I only care about myself, and it's not true that all teenagers only care about themselves."
E: "Yes, it is."
A: "No, it's not."
E: "Yes, it is."
A: "Well, if that's true, then you've been acting like a teenager for your whole life!"
E: "No, I haven't."
A: "Yes, you have."
E: "Well, you're stupid, so UUH-NNNH!"
A: "Wow, what a comeback."
(Both melt into peals of laughter.)

What's the Comfiest Squash You Know?

M: "You stayed in your bed all night last night, like a big girl!  Did you have a good sleep?"
M: "Oh, yes, Mommy, I sleeped very well."
Girl scores 50 percent for her grammar.
M: "I sleeped so good like a cozy punkin."
Now you've lost me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Warning: Giant, Inflatable Colon Ahead

Today, my husband received a sweet email from a fraternity brother.  Now, I have heard Todd mention this man's name over the years, and I have no doubt they shared quite a bond during college.  Yet, as time as gone by, distance has grown.  I have never met this friend, and we do not exchange Christmas cards.  Still, he cared enough to reach out and send this:

A few of you may already know that my father passed away on March 8th, after a series of illnesses that had keep him hospitalized since last October.  A fairly routine out-patient procedure, led to a series of infections and other problems that his body could not continue to fight.  In the end, he passed away peacefully surrounded by his whole family.  He was 69.
On Monday, March 17th, my younger brother was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and on Thursday, March 20th, they discovered more cancer in his Lungs and Liver. Yesterday, the Doctors confirmed that it was in Stage 4 that there is little hope of a full recovery.  They will begin treatment next week and do what they can for as long as they can. My brother is 33, and would not have been considered a high risk for Cancer, and to our knowledge we did not have a family history of Cancer. 
Despite our distance, I consider each of you, very close friends, and I would like to ask you not to take risks with your health.  It is never too early to get checked out or talk with your doctor.

We are entering a different stage of life-- one where we are beginning to worry about our parents' health and aid in their care; and, at the same time, we are heading into middle age, which brings with it its own health changes and concerns.  In the midst of a really busy time, a friend of mine recently had a scare, which, thankfully, turned out to be only a cyst but will still require surgery.  We have a number of friends currently battling cancer, including the school dad at the center of this photo:

(Todd's friend's plea about getting screened immediately made me think of this photo, the sweet slogan on the t-shirts, and, naturally, the giant, inflatable colon.)

My husband is among the infamous when it comes to not caring for his own health.  I'm sure it doesn't help that when he does become ill or complain of some random symptom, he gets zero sympathy from the World's Worst Nurse.  I guess that's something we both need to work on... And pray for comfort and strength for those we love.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


I read this article and thought, "Some nights, I could write this... But not tonight."

Tonight, this is going on next to me-- and I cannot quite figure out who needs the snuggle more.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pee-Wee Prayers

It's Spring a Break week for my kiddos, and the two big girls got a paid babysitting gig this Monday.  This meant I had the "opportunity" to bring the two little ones with me to my weekly hour of prayer time in the perpetual eucharistic adoration chapel.  I think round-the-clock prayer is a great asset to any parish community and to the person praying at any given time.  It is truly one of my favorite times of the week.

However, amongst the reasons for me loving my prayer hour are quiet and solitude.  

We left those reasons at home today.

Instead, my hour of prayer involved three trips to the restroom, the World's Loudest Whispering, and runaway crayons under the chairs.  My prayer partner, an elderly man, was a good sport, only cranking around once to give us a curious look that was accompanied by a half-smile.  But I was more aggravated than anyone, subconsciously shifting every prayer to, "What was I thinking, Lord?"  I was having so much trouble concentrating on my many prayer requests, I considered packing up the Littles and leaving early.

After a drawn-out eye rest and a heavy sigh, I lifted my lids to this:

Not to be outdone, Baby Sister later read aloud from "The Way of the Cross": "Jesus loves us sooooooo much He got up on that cross and He died.  But that's OK, because he got to go to Heaven."

Prayers of thankfulness.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Quirky Conveniences

I have been making a mental list today of those things which are totally not necessities, but, yet, are so useful and convenient, they sometimes feel like absolute necessities:

those little travel packs of Kleenex
Clorox wipes
dishwasher and laundry detergent tablets
electric pencil sharpener

Am I right, or am I just lazy?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Sleepover

Tonight we are hosting Amanda's overdue 12th birthday celebration: We went to an advance screening of the new Muppets movie (D-U-M-B) and now four extra sixth-grade girls are spending the night.

