Saturday, April 30, 2016


Todd had a Saturday work event and the rest of us went to Grandma R.'s to help her pack up and haul away following her garage sale. Since we were already in the area, I suggested we go to mass in the church where we were married; I didn't think all the kids had ever been there. They enthusiastically agreed, which is weird, but I sure wasn't going to question it!

As we drove down Main Street and neared the church, the children had all kinds of questions... about the town, about the church, about how we decided to get married there, about who married us... I parked, and as we were walking up, I could kind of see them scrutinizing the place. And I was not surprised:

It's a big church, kind of stadium-style, and architecturally (and many other ways) completely different from our traditional, old, brick, steepled church home. But I love visiting different churches, and this one in particular holds many special memories for me. Not only did Todd and I get married there, but I also received my early sacraments of baptism and First Communion. I recalled hours of religious education, choir, and summer festivals.

This is a good place.

But not very pretty. 

In my humble opinion, the esthetics of the place leave a lot to be desired... I have even thought that looking back on our wedding photos-- the most beautiful shots were taken against an exposed brick wall or outside. Theater-in-the-round, my MIL calls it. 

The altar is positioned centrally on a large, center stage, with a white, brick wall and an enormous, modern crucifix as the backdrop. The straight, wooden pews fan out on the other three sides and up to a second level. Truly, a special place in many ways-- just ugly. 

Our children did not agree.

We no more than entered the sanctuary (we were early for mass) than one breathed, "Oh, now I see why you wanted to get married here." What? 

They were completely uninterested in the large gathering space, the community room, and the classrooms, which was fine because they were built in a post-our-wedding addition. Inside the sanctuary, however, they marveled at everything. One loved the organ pipes. Another thought the side chapel was precious. They all adored the baptismal font trickling holy water. And they all wanted to tromp up to the balcony (my favorite vantage point, too, as a child) and try out different seats in every corner.

Then, it was time for mass to begin and I know their wheels started turning about different hymns and this different priest's style and message. That's good. I aim to expose them to many contrasting experiences, to keep them thinking and asking and considering what and how they truly believe.

It was a sweet and sacred stroll down memory lane.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Locally Laid

I live in a cool town, have a friend who owns a cool bookstore, have other friends who operate a cool food co-op and frequent our cool library. This evening, all those factors aligned forces to put on a really cool event-- a talk and Q&A session with author Lucie Amundsen about her book and egg operation, both called "Locally Laid." Books and eggs are two of my most favorite things, so, this was, like I said, cool. Even if you are not interested in eggs... Or middle farming... Or the trials of a mid-life career change... Or the bizarre, unexpected turns of marriage and family... Well, this book is so engaging, you will love it, anyway. You can borrow mine.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dog Huggers, All of Us

This information has made our big girl, and all of us really, so sad. If dog psychologists are correct-- and who's to say they aren't-- we are not supposed to hug Jonesy because it stresses him out. But we loooove him, and hugging him makes US feel good... Now, Krinkeland is stressed out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Always Your Best

I have some stuff I am working on writing about Prince, his death and his legacy... And I am reading so much of what others have written... Today, maybe because of all the artists in my family, this really struck me:

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Birthday in Review

To celebrate the Little One's seventh birthday on Friday, we brought treats (mint chip ice cream bars, an odd choice for her but apparently a favorite among her classmates) to school. After school let out, I picked up the Birthday Girl and three of her friends for an adventure.

First stop: CherryBerry for a snack! There was a lot of licking and stickiness and general Nerds-on-M&Ms grossness, but, luckily, we were the only ones in the shop.

Next, we traveled to a nearby nail salon for kid-style manicures and pedicures. That was something!

The girly, matching flip-flops as party favors absolutely maxed the limits of my craftiness.

Immediately afterward, the girls wanted to go to the park to run around, and, you know, ruin their pedicures. So, we did.

Then, it was on to dinner. The rest of the family was joining us, so there was a bit of a wait for a table that size. The girls spent the time greeting other diners and collecting compliments on their flip-flops.

