Thursday, March 31, 2016


Benjamin was telling me this long, elaborate, humorous story that centered on an invisible bench. He went on and on, cracking himself up more as he went. I didn't really get the point, but I was enjoying watching my son amuse himself. The story morphed into Ben imagining invisible this, invisible that... Finally, I said, "But, yeah, the thing is, there is no such thing as invisibility. I mean, every thing and every one we know of is visible." Benjamin said, "Well... Except for God."

Ben wins.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Faithful in Prayer

In this glorious Easter season, as always, we have so many in need of prayer.  Thank you for joining me!

*for Felicity, beginning chemotherapy for brain cancer
*for Muriel, recovering from a lumpectomy to treat breast cancer
*for Chris, recovering from knee surgery
*for various friends diagnosed and treated for skin cancer
*for hearts to be opened to foster care and adoption
*for peace in Minneapolis and the safety of law enforcement everywhere
*for Todd, preparing to leave on safari in South Africa
*for safety and health for Sara and Andrea and their unborn babies
*for Chris and Angel, Jordan and Kayla, both couples preparing for marriage
*gracious thanksgiving for the birth of Rosalind Laurice!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Easter Baby

I guess I'm naturally kind of self-centered, so, with the recent arrival of my niece Rosalind in conjunction with the Easter celebration, I cannot help thinking about another baby girl born fourteen years ago at Eastertime:

Yes, this little girl was also pretty, darn new (I'm thinking about two weeks old) and Easter was the first really perfect reason to dress up Amanda like a little doll. She was our little doll, and still is, but now we have a whole dollhouse full and they dress themselves! Yes, the styles have changed... But not the way tiny tights bag on those chicken legs!

Since Amanda was our first-- unlike Rosalind who is the fifth child at her house-- we could give her our undivided attention. I clearly remember getting Amanda dressed for church on Easter Sunday and then, while I was getting ready, Daddy and new daughter had this photo shoot:

Amanda was so tiny next to her Easter basket! (And it's wild to think that at birth she outweighed Lindy by nearly two pounds.) Everyone at church oohed and aahed over the pretty baby and passed her around. This year, Rosalind slept through mass... But we still had to pull her out at the end so all the people in the congregation who already love her could get a good look:

I'm as sentimental seeing those big brothers dote on their baby sister as I am looking back at photos of the Easter baby who made me Mommy.

Monday, March 28, 2016

"I'm Thinking of Someone..."

Madeline and Benjamin were riding in the car with me and they devised this game that was kind of a version of 20 Questions or I'm Thinking of Something, only instead of someTHING they took turns thinking of someONE and then the other person had to ask yes/no questions and guess. Madeline went first and was thinking of "someone in our family who is a girl." Benjamin was rattling off name after name and getting really frustrated. Finally, he claimed to have named every, single female relative. Maddy shook her head. "Nuh-uh! You forgot the one sitting next to you!" Ben exclaimed, "You were thinking of yourSELF?!" And they both exploded into peals of laughter.

The game devolved (at least from an intelligence perspective) from there... Ben gave Maddy a clue of, "This is a boy you love and who you want to marry." She guessed the name of an adorable boy in her class, but her brother told her she was wrong. She went through a few more cutie classmates, but kept guessing incorrectly. Finally, Ben told her the answer was DAD. (Of course!) Then, they switched to imaginary people and entirely made-up family trees, like Katie Fartener's neighbor's brother-in-law. 

But, they both thought they were so funny, and they entertained each other through the entire errand run. Much like yesterday's kickball game, I couldn't help but think about how much I will miss this someday.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

We Are an Easter People

It has been a glorious Easter!  I would be hard-pressed to come up with ways to make the day better.

The morning started early, with an egg and basket hunt.

We attended mass at a nearby church where my BIL acts as music director.  The hymns were lovely, the church was beautifully decorated for Easter, the cousins were fairly well behaved in the pew, and the message was simple, joyful and exactly what a Christian needs to hear on this most important day.

There was more hunting and gathering, following some harried photo-posing at Grandma and Grandpa P.'s.  With the addition of six-day-old Rosalind, we now have a DOZEN COUSINS!

