Thursday, November 27, 2014


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day at my parents' house. It was filled with the usual traditions and jabs and demands from small people. We have so much for which to be thankful:
*the birth of Baby Theo
*Kazmer's return to health
*Harlan's breathing more easily 
*a new diagnosis for Amanda's breathing difficulties and therapy on the way
*a new home for Todd's stepmother
*a lovely recent visit between Amanda and Gua
*great times for the kids playing in the snow
*new successes for Todd's company
*funds to shop for gifts

We miss Todd's dad, thinking of him especially this morning when we were making phone calls to the family members we did not see today... And, this weekend, we will lay to rest Ardy's older brother Dean. Even in times of sadness we must find ways to rejoice and to give thanks.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Dog's Life

My husband just proposed that he thinks, for one year, right in the center of his life (like, now, maybe?) he would like to live as a dog. He told the dog he seems to have a pretty nice life... And he would like to get in on that, just for a little while. All I can think is how much quieter things would be around here if I was married to a dog... And how I would never have to come up with a new idea for dinner... And how I would be able to stop searching for keys, and belts, and shoes...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Little People, Big Mouths

I volunteered in kindergarten today. It's something I do only every so often because-- let me just be upfront here-- once in a while is all I can take. Don't get me wrong-- I LOVE those little urchins. They are adorable and sparkly and oh-so-full-of-energy. They wear me out.

One stared at the braces on my teeth and asked what they were for; so, when I told him they were to make my teeth straighter, I asked if it looked like they were working. He made a face and said, "Nah."

One told me he was an expert at making macaroni and cheese all by himself, but he was afraid to stir the corn muffin batter.

One planted her face in my crotch every time she hugged me, and she hugged me repeatedly. (That was not my kid.)

One told me I smelled like a hospital. (That was my kid.)

One told me over and over again, "Hotz-yee," and I thought he was calling me "Hottie" but he was actually saying, "Yahtzee!"

One tattled to the teacher that I dropped an egg on the floor.

One overheard me call another student "Honey" (because they are ALL honeys) and chastised me, "Does he live in your house? Because, if he doesn't live in your house, I don't think you should be calling him 'Honey.'"

And, then, I left kindergarten and went to the bar.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

C'mon Parents

While at the kids' school one day this week, I was chatting with some fellow mommies and talking up my nephews-- how my biggest nephew is recovering from his awful infection and hospital time, and how my littlest nephew is so busy growing cheeks and racking up hours outside the womb. My friends were asking after both families and how they are doing, and I relayed typical Proud Auntie stories about all of them. Every time I referred to one or another of my nephews or nieces, one woman would exclaim, "Oh, I just love that name!" And "I love that name, too!" Finally, she said, "They all have really great names. How come your kids, names are so... boring?" I chuckled and gave my standard (true) answer, which is that our last name is unusual enough, so I didn't think I could risk a "different" first name, too.

But there are some "different" names out there, boy, are there.

Amanda's basketball team practices at an elementary school, and, to get to the gym, we must walk down a locker-lined hallway. Today, I glanced at the name badges on the lockers:


I distinctly remember my beloved Aunt Sheila telling my sister, upon the birth of her first, unusually named son, "It's your baby-- you can name him whatever you want." True. And sage. However, sometimes, I would argue: These. Are. Not. Names.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Best About Boys

As our family visited Baby Theo and his family on his homecoming, we noticed he and his mother were absent for a particularly lengthy diaper change. When they finally emerged, Theo was dressed in new clothes and wrapped in a new blanket, and his mother was shaking her head and giggling. Yep, the diaper came off and he peed all over.

It happens with boys.

I am enjoying reliving these years with my brother and SIL, as their family path follows one similar to ours: two girls fewer than two years apart, followed by a little boy. I remember. I remember discussing with my sister about how girls and boys are similar and dissimilar. I remember another friend who had two boys followed by a girl and she thought changing the girl's diaper was so much more difficult (but she was wrong.) I remember being bummed by the few choices in little boy clothes but being excited about all the cool little boy toys. I remember how my boy got into the Barbies and the nail polish just because it's what his big sisters were into, and it was OK.

All this got me thinking that maybe I should offer my SIL and brother some advice-- things to look out for-- about how this boy will be different from their girls. I am not trying to stereotype... just observe. And, I am certainly not an expert. The Boy Expert is my sister.

1. Uncovered boys will pee. Everywhere. (Wait, they already learned that one.)
2. Boys take apart things. Everything.
3. If it beeps, flashes or moves-- preferably all three-- boys love it.
4. When asked why he did something (stupid), a boy will respond, "I don't know." He really doesn't.
5. When told "No," sometimes, boys will do it, anyway.
6. Dirt is irrelevant.
7. Boys are drawn to rocks, water, and their own privates as though they are all magnetized.
8. There is no sitting still.
9. Boys will annoy girls just because they can.
10. Boys are the most loving, forgiving and uncomplicated creatures around. Welcome to the Drama-Free Zone!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Nephew News

The kids have a new cousin-- and they are thrilled! On Thursday the 13th, late in the evening and right on time, Theodore Thomas Paukert was born!
Little Theo is gorgeous and perfect in every way. His family brought him home today, and my peeps were so excited to meet him.

