Thursday, July 31, 2014

No Secret to Happiness

I do not tend to be much of a pope quoter, but this has given me a lot to think about. Here they are-- the keys to happiness, for your enjoyment, as well:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Our Cabin-et

We were invited by some long-time friends to spend a few days at their family cabin on Leech Lake in Walker, Minnesota. The older we all get, and the busier the kids all get, the more difficult it seems to be to get together, so we were excited by the opportunity and we moved things around on the calendar to do so. The time away was lovely-- beautiful weather, great conversation, relaxing times and plenty of fun for the kids. We shouldn't wait so long to do it again.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

In Amazing Technicolor

We saw my sister and two nephews perform this evening in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at SOAR, the community theater my sister and BIL helped form. "Joseph" is one of my favorite musicals; I can't help but feel good and sing along. And could three be anything better than watching together my talented sister and two of her equally talented boys?! They knew their blocking and their lyrics, I tell you-- nailed it and sold it. Clearly, Madeline enjoyed the show just a bit, too:

As with most any theater production (pretty much every theatrical performance I have ever experienced, save the likes of "The Lion King" on Broadway,) my main beef is that there weren't more butts in the seats.  So, tomorrow or next weekend, go see it:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Friends Need to Know

We gathered with our friend and her children and her other friends this evening to say goodbye to her beloved husband, gone in an instant in a horrible crash. Please keep this family in prayer in the days and months to come. Grief is a process. They are incredibly strong and loving people, but no one grow it alone.

He did not have cancer, but so many of those around us do, including my FIL and a number of dear friends. One of them shared this post tonight, and it hit home:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cleanliness is Next to (but AFTER) Godliness

I like this article, as in, I wish my husband had written it or I wish I had written it and just signed his name:

There is a lot of truth in this. And, it is true that my house could definitely be a lot cleaner. Yet, it's also true that true friendships and honest relationships are not based on factors such as home cleanliness. In fact, I am hosting a play date here in the morning, and, while the dishes are done and the main areas are picked up, I know things need to be cleaned around here. There are piles in all the other rooms. I didn't sweep the kitchen floor after the last meal. The vacuum cleaner is still standing by the front door. But a bunch more mess-makers are showing up in the morning... So, I abandoned the cleaning efforts in favor of the blogging.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Things That Happened in Krinkeland Today, Really

We went to tennis lessons, and, after promising the coach to practice religiously, the students forgot their tennis racquets at the court.

Two children announced their rock star names-- one is Monet; the other is Mrs. Chicken.

At one point I threatened, "The next kid who sighs at me will spend an hour in prayer." I knew it was a shameful move, but it worked.

We found a chipmunk drowned in a bucket of water.

After a windy night, we discovered the two-man tent set up on the deck since last week was... gone. Later, after walking to a friend's house down the street, Amanda remarked, "Those people whose house is for sale have the same tent as ours." I sent her and her sister to retrieve our tent from their front yard. They carried it home, still assembled.

The children set up a play hotel in the living room called "The Secret Beauty Resort."
(The most interesting thing is that is not a sofa bed.) The proprietors accept Baggies of pennies as payment, but they are charging extra to use wi-fi.

Monday, July 21, 2014

How to Be Popular

I just read this book ( recommended to me by one of my avid reader friends who also happens to own a bookstore. (If you are an avid reader, too, it is good to have a friend who owns a bookstore.) I recommend this book which addresses a common "problem" and a simple-- that is not to say simplistic-- solution. I am going to have my two tween girls read it next.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why Pray

"I pray because I can't help myself.  I pray because I'm helpless.  I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping.  It doesn't change God, it changes me."     
--C.S. Lewis 

I am praying this night for a dear friend and her children, after they lost her Love and their Daddy in a crash, in an instant. I am not sure where God is leading me, all of us, as we travel through this valley of grief... In recent weeks, my sister has said goodbye to her son, my husband to his father, and my friend to her husband... But I know that I will continue to be here for those I love. And, as for me, I will pray.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lovely Regression

People often comment that old age is a time of regression... The observation is when someone becomes elderly, s/he can begin to act as s/he did in the early years. Some think this has to do with actual brain degeneration and others think old people just use their age as an excuse to behave badly.

