Sunday, August 31, 2014

I Am Edith Flagg

Not the lipstick part, but definitely the friends part:

This grandma is the single greatest thing about reality television. She recently died... On to a better place... But reality TV is back in the basement.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A New Outlook

Three children had their annual eye exams this morning. (Amanda went in the spring; she is near-sighted and found her vision was getting a bit worse. It's just as well she went on her own and a few months apart from the others-- it gave Todd enough time to go to work and earn enough to pay the hefty bill for her disposable contact lenses.) Today was a bit of its own kind of disaster, because the two youngest were terrors in the waiting room, duking it out over Duplo blocks and Berenstain Bears books. Then, they all got their eyes dilated and wandered around the office, squealing about how blurry everything was.

The eye doctor knows us, of course, and handled each child in kind, taking her or him one-by-one into the exam room and then returning to retrieve the next. Her announcements when it was all over:

1. Benjamin's eyes are perfect-- better than perfect-- his eyesight is even sharper than it was one year ago.

2. Elisabeth is still far-sighted, but it seems to be not as severe as it once was. The doctor said she will eventually, definitely need to wear her glasses more, to read, to do schoolwork and to knit... But she also said Libby's eyes are very strong in their ability to focus through the problem. She wrote Libby a weaker prescription, and I agreed to fill it only on the condition she would wear the glasses. She negotiated back that she would wear the glasses if she got final say on the frame choice. And, so, I present the prettiest girl wearing what are quite possibly the world's ugliest eyeglasses:
(You can't really see from her silly photo, but the frames are thick, black plastic, lined with light aqua on the inside.)

3. Now Madeline needs eyeglasses. Last year, the doctor noted an astigmatism in her right eye, and said we would watch it, but warned she would probably need glasses in the future. Today, she said the astigmatism is worse in her right eye and also measurable in her left eye. This affects both her close-up and distance vision. The doc explained to Maddy that she would need to wear her glasses all the time and that they would help her see better. "All the time-- even when I'm sleeping?!" Madeline asked. Clearly, this is a doctor with no young children. We went to the vision center and had Maddy try on just about every children's pair. She had a really hard time with how the glasses felt on her face, particularly any kind of metal/silicone-padded nose rests. It also bugged her that she couldn't "see better" out of the sample frames. Madeline finally chose these:
(It will take about a week for her glasses to come in, and then she will have to wear them to school, etc. I've already sent this photo to the moms of her closest friends so they can prepare the littles. Maddy has been fretting, "Ireland will say I look like a PHONY!" Where does she come up with this stuff?)

The moral of this story is: When you have four children, chances are one will be near-sighted, one far-sighted, one with an astigmatism, and one with perfect vision-- but he has the biggest problem listening.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Some Times

This evening, my head really hurts. That happens sometimes to a mom of four. A busy week. The usual stresses. Lots of prayer requests (especially for Russ and for James and for E., please.) If I was not certain that the net effect would be an undesired 5 a.m. wake-up, I would already be asleep.

While Husband was putting to bed the younger two-- "Daaad, you're reading it wrong!-- and the older two were in the kitchen baking a cake from a recipe they found in a magazine-- no, I am not even going to assess that mess till morning-- I set myself on the bed and closed my eyes. When he returned to our room, he asked, "So, what are you doing?" Without cracking a lid, I replied, "Just waiting for the good Lord to take me home." He sat down next to me, sighed, and added, "Me, too."

Not our finest moment... But some moments are like that.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Weights and Measures

At the gym during our morning workout, my husband turned to me and asked, "How much do you weigh?" I responded with a distinct hand gesture and kept ellipticalling. "No, really," he pressed, "how much do you weigh?" Now, I had two options here, but, ultimately, I elected to tell him the truth. I decided this for two reasons: (1) I am a bad liar, just not good with it under any circumstances; and (2) I always think weight is an especially stupid thing to lie about, because anyone with functioning eyes can spot a liar. So, I told Todd how much I weighed, stepping up my workout and trying not to be annoyed.