Of course, Baby Hog Todd was waiting with open arms. It is such a joyous time when a new family member arrives. We are looking forward to many fun times with this beloved boy and his sisters.

Because life is funny, and times of joy come alongside times of trial, the night Theo was born was also the night my 10-year-old nephew Kazmer was admitted to the adjacent children's hospital with complications from a lingering strep infection. He has swelling in his face from cellulitis, as well as a clogged tear duct. We brought the cousins for a visit and a video game tournament today, and Kaz put on a brave face, but he remains hospitalized tonight. Please pray for Kazmer, his worried parents and his lonely brothers; for the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who provide his care; and for a clear treatment plan, improvement, and complete healing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sled Wars

The driveway got cleared and I escaped, because one day of snowbound-ness is about all I can take. (But we did get a lot done yesterday, so that was nice. Today, back to wasting time!) During their multiple trips outside to "play" in the snow-- for no more than 10 minutes at a stretch, I swear-- the kids started complaining about their snow sleds: One is too slow; one is cracked; one is all scuffed. Yesterday, I ignored them.

Today, I was a bit more cheerful, and I decided to invest in new sleds. This decision was precipitated  by the discussion in the car on the way to school, about which sleds are fastest, comfiest, best. It helped the cause that everyone agreed the cheap, round sleds are the way to go. And, it seems reasonable, I guess, that sleds be an annual purchase, especially in those years when winter begins with a foot of snow on November 10! So, I went to Target's sled aisle. Wait-- your Target doesn't have a sled aisle? I'm sorry, you must live elsewhere.

I quickly found the desired sleds, but there was a problem: they came in three colors-- blue, pink and green. I have FOUR kids. Were two kids going to get the same color and they fight over whose was whose? Or, would someone claim I didn't think she was special enough to deserve her own color? Or, what if I got blue for the boy and pink for the girls-- wouldn't I then be accused of gender stereotypes? Plus, what would happen when the boy broke his self first (always happens)?

Such a dilemma!

I was seriously about to hunt down a clerk to ask whether there might be one orange sled somewhere in the back, when I had an epiphany: BUY THEM ALL THE SAME COLOR! FOUR IDENTICAL SLEDS! I AM A GENIUS!

The sleds were in the back of the car when I picked up the kids in the afternoon. It took one of the Noseys about four seconds to notice and ask, "Who are those sleds for?" I gave my usual answer, "Some other kids who always keep their rooms neat and don't sass their mother." They didn't believe me like they never do.

The kids made quick plans to change into their snow clothes and play outside. They dragged the sleds out of the back of the car and into the house. Why? 

So they could foil my well-thought-out plan, of course:

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Five-Year-Old's Solution to Hunger

"If I was a poor people, do you know what I'd do? I'd plant a mango tree. And, then, when the mangoes growed, I would pick 'em, and I would eat 'em, and I would squeeze 'em, and I would drink the juice. Also, poor people really like camels."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Our Knowledge Bowlers

We have a new activity this season in Krinkeland: Knowledge Bowl. Both Amanda and Elisabeth decided this year to give it a try; Amanda competes on a 7th-8th grade team for her school, and Libby on one of the 5th-6th grade teams.  I had friends who participated in Knowledge Bowl in junior high and high school, but I never did.  I'm sure I thought I was too cool at the time... or, maybe, I was just too busy doing other things, because I was never really cool, and I chose to do a lot of other un-cool things.  For the record, I am a big fan of NOT COOL and am trying hard to nurture my children in all aspects of non-coolness. 
Anyway, the girls came home from their first meet last week all jazzed up and saying Knowledge Bowl was the greatest thing they had ever done!  Well, I simply could not imagine this, because my children do lead very, very fun lives.  I'm sure it helped with morale when Amanda's team tied for first place at the meet, and Elisabeth's team also finished quite well. 
This week, Grandma volunteered to take the younger kids to their piano lessons so I could travel to another town to watch the girls compete.  I couldn't really grasp how Knowledge Bowl (a quiz-show-type competition) was really a spectator sport... but a friend of mine who has three avid Knowledge Bowlers in her family assured me it was the best thing she ever gets to watch!  I sat next to her in the first round we attended, and, thank goodness, she gave me the lay of the land.  She explained rules and procedures and established that she would be keeping her own tally sheet, just in case she needed to cross-check with the judges.
Then, she handed me a piece of paper and a pencil.  "This is for you to write down the correct answers," she explained. I said, "But, I'm not competing-- I don't need to know the answers."  She went on, "But you WILL know the answers, and you're going to get frustrated when the kids don't... and then you will start sighing and be tempted to groan or even shout out the correct answers.  So, just avoid all that and write them down."
She was pretty right... and is, for this any many other reasons, a valuable friend to have.
Grandpa and I traded off watching one girl's team one round, and the other the next.  This time, their teams did not fare quite as well as the last, but they still had just as much fun.  The kids got a lot of questions wrong, but they got a lot right, too, and, as one mom pointed out, "Hey, they're all jazzed up to just take academic tests, for fun!"