All I know is that I have heard and seen my 98-year-old grandmother (yes, we call her Gua, pronounced GOO-ah, and it's a family nickname with a fairly uninteresting history) act like a toddler-preschooler-- and I have called her out on it. For the record, she doesn't seem to care when I scold her for eating off others' plates... or for making a loud, rude comment about a stranger standing nearby... or for changing her mind three times inside of 10 seconds.

During a visit with my family today, however, the regression was palpable and cherished. Gua walked into my home and, when I approached, reached out to hug me around the middle. She only comes up to my chest, so it was much like hugging one of the kids. Just like hugging a kid, I didn't let go until she did. It was a long hug. She quietly told me, "I love you so much." This kind of affection is uncharacteristic for the two of us, as it is for much of the rest of the family. I welcomed the regression.

Later, I got out my phone to take a photo of us and tried unsuccessfully to explain the term "selfie." She is so deaf, and it is the worst kind of hearing impairment, the kind where she insists she can hear just fine. So, I just showed her our picture on the phone and she went off on a tangent on how she could see her teeth in the photo and how she'd recently gotten them fixed. Then, she told me how my father had shown her on his computer all those birthday messages to my cousin (another of her grandchildren) but how did so many people know it was his birthday? Did I tell them?

No, Gua, but if I cannot get you to understand "selfie," how am I going to explain "Facebook?"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Oh, Boy

On a regular basis over the past 12 years, I have asked God what He was thinking by making me the mother of so many girls.

 I don't have a sense of style and I don't care to get one.

I would never waste money on candles or gourmet chocolate or designer shoes.

Wine is not a preferred drink... And don't even suggest those nasty, bottled malt beverages.

Just the thought of a manicure, pedicure, facial or massage makes me squirm.

I only today learned "running into someone I know while 'barefaced' to Target" is something supposedly humiliating... But I run into everyone everywhere and I am always barefaced.

I don't even know how to French braid.

I have always felt a fish out of water when trying to mother my girls. The debates over modest clothing exhaust me. The hidden motives in their lobbying confound me. Their wily ways amuse me (but then I remember I am not supposed to be amused, so I have to get on with the disciplining.) The sighing and the eye-rolling following the disciplining, well, those just irritate me.

None of those things changed today, but I did get my answer as to why there is so much estrogen flowing through Krinkeland, and it is this: God reasoned I was even more poorly equipped to handle boys.

Benjamin asked a couple weeks ago whether he could do something special to celebrate his birthday. "Like what?" I asked. "Have a friend sleep over," was his reply. It did not seem an unreasonable request... especially since Ben recently turned eight years old, and I cannot recall any previous sleepovers. I consented, chose a date, and made plans with the boy's mother. I asked Ben what he wanted to do with his friend during this event. "What do you mean?" my son asked. "Just play."

Cue the angel chorus. See?! I was meant to mother boys, I thought. Forget this go-to-Build-A-Bear-followed-by-30-dollar-frozen-yogurt-make-crafts-set-up-a-home-spa-prank-call-boys-eat-specific-brands-of-chips-and-still-end-up-with-somebody-crying girl sleepover business. The boys JUST WANT TO PLAY.

Easy, right?

Not. Easy.

These two played Minecraft, went swimming in the lake, ran on the Slip-N-Slide, kayaked, built Legos jumped on the water trampoline and had two snacks (yes, in that order) all in the first thirty minutes following Ben's friend's arrival. I am not exaggerating. And, let me stress, this is a nice, normal boy.

So. Busy.

At one point, I told them to get in the car so we could pick up our takeout dinner. We stopped for Icees  for a birthday treat, and, the next thing I knew, they were taking turns hitting the bottom of one paper Icee cup to the plastic dome lid of the other Icee cup (just like we used to do with beer bottles in college and then the other person's beer would fizz out the top of the bottle.)

And they ran everywhere. Ran. Everywhere. Ran. At top speed. At all times.

I now understand how my sister has gotten so darn skinny following each son's birth. While I have been dressing Barbies and listening to litanies of boy-band adulation, my sister has been leading bike rides, umpiring kickball games, and getting Frisbees off the roof. She is literally running around raising boys.

