Friday, September 26, 2014

Sights and Sayings

I am working on a post... a bunch of posts, actually... but there is some processing going on here... So, in the meantime, enjoy these thoughts from others who put things much more eloquently than I ever could.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Requests and Reading

I have plenty of prayer requests for you this week, particularly in the area of DADDIES.
*Please pray for my FIL Harlan, as scan results show new growth and chemotherapy will start up again next week:
*Please pray for Russ, the father of a dear friend. He is also wrestling with a difficult cancer diagnosis and the prognosis with treatment:
*Please pray for another friend Wade, along his cancer journey. Give thanks that he has qualified for an  experimental trial, as we hope it brings him some relief.
*Please pray for the K. and L. families, as they mourn the losses of their patriarchs.

And, once you're done with all these prayers, offer some thankfulness for our sweet girl, who, while not exactly reading yet, at least has a great knack for memorization:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Groomer in the Making?

"Mom, if Jones' hair goes out, will it grow back?"
"So, I could cut it?!"
"No! NO! Don't you ever cut the dog's hair! Do you hear me?"
"Well, I'm trying not to, but the sound keeps getting in my ears."
"Madeline, listen to me: Promise me you will never cut the dog's hair."
"OK. Can Annie cut Jonesy's hair?"
"No. If Jones ever needed a haircut, we would take him to a specially trained person called a dog groomer."
"No, the word is GROOMER."
"Groomer... heh, heh... Funny word."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Random Acts of Apple Crisp

These beautiful, wonderful falling-into-fall days have me baking. I am not a baker by nature, of course, but, once all the apples have been picked, they must be used before they rot. (I learned that from my brilliant mother.) So, in between a visit to mass, wrapping up some lake chores, and mediating sibling disputes, I peeled my fingers to the bone-- just kidding, no blood in the baking dishes-- and sliced and sifted until all the pans were full of steaming sweetness.

As I was cutting and creating, people I love came to mind. I prayed for them and all the various trials they are facing. I guess I was kind of like the cook in that one movie. Was it "Like Water for Chocolate?" You know, it's the film where that woman cried and cried as she cooked, and then her food made sad the people who consumed it... something like that. I thought of my beloved friends and family members, and I prayed for their happiness, their healing, their triumphs, and their acceptance. 

One after another, I mentally assigned baked goods to the recipients. After I cleaned up my baking mess, made dinner, and cleaned up that mess, the kids and I loaded into the car with the still warm treats and committed Random Acts of Apple Crisp. We delivered the dishes to a half-dozen beloved households... And I have more in the oven tonight to distribute in the morning. The kids thought it was fun to go visiting, especially to some people we have not seen in a while, and the older girls really split a gut at my dubbing of the "Random Acts."

For those who did not get an evening dessert delivery, please know that you, too, are prayed for and loved. It's just that you live too far away... Or that someone in your home has an illness, allergy or aversion that would not mesh well with apple bars, apple pie, or apple crisp... Or that I eventually, finally ran out of apples.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Need a Laugh?

I am not sure what is wrong with me tonight, but I laughed so hard I cried over these:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's Only Her Third Week

For some reason, the after-school discussion between me and the children usually centers on food. I'm thinking this is probably because whenever I try to talk to them, they are digging through the refrigerator. The routine is pretty much: run off the bus, drop the backpacks, and head for the pantry. So, we talk about what got eaten, what is going to be eaten, and what must not be eaten, while running through the rest of the day's events. Occasionally, it's pretty entertaining.

Mom: "Did you eat all your lunch today?"
Madeline: "Yes. Except not any of the rice and not any of the broccoli. I didn't have to eat that. Well, I did have to try it, but I didn't eat it."
M: "OK, well, then, what did you have for an afternoon snack?"
M: "What?"
M: "I thought in kindergarten you always got a snack in the afternoon. What was it?"
M: "We do, but today we didn't."
M: "Oh. Why not?"
M: "We were going to have snack, but then we runned out of time, because of library."
M: "Oh, you had library today? Did you return your 'Corduroy' book and get a different one?"
M: "'Corduroy?!'"
M: "Yeah, that book about the teddy bear you checked out last week?"
M: "Oh, yeah-- 'Corduroy!'"
M: "Did you return the book and get a new one?"
M: "No."
M: "Why not?"
M: "We only get to do that once a week-- on library day."
M: "I thought today was library day."
M: "It was."
Mom: "I'm confused."
Madeline: "Me, too."

