Monday, November 30, 2015

Shopping Stress

Between the Black Friday bargain hunting with my hubby and surfing for Cyber Monday sales, I am stressed out. My blood pressure is most surely elevated. And I just cannot seem to muster the stamina necessary to push through crowds and sift through "out of stock" postings to find the perfect whatevers for everyone in Krinkeland. What does any of us really need, anyway? That's right-- nothing.

As the Snow Globe Shakes

We are experiencing our first measurable snowfall of the season. (Yippee! It snows here all the d@%# time!) I have not taken any photos of it, mostly because I was out driving in the slippery, wet slop and now also because it is dark. I did take this one photo earlier in the day, basically before the snow started, to show my friend on the other side of the metro that, indeed, there was not yet any snow at my house:

But, now there is.

Late this afternoon, when I was driving to a Knowledge Bowl meet with the two younger kids in tow, the big, fat flakes were falling. Madeline commented, "Mommy, it looks like a snow globe! It's like we're living in a snow globe!" Benjamin followed, "I bet that's exactly what God sees when he looks at the Earth right now-- a big snow globe! And I bet He was thinking this morning, 'Time to shake things up!'"

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thankful Through Moments of Sadness

What is it about human nature-- or is it just my nature?-- that makes us, in the midst of thousands of reasons to be thankful, dwell on singular griefs and losses?

It's been a wonderful, and rough, holiday weekend.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with both sides of the family on the holiday. Each dinner was full of its own traditions. With the Ps, we ate too much, decorated turkey cookies, drew names for Christmas, and tolerated another original holiday play by all the grandchildren.

At the Rs, we ate too much, made Christmas lists and gingerbread houses, and, this year, we missed Grandpa. Grandma, through her grief support group, created a short memorial service that involved the grandchildren. It was lovely, and lonely. Even though we were all together, his absence is a void.

Todd and I, along with the two big girls, did a bit of wacky Black Friday shopping, but it is difficult to get too excited about bargains when online sales are so much more tolerable. We mostly just bought stuff for ourselves, anyway. I got a new vacuum I've had my eye on, and the girls found essential, tasteful Christmas sweaters.

Friday, it was back on the horse to work off that stuffing. We had a great workout and enjoyed kicking off the holiday season with our CrossFit friends. (Really, it's just the same as the rest of the year... Another day, another AMRAP.) No matter what's on my mind, it just feels good to keep moving.

The rest of the weekend has been our kickoff to Advent. We got lights strung in the shrubs and trees around the house and today Todd and the kids went with the rest of the Christmas Tree Club to choose the perfect tree.

While they were gone, (and, obviously, before the tree went up,) I hauled out all the totes of Christmas decorations and began to unpack them. This is where the mourning comes in.

It is well established that I am frugal, to put it nicely. I always shop after the holiday, when clearance markdowns make it possible, to stock up for the following year. Then, I pack up the storage boxes and forget until the season comes 'round again. It's like a pre-Christmas celebration when I uncover all the cool stuff I've found.

Today, I was alone with my memories. This is never a bad thing, but it still sometimes stings like a sucker punch. I was caught off-guard when I lifted the lid on one box and found these:

I bought these sweet, little nutcrackers last December for my FIL who collected them. Now, I thought about offering them to Amanda and Elisabeth to give to their friends as gifts, but I know the memory and the significance would strike them, too.

This is a flag I bought to decorate the gravesite of my beloved nephews, Michael and Truman. When I found it, I thought it was cute and festive and befitting two little boys. I did not know then that one month later I would be saying "hello" and "goodbye" to their brother Quinn. Now, the flag will fly for the brothers three.

Well, I'm quite drowning in it, now that I type out my emotions. Most definitely not what this season is about. I will be looking forward to a quiet return to routine tomorrow. I will be remembering even more, and I will focus on the gratitude, like how I feel when I remember I live here:

You know who else should feel really grateful about this scene? My kids. They beg every year for exterior Christmas lights. It never happens because:

1. I am a less-is-more kind of decorator.
2. We are so busy (lazy) the lights would stay up till May.
3. Our children got one parent with patience and another with time. You really need a combination to put up Christmas lights.