I am not a big fan of the sleepover because, as we all know, no one sleeps.  Also, kids make messes and eat a lot.  Plus, we have plenty of kids sleeping over here every day of the week-- they all share our last name.  So, friend-sleepover-celebrations are fairly few and far between in Krinkeland.

Yet, I have had fun listening to Amanda make plans and helping her prepare for this event.  She is at the age when I remember really enjoying those all-night hangout sessions with my girlfriends.  I fulfilled Amanda's snack requests and picked up around the house (no point actually cleaning until they're gone) and then drove the taxi to pick up our charges.

Now, I am laughing at them.

Are the girls prank calling sixth-grade boys? No.
Are they running around the neighborhood? Nah.
Are they gossiping about other sixth-grade girls? No way.
Are they asking to watch scary or otherwise inappropriate movies? Nope.

The girls are doing karaoke to songs from Broadway musicals, specifically "Fiddler on the Roof."

Best. Sleepover. Ever.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Call Me Peter

I just met Jesus at the convenience store.  

What's more, I brushed Him off three times.

I mean, I can't be sure... But, knowing my luck and how I screwed up the meeting, I'd say there's a fair chance... And I know I still have a lot of work to do.

The first encounter wasn't much of an encounter at all.  I walked into the gas station restroom and was surprised to find another person in there.  She was standing at the sink with her head bowed, and I think she coughed a little bit.  All I could see was dark shirt and gray braid.  She was taking so long at the sink I immediately assumed she must be ill.  She did not look up and I did not look over.  I held my breath, made a point of touching nothing, scrubbed my knuckles bloody, and departed the room by grasping the door handle with two layers of paper towels.

Out in the store, it seemed she'd vanished.  I grabbed the few things I needed and headed for the checkout.  But there she was again-- loudly and expressively regaling the clerk with her tales of woe, "Someone got shot a half-block from where I live... Someone is always getting mugged where I live..."  I sighed and determined her not physically ill but crazy.  And not my kind of crazy.  The pimple-faced boy behind the counter was wide-eyed, nodding with an uncomfortable grin pasted onto his face.

I practiced deep breathing while waiting behind the woman.  I just wanted to pay for my eggs and fountain soda and go pick up my kid from gymnastics.  I considered donuts.  I resisted.

I did not consider paying for her goods.  I don't even know she had plans to purchase anything.  Now that I think of it, she might have just been making conversation.  She left the building.

The boy rang up my items and sent me on my way with the usual, "We'll see you next time."

Out in the parking lot, I was all the way to my car, driver's door opened, when she again appeared, seeming to rush down the sidewalk.  There was quite a distance between us and I had not looked up when she called, "It's so quiet here!"  I looked up.  Exhaled.  Nodded.  Looked her in the eyes through her dirty glasses.  "Yes," I agreed.  "I come from the city!" she continued sharing her story, oblivious to her unenthusiastic audience.  "Well, the city is certainly a different ball game," I commented.  I knew the city.  I spent my time living and working in the city.  So what?  Deal with it.

I gave a small smile, climbed into my car, and shut the door.  She continued to stand there, nodding and grinning.

I drove away, thinking about how quiet, and how lovely, it is in this small town.  I would not choose the city.  I feel safe here.  I want everyone to feel safe here.  And it hit me that this place may be her refuge.  I may be her refuge.  I blew it.

Please come again, Lord.  Don't give up on me yet.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Another Saints on Stage production has come to a close. I will be working for a few more weeks on writing thank-yous, balancing the budget, and tying up loose ends. Above all, I am loving up my kids and telling them how proud I am of their hard work!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Musical Mayhem

The annual musical production that Todd, my MIL and I help put on at the kids' school is this weekend.  This year, we are doing "Disney's The Little Mermaid Jr." You can find out more about the program and the show at the Saints on Stage blog:  Amanda, Elisabeth and Benjamin all have roles in the production, and Madeline is honing her skills as an enthusiastic audience member. As you can tell from the cast and crew photo, it's a sizable undertaking.
Elisabeth is a Poor Unfortunate Soul as the front left Tentacle. Amanda is Ursula.

Benjamin is a Frog in the lagoon, and also plays Seaweed "Under the Sea."