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Simple Life

When a child is very small, the birthday celebration is a breeze-- wrap up a $10 gift, grab a Mylar balloon and have some cake. Done.

It turns out, once you're a grown-up of no significant age, things are just as simple. When I had my birthday about six weeks ago, Todd was frustrated over the gift-buying process, because there was nothing I needed... Nothing I even wanted... Life is that good. Today, the tables are turned.

Todd is 42 years old today, but he might as well be 2-- because it was that east to make it a good day (I think, I hope!) The kids helped select and wrap up a few gifts. We threw some steaks on the grill. Throw in some Coldstone cupcakes, and it's a very good day.

Here's to many more birthdays!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Newest Arrival

One of the many things we all love about Elisabeth is her fascinating talent of making up words and names. She insists on using the adjective "terrid" to describe just about everything. ("Mom, 'horrible' and 'horrid' are both words, right? So, this is the same thing.") Most of Libby's terminology is much more obscure, however, and I wouldn't even venture guesses on spellings and/or meanings. 

She also very creatively names things. For months, she played a game she invented called "Ovige" where players called out someone by that name if they were holding something in their hands and their feet were not touching the ground. Or something like that. I can't exactly remember, because the girl and her games make my head hurt. What I mostly remember is that she would yell out "Ovige!" and point to someone sitting on a bench next to some shopping bags or something. Invariably, the strangers thought my daughter was yelling "Amish!" so that seemed very narrow-minded, ethnocentric, and just plain wrong of us.

She creates these names and sounds for people and toys, too.  When playing house or "babies" with her siblings, it's common for all their babies' names to be, say, Ella, Bob, and CleondraFazJoopnine.

By now, we mostly all just go with it.

For her birthday, Elisabeth asked her grandparents for one of those enormous stuffed bears from Costco. (I am quite certain she had developed a serious jealous streak after her three-year-old cousin got one of these bears.) Libby had to strap him into a seatbelt in the car and his enormous head filled up the entire back window, obscuring my view all the way home. She has since dressed up the bear in her own clothes and dragged it all over the house and the yard. Most recently, the bear was laid out on a sofa, covered with a comforter... And I thought it was Todd. We won't be calling this "the bear," however:

Meet FishGeral Chyumliee.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sleeping Over

As I type, Benjamin is (God willing) settling in for the night at his first sleepover party at a friend's house.  It is a birthday party for his friend Jacob, pictured below, in the center, with the bad teeth and facial hair:
My boy, right next to him in this photo sent out via text from the party host's mother, does seem to have an odd, uncomfortable expression on his face... But it could just be anxiety over knowing his mother was going to see that large bag of candy he is clutching. Aren't they a cute lineup of future thugs?

I had virtually no anxiety about sending off this son to sleep over with someone other than family. First of all, he's our third kid... So, we've long ago broken the seal on sleepovers, with varying success depending on the age and the temperament of the child. Secondly, we are friendly with this family, so there is no concern about the okay-ness of the place or the people. Finally, Ben seemed totally cool with it, so why should anyone else get keyed up? Maybe it's the boy in him. It's not that I want a show of false-machismo-bravado... But maybe sleepovers are just one of the many areas where boys seem to think, No big deal.

I pray Benjamin's sleepover goes smoothly, with me picking up my slightly overtired but still smiling boy sometime after breakfast. However, just in case, I have settled down within arm's reach of all the telephones. Upon arrival earlier this afternoon, he ran off with his buddies without a backward glance... But, if homesickness strikes, Mommy will come. She always does.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Apples Among Us

Crazy, cool weather we've been experiencing since school started... So, this week, before a big predicted storm hit, and while Todd was in Europe again, the kids and I went out one evening on a group dog walk. Truth be told, their sedentariness (probably not a word) was really getting to me. I felt they'd had a week to adjust to school, so sauntering off the bus and plopping down on the sofa till bedtime was not going to fly. We walked around the block as the dark clouds began rolling in.