The two boys are finally asleep, I think, after also eating two pizzas, tubing behind the boat, opening a gift that was something named "Steve?" and was the "coolest thing ever," swimming some more, jumping some more on the water trampoline, roasting marshmallows and flicking them at each other, setting up the tent and making camp in it, eating popcorn and watching a movie.

Yes, my girls would have said, "Gross-- dead bug," where the boys remarked, "That is the coolest, hugest bug. Is it dead? It is, OK, cool, then, where's that stick? Let's stab its body and then see what happens when we set it on fire." They did that. I watched.

Thank you, Lord, I have seen the light. I am thankful for my ONE boy. I am thankful he has a friend. I am thankful they are having a good time being boys together. I am also so much more thankful for my girls, who, I am certain, would have spent this same sleepover time shut behind a bedroom door, quietly hatching a sinister plot to overthrow me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

An Important Link, and A Necessary One

I just sat down to blog about our day (another birthday celebration for the spoiled boy) but I read this first, and I feel compelled to share it:

Then, even though I know that message and believe that message, I couldn't stop thinking about it and TRUMAN and MICHAEL... And, so while I was thinking happy and sad thoughts about my angel nephews (who probably would not have been angels here on earth because they would have been regular, little boys... but I really wish they were hanging around here, acting a bit like turds because Auntie gets bored when children are too well behaved) I kept trolling this World Wide Web of ours, and I discovered something else that held my attention in a different way:

Please, I apologize for the profanity of this article and I would like to stress this bit of humor does not in anyway diminish my nephews' memories. In fact, this is just the kind of topic they would have been interested to discuss as they aged. I mean, really, read the comments. Laugh.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Christmas in July

This is the kind of post I feel compelled to write for posterity's sake. When we passed the bank sign on the way to the girls' softball game this evening, it said 57 degrees. (Scroll up and recheck the date... now... Go.) Yep, this is a date of record-setting cold-- the coldest high temperature for this date in July in something like 15 years. Nasty. It also rained on us during the softball game, so we left.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Eight is Great!

This boy is eight years old as of 6:30 this morning! We are thinking this may be the year he begins to wear clothes.

Benjamin's birthday gift was a new bike! This was exactly what he asked for and possibly exactly what he nosed out hiding in Daddy's shop.

We spent the day biking (duh) and swimming and playing with cousins, who even created and performed an original play in honor of the Birthday Boy.

Now, to mark Benjamin Todd's eighth birthday in this place in history, here are BEN'S EIGHT FAVORITE THINGS:

8. Getting up early
7. His adaptive phy. ed. teacher, the school nurse and other women who dote on him
6. Cousin time
5. Dried mangoes/mango smoothies/anything mango
4. Swimming at the gym with Grandpa
3. Minecraft
2. Baking with Grandma
1. Taking bike rides

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Feeding the Grief Monster

I am pretty sure that eating is not a healthy way to deal with grief. However, I am also pretty sure feeding people is one of the most common ways to express condolences. We have been reminded this week what AWESOME friends we have. Todd and I and our family have been blown away by how many people have reached out and shown up to support us in the loss of Todd's father. Fortunately, or not, our friends are also-- across the board-- AMAZING cooks and bakers. 

One friend dropped off stuffed taco shells, but warned the kids might not eat them. As it turns out, not a worry.

Amanda commented tonight, "I know this is wrong to say, but the only good thing about Grandpa leaving is the good food coming!" Madeline nearly inhaled an apple cake, picking up a hunk with both hands and declaring, "My friend made this for me to not be sad!" And every time we see Todd's stepmother, she is pushing food on us, because, "It's just me now-- what am I going to do with a gallon of chicken noodle soup (or loaf of banana bread or batch of chocolate chip cookies or tub of coleslaw)?!"

We plan to start battling our sadness through exercise... Soon.

One Week Ago

About this time one week ago, we were sitting around the bonfire, sharing s'mores and beers with friends after a day on the lake, when my phone rang. It was Todd's stepmother, informing him she had just brought Todd's dad to the emergency room; he had fallen and suffered another brain bleed. In the time it took Todd to take leave of our friends and walk up to the garage to head to the hospital, the phone rang again-- Ardy had gone into respiratory arrest and was coding. By the time he was transferred by ambulance to an urban hospital with neurosurgeons available during a holiday weekend, the scan images had worsened, as had the prognosis.