It did not occur to me to ask, "Why do you want to know?" We have been married for a long time and ask one another all kinds of random things. This morning, he also asked me, "What was the first name of that guy who had the daughter who lived across town from us in Rockford?" I knew the answer and told the truth on that one, too.

After hearing me reveal the weighty number, my husband said, "Oh." He looked straight ahead and kept pedaling. Then, he continued, "I guessed wrong. I told the life insurance company you were 10 pounds lighter. I am going to need you to lose 10 pounds before we have our health exams for the new policies next week." I laughed and said, "That's not very likely... or necessary. Just call back and tell my actual weight." He said, "Well, no, I gotta drop five pounds, too, because I told them I weigh less than I do."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bedtime Buddies

I think it's fairly well known how protective I am of bed and bedtime, at least my own. I just feel as though I go, go, go all day long and, when the sun sets and the day is done, I am done. I like my stack of pillows, my heavy blankets, my prayers said and my eyes closed. I like bedtime. ALONE.

But, sometimes, sometimes, this happens:
and I love this, too.

We had a busy day, with some getting ready for school, some boring chores, and a lot of swimming with friends. After supper and cleaning up, the big girls started a room reorganization and I sat down. Benjamin and Jones came and sat right next to me, and Ben asked whether we could watch a show together. We had some episodes of "Storage Wars" recorded, and Ben began telling me how much he loved the show... who all the characters were... what he suspected might be in the storage lockers. He bounced on the bed, teased the dog, and kept running in and out to report on his sisters' progress. Finally, I said, "Ben, if you want to watch this show with me, sit down and watch it, and BE QUIET, please." (Refer to the first paragraph of this post.)

He snuggled in next to me and the next thing I heard was a big, ol' snore.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Latest Prayer Requests

A friend of mine posted this on her CaringBridge site today:

"Life consists of the greatest joys the human heart can hold, and the most painful experiences the human heart can endure.  And while we would not long for bad things to happen, we can find within them a profound opportunity perhaps not available in any other experience.  When bad things happen, and we begin to feel vulnerable, we have the opportunity to let go, and to let God be and do what God is and does.  LOVE! "     --Kass Dotterweich

With that, here are some of my most recent prayer requests. I appreciate you adding these people to your list:

For Teri, restarting chemotherapy for cancer recurrence.

For Chuck, upon the death of his father on August 19, following the death of his mother this past January.

For Russ, preparing for cancer surgery and battling multiple side effects from medications.

For Carol, as she navigates this next phase of life.

For Dad, continuing to heal from ear surgery and preparing for dental repairs.

For our new priest.

For continued health and well being for all my nieces and nephews, especially the preborn one.

Thanksgiving for C. getting her forever family.

For all students and teachers heading into this new school year.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Auntie's Summer Camp

Our four nephews are spending the night, something we have (sadly) been trying to plan all summer but have just finally gotten around to it. It seems like they're having a pretty good time.

I know I'm tired, at least.

During one of this evening's tube rides, 10-year-old Kazmer exclaimed, "That was wild! That was brutal! I can't believe how crazy that was!" Amanda responded, "Kaz, that's how we LIVE!"

Growing Pains

I have said it before and I will say it again: You could not pay me enough to go back to middle school.

It's hard. It's a hard, ugly time. Even present, attentive, involved parents (as I had, as my kids have) don't make things easier. Guidance is a waste of breath because the rush of hormones blocks out reception to the brain. It's one of those treks that must be taken alone, but awkwardly, and publicly.

Poor babies.

We are experiencing this worst kind of growing pain right now in Krinkeland. I would never wish to embarrass or openly humiliate anyone, and I will not go into details because it is not my drama to share, anyway. Above all, SHARING DRAMA is probably the worst concept to have ever been developed by the human race, alongside cockfighting, Moon Sand and Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies.