As we got back to the house, Madeline remarked on her little apple tree in the front yard, with its branches really weighed down with fruit. Unsure what the wind would do that night, I got out a stepladder and handed Maddy two empty buckets. I said I would pick the apples off the tree and hand them to her; she should put good apples in the green bucket and bad (rotten, bird-pecked, wormy) apples in the red one.

That little tree-- not even five years old-- gave us an overfilled five-gallon pail of good, baking apples! Behold, the harvest:

I peeled and sliced and made three large pans of apple crisp. Baking, even though it's tedious and not nearly as fun as reading novels, is a good thing to do as the weather turns cool. Fall is definitely in the air (and on our waistlines!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Eleven on the Tenth

This girl is ELEVEN years old today!

The kids wanted to get up early and open gifts before Amanda got on the middle school bus. It seemed like a small request to grant.

I think she was happy with what she got... And maybe even a little surprised.

Then, Big Sis had to go to school.

For the first time I can recall, Daddy had to be out of the country for a kid's birthday. It was a big bummer, but he let Elisabeth know he was thinking about her... And promised some special time together when he returns.

Libby and I baked and decorated her cake together. The batter was a tie-dyed rainbow that turned out pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves.

Here's hoping all the 11-year-old's dreams come true for the year ahead! She is one amazing gift.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Few Remarks on Age

In advance of Elisabeth's eleventh birthday, my grandma sent her a card and some birthday money. She does this for all of her great-grandchildren, and I happen to think it's pretty remarkable. Sure, she keeps all the dates written down. Sure, someone has to take her to get stamps. Sure, a group a senior bus to nearby towns to buy cards and such. But, still-- remarkable. 

Included with the card was this note to the whole family:

(Her handwriting is challenging, I know, but this is a woman who technically has had less formal schooling than said great-granddaughter. Remarkable. In translation, the note reads: Hello up there. Hope all is OK your way. I am getting slower so guess I am old. Take care. Love you all, Grandma)

My grandma is 98 years old and preparing to celebrate her own birthday next week. NOW she guesses she is OLD.


And hilarious.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Breakfasts of My Champions

Some of my kids are not so good at breakfast. I consider it an inherited trait, because eating is not what I want to do right when I wake up either. However, school is back in session, and, considering they all get on the bus about an hour after waking, and then there's no lunch till three or four hours into the school day, breakfast is a necessity... So, we are working on it... But it is a process.

When I was in high school, we had a friend who came to school every morning talking about the hot breakfasts his mother prepared for him and his siblings every morning. For real. I mean, Yippee, Mother of the Year Award right there. Not me. I just don't seek that kind of offspring approval. It's not the way God made me.

Also, there are only so many hot breakfast items my children like, and most of them are really unhealthy. They're pretty much the standard bacon-eggs-pancakes variety. Even with turkey bacon, egg whites and whole wheat flour (which pretty much ruin the yummy-ness of a hot breakfast) nobody needs all that every morning.

The other thing we're up against is a movement to eat reasonably in terms of sugar and carbs (which are just more sugar.) So, even though no dietitian would exactly classify the Krinkeland pantry as HEALTHY, there are some breakfast items I, on principle alone, will not buy: boxed cereal, processed breads, Pop-Tarts and other ready-made dessert breakfasts.

So, where does that leave us?

Typically, the two breakfast eaters will have hot cereal with fruit, Greek yogurt with fruit, or the like. The middle schooler has mastered the Tupperware omelet maker (or whatever it's called) and often makes herself a hot breakfast in the microwave, which I think is wonderful, because, while I am technically awake and present, I reiterate I AM NOT MY HIGH  SCHOOL FRIEND'S MOM. I even bought her a carton of egg whites, which makes it super-simple, and she will toss in some spinach leaves, shredded Swiss cheese, and more things that are not otherwise regulars in her diet, so we are golden.

The two non-breakfast eaters are more challenging. Maybe I can get in them a banana, or part of a granola bar, or the blender remnants of Daddy's protein shake. Sometimes, they end up going without and they are hungry before lunch. I know they are. I try to pack extra. I pray they will learn their lessons.