Today was the final dress rehearsal, performed for the rest of the student body and school staff.  These are among the fan letters Benjamin received from his first-grade classmates:

That must be why we do it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tear Down

They're demolishing the cabin next door in anticipation of building a new house. On one hand, I'm not excited about dealing with early-morning noise (7:15-- What was that thump?!) and 'round-the-clock dirt. On the other hand, I know exactly where to find my boy for the rest of the year.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lullaby Love Songs

I took a couple hours from an overfull weekend to just have fun with my kids.  We went to the movies and saw "Mr. Peabody and Sherman."  Now, I may well have been emotional due to the stress of this crazy time, but-- regardless of the reason-- I really liked the movie.  I remember the cartoon, and I don't remember particularly liking it, and going to the theater with four children is not always my idea of a great time.  Plus, I am sure there are people out there who are politicizing the film's message eight ways from Sunday.  But, I just liked it. 

The characters were endearing and the story was sweet.  It was about the love of a family.  I especially loved the scene set to the John Lennon song "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)," which has always been one of my favorites:

I loved it years ago in this movie, too:

And, well, what can you say about the original:

Naturally, I have no doubt one of my daughters will someday come upon this post and decide for themselves I am singling out my son and honoring him as the "Beautiful Boy."  Nothing could be further from the truth.  However, I find the lyrics of this song endearing and heartwarming, because I tell each of my girls she is beautiful every day, but rarely (never) do I call my son a beautiful boy.

This is a lullaby I sang to Benjamin as a baby.

To the girls, I sang "You're My Little Girl" by the Christian group Go Fish:

To all the children, I sang-- and I still sing at their request-- Eva Cassidy's "Way Beyond the Blue."  I know I do not do it justice, but the children remember and ask, and, I pray, are comforted with love:

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Nearly As Annoying When Done By My Kid

I'm sorry, but I really needed a laugh tonight, and this is it:

These are my son.  All of them.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Where's My Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring?

People say the ability to communicate well and understand one another is key to a successful relationship.  We got this.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What Mister Rogers Said

I never liked Mister Rogers as a kid.  That man just creeped me out.  Sorry, Fred, because I know you're dead, but I was not a fan.  I mean, I did watch "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," but that's just because it came on right after "Sesame Street" and also I did not have a life.  Still, I concede  Rogers did spend 50 years spreading inspiration and kindess, not just tying sneakers and zipping (!) cardigan sweaters.  Rogers often spoke of loving people despite their faults and striving to improve yourself from the inside out, and, when I came across these, I realized I might not have given old Fred a fair chance:

Monday, March 3, 2014

This 12

This girl is 12 years old today, or, as Grandpa P. is fond of reminding, entering her 13th year. Ugh. 12 is bad enough. 
Today is a joyous day, for this girl and for all of us.  This is a joyous girl, and everyone around her is always thrilled to wish her well, because being around her brings joy and thrills.  This is a girl who:
*forsakes a perfectly good shot in the basketball game to feed the ball to her younger sister teammate, so she can make a perfectly good shot in the basketball game;
*genuinely "oohs and aahs" over the copious homemade cards from younger siblings and cousins;
*gently reminds her younger cousin that only the birthday girl can blow out the candles, but promises to save her some post-wish frosting-licking;
*cannot wait to bring birthday treats for her class, even though she is now in middle school;
*quietly accepts a post-rehearsal tongue-lashing with her castmates for not paying attention, even though the directors know she is probably not the one not paying attention; 
*chooses Applebee's for her birthday dinner "mostly for the singing"
Happy, happy birthday, Amanda Noel!  Jesus loves you, and Mommy does, too.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Stars Are Born

In just a couple days, Amanda will have a birthday, so the stream of fun times is already flowing.  This evening, after a long day of basketball and musical work, Grandma and Grandpa R. came over to kick off the celebrations.  Their gift to their first-born grandchild: an iPod/iPad docking station karaoke machine.  On, one hand, how did a home like ours go this many years without such a device?  On the other hand, I already miss the relative quiet (QUIET-- the biggest joke in Krinkeland!) of a home without such a device.

Brace yourselves:

And sometimes, loudness and lack of lyric knowledge is replaced by just plain ridiculous:

Happy almost birthday, Amanda!  And, please keep in your prayers our other paternal grandpa.  Todd's father is hospitalized after experiencing another significant neurological event in Thursday evening.  I don't have details to share, as we are still sorting out what happened, and are looking forward to the time when he can tell us.  But we know Grandpa K., too, would have joined the celebration-- and the singing-- if he was able.

So, it appears the tweenager is the only one not in these photos.  Oh, well, you know what she looks like.