Thursday, October 30, 2014

All Hallowed Piles

I lead a charmed life, and I never tire of counting all the blessings and joys.  However, the state of this house the day before Halloween does not fit into that category.
Electrical supplies for the LED highlights on Amanda's Glinda the Good Witch dress

Lots of way-past-bedtime adjustments and plenty of snarky commentary from the younger sister

Ransacked bins for the children who change their minds every five minutes... And a game of Fibber at the ready for the non-costume moments

I don't want to wish away my life... But I am ready for November and a brief lull before the Christmas mess.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Don't Drink the Ink

My day began at 5 a.m., with the whimper of a child by the side of my bed: "Mommy, I fink I'm gonna frow up." There's a wake-up call for ya... because, if there's one thing I despise, it's barf. If there's one thing I despise more than that, it's barf on the carpeting... or in my hair. I jumped up and ushered the whimperer into the bathroom. I turned on the light, raised the toilet seat and got the heck out of the way. But she hovered just inside the doorway and seemed to compose herself.

"Mommy, wait--" Don't you "Mommy, wait" me, after yanking me out of a really weird dream with the threat of imminent emesis. Yet, what choice did I have? "What is it, Baby?" "Mom, what happens if you eat brown stamp?" 


"What happens if you eat brown stamp?" She held up her thumb and showed me its wrinkled pad. I sighed. (I sigh a lot.) "What are you talking about, Honey?" The Little One began crying again. "We were making puppies in school and we hadded to use the brown stamp and I had brown on my fumb but then I sucked it all off and now I feel like I'm gonna barf." I explained that the ink was not poisonous and would not harm her. I reassured her she was going to be OK. "But my SPIT is BROWN!"

I offered a Dixie Cup of water, which was accepted and consumed, as the sobbing ceased. She said, "I think I'm gonna be OK now." We walked back to her bedroom. I tucked her back into bed, but not before noticing the little, damp spots on the side of the sheet, presumably where the saliva scrutiny had taken place, though, in the dark, I cannot imagine how she saw the non-existent brown tint.

Little minds are frantic, fearful, funny things.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Real Statements, Made In Krinkeland, Today

"Mom, there's no moon."
"Yes, there is a moon; it's just hiding behind the clouds, so we can't see it."
"Oh, we can't see the moon... But at least we can hear it!"

"I'm gonna need a really tight shirt, a fake beard, and some green hairspray."
"Dare I ask why?"
"Mooom, for my Halloween costume, of course."
"Of course. What exactly are you going to be?"
"A derp hobo."

"What is that down the dog's back?"
"Why is there yogurt on the dog?"
"Who knows these things?"

"I just spent 10 minutes brushing yogurt out of the dog."
"Yogurt?! We thought it was frosting."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Final Poduct

Because her quasi-filmmaker father is really wondering if everyone appreciates his art, I share with you this part of Amanda's FACS project, "Meatball":

Bon appetit!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pushing the Right Button

In for the night, giving up on work for the night, I just sat down to watch some mindless television, but the TV would not turn on.  It was an immediate frustration... And one that hits me regularly around here, because some short people like to play Musical Remotes (meaning someone cannot find the remote for the television s/he is watching probably because a different sibling hid it between the sofa cushions to prevent the changing of the channels) and the remote controls are only somewhat interchangeable, but do not completely do the job with channels and volumes and such. But, I checked the back of the remote and it was marked with the signature blue Band-Aid, which officially labels it as belonging to the master bedroom television.

So, it was actually that the remote control itself did not work. I astutely figured this out because the buttons were not lighting up. I turned over the remote to check the batteries, and, lo and behold, one of the AAs was missing-- an empty spot in the chamber. Just then, my son passed by with a humming battery-operated toothbrush in one hand and a teeny, tiny screwdriver in the other.

Coincidence? Methinks not.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Leaving the Light On

I'm leaving the front porch light on tonight, in honor of the 25th anniversary of Jacob Wetterling's abduction.

The story is here:, but anyone who's from this area already knows it. Jacob's disappearance has had a significant impact on my life. Just a few years older than him, and living less than an hour away from his family's home, I remember when the then-11-year-old boy was taken by an unknown assailant to an unknown location to meet an unknown fate. I went on to high school... I went to college... I met the love of my life... I got married... I established a career... I bought a home... I had children...

During that time, my career was in broadcast journalism, and, when I moved into the Twin Cities television market, I had opportunity to get to know the gators of Jacob's abduction from a different side. I got to help tell his story, help keep Jacob at the forefront of people's minds. And, now, as a mother, my fears for my children are shaped by what happened (WHAT HAPPENED?) to Jacob. Oft-quoted statistics on missing children tell us that kidnapping is no more common today than it was in the 1970s; but try telling that to anyone of us who has been impacted by Jacob Wetterling's story.

We are all changed.

No one is changed as much as Jacob's family. They continue to pine for him, to wait for him, to ask for him, to pray for him. Of course, they do. We all do.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

If At First You Don't Succeed...