BUT, the weather was cooperative and I was going to feel festive if it killed me... And, I did it! It looks like Father Christmas spewed LED-laced barf all over our yard. And I only swore once. Now, that's a Christmas miracle.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Baby Boy Boom

Some more dear friends of ours welcomed their first child, a boy, today. Welcome to the world, Warren! We are safely in the midst of a baby boy boom, I would say. Following the births of Mikko and Warren, there are a number of more little men on their way. Come to think of it, I know of at least four more baby boys getting ready to make appearances in the next few weeks and months... Oh, boy!

Brace Yourself

Throughout Krinkeland and beyond, everyone in our family is a big music lover. But I am willing to bet no one has seen a music video like this one:

Now, someone please explain to me why I can't stop watching it!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

She Dreamed a Dream

With Amanda home sick with mono all week, we have shared many interesting conversations. Recently, I offered to make her lunch and she asked for a sandwich. After she complimented me on the amazing result of my peanut-butter-and-banana, I replied with a family joke, "Of course it's good-- I used Grandpa Rosendahl's recipe." It was a running line in their house that Grandpa had recently lost his special recipe for peanut butter toast or some such nonsense, and we enjoy working his memory into our lives.

Amanda was quiet for a beat, and then she said, almost wistfully, "He looks so good now." I asked, "Who? Grandpa?!" (You will remember Grandpa Rosendahl died in June.) "Yes, Grandpa," Amanda replied as though I was the odd one. I was starting to wonder if it was the effect of her illness when she went on, "Grandpa visits me all the time in my dreams. Usually, I'm dreaming that I'm on stage performing, and he and Grandma are sitting in the audience watching me," she went on. "He is nice and fat again and he has lots of white hair. He is always smiling at me. He just looks so good."

Amanda was quiet. Then, she asked something along the lines of, "Do you believe me?" I assured her I most definitely did believe her and that I hear stories all the time of loved ones visiting their families through dreams. I said I was jealous because I would love to see in a dream someone I love and miss who has died. Then, I asked, "Does it make you feel happy or sad when you see Grandoa in your dreams?"

"Both," was the answer. "I am always so happy to see him, but I wake up sad because I never get the chance to talk with him."

This girl is intuitive and sensitive and wise beyond her years. She is also mine. And she is Grandpa's.

New Baby

Our dear friends, CrossFit coaches and gym owners Dean and Giane, are now parents! Giane gave birth last evening to their first child, a son Mikko Silva. They are over the moon for him, and we are all so excited!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hula Boy

Benjamin has a new skill, and we couldn't be any prouder:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tales from the Sick Side

I had to do a little Krinkeland public relations today after a compassionate but overly dramatic brother went to school and told everyone, "We need to pray and make cards for my sister because she is really, really sick and she will be out of school for six months to a year!"

No, Love. 

Amanda is feeling pretty cruddy, and the doctor did tell us fatigue and other lingering symptoms could last six months or longer... But it's MONO. She will recover. We are all gonna make it. And she will be going back to school in fewer than six months time. Two days has already felt like two decades.

A: "This staying-home-thing rocks... except for this mono-thing."

A: "I feel so special being sick. Everyone has brought me such nice presents!" (Changes into soft, new p.j.s.)
M: "Are you going to start one of your new books?"
A: "Nah, I'm too tired."
M: "Those are some cool, new magazines."
A: "Nah, I'm too tired."
M: "Want to watch your new movie?"
A: "Nah, I'm too tired."

A: "I tried to do my homework, but this happened."

A: "You know, it's days like this I thank God for my homeschool friends, so at least I have someone to talk to."

Monday, November 16, 2015


Our dear big girl is really sick. She's been whiny on-and-off all fall... sore throat, headaches, tired... We have had multiple doctor visits, and those kind of ramped up over the last week after one of Amanda's lymph nodes grew so large you could see the lump in her neck. Finally, this evening, I stomped my feet enough that her regular doctor made a slot in her packed schedule. She took one (good, long) look at Amanda and ordered the blood test about which I had been asking at previous appointments.

