Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sally, Er, Libby in the Student Showcase

This evening was the annual Showcase recital at the kids' school. Elisabeth stepped up to the solo spotlight this year:

While Amanda got a little spiritual with her fellow middle schoolers:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Simple Sandwiches

For their Catholic Schools Week service project, the kids are gathering monetary donations and socks, as well as making sandwiches for a Minneapolis-based charity called 363 Days. They are excited about it, and I can see why. It's a pretty cool thing run by a really cool guy:

I remember once when I was a kid, riding in the car to go shopping with my mom. As we neared the mall, we saw a couple sitting on the ground holding a cardboard "Will Work For Food" sign. My mom drove past them and continued a few blocks to a grocery store. We went in and purchased bread, peanut butter and other staples, a small gift of mercy to someone in need. It is an action I have repeated from time to time. When I was in college, walking to and from classes in an urban area, I would keep PB&Js in my backpack-- just in case. As Mr. Law pointed out in the video, I never know when I may need some help, too.

You can find out more or contribute on your own here: Together, we can make a difference.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Never Again?

Many international news outlets are reporting on today's anniversary: It's been 70 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. All over our nation and our world, people decry, "Never again!" Yet, we all know that is not true. This kind of genocide, persecution, abject horror is happening right now, in various places across the planet as well as here at home.

Pray for life. Pray for respect. Pray for dignity. Pray for mercy. Pray for peace.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Another Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. It's a bleak reminder of all we have lost, all the souls who've gone before us by our own hands, all the destruction we continue to wreak on our own humanity. I have deep sadness for the babies who were not loved into this life, and deep compassion for mothers who felt they could not make a different decision. 

On the other hand, our metro newspaper today published this article, meant-- as the author states-- to cast a different light on abortion practices in our state and elsewhere. Obviously, the message I took away from the words is quite different, but, please, draw your own conclusions:

"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed."  (Psalm 139:14-16)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Love Song

It's fairly well known in these parts that we are not fans of pop music. My short stint at a Top 40 radio station years ago pretty much did me in. We are all talk radio, classic rock, show tunes around here.

But I love this... Pretty good song, awesome video:

When Todd caught me listening to this song, he called Maroon 5 a boy band. Uh... NO.

By the way, my all-time favorite love song is this one (but there is absolutely no video):

Friday, January 16, 2015

Say Your Prayers

In this edition of Who To Pray For, I have many pressing requests:

*for our long-time friend Kirsten, who is experiencing heart failure due to an inherited condition; follow her story and get specific prayer requests here:
*for Samuel, 18 months, hospitalized in the NICU with pneumonia
*for my FIL, continuing to take on cancer, treatment, and all the side effects:; and for Wade, Teri, Toni and all who fight
*in thanksgiving for Natalie's continued recovery from brain surgery:
*for Amanda's basketball teammate who underwent hand surgery today
*for my friend Staci upon the recent death of her father and new cancer diagnosis for her MIL
*for Frank, Denise, Matt, Heidi and boys in the death of Mae
*for my sister and for Truman on his nine-month birthday
*for growth of the middle school
*for all the actors and volunteers participating in Saints on Stage's "Godspell Jr."
*for all who've lost loved ones, in this slower time after the holidays
*for health and fitness 
*thanksgiving for the births of Joseph and Kendall
*thanksgiving for Theo's baptism

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Future Marine Biologist?

This is the video that is dazzling our 12-year-old today: 

She has hounded each of us to make sure we all watch it. Now, the other three kids are all terrified of what might visit them in their dreams, and they're vowing to never again set foot in the ocean. Daddy and I are looking at each other and muttering, "What is wrong with that child?"

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Making Time, Taking Time

For a few minutes today, it was just me and Madeline at home. Everyone else was going to or coming from activities, and I was trying to get supper on the table. Maddy was pestering me, "Mom, Mom, can't we do something fun?" Finally, after her repeated requests, I put down the big spoon and followed her to the other room, where she had set up a board game. "Well," I thought to myself, "dinner will just have to be a few minutes late. My baby needs to play a game and I need to take time to play one." 

It was kind of cute how she had the game all set up (somewhat correctly) and how she explained the rules to me (somewhat correctly) and how she hardly even cheated. We were halfway through the game when Madeline's brother burst through the door. Maddy heard him: "Yay, Benny's home! Bye, a Mom, I gotta go play Minecraft!" And, she was off.

Just as well... I needed to finish supper before the other hungry ones returned. After we ate and the dishes were cleared, Elisabeth asked me to play a game with her. I said I would be glad to, but I needed to finish two jobs first-- folding the laundry and listening to Madeline read. Big Sister said she would read with Maddy while I got the laundry done. 

The two of them did make the other job a bit, tougher, however, by sprawling across the clean laundry piles. It's as though they take after the dog. 

It was really cute to listen to them, though. Libby, the Little Teacher, would guide for a while and then say, "You know, these are all 'sight words' so you really should know them without sounding them out." Then, Maddy would try a little harder. For a while. At some point, Madeline had a major meltdown, wailing and thrashing about over all the evils of reading.

We ignored her and began a marathon game of Uno.  I won.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Beholding the Lamb

It's a little bit ridiculous how emotional I am today about my eight-year-old son receiving the sacrament of First Reconciliation. Maybe it's that I'm getting on in age... Maybe it's pain from all the squats I did this morning... Maybe I was harboring a secret fear that my sneaky, naughty boy was hefting around some whoppers of sins... Who knows. All I do know is I am incredibly proud of Benjamin and excited for all that's ahead.