Today was Monday. 

When I made my way downstairs, I asked Amanda, "What did you put in your omelet that smells so good?" She said, "I didn't have an omelet. I heated up leftover Chinese takeout. I saw it in the fridge and I felt betrayed you had it when I was gone. So, I had it for breakfast. It was delicious."

After she left, Benjamin woke up and came into the kitchen asking to eat. I offered the usual options, to which he issued a blanket veto. Finally, he asked, "Can't I just have a frozen dinner?" And he heated up some Swedish meatballs. 

Things could be worse. I had two cans of Diet Mountain Dew after they all got on the bus.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Beloved Countenances

School has begun and the kids instantly look older-- taller, cooler shoes, you know the drill. We've had lots of facial appearance changes around here... today, Madeline got her glasses; yesterday, Benjamin lost one of his front teeth. Also this week, some newlywed friends posted photos from their wedding, which our family attended earlier this summer. When I saw this one, I was struck-- not by the tan-ness of my arm or what a great dress that was (again, mine)-- but by the sweet angle of the photographer's shot and how he caught the utter glee on all my children's faces.  Look how the bride is hugging the two in the middle. Look how the groom is hugging the two on the ends. Look how the big girls are smiling their biggest, truest grins. Look how the little ones have hands clasped in delight. Beloved countenances.
(Courtesy Adam Kennedy Photography 2014)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Overwhelm the World with Blessings

Someone wise recently suggested a gratitude journal or list of blessings as a means to increasing happiness and overall positive outlook. It sounded like a great idea to me. To encourage our family to think along these lines, I announced at the table this evening that each dinner discussion would begin with every family member sharing something from the day for which they are grateful. While it wasn't the thing I shared, I found myself immediately grateful when three of the children gave gratitude for their school/teachers/classmates. (The fourth considers CLOUDS a blessing, so there's that, too.)

I am going to start my list and keep it going, hoping it soon surpasses my list of prayer requests. What a great way to begin and end the day! I do not intend to share with you-- or anyone-- everything for which I am grateful, but I think the biggest blessing of gratitude comes from spreading it, so here's a start:

*a husband who is a hard worker and a good provider
*a comfortable home 
*slip-on shoes
*friends who are role models
*slightly cool mornings and evenings
*legs and energy to walk the dog
*yoga pants and long skirts
*the local book shop and its many valuable qualities
*the best elliptical machine at the gym
*red grapes, and the means to buy all fresh fruits and vegetables at any time
*long, hot showers
*my inhaler
*more adults than I can count loving on my kids and supporting us all
*hoodies and cardigans
*card games
*board games
*Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day hand soap in Basil
*the knowledge "this, too, shall pass"
*mindless iPad game apps so I can think about other things while I play
*the gymnastics coach's compassionate but spot-on correction of a kid (and her mother) at today's class
*medication when a child doesn't feel well 
*teasing and then loving up my young nephews and nieces
*my new car
*hand sanitizer
*bearing one another's burdens
*fountain soda

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

School Kids

All the Krinkeland offspring are now in all-day school.  Weird.

Seems like I just sent this one off to kindergarten...
...but, it turns out she's actually a seventh grader this year...

...and THIS one today got to pick up her backpack and follow in the others' footsteps.

That's literally what happened at our end-of-the-driveway bus stop, as she followed her older sister and brother up the bus steps, cheerily calling over her shoulder, "Sorry, Dad!" We can only assume she was referring to the bus's arrival interrupting her father's shooting of a full-length movie, "Pretty in Plaid."
Of course, I much preferred their arrival home at the end of the school day, where they bounded off the bus and came running down the driveway, backpacks bouncing and tongues already wagging. No photo of that, though-- because I had my arms ready for hugs.

Monday, September 1, 2014

On the Eve of the First Day of School

I feel blessed we had a wonderful day at home together as a family, swimming and boating, playing games, reading books. I enjoyed tucking in each child at bedtime and saying prayers. I am grateful each child told me something (in some cases, LOTS of things) he or she is excited about this school year. I will sleep well knowing things are happening just the way they are supposed to happen. My children are headed to a wonderful place filled with amazing people. The school bus comes in the morning!