Friday, May 29, 2015

Momentous Day

Today is a momentous day. Not so much for the permanent residents of Krinkeland, but for those receiving our love in outreach. It is a day that will live in history for all the wonderful things that are happening!

After getting the kids off to school this morning, I headed out to help some friends set up for their wedding tomorrow. These lovely people are somewhat new to our lives, but they have had a big impact. Elisabeth is excited to play a role in their big day tomorrow, and we are all blessed to witness it.

While there, I got some long-awaited news that another family, dear friends, got their little girl! This is an adoption two years in the works, legally and permanently uniting a lucky child with her even luckier parents and siblings. Peace and joy now blanket the land.

Then, I unexpectedly met up with another amazing and adorable human being who shared LOTS of thrilling changes for her young family. This is not my news to share, nor is the timing right, but the developments have had me grinning all afternoon. It's all so good.

Later today, another beloved friend will embark on a major adventure with her children. She is taking them on an extended trip to see the sights, immersing themselves in other cultures, learning history and adopting new perspectives. Mom will share with her children places and experiences that Dad loved while he graced this Earth. He is with them in spirit.

If my own children don't screw up too badly at their piano recital this evening, well, then, all will be well with my soul.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


In Krinkeland today...

B: "Madeline, who are you talking to out there?"
M: "Me? No one."
B: "I heard you talking to someone. Who were you talking to?"
M: "Fine-- I was talking to Brightly."
(Brightly is the once-oft-appearing imaginary friend who has been mostly ridiculed out of existence by the older siblings.)
B: "You were talking to Brightly?! I thought he didn't exist anymore!"
M: "Yep, Brightly-- he just showed up."
B: "No he didn't. Brightly doesn't exist."
M: "FINE. I was talking to a rock."

A: "Which grass do you want me to mow?"
M: "The long stuff."
A: "ALL of it?"
M: "Yes."
A: "Wow."

M: "Benjamin, how did things go on the playground at recess today?"
B: "You know something, don't you?"

A: (after selecting a book from the shelf and settling down to read her two youngest siblings a bedtime story) "This used to be one of my favorite books... I also read the second one in the series... Now, before we start, you have heard of the apocalypse, right? Tell me everything you know about zombies."

T: "Wow, I suddenly have so many camera lenses, I don't know what to do with all of them."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Benjamin went to see the school nurse a couple days ago, complaining of a lump on the back of his head. Sure enough-- a lump. It's pea-sized, round, and hard, in line with his ear but halfway to the center of his skull. The nurse thought it was a little weird, and Todd and I were stumped, too, so I took him in to the clinic to get checked.

We've had some doctoring issues ever since the kids' pediatrician moved to a different practice in Oregon nearly a year ago. I switched all of them over to my general practitioner. She is very good, but I didn't realize at the time that she is only at our clinic two days a week. This is not a big deal for me, because I hardly ever go to the doctor, anyway. But kids are a different story-- something is always up. So, today, we saw the newer, replacement pediatrician, because she was available. I kind of get why she was available... I was not impressed. Still, hopefully she's right.

The doctor was unconcerned about Benjamin's head lump. She said based on what she can see/feel, it is something skeletal and benign. She suspected it's always been there, but he just recently noticed it. She doesn't think it's fluid, and is not worried it could be some kind of dangerous tumor. All good. Well, mostly good. I like her diagnosis, but there is no way it's been there all along. It's a weird lump on the back of my son's head. So, I agreed to forgo an x-ray and just monitor it. 

But, when I got home, I googled "hard lump on back of head."

My research was going swimmingly... No finding much, but what I did read seemed in line with the doctor's thinking. Then, I found a discussion group where a member seemed to describe something quite similar to my son's bump:

At this point, I quit looking.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Family Dynamics

I just mediated an ongoing dispute between my two oldest children. It ended with them making fun of me and collapsing into peals of laughter. I don't even care. It is an awesome feeling when they eventually come back to one another.

On a different topic, I was taking the two younger children this afternoon to Grandma's and Grandpa's house, because they agreed to watch them while the rest of us went to a concert. In the car, Madeline asked, "Did you already call them? Do they know we're coming?" I said, yes, of course they knew... I had texted in advance to see if it would be OK. Maddy was very disappointed and said, "Aww, why did you do that? I wanted to surprise them!" 