Yesterday's headline is this: Somebody screwed up.

Today's headline is this: Somebody acknowledges the screw-up and is trying to fix it. 

The repairs may be successful and they may not. That's how life is, because that's how people are. It's like that modern-day parable where an angry person throws a plate to the ground and it shatters. Then, the person feels remorse, bends down and tells the plate, "I'm sorry." That's nice, but there is no way to make the plate whole again, as it once was.

I know it does not help to say anything along the lines of, "You're so young, it'll all blow over" or "Don't worry-- the friends you have now are not the friends you will have for the rest of your life." In the first place, this is irrelevant because this middle-school world is the entire universe right now. Furthermore, I would have to argue the concept is often false. 

My husband met his "BFF" when he was 10 years old. The two guys have dinner and drinks once a month. We just spent a cabin weekend with their family. They are coming to our house this weekend. I have three girlfriends in my inner circle. I met one when she moved into my neighborhood as a seventh grader. The second played with me on our eighth-grade softball team. The third grew up on a different town and a different state, but, following college, she married a man who had been a good friend of mine since sixth grade. Now, one could argue that both my husband and I are closed-off, small-town bumpkins who have never expanded our circle to the world. I would argue that these people are all part of God's plan for us, and various circumstances of our life brought us together and keep us together.

A few years ago, I attended a high school class reunion and had many nice conversations with people I remembered but with whom I was not in regular contact. One particularly astute woman remarked, "You know, the junior high and high school years are really short-- just a brief span in our lives-- but I think they are so important because so much happens during that time."


These are the years we start to figure out who we are, who we wish to become, how we get there. We (hopefully) discover there are more humans than just us on the planet, and they are as well deserving of all life has to offer. We learn to make the best-- or the worst-- decisions for ourselves, and we learn how those decisions impact others. It is a lot. It is an overwhelming, confusing, sometimes painful LOT. No one can go it alone... But everyone kind of has to go it alone.

Things do get better, but, if it is possible to completely figure out this friendship thing, the answers must come after age 40, because I am still not there. Just last week, I told a beloved friend, "I know I was being unfair, but I was licking my wounds when you came to town and didn't call me." She replied, "I know. I was only in town for 11 hours and had two events to attend. I didn't want to see you for 30 minutes-- one of our stories takes longer than that!" I went on to confess, "Then I figured out I was being a real jerk because, if I want to spend time with you, I am perfectly capable of going to visit you."

One of my other friends and I have a snotty saying between us: "Eh... I have enough friends." What we mean is: Friendship is work, so, if you're going to do it, get to work. Otherwise, sometimes it's better to let things go. Just be friendly; you can't have a "bestie" on every corner. So often, I feel I am navigating friend situations where I wonder whether I should set someone straight or just love them more. I sure don't have many answers.

The kids' dad likes to play the Man Card, claiming women get into all kinds of emotionally charged situations that seem to not happen to men. I think there's some truth in that, whether it's because of how we are made or how we operate. But I do not take his dismissal of, "Good luck with that," after we spent hours last night consoling and advising our girl. Thankfully, we both saw the situation in the same way-- and she did, too, once she calmed down-- and offered the same advice.

That doesn't make it easy.

When we attend church services with my husband's side of the family, a common blessing is: "May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." That's what I wish for middle schoolers. My other suggestions are:
1. Think before you act, and, then, still, ask your mother, "Does this sound like a good plan?"
2. Do not put anything in writing; letters, texts, emails, social media posts never go away.
3. Stop, drop, and don't share the drama.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Blanket of Riches

I don't exactly know why this struck me so, but it did. I just hope this man does amazing things with his fortune:

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Gears In Her Brain Keep Turning

M: "Mom, how long did it take those guys to build our church-- six days?"
M: (shakes head, but silently marvels at the inadvertent creation story reference)
M: "14 days?"
M: "No, we'd have to look it up in the history book, but I think it probably took a couple years to build this church."
M: "Harrumph... Then, where did Father live all that time when those guys were building this church?"
M: "Well, first of all, Father doesn't actually live at the church; he has a house near the church. Second of all, this church was built about a hundred years ago, so that's before Father was here or any of us was even born."
M: "Hmmmm..."