The food was good and plentiful, as was the companionship and conversation.  As the kids grow older and new ones are added to the mix, they find new ways to enjoy and entertain one another. 

While they did just that, we siblings and in-laws enjoyed the traditional Easter Grab.  I was called "ruthless" this year, but was quite satisfied with my final stash.

As clouds and rain gave way to late-afternoon sunshine, the littlest cousins teamed up with the biggest ones to take on the daddies in kickball.  What a hoot!

On the car ride home, as we all talked about what a wonderful day it has been, we called Grandma R. and Aunt Lisa to wish them a Happy Easter, too.  They have just signed a purchase agreement and begun plans to move to a house just a couple miles away from us.  So, there is much excitement all the way around, and plenty of reasons to rejoice!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Even Steven

SuperTarget was really crowded and I was getting really fed up, re-canvassing my route to try to find the last few things on my list. This little boy could hardly see over the cart handle, as he muscled it down the aisle with his toddler sister sitting in the seat. "Mom," he called ahead, "You better be spending exactly the same on each of us kids for Easter!"

Who was this kid? I thought. He couldn't have been more than eight or nine years old. Was he talking about Easter outfits? No, the mom was tossing jelly beans and chocolate rabbits into the cart. Why didn't he believe in the Bunny? That was kind of sad. My next thought was, Well, of course Mom is going to spend the same amount of money on each of you; she loves you all the same amount. But his tone was so demanding, I couldn't help thinking, Who do you think you are, Buddy? Mom is not going to get out a calculator... But, from the looks of things, you and your siblings are going to be plenty sugared up, so quit the bean counting! You'll lead a super-miserable life if you are always keeping track like this. 

He again demanded equity from his mother's backside. The mom stopped, turned, looked up from her list, smiled at her boy, and calmly said, "Actually, I'll probably end up spending less on you." Go, Mom.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Loving on Lindy

Took the uncle back for a little more Lindy today. Did not take the kids, because, in hospital situations, they are often too much, for everyone. Especially me. Also because I did not want to. Todd rocked and cooed and gazed. I unwrapped and tickled the baby to wake her so she would eat.

Monday, March 21, 2016

New, Old Traditions

We had a really lovely Palm Sunday celebrating an early Easter with Grandma R. and Aunt Lisa. The day was filled with all our usual family traditions: church, a grand meal, egg and basket hunting, egg decorating, kite flying, and even a movie.

And, yet, everything this year was different. Now, that my MIL and SIL live together, it was like we had dual hosts. Madeline squealed, "It's our first Easter with the cats!" That's hilarious, because Lisa's cats hardly even come out from under the bed when we are there. Naturally, we missed Grandpa R. at every turn. Now, Lisa sits at the head of the table and Grandma leads the prayer. While flying kites, it was habitual to glance over toward the parking lot, expecting Grandpa to be watching from the front seat as he would when the wind got too chilly for him to be out in the park. He would have been so proud to see all his grandchildren now big enough and strong enough to fly their kites on their own.

As we enter this holiest of weeks, our thoughts turn homeward and inward, to acceptance, resolve, and, above all, love.

Princess Rosalind

We have a new niece and cousin! Rosalind Laurice arrived this morning! She is doing well for being delivered a few weeks early, and she is gorgeous. Lindy is undoubtedly also brilliant, clever, sweet, compassionate, hilarious, and friendly... But the gorgeous presented itself first.

Welcome to the world and to this crazy family, Lindy! Jesus loves you and Auntie does, too.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Big C

It was nine months ago, yesterday, that we lost my dear FIL to esophageal cancer. I think of him every day. These last couple weeks, in particular, have been riddled with so much cancer news. Please join me in prayer:

*for Muriel, with breast cancer, recovering from a lumpectomy performed today
*for Laura, recovering from skin cancer surgery performed on Monday, and awaiting further results and plans in two weeks
*for Felicity, continuing to recover from brain surgery and preparing for her next phase of treatment to begin next week
*for Lilia, with brain cancer, hospitalized with treatment/digestive complications
*for Tim, heading down a new career path after wife Toni's death from breast cancer
*for Teri, whose numbers look good and whose battle continues
*for those living in fear of getting test results
*in thanksgiving for cancer survivors, including Gua
*in thanksgiving for good screening results

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Lesson in Hydration

"Mom, me and Mrs. V. had a challenge today."
"Really? Just the two of you? What was it?"
"It was a drinking water challenge."
"Mrs. V. bet me that I couldn't drink my whole water bottle before she drank hers. But I did! I drank four water bottles today, and my teacher got close, but she only drank three. We are going to try again tomorrow!"