We all know how this turned out. Two days ago, My father-in-law was laid to rest. Mourning him will be a process. Grief is a process.  Tonight, our family took out the boat and enjoyed living on the lake, just as Ardy did. None of us enjoys it enough. I suppose this is one of the lessons in life.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Laid to Rest

It has been a long few days.

From days at the hospital to making the arrangements to being there through the wake, funeral and burial... We feel wrung out, drained, spent.

But we also spent a week leaning on one another, growing closer to family, meeting new friends and hearing old stories.

As we all will, Todd's dad has left a legacy. We honor that this night.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Into His Hands

These hands raised a son to a man and a daughter to a woman, cradled grand babies, petted KC, cheered beloved sports teams, cut hair and cut meat, turned newspaper pages, picked up sticks, gave his signature point, baited hooks, held whiskey-cokes, counted cash and patted backs in embrace.

This afternoon, we released the hands of Arden Neil Krinke into the waiting arms of The Lord God Almighty. Rest in peace, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend.

When arrangements are made, they will be posted with his obituary at

Friday, July 4, 2014


B: "Mom, I like doing stuff with you."
M: "I like doing stuff with you, too."
B: "Mom, look at that sunset-- isn't it beautiful?"
M: "It sure is, Buddy. Pretty amazing, this world God made."
B: "Yep."

B: "Mom, are dinosaurs real?"
M: "Yes."
B: "I mean really real animals?"
M: "Yes, Ben, dinosaurs were real animals. There aren't any more alive now; they all died out many years ago, so they are extinct. But dinosaurs were real animals."
B: "I wonder how many people actually saw dinosaurs."
M: "Well, dinosaurs roamed Earth before people did... So, no one actually saw dinosaurs."

B: "Oh. Then, I guess, people must make up a lot of fake stuff on YouTube."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Humans of New York

I am sucked in by this site Humans of New York: It is widely followed on social media, the project of a professional photographer who walks around the streets of New York City and takes photos of everyday people in their everyday environments and talks to them. Then, he posts a photo with a single line or a short story describing the subject in his/her own words. I find them so compelling:

"I started taking heroin to get away from the draft, then joined the army to get away from the heroin."

"I’m always sad."
"Are there certain thoughts associated with the sadness?"
"No, the sadness is under the thoughts. It’s like when you’re on a camping trip, and it’s really cold, and you put on extra socks, and an extra sweater, but you still can’t get warm, because the coldness is in your bones."
"Do you hope to get away from it?"
"Not anymore. I just hope to come to peace with it."

"What’s your favorite thing about your mother?"
"She loves life more than anyone I’ve ever known. I hope she doesn’t mind me telling you this, but recently she’s had some health problems. And her health got so bad at one point, she called me and said: ‘I was starting to wonder if there was any reason to go on. But then I had the most delicious pear!’"

"I’m a neuroscience researcher."
"If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?"
"Listen to your inner voice."
"You’re a scientist. Isn’t ‘inner voice’ a spiritual term?"
"Bullshit! You’ll hear scientists talking about following their inner voice as much as you’d hear a musician or a priest."
"So how do you know which of your thoughts are your true inner voice?"
"All of them are! The question is— how much weight do you give them? How much authority do you give your own thoughts? Are you taking them seriously? Or are you sitting in front of the damn tube letting other people tell you what to think?"

"What’s your largest remaining goal in life?"

We were not part of "Humans of New York" when we were in New York, nor do I think it is something with which I would be entirely comfortable... But, still, I wonder: What would he see? What would I say?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Toenail Trimming Conversation

M: "Some day when I grow up and I am a mom, I am never going to cut my kids' toenails."
M: "Oh, why not?"
M: "I hate it. It's just a waste of time."
M: "No, it's not. If you don't trim toenails, your kids will poke holes in all their socks and it will hurt them to wear shoes."
M: "We will not have socks in our family-- or shoes. Well, we will have some socks... Well, I think instead of kids I will just have fish."