By this time, everyone was hungry and patience was wearing a bit thin, but they were all troopers. When the servers delivered a birthday song with a sundae, I just passed out extra spoons, because, if you've been counting, it was the girls' third frozen treat of the day. And we delivered everyone home. Minimal tears, maximal giggles, and an all-around amazing time!

We rounded out the weekend with birthday dinners on each side of the family. Madeline was thrilled with all her minion gear, and this "pink, fluffy" unicorn... And she absolutely loved the apple pie baked by one grandma and the  very specially (and specifically) decorated cake by the other!

It's good to be seven!

Saturday, April 23, 2016


To celebrate Madeline's birthday, I took her and three friends on a little adventure. The main events were manicures and pedicures. I have many tales, some of which I will share and some of which I will not. The one confession I have is that, while I thought I had a pretty solid plan with all my ducks in a row, it turned out I neglected to factor in one thing: the effect of the salon's massage chairs.

The girls could not stop giggling and o could not stop giggling. For all the other clients in that packed place, I am pretty sure it was the least relaxing time ever.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Seven is a Lucky Number

My baby is seven years old today. I sincerely had the thought this morning, "I can't believe she's six already." And then my fuzzy brain recalculated and I realized Madeline is SEVEN. That part is still sinking in... And I have so much to tell about the day's wonderful birthday adventures... That report will come later this weekend.

For tonight, I will just reflect on this marvelous gift of love in our lives-- a gift to all the residents of Krinkeland and to all the residents of Earth. I got a bit emotional this morning when I took he kids to school and delivered Madeline's birthday treats to her classroom. I remembered talking to that same teacher seven years minus one day prior; Amanda, our firstborn, was in first grade, and I was explaining the contingency plan-- I was overdue and the doctor had scheduled an induction for the following day. The teacher said the class would pray for me, and urged us to call directly to the classroom phone with news of the baby's birth. On that following day, Amanda's baby sister entered the world at 1:53 p.m. We were nearing the end of the school day and the pressure was on: We knew Big Sister (and her classmates and her teacher) was awaiting our call, but we hadn't settled on the baby's name. I really wanted Amanda to get that phone call before she hopped the school bus home to where Grandma was waiting. 

Daddy first called Big Sister #2, who was home from preschool and apparently not napping, to discuss. She unhelpfully insisted on the name "Ella" which was not on our short list (because my sister's name is Ellen; same reason Helen was out.) After further deliberation, Todd finally dubbed Madeline, the little girl's name for which he had unsuccessfully campaigned through each previous child welcoming. We called the first graders just as the day was winding down, and Amanda got to receive and then share our family's wonderful news.

Now, four seconds later, Maddy is a student in the same class.
I shake my head to clear the cobwebs and the tears. Madeline brings joy to my days, focus to my presence, affection to my neck. Today, we celebrate Madeline.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Angel Among Us

Todd and I go to the gym weekdays for early-morning workouts... But, after this morning, I'm not sure I will be welcome back. 

Today's workout involved running-- 800 meters (a half-mile) each on the front and back ends, with some other awful stuff in between. It is well known I am not a runner, and I despise even being asked to walk fast. No matter how much Todd teases me that I actually like it, there is no doubt I still hate running. I am also slow at it. So, when we took off this morning, down the road from the gym in the dim pre-dawn, I was near the back of the pack, as expected. 

One woman was slower than I was, and, before we reached the turn-around point at 400 meters, I noticed she was walking. Our chosen exercise method, CrossFit, is, by all definition, a group activity. We look out for each other. She waved me on, and I went. As I turned, my eye caught the flash of a light-colored t-shirt, and I thought, Good, (our coach) followed us; he will check on her and stay with her.

Within a minute or two, I was back in the gym and on with the workout, but our coach was there ahead of me, watching and giving pointers. I realized I had been mistaken about seeing him on the road and asked him to check on the other woman. He went.

The other runner was fine, just struggling as we all take turns doing, depending on the activities, each day. When we were all done, while stretching and commiserating, I asked the only other guy in a light-colored shirt whether he had started the workout late, bringing up the rear on the run. He said, no, he had been at the front of the pack with Todd. Immediately, I blurted out, "Well, then, it must have been her guardian angel I saw!"