She is so miserably sick. The good news is: The doctor said even though mono is viral and gets a big rap for being contagious, it's actually relatively difficult to contract. She said, barring open-mouthed kissing and straw-sharing, the rest of us should be fine. Likewise, mono tends to strike adolescents through young adults, so Doc said not to worry about the youngsters and older relatives with whom we have recently been socializing. That's a load off.

The really cruddy news, though, is that Amanda has "a really horrendous case" and is in the worst part of it right now. The doctor said the virus may linger in Amanda for six months to a year. There is no physical activity in her future, especially to protect her spleen, but we can anticipate a great number of naps.

I am grateful for a physician who is thorough and compassionate and knows my girl and what to look for. I am thankful for a diagnosis, and, actually, thankful for this diagnosis-- because some of the other possibilities were really scary. I am also grateful that I have the time to be home, taking care of my girl.

Here she is sitting on the floor at Theo's birthday party last weekend. She rallied for the day and came for a while (we were operating on the theory at that time that her affliction was bacterial) and giggled along with the balloon-popping game, but, now that I think of it, she didn't really have the energy to pop balloons herself.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

One Year Later

One year ago this evening (well, datewise, actually, tomorrow... but, I mean, this Thursday last year) was kinda CRAZY. My dad and I took off for St. Cloud to watch my two big girls compete in Knowlesge Bowl meets. Their meets were at two different schools, so we had to divide and conquer so that each team would have a loving face amongst the crowd of spectators. My nephew Kazmer was very sick, and, in fact, his mom was taking him to the hospital so Grandma was sitting with his younger brothers. Also, it was my sister-in-law's due date with the soon-to-be-met Theo. Plus, it was snowing and icy.

Aaaand, we made it to the final oral round before my phone started blowing up. The SIL was in labor and needed to go to the hospital, and Grandma was the only one around, but how could she be simultaneously watching two families of little kids?! We called Uncle Todd out of a business dinner and sent him to sit with one family while Grandma covered the other. Then, I yanked my kid out of the meet before the awards ceremony, and Grandpa pulled his while I sped across town to pick them up.

We flew back to civilization... And Grandpa went off on his own to help Grandma or relieve Todd, I don't remember which. But Grandpa was so excited/anxious/distracted that he put his truck in the ditch. That delayed everything a bit. Eventually, I got my family home and settled and drove into the city for the late-night shift-- sitting first in a hospital room with my oldest nephew... and later walking over to the room of my newest nephew.

What a night!

THIS year, I just followed the grades 5/6 STFX-C team from room to room and round to round, all the way to victory! FIRST PLACE! That was fun, too.

Amanda's team did not place at the other school... But Amanda did win that meet's Ugly Sweater Contest! Thanks, Grandma!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Good Day

By all reports, our friend's oral cancer surgery went well! We are now praying for a steady and complete recovery.

Benjamin won the FRANNIE award at school!

Daddy came home early from a successful work trip, and now he and the big girls are sharing a civics lesson, watching the Republican debate.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lost and (Hopefully) Found

I lost my junk on my kids this evening.  I'm not proud of it, but it happened.  A long weekend, followed by a long afternoon with tired kids (one not feeling well) and, I guess, it was just a recipe for disaster.  I can't say there wasn't warning, but I can say I went all Mother Hubbard on their sorry butts... and now I'm the one who's sorry.

I don't know why I'm blogging about this.  Maybe it's that whole ingrained-Catholic-confession thing and I just gotta get it off my chest.  Maybe I want you to know you're not alone if you ever blow your top with your kids.  Maybe I need to know I'm not the only one who messes up like this.

It's ironic, really, because just last evening I began a lovely post, based on someone else's writing, on the hazards of yelling, and how Mommy raising her voice is really of no benefit to anyone in any situation and how Mommy can be a better mommy by just checking herself.  But, I was too tired to actually finish that post... Plus, my kids were at Grandma's last night.

Today, when they came back, things took a turn and I must take the blame.