"Mom, my nostrils are really dry from blowing my nose."
"I bet."
"Today in school, I put hand sanitizer in my nose to see if it would sting."
"Yeah? I bet it did."
"Yeah, it really, really hurt."

"I did it twice."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Food Network Awaits

Amanda has a school project for FACS class that involves making a meal for the family. Of course, she had all of Fall Break to do it, and, of course, she waited until Sunday afternoon to think about it. In her defense, Amanda has not been feeling well much of the weekend, but I still blame Middle School Brain, too. 

The girl chose and planned the menu with some of her favorite foods. I dictated the recipes out of my brain, estimating and fabricating wherever necessary. Naturally, she chose dishes for which I did not already have all the ingredients on hand, so we went grocery shopping together. I bored my daughter with talk of coupons and price comparison. She irritated me by taking us back to the same aisle three times because she kept forgetting something or other.

That's pretty much where I leave her... Until I have to advise ("Dried onion flakes are not the same as fresh, diced onion." "I would not turn on the sauté pan until you've rolled all the meatballs because you're probably going to be really slow at rolling the first time.") I would love to go and read my book, knowing for once dinner was being made for my family and not by my hands. But, that's not really the way it works, is it?

Meantime, being her father's daughter, Amanda also wanted her meal preparation and cooking sequence videotaped and turned into a cooking segment. This is where things get really interesting. I got Amanda set up and briefly left the room. I returned to this:

Dad is the one-man camera crew and Madeline is the assistant. Todd scolded, "If you are going to stand there, be still and QUIT SINGING!" Amanda added, "And quit FARTING!" Daddy is trying to explain about shot composition and lighting and all that fun stuff. Meantime, Elisabeth and Benjamin were feeling kind of left out, I imagine, so they donned footie pajamas and clunky costume jewelry and started running through the shots. This upset everyone, and caused the cameraman-director to yell, "Quiet on the set!" This set off more peals of laughter.

It's times like these I wonder about other students, other families, other projects. Theirs might be simpler... Or better... But they cannot be as much fun.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Standards for Showering

"Mom, do I need to take a shower before bed?"
"I don't know-- do you?"
"Yeah, I do."
"Why do you?"
"Because my armpits smell like my breath and the rest of me smells like my butt cheeks, including my butt cheeks."

Shower on, Little One, shower on.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fun in the Middle

Upon picking up the middle schooler from an event tonight, she offered explanations for some of her friends' nicknames:

"Well, he loves everything that's green and squishy, so 'Flubber' was a natural choice."

"We couldn't exactly think of a nickname for her, so we went for a walk and just called her the first thing we saw, 'Sumac.'"

"And, 'Chet,' well, Chet's just cool."

She also told me all about hanging out with these three, and how it was like "getting the gang back together." (She saw them at school yesterday.) I inquired about "Sumac" and whether there were any kids in attendance from her class, which is different than Amanda's: "Oh, there were, Mom. She just prefers to hang with us... And we prefer for her to hang with us."

I wouldn't want to go back and relive middle school... But I wouldn't mind having friends like these.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Who's the Boss?

Friend: "My dad says when my sister leaves for college, we are going to replace her with a dog!"
(She goes on to give a detailed explanation of her father's years-long dog lobbying, but how her mother always seems to overrule his dreams for a four-legged friend.)
Ben: "Why don't you just explain to your mom that your dad is the boss of your family, so it's really his decision to make?"
Friend: "Well, I don't think that would work..."
Libby: "Why? Does your mom just boss your dad around and call all the shots?"
Friend: "Well, not all the time."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hot Dogs

Because my nephew Elias's birthday fell on the same day as my kids' piano lessons with Auntie Ellen, we got to join him for his birthday supper of hot dogs. The real gift of the evening, however, came from the dinner table conversation:

Oliver: "Hot dogs should always be HOT because the word 'hot' is in the name."
Terry: "Oh, OK. Thanks for that."
Me: "Why do you think they're called hot dogs, anyway? Who came up with that strange name and why?"
Oliver: "I don't know."
Amanda: "The name 'hot dog' actually came because the shape is said to resemble the dachshund or 'wiener dog.' I know this because I once did research on the origin of the term 'hot dog.'"
Solomon: "WHY would anyone do that?!"
Amanda: "Why WOULDN'T anyone do that?!"

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What I Tolerate at the Gym

For the sake of my own sanity, I am probably going to have to start dropping off and picking up the kids at gymnastics, because weird stuff keeps happening in the observation area. Today, I was at the gym for two hours, because two of the kids had back-to-back classes. (That's one of the reasons I bring my book and stay, because otherwise I would be making multiple loops between the gym and home all evening.) During the second hour, a woman and a man walked in front of the bleachers. The woman climbed to the top row where I was sitting; the man sat down on the bench in the row in front of us. She began chatting with a woman on her other side (who was yammering loudly about her daughter getting hormone injections, and I felt sad for her little girl) and both were alternately watching their children tumble.