Monday, August 11, 2014

How Do We Value Life?

Life-Lover that I am, I have been following for some time now the story of the Australian couple who hired a woman in Thailand to be their surrogate and she became pregnant with twins; however, late in the pregnancy, one of the babies was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, and the couple reportedly pressed for termination of that baby. He was born, with numerous disabilities and medical concerns. The couple ended up taking home the healthy baby and leaving the baby with Down Syndrome in the care of the surrogate.

Naturally, this issue is chock full of ethical and moral dilemmas, none of which would exist if all people honored the lives of others they way they honor their own and respected life from conception to natural death. Details surrounding this case continue to emerge and the fates of these two new human beings are far from settled. But they are alive. 

See if something stirs within you when you read the story and watch the interview:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Funday

After a late night last night, we lounged around this morning, and then got up to do some chores around the house. The man of my dreams put off his run to help me around the house, including MOVING THE FURNITURE TO VACUUM BEHIND AND UNDER IT! Eventually, we got around to making some snacks because we had kinda skipped lunch and breakfast and had only light beer for the previous night's dinner. Right about that time, some of our favorite people on the planet arrived:

(Yeah, the dad in the family, one of my lifelong friends, was here, too, but he just didn't make the adorable photo.)

While the girls swam, she told a 90-minute story and then I told a 90-minute story, and then we all ate more snacks and then it was too-soon time for them to leave.

After blowing many goodbye kisses, I went to lay down, because all that vacuuming had caught up with me, but, just two minutes later, my boyfriend yelled, "Get up! It's time to go to the movies!" And so we did. I got to pick the movie, and I chose "The 100-Foot Journey" which I had been excited to see because I read the book a few years ago and really enjoyed it. And the movie was wonderful! We both loved it! Two thumbs up!

When we got home, I took the dog outside for a while and he didn't even notice a rabbit sitting in the yard until he nearly stepped on it, so that was pretty funny. I picked up a little more inside and then the kids Face-Timed us from their adventure with Grandma and Grandpa R. We made ridiculous faces at them until they got annoyed and wanted to go to bed, which meant our mission was complete.

Save missing my babies terribly, that is how I have one WONDERFUL day.

Friday, August 8, 2014

On This Day in History

This is another one of those really-for-only-my-interest-documenting-my-kids'-lives posts. One of the children began talking in the car about what she wants to be when she grows up. In turn, I surveyed each of the children, and here are the life plans as of today:

Amanda, age 12: a teacher, or a pharmacist, or a receptionist-nurse who answers phones and makes appointments but no blood
Elisabeth, age almost 11: a pediatrician, or a nurse who does check-ins and vitals at a clinic
Benjamin, age 8: an OB/GYN (or "baby doctor" as he has been saying since he could talk)
Madeline, age 5: "a cop"

I love them, whoever they are, whatever they become.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Our Fair Mother

We had a fun night out with these two and my SIL, taking in "My Fair Lady" at the Guthrie Theater for my MIL's birthday, which is today.

The musical was wonderful, beautiful and fun (if a bit too long for my tastes) and-- I think-- we all enjoyed being out together.  It can be difficult to schedule time with all the busy adults in this family, and then to convince Grandma and Grandpa it is OK to go and do something without the grandchildren.