Taking each child to his/her first confession is such a special, sacred time for me. It's an event without much fanfare, taking place at a convenient time in the middle of the afternoon, in the setting of the dim and quiet church. Reception of the sacrament itself only takes a few minutes. 

There was a bit of hubbub as Benjamin greeted many of his classmates at the church and then they all jockeyed for position in line outside of the confessional. At first, Ben was content to sit in the pew, telling me, "I'm not ready yet," and I assured him that was OK. Then, his good buddy got in line, and Ben was off like a flash. Soon, I saw the other mother shushing the boys, and I had to get up, too, putting a stop to whatever "daring" was being egged on regarding the priest and what was about to go down.

Once Benjamin's friend emerged from the door, Ben marched right in, clutching his bookmark of prayers, without a backward glance.

I bowed and I prayed.

Soon, Ben emerged, and calmly knelt next to me, resting his forehead on his hands which were folded in prayer. It was all I could do to not whip out my phone and take a photo of the sweet sight... But I resisted. A couple minutes later, Benjamin stood, shrugged into his jacket and said, "Let's go, Mom." So, we did.

Later his godmother texted me to ask how things had gone. I got emotional again, because I didn't even remember telling her the event was approaching. I realized I hadn't told her at all. Her text was evidence that the godson had told her on his own. How wonderful.

Daddy expressed interest, too, which is so important, particularly since he's not Catholic (yet, he sometimes eggs on the kids.) He asked Benjamin how things went, out of general concern for his son's well-being, as well as out of curiosity. Ben enjoyed sharing his newfound wisdom. We rejoice in all good gifts given to our son and to our family this day and always.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Super Heroes of Krinkeland

In the car, a child asked, "If you could have any kind of super power, what would it be?" These were our answers:

the ability to see the good in every person and every situation
to speed read and to be able to see in the dark
to be able to fly and to have claws like the Wolverine
to be a princess or to be the Wolverine

Can you guess which is whose?

Candid Camera

Benjamin missed the Christmas piano recital because he was sick, and tonight at his lesson Auntie Teacher played his duet with him. She occasionally does this, sending videos from her piano cam to my phone while the lesson is still going on just a few walls away. It's so fun. My favorite part about this particular video is the beginning, because-- why focus on the piano and why be normal!

So, I watched that from the other room, and I smiled. Then, the next lesson began and my phone lit up with this:

Aah, the music of our lives.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

What's That Smell?

There's been a bad smell coming from the basement the past day or two. I've been making lots of trips up and down the stairs with Christmas decor and storage totes. Every time, I've thought to myself, What's that smell? Did the dog have an accident? Did some animal sneak in somehow and die? Is the freezer on the fritz? But I was unable to locate the source of the stink.

Today, Todd went downstairs and quickly figured it out. There were dead minnows, from last weekend's ice fishing expedition, still floating in the bait bucket. Of course he figured it out-- he left them there.


I just want you all to know: If I lived alone, this would be a neat, clean, sweet-smelling joint.

Friday, January 2, 2015

An Odd "Day Off"

I knew it was going to be an interesting day when I was awakened around 5 a.m. by a small child, looming over my face and declaring, "Mommy, my tummy hurts." Well, that is a fine wake-up call, I tell you, because I can't think of a statement that would make me move more quickly out of the line of fire. We went through the usual survey questions to rule out nausea, constipation and hunger. She seemed to calm down and said, "I guess I just need a drink of water." This kid does stuff like this fairly often, now that I think about it... I should probably get her checked out. Anyway, water dispensed, I took her back to her own bed, tucked her in, and went back to my own bed, where I tucked myself in. 

A minute or two later, I could hear her sobbing, crying, really wailing. With a deep sigh and a dramatic fling of the bed covers, I got up again and went down the hall to her room. "Shhhh, Honey, does your tummy really hurt that badly?" I asked. "NO!" she screamed. "MY HEART STOPPED BEATING!" Hypochondriacs in this house, I tell you. I assured the little girl that since her lungs and lips were working, so, too, was her ticker. She quieted her hysterics but insisted, "Well, then, it's beating really low."

I shuffled back down the hall and this time her brother got up and followed me, "Mom, can I have a drink?"

Needless to say, when 8 a.m. rolled around and it was time to get up and get ready to go to their downhill skiing lesson, the two younger children were not prepared to go. And, honestly, it was fine. I think they were kind of worn out from yesterday's family cross-country skiing expedition. I also fell once on a hill on the slick trail and my tailbone was (is) really sore, so, as much as I love to see the kids ski, I was not looking forward to chasing them up and down the bunny hill and foisting them onto the J-bar all day.

Daddy took the two older kids skiing and they had a glorious day. We kept things more low-key here, with a trip to Target to spend a little bit of that Christmas cash and then we went to visit Benjamin's friend Natalie, who is home recovering from neurosurgery.

After all the adventures, Todd was supposed to go to a movie with a friend, but the friend decided he wasn't up for it. So, I am the replacement date, and somehow he talked me into renting from Amazon Prime that ridiculous movie mocking North Korea. I am not afraid of getting nuked by a whacko dictator; I am afraid I will be immeasurably dumber in two hours' time.

How to Live

I recently saw this list posted on various religious sites, and I just had to share, because who cannot benefit from these tips?