The box went silent. "Maaaybe?" a friend asked quietly. 

I described what I had seen, talking myself out of it as I went. It could have been another runner, separate from our group, on the path. It could have been a reflection from headlights. It could have been a trick of the eye... Anything... But I went there. And there's no going back.

It really should not be any surprise to my fellow workout enthusiasts, since I often cry out, "May God have mercy on our souls!" as we launch into another challenging Workout of the Day. I also once confessed to the group that the only way I make it through long rowing sessions is by reciting decades of the rosary. There's really no separating exercise and prayer, and no reason to.

I hope I at least got them thinking...

This is a picture of Todd-- not the guardian angel-- practicing a move called a split jerk this morning before the workout with running began.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Track & Softball

We are having some new athletic experiences here in Krinkeland: Amanda had her first track and field meet today, where she competed in the 100 meter hurdles. She cleared all the hurdles, kept her knees in-tact, did not come in last, and, above all, really enjoyed herself!

At the same time, Madeline had her first softball practice through a new program at her school. The coach, a kindergarten teacher and workout buddy of mine said Maddy is a natural... Great skill, just not much drive. Hmmm, seems to be a theme with this one!

Hush Your Mouth

Mercy, mercy, mercy... How I must just shut up:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Day Like Today

At times, I feel I spend most of my days wondering why we live where we do-- the cold, the expense, the constant repairs, the threat of harm to children and pets, the wind, sweet charity, oh, the wind! And, then, there are days when I look out the window and see the bright sun in its rapid descent over calm water and I rush out onto the deck in a silly and fruitless attempt to capture the beauty... But I know...

It is well with my soul.

Anatomy of Benjamin Trying Calamari

Benjamin is a pretty adventurous eater, but that doesn't mean he likes everything he tries. I found these on my phone and had to share-- it's a visual step-by-step of him tasting fried calamari, or, as I like to call it, deep-fried rubber bands:

Guess who didn't try it?

All God's Children

It's been a glorious, busy weekend packed with house- and lake-work, the annual Spring Fever fundraiser at the kids' school, and nephew Oliver's First Communion!

Must be my bedtime...

Friday, April 15, 2016

Growing Up

Most of the time, I have a pretty good read on my kids, how they're growing and developing, where they're at... But, every once in a while, I glance over my shoulder and think, "Whoa! What happened? Who's that?!"

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

On Loving Kids

Two times each weekday morning, I send out two kids to wait for the school bus at the end of the driveway. I don't always wait outside with them; the big girls would be embarrassed and, plus, I don't like to be cold and it always seems to be cold. But I watch the kids as they wait... I retrieve the 25 things they forget... I call out the door and remind them to not stand too close to the road... And I stand in the picture window and watch. As the kids climb on the bus, the door closes and the bus begins to pull away, I always blow three kisses: one for each of my children on that bus, and one for the kid on that bus who maybe didn't get any love, affection and attention that morning. Of course, I'm the only one who knows I do this, but at least I know.

Kids are so easy to love. More people
Should try it.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Time for Examination

If you've ever had someone ring your doorbell to try to sell you something like "amazing window cleaner that is so safe you can drink it" (and then he drinks it) or meat from a cooler in his trunk, well, then, maybe this story will make sense to you... But maybe not, because I have had those things happen, and I am still scratching my head over a recent encounter.  But, before I get into the tale, I have to headline with my conclusion: People are weird.

They just are.

Honestly, the weirdness begins with Todd and me, and details that I do not wish to divulge over risk of stirring further embarrassment about how poorly my husband and I sometimes do with ADULTING.  The scene-setter is: Even though we did extensive research and legwork to take out new life insurance policies one year ago, it is now necessary for me to go through the process again.  I am trying to chalk up the headache as a blessing, however, because the issue only applies to me.  Since Todd had surgery last week to remove basal cell carcinoma, we are so grateful his policy did not lapse.  And, frankly, I am in better health than I was last time, so it can be a win-win, if only I can get beyond the oddity of my medical exam.