Soon, the man stood up, turned around, and declared, "I can't take this-- I gotta get out of here." He was kind of looking at me when he said it and I was trying to figure out what I could have done. I rearranged my handbag and my empty soda can, thinking he was upset that I hadn't made room for him to sit next to his wife. However, she just shrugged and kept talking, and he left.

A few minutes later, the guy returned, reeking of smoke. I thought I had solved the riddle: What he couldn't take was going without a cigarette... But it still seemed odd that he announced that fact to a room full of people. He sat back down in his original spot, but, after another five or 10 minutes, he made a big production out of standing up in front of the gallery and announcing, "I just can't take this anymore-- I WILL NOT sit here and listen to someone read aloud from their cell phone the whole time! I am NOT GONNA DO IT!" And he stormed out.

There was a couple sitting on the other side of him and both the man and the woman appeared to be playing with their phones. Lots of people were playing on their phones; I had my iPad. I certainly couldn't hear them saying anything, and neither of them acknowledged that they'd heard the man or that he could be talking about one of them. The wife and the other woman discussed the outburst this way:
W: "Well, I would think he could tolerate talking to be able to sit here and watch his daughter, but I guess not."
OW: "No, I guess not."
W: "The only thing I can think is they must have been reading something political-- he has VERY strong political opinions, so it was probably hard for him to sit there and keep his mouth shut." (He didn't.)
OW: "Oh, really? Yeah, my husband has strong opinions, too, but, if someone said something he didn't agree with, he would just think they were ignorant."

Everything was just weird and uncomfortable, and my kid's class was nearly over, anyway, so I packed up and headed for the entry way. That's where I found him:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Nailed it!

My mother often comments about me "laughing" at not-so-funny things that happen with my children and in our home.  I typically respond, "Well, if I wasn't laughing, I'd be crying." There is a lot of truth in that... And the truest related truth is that I tend to cry not when I'm sad, but when I'm ticked off.

My children try me. My husband tries me. Sometimes, they win. I am not proud to admit I have muttered to my husband, "Your behavior is the reason domestic violence exists" or " I really, really want to hurt you right now." But then I leave the room. 

This level of restraint is tested even more often with the children, because there are more of them, they spend more time with me, I do more for them, and they are smaller and weaker than I am. I take a deep breath and remove myself from the situation, just as I had to do with Diesel on the gymnastics bleachers, and just as I may soon have to do with the kid who is loudly humming "Amazing Grace" across the dental waiting room right now. Restraint is one of the key "Special Skills" on my mommy hood resume.

Monday, October 6, 2014

In the Audience

Why am I always stuck in the gym observation area next to the naughty preschooler named "Diesel?" In Diesel's defense, he is not so much naughty as he is three. A three-year-old expected to sit quietly in uncomfortable bleachers while his sister ("Unleaded?") tumbles for 90 minutes is a recipe for disaster, wouldn't you say?  And the situation is compounded by idiot parents who threaten 14 times, "Do you want me to take you out of here? Get your boots!" 

Of course, Diesel wears cowboy boots. Of course, he wants to get out of here. We all do. Take him. Take yourselves. Leave me to my novel, my Facebook and my Hay Day. Oh, I mean, leave me to watch in wonder as my little gymnast tumbles and totters. 

But, no. They have no real intention of leaving with the young gnat. The threats are empty and that is even more annoying.

To add insult to injury, Diesel just fell off the bleachers and his parents laughed. Who does that?! In public, I mean.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Trusted Advisers

My friends are wise. So wise. You may think I am unable to absorb their wisdom, what with all the talking I seem to be constantly doing, but I do also listen. Hey, I'm a mom-- I multitask! Then, in moments of quiet solitude (of which I have a lot more lately, and about which I am not complaining) the words roll around my mind and help me to do the right thing. 

Yes, I love all those little graphics on Facebook with quotable and scripture verses and words to live by. But you don't have to be Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Ronald Reagan to inspire me.  Here are some of my favorite and most-often used lessons from my sages. Use as you see fit:

"Pain changes a person."  --D.L.
"No, what I learned (from the bad things that happened to me in childhood) is that I CAN'T protect my children from everything."  --A.T.
"The faster route is always the one comprised of right turns."  --C.L.
"Oh, I don't think the Lord intended for us not to suffer. There's a lot for us to learn and gain from suffering."  --E.B.
"Hey, every day's a craps shoot."  --T.K.
"I choose happy."  --H.T.

Maybe someday, I will say something worthwhile...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Many Faces of Madeline

Recently, we had family photos with my in-laws taken here at our house. It was a trying event, what with nine personalities, rain showers, mosquitoes, and my usual short-tempered-ness. Local photographer and friend Katie Benson of Katie B Photography ( held things together remarkably well. The results will be coming to Krinkeland walls and a Christmas card near you. In the meantime, be entertained by the Many Faces of Madeline.

The Damage is Done

I should be really, really angry about the corn chowder on the ceiling... But, a long time ago, someone instituted living-room kickball in Krinkeland... And, frankly, I'm surprised it took this long for the damage to happen.