First, I asked Grandma and the kids to meet me at a department store, because two of the four were sorely in need of uniform pants, and they really need to be along for the shopping trip because any pants purchase requires a trip to the changing room.  Well, one of the kids grabbed from my hands the first two pairs of pants, tried on two pairs of pants, handed back the first two pairs of pants, and said, "They fit.  Let's go."  The other kid tried on four pairs of pants, sashaying around the department in each of them and looking at herself in the three-way mirror... then consulted Grandma and her sister on the pros and cons of each pair of pants... then eventually chose two pairs of uniform pants... then slowly worked her way through jeans and dresses across the store to another changing room where she spent an HOUR trying on more crap.  I eventually conceded to two pairs of jeans and a dress for her school Christmas program just to get everyone out of the store.

Even Grandma was done by that point, and it's saying something if Grandma is DONE.  At the checkout, the perky clerk asked not once but three times if I wouldn't really like to open a store charge card.  Then, she dug further, asking, "Do you shop here often?"  I answered, "No," and she said, "That's probably because you're not getting the great coupons that come along with having the charge card."  I gritted my teeth and nodded, thinking (but refraining from saying,) "No, I'm pretty sure it's because your store is a cluttered disaster; your ongoing, endless 'sales' are a sham; your merchandise supply is hit-or-miss; and YOU are way too aggressive for retail!"

We went home.

By the time we arrived home, one child had declared herself seriously ill... another fessed up to still needing to complete a homework assignment she had assured me was done on Saturday morning... and the other two were beating on each other over a Tootsie Roll in the back seat.  I declared, while still sitting on my minivan perch parked in the garage, that there would be NO screen time until all that homework that I thought was done actually got done and everyone practiced piano.  So began the next three-hour period in my life:


Somebody cried.  It wasn't even me.  That made me feel bad.

Dad is gone.  I can't blame him, and his absence shouldn't dictate my parenting-- heck, the kids really need a solid parent on the days when they only get one-- but I am well aware I sometimes have a shorter fuse than he does, and it stinks when I can't walk into the other room and say, "This is not going well.  I'm done.  Your turn."

So, I lost it.  It wasn't the first time and it probably won't be the last.  It's not OK.  I love my kids and I love my life, and I am going to get off the computer now and try to make this better.  It's really all any of us can do.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Sibling School Days

"Mom, I don't want Amanda to go to high school."
"Me, neither. But it's only November, so she won't go for almost another year."
"No, I mean I don't want her to EVER go to high school... Because we will never be in the same school again... And I love it that I get to see her at school at least once every day."
"You see Amanda every day? Where?"
"Well, sometimes if we do Walk-and-Talk then I see her in her science classroom. Sometimes I see her at the beginning of lunch. And, the other day, Amanda and Kaden had to come and help us out in our gym class. It was so much fun!"

She so looks up to her big sisters. Even with the age gap, I love how close they are. I know time marches on, but I am sad this is the last year all the kids are in the same school. As Darius Rucker sings, It won't be like this for long.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Apology

It appears Little One wrote an apology letter to her brother. I have no idea what precipitated this. I have a pretty good handle on the translation (enough to know her spelling needs a lot of work.) I am certain I am going to keep this forever.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Beet Salad

I have a number of things about which I could post today... But I am just gonna show you this:

Beet salad is one of my favorite things in life. What a perfect supper! I am so glad I made it.

5 c. arugula
1 c. diced beets
1/2 diced pear

1.5 oz. feta cheese
2 oz. diced chicken breast
Sprinkle of chopped walnuts

2 Tbsp. light balsamic vinaigrette


Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Girl for All Seasons

You know I was feeling blessed that my back is feeling better when I used the few hours between events today to work on the yard. Little One helped me, claiming she loves to rake leaves, but, in reality, talking a lot more about taking than actually raking. I love it when they get that idea in their heads about making a huge pile of leaves for jumping... But then  they tire of the chore after gathering, like, eight leaves.

She stuck with it, though-- kept raking... kept talking...

"Mom, this is so much fun! I love taking leaves!"
"It would be really awesome if this was the Fourth of July!"
"Did you just say this would be 'awesome if this was the Fourth of July'?"
"Because it would be fun to have a leaf pile on the Fourth of July!"
"What would be so fun about that?"
"Well, it would be warm, because the Fourth of July is in, like, August, right?"
"No, actually the Fourth of July is in JULY."
"Oh, well, it's still too bad that we only get leaves in the fall-- 'cuz this is fall... Right?"

Happy Halloween!