I think the kid is on to something-- for the rest of the day I have been tossing around the idea of surprise babysitting visits. You drive up to a house, walk up to the door and say, "Surprise! We're here so you can babysit the kids. See you in a few hours." Brilliant.

Friday, May 15, 2015


Little One often wakes me by slithering around to my side of the bed, leaning over, and loudly whispering something into my ear. Sometimes it is the middle of the night, often it is just slightly too early in the morning. Most of the time, she says, "My tummy hurts." Through the deductive powers of a Mother of Four, I have figured out that's little-kid code for "Something feels off." It could be that she's scared or cold or has a sore throat or whatever, but she hasn't surpassed the stage where she can articulate the actual issue. Other times, though, Madeline wakes me with the most bizarre and amusing utterances. Here are some of my recent favorites:

"Mom, I've been thinking about those cookies on the airplane."
"Mom, how can we get those bananas to turn yellow?"
"Mom, why is the dog taking all the cuddle space? Cuddle is really important to me."
"Mom, waffles are calling me. No? Then, how about French toast? No? Then, how about plain toast?"
"Mom, I'm planning on living here until I'm 100."
"Mom, I went outside and it smells like morning."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Remembering a Birthday

This is my father-in-law's 69th birthday. One year ago, he and I celebrated together his last birthday on Earth. Of course, we didn't know that at the time, but I feel blessed that we had the time we had. I am thinking especially today of Todd and Lisa, Ardy's wife Carol, and Ardy's siblings, all of whom are surely missing him dearly.

Ardy's last birthday itself was a special and memorable day. It was pretty unusual for my FIL and me to spend time alone together at all. It's not that we didn't like each other. On the contrary, I think we always had a mutual affection and appreciation, particularly for the role the other played in Todd's life. Certainly, our family-- Ardy's only son-- would have made arrangements to celebrate sometime during his birthday week. 

But this week last year brought some unusual circumstances: Ardy's wife was on a long overdue dream vacation with her two daughters; Ardy's two children both had work commitments; and Ardy's twin brother was, well, celebrating his own birthday with his wife and family. So, I called Ardy and said, "I'm picking up Madeline from preschool and we're coming over and we're bringing a takeout birthday lunch! What would you like?" My FIL put in a cheeseburger order, and we showed up midday.

Ardy had some health scares in the months preceding his birthday. Concerns about those definitely played in to the importance of him not being alone in his birthday, and throughout his wife's vacation. But when we arrived on that birthday noon, he was in high spirits. "I'm in a great mood!" he proclaimed with a hug. I asked if there was any particular reason; he chuckled in his signature way and said, "Yes! I feel great because I woke up this morning thinking I was turning 69, and then (my sister-in-law) called to wish me a happy birthday and she told me I'm only 68! So, I gained a whole year in one phone call!"

We had lunch, and walked the dog, and did some small chores around the house as well as out in the yard. An hour or two later, we were in the living room discussing dream vacations when Ardy stopped talking mid-sentence and leaned to one side, nearly falling over. I ran to him and steadied him, seeing fear in his eyes. Ardy first had trouble speaking, but muttered, "I feel odd." He signaled he wanted to get up and check his blood pressure. We managed that, and it was high. I administered medication and noted the time and numbers. 

The two of us continued that pattern for the next hour so, with more troubling symptoms appearing. I called his primary physician and his home health nurse. Both were in agreement: Call 911 and get him to the hospital. Ardy was reluctant to go, and I was trying to be a respectful daughter-in-law while also looking out for his best interests. I called my parents to drive out and pick up Madeline, who had unknowingly been watching a movie in another room.

When my parents arrived and Ardy could not manage to recall or speak their names or mine, he agreed to go to the hospital and get checked out. He seemed fairly lucid and stable, so I agreed to save him an ambulance ride if he would tolerate my driving. (Yep, nursing and taxiing are definitely not in my skill set, but they were that day. They had to be.)

In the hospital emergency room, Ardy became grumpier and more combative. He also didn't get the best attention, in my opinion, and, when I had to demand he be allowed to use the bathroom, I thought, Oh, boy, we are in this now. I called Ardy's kids and his twin brother and they met us at the hospital. They supported me in the decision to bring him in, and shared my frustration with the lack of answers. We decided to wait until we had more information to contact Ardy's wife, who was on another continent.