Some Cars Are Just Flirts

I sometimes giggle at how we never really grow up.

When Todd and I were first dating he drove a little, white sports car (I know, I know) with pop-up headlights. Anyone who knows us well already knows the silly story of how we met, which was acting together in a community theater summer musical production. We had rehearsals in the evening, and, sometimes, after rehearsal, we would drive back to one of our parents' homes for movie-watching and hand-holding.

On the quiet roads of our small hometown, Todd would use that car to flirt with me, in what the now-mother-in-me realizes was a pretty dumb and dangerous way.  The streets were unlit and windy, and, because I was probably thinking more about my hair or my lip gloss than on actually driving, Todd would often manage to sneak his little car up behind mine, by driving with the headlights off.  Then, when he was right on my bumper, he would flip up the headlights and surprise me!  I giggled every time... It was like a cheesy wink, but with his car.

Tonight, Todd and I went with my parents to see our local community theater production. Since it was a Friday night, Todd drove right from work and met us at the restaurant and later at the theater. So, when the long play was done, we still had two cars to drive across our sleepy, little town to get home. I was daydreaming, I guess, wondering whether the kids had put themselves to bed, as I pulled up to the only stoplight I needed to pass to get home.

Soon, I glanced over at the lane next to me and saw my husband giving me a serious "What's shakin'" stare-down. The light turned green, and childhood took over.  There we were, staring down middle age by drag-racing our matching minivans across town. As the lanes narrowed to one, I slowed and let him ease in front of me.  Then, I flipped on my lights.

For the rest of the way home, I chuckled at the two of us, and our juvenile behavior... and I wondered if my boyfriend was doing the same.

A Permanent Memorial

 We had the privilege today to attend services at the church where Todd's dad and stepmother were married, and from where Todd's dad was buried... because the congregation was this morning dedicating a memorial to Ardy.  It is a new garden area, with a patio and a bench, near the entrance of the church.  Todd received some memorials, which we donated to stroke support and research, in memory of the way Todd's father died, and also in honor of other beloved people in our lives who have overcome the devastating effects of stroke.  Meantime, many more donations came to Ardy's wife, and she decided, on behalf of the family, to have this memorial done at their church.
This is the main view of the church entrance from the street. Ardy's bench is there, to the left of the doorway.  There is also a plaque on the side of the church bearing his name and the dates of his life.
This is just the kind of stone bench and paver patio Ardy enjoyed at his lake home, which was also sold this week.  So many changes, and so many memories...
We think Dad/Grandpa would be pleased by this beautiful spot and the blessings we hope it brings to all who enjoy it.
In addition to our family, and, of course, Ardy's wife, the service was attended by Todd's godparents and Ardy's twin brother Arlen and Madelyn, as well as Ardy's sister Kathy.  After church, we all went out to breakfast and together remembered a man who is dearly missed.
The brief (and chilly!) dedication ceremony closed, fittingly, with a singing of "Beautiful Savior."
Beautiful Savior,
King of Creation,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Truly I'd love Thee,
Truly I'd serve Thee,
Light of my soul, my Joy, my Crown.
Fair are the meadows,
Fair are the woodlands,
Robed in flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer;
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.
Fair is the sunshine,
Fair is the moonlight,
Bright the sparkling stars on high;
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer,
Than all the angels in the sky.
Beautiful Savior,
Lord of the nations,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor,
Praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Onions Nightmares Are Made Of

Ah, the breakfast table discussion of dreams:

M: "I had a terrible, terrible dream last night-- I hadded to eat onions and they were too spicy!"
B: "Maddy, that's not a nightmare. Some people actually like onions. I like onions."
M:  "Well, it's a nightmare to me, because I don't! Onions are terrible and they are terrible to me!"
B: "Maddy, if you don't want to dream, then don't think. You won't have a dream if you don't think."

Monday, November 3, 2014

Always Room for One More Prayer

For Natalie and her family, for decisions regarding surgery and care

For answers to serious medical concerns for Audree

For Harlan and Wade, both with lung complications related to cancer treatment

For Teri, Toni, Evelyn and all who are receiving cancer treatment 

For recent widows, and for all who mourn

For all children in foster care, that their forever families may find them

For Julie and for her unborn baby, and for all growing families

For Steph, in honor of her 40th birthday 

For those experiencing personal, religious conversion

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Loving Option

November is National Adoption Month. I know, I know, it's always some special month/week/day for one cause or ten. It would be difficult to argue, however, against the merits of adoption. I mean, who doesn't want children to be raised by dedicated parents, in loving homes, embraced by supportive extended families?

I am not adopted. My children were not adopted (though I occasionally entertain threats of putting them up for adoption... I'm kidding... I think.) We never say never, because only God knows the full and right plan for our family. However, we are blessed by plenty of adoptive families in our lives, and we are proud to be able to love on their children. Plus, this:

Something else for your thoughts and your prayers.