This woman is one of the dazzling, amazing, driving forces in my life and I am grateful for another year of her health and happiness.  Here's to many more!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fun and Not Fun

Anonymous Child: "Mom, does Dad like a big fuss for his birthday?"
Me: "Yeah. Well, I mean... I don't think he really cares much about the gifts because he pretty much buys himself whatever he wants, but Daddy definitely always likes a party."
Child: "Of course, he does. Parties are the best! I love that Dad. He is so much fun."
Me: "He is. But, wait-- Am I NOT fun just because I don't want a big fuss for my birthday?"
Child: "Noooo, oh, no. There are lots of other reasons why you are not fun."
(Long pause)
Child: (wistfully) "I just love that fun, fun Dad."

Monday, August 4, 2014

Offerings of Prayer

My dad is home tonight, recovering from ear surgery. My sister and I were hanging out with him and Mom today at the hospital. I am not sure our presence was fully appreciated. Things went well, and I know he and mom are looking forward to a speedy and uncomplicated ear surgery. Thank you for your prayers every day. On that note, here are some more things we can all pray for:

*for Carol, Todd and Lisa and all who are mourning the death of Ardy on July 7
*for a friend and her children and all who are mourning a beloved's death on July 19
*in honor of Kathy and David's and Joan and Zeno's 50th wedding anniversaries on July 26
*in thanksgiving for C. finding her forever family
*in thanksgiving of my FIL's stable scan results on July 30
*in celebration of Jeffrey and Chelsey being joined in marriage on August 1
*for Laura and Jenny, married August 2
*for Ellen and family, remembering Truman on his due date, August 2
*to fill open production volunteer positions for Saints on Stage
*for students and teachers preparing to return to school within the month

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Day of Friends and Fun

Today was the kind of day we dream about around here for so many months out of the year.

My lifelong friend Beth and her family came for their annual visit from Albuquerque, and it was just a great day to be here, to be together. I didn't pull a photo of Beth and me off the camera yet, but here is one you don't usually see, of the two husbands or "captains":

The children had a great time catching up, hanging out and bouncing around:

(Yes, that includes the biggest kids.)

It's this kind of day that makes me so especially glad about where and how we live. I am thankful and grateful.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Up and Down Day

Today has felt like one big mood swing all the way around. There have been some real highs and some real lows. I guess life is like that.

1. I got a lot of exercise-- a morning workout with my hubby and an evening walk with my friend. I still do not like exercise... I. Do. Not... But, I admit I am more productive the more active I am.
2. It was sunny and hot all day-- just the way I like it.
3. My one child, who seems to cause me more grief than the other three combined, had a glorious day. She was cheerful and helpful, a good daughter, a good sister, and a good friend. And I told her so.

1. Even being all exercise-energetic, I did not accomplish half the things on my to-do list. It's frustrating to me that the days don't have more hours or that the kids don't make fewer messes. As a result, I had an even-shorter-than-usual fuse come bedtime.
2. The annual Relay for Life in my in-laws' town was rained out. The kids, Todd and I had really been looking forward to attending the event, in support of my survivor FIL and also my MIL who was set to speak this year on behalf of caregivers.
3. Today was to be my sister's due date with Truman. I know most babies don't arrive on their scheduled due dates, but most don't arrive three-and-a-half months early, either. I remember way back when Ellen announced she was expecting this summer, I thought, "Well, at least there will be one good thing about turning 40: a new baby."

So, now, I am sitting down with a big slice of Dairy Queen birthday cake, individually portioned and stowed away in the freezer for me and only me. I think I'll make it a double.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Love for a Lifetime

We had the privilege this evening of attending the wedding of dear friends Chelsey and Jeffrey. Chelsey and her family lived next door when we moved to this house, and she often babysat for our children. Even after graduating and going away to college, having her parents move across town and getting a teaching job in the Chicago area, she has maintained a presence in our lives (she has also brought Jeffrey into the mayhem, though Madeline in the early months referred to him as "the tall guy with the hat.") I can't be sure whether these two want children, but, I sure hope so, because it is obvious children want them.
We wish Chels and Jeff every happiness in their future together... many laughs, many games of Frisbee Golf, many hikes and swims, much love, and abounding joy. May God bless them with all these and more.