Assessment and admission took hours and eventually it was just he and me again. We still had not seen the hospitalist who was supposed to be the admitting doctor handling Ardy's case. I was unsure from the emergency staff on the grounds for admission, what they suspected was wrong. Ardy had suffered a series of seizures/strokes/traumatic brain events, but no one seemed to be in agreement as to an exact diagnosis... And, this night, Ardy was agitated, tired, off his medication schedule, and really angry with me.

I stayed.

I figured, his wife would stay. His children would stay. I was the one there, so I stayed.

The doctor finally appeared just after 5 a.m. Ardy wasn't making much sense, but, at that point, I probably wasn't, either. The doctor definitely didn't make sense to us... And, really, no firm answers would come out of this hospital stay-- or any other.

That time, Ardy spent five days in the hospital. He remained angry with me and resentful of me. We visited. Briefly. At one point, I told him, "I am trying really hard to keep a commandment right now, so I think the best thing I can do is just leave the room." For the record, I was referring to Honor thy mother and father, not Thou shalt not kill. I wasn't mad. He wasn't himself. It was a struggle for everyone.

Ardy went home at week's end, in the care of his sister and brother-in-law. His wife was in regular contact by telephone and soon returned from her vacation. In the weeks that followed, Ardy would experience more ups-and-downs with his health. They looked at homes to move him closer to town and his doctors. They visited our home on July 4 to celebrate Independence Day with the whole family.

The following day, Ardy suffered a massive stroke and fell, striking his head. He spent the holiday weekend in the neuro-ICU, but never regained consciousness. Ardy died July 7, less than two months after celebrating his 68th birthday.

Happy birthday, dear man. You are loved and missed by many. 

This is the last photo I took of my father-in-law (back right), three weeks after his birthday and a month before his death. We were all together celebrating his daughter Lisa's birthday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May Crowning

Today was the May Crowning mass for the second graders and all the kids of our school. This was my third time having a second grader/First Communicant be part of the procession and ceremony. I admit, when our kids first started attending Catholic school, I really didn't "get" the May Crowning tradition... But, over time, I have grown to love it. It is one of the most special masses I can imagine attending. It is beautiful and joyful and emotional, especially for mommies.

May Crowning is a mass usually held toward the beginning of May, to honor May as the month of Mary Our Mother. The Lord is and always will be the center of our lives, but, without Mary, how would we have had salvation through Jesus? May Crowning is right in line with Mother's Day, and it is so special to acknowledge Mary in that way. At the kids' school, May Crowning is also an opportunity for the second graders, who have all recently received Holy Communion, to celebrate the sacrament with their classmates. It gives me such joy to see my son and the children with whom he is growing up all dressed up and acting with such reverence.

It was a glorious day!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Prayer Requests

*For Ashley, upon the death of Macklin at 32 weeks, on Mother's Day
*For Angela, upon the death of her son in-utero
*For Mary, Jake and Jacki, who all celebrated their first Mother's Day since losing their moms
*For my FIL, in all his statewide adventures to wacky monuments, as he settles in to hospice care
*For my MIL, recovering from a mild concussion
*For Hayden in heaven, and his family, on what would have been his 11th birthday yesterday
*For my husband and SIL and their stepmother, as Ardy's birthday approaches
*For Simon, recovering from minor surgery
*For resolution to my sister's knee pain while running
*In celebration of Benjamin's First Communion and upcoming May Crowning
*In thanksgiving for a glorious family vacation, and the beginning of a return to balance for me
*Special intention for lost item to St. Anthony

Sunday, May 10, 2015

This Day, These Past Two Weeks

Today is Mother's Day, and I am celebrating in my heart my own amazing mother and mother-in-law, as well as my sisters and friends who are fabulous mothers. I also grieve with my friends whose mothers are not here, and with those women who grieve children who are not here with them. It's a great day... Then again, every day is a great day to be a mother.

Today also marks the return to reality in Krinkeland. Todd, the kids and I flew home late last night from a 10-day trip to Florida and the Caribbean, including a magical cruise on the Disney Fantasy. There is much to share about this wonderful journey. Unfortunately, I am still feeling the motion of the ocean... And will wait until I feel better to post more. Tonight, it's just photos. Enjoy! And Happy Mother's Day!