I love the village. We can raise our children on our own, but our chances for greater success are so much better when we all work together.

This morning, I sought out Benjamin's teacher to tell her about the water bottle in his backpack. The kids are always allowed, even encouraged, to keep a water bottle with them in class to stay hydrated throughout the day, but Ben had never done this, and the bottle did not contain water... And I did not want him to cause problems.

I explained how Ben has been complaining for quite some time of dizziness, particularly when he gets up and when he goes to bed. I have not been very concerned about it, because he still goes about his daily activities, and I have not seen anything alarming. When Benjamin saw the cardiologist in January and he complained of the dizziness, she checked him out and told him she believes he is not getting enough fluids, and dehydration causes dizziness. She strongly urged him to drink water. That suggestion fell on deaf ears, because Ben is my only child who thinks drinking water is some kind of nasty punishment. Then, this week, when he had his genetics checkup, Benjamin again told the specialist he often feels dizzy. The good doctor agreed that hydration was key, and went a step further, urging, "Dude, if you aren't going to drink water, at least drink Gatorade. It will help you feel better." 

So, for the past two days, Ben has chugged a small bottle of Gatorade before school, and-- what do you know?-- no dizziness! Today, we took things one step further, and that is how Ben ended up with a water bottle full of not-water in class. I told her about the Gatorade and what it was for. 

His teacher promised me she would urge him to drink, and get that bottle emptied. Before lunchtime! I shrugged and said there really was no urgency, I just wanted him to have the option and a way to help himself feel better.

Then, Benjamin came home with that story. How alarmed the teacher must have been... How determined to help my son... How much she must care for Benjamin.

My heart is so full as I put the not-dizzy boy to bed. I love Ben's teacher for loving my boy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Over the Rainbow

Another season of Saints on Stage is history, with the close of performances for "The Wizard of Oz Young Performers' Edition." I am so proud of our young performers! I could write for days... But I am nearly as tired as they are! Mostly, I am just grateful for the family and friends who have dedicated themselves to the care and training of my children, and to the family and friends who filled the seats in support of them! 

The. Best.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Question Time

Benjamin had a long-scheduled doctor checkup in the city this morning, so the drive made for lots of good discussion time. Among today's questions:

"What are those big walls on the sides of the freeway for?"

"Why are so many businesses around here closed?"

"What is Minnesota Teen Challenge?"

"Is it better or worse that machines-- not people-- take money in parking ramps now?"

"What is that test I have sometimes at the hospital where they put all that sticky stuff on my chest, but not an echocardiogram?" (???)

"How come when some people have cancer they have chemo and other medicine and treatment, but some people just have surgery?"

Monday, March 7, 2016

No Shots

I have no idea what they're up to in that school, but both big girls came home and said they're doing a project for which they each need a photo with me. I scrolled through our photo archives for at least the last two years... And there are no photos of just me and Amanda or me and Elisabeth. In fact, I am in the few, more formal, family photos we've had taken, and that's about it. I do have a couple, cute, recent selfies ("usies"?) with me and the little ones... But middle-school girls don't seem inclined to pose with their mother. So, there.

There are copious photos of the four children together, along with plenty of various configurations of Dad and kids. They like him better, anyway.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

What a Weekend!

Tech time for Saints on Stage

A final weekend of basketball for the season for Elisabeth and Madeline

The blessed 50th wedding anniversary celebration for Todd's godparents Uncle Arlen and Aunt Madelyn

And SOAR Regional Arts's production of "The Little Mermaid Jr." featuring the acting chops of two awesome nephews

Full steam ahead to a crazy week! I'm already tired.