My first clue should have been when the nurse called me to make an appointment.  She, a total stranger, called me things like a "fit little bug" and a "vixen."  If you've ever taken out life insurance, you know the drill.  You have to answer all kinds of questions about your medical history, sometimes also submitting documentation, and then the insurance company sends a medical professional to your home to do a basic health assessment.  It's a bit nerve-wracking if you are someone who is prone to wracking, but not really a big deal. 

This nurse, Rhonda, and I had a hard time finding a time that worked for both of us; she kept suggesting late-afternoon time slots, though I said earlier in the day would be better because the children would be in school and I was definitely available weekdays.  Finally, we agreed upon 2 p.m. but she warned me on the phone: "There's a bit of a problem with that time-- you have to fast for four hours prior to the exam, so, can you have a big brunch and then hold off until my visit?"  I assured her that would not be a big deal.

And, it wasn't.  Except I was hungry.  And I had to pee.  Rhonda told me to drink a lot of water, which I did, and I started thinking around 1:30 I probably should not go to the bathroom because she was probably going to need a urine sample.  Which she did.  Except Rhonda was late.  At least I was in my own home, and I can always find stuff to do, so I kept dusting and vacuuming and eventually she arrived.  She offered no apology or explanation, but she was very smiley.

I welcomed Rhonda into my home and she set about arranging her equipment and forms on the kitchen table.  When it seemed she was about ready, I came over and sat down.  After verifying my identity, she started asking me lots of questions about my mental health.  After asking whether I had obsessive compulsive disorder, she said, "Are you sure?  I saw you wiping down the counter."  I think Rhonda was teasing, but I can't be sure... And I really don't think medical professionals should make jokes about that kind of thing.

When it came time to get my weight, Rhonda said, "Now, there's something wrong with my scale-- it's off by five pounds.  Well, just get on and then we'll talk about it."  I stood on the scale and appeared to weigh exactly what I typically weigh.  She asked what I usually weigh and I told her, "That."  She wrote down a number five pounds lighter.  Something similar happened when she took my blood pressure.  It was taking a long time, and the cuff was making noises, and finally Rhonda asked, "Well, what is your blood pressure usually?"  And then she just wrote that down on the form.

Rhonda shared a detailed personal tale about how she does not believe in traditional medicine and does not ever see a doctor, but how a naturopath diagnosed her anemia and turned her life around because before that happened she was so exhausted she would regularly nap in her car.  Then, I had to go in my bathroom and pee in a cup, which I did, and I left the cup on the bathroom counter for her.  She went in after me and tested whatever she needed to test.  When she came out of the bathroom, Rhonda stated, "I will take all the medical garbage with me when I leave, but I will not take that urine cup.  And I didn't think I should just throw it in the garbage, so I left it sitting on your vanity."  Okaaaay...

When she took my blood, we had a brief discussion about blood draw locations and procedures, because I am kind of a difficult patient in that regard.  Rhonda followed my instructions and got what she needed on the first attempt, but, while drawing my blood, she kept mumbling, "Ooh, interesting..." and looking at the tubing.

Rhonda then packed up her goods and assured me I should have no issues passing the medical exam for life insurance coverage.  Good.  I thought not.  But I worried about Rhonda as I showed her to the door and she said something odd like, "Love you," and then she drove away. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sibling Day and a Birthday

Today is my sister's birthday, and it is also National Sibling Day, apparently. So, one of these is a real thing (though not officially a national holiday, I guess) and the other is completely made up, and so we only really "celebrate" it on Facebook and the like. I'm so glad I have siblings. I look at my own kids and I think about that saying that goes something like, "You have one child for yourself; you have a second so they have each other." I would do anything for my birthday-girl sister and my brother. I just pray my children will grow up feeling the same way.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Cut It Out

Todd had a little outpatient surgery on his face today. No big deal, as he has said over and over again. It was a basal cell carcinoma spot... Doc took it all out in the first swipe and stitched him right up. I am posting this mostly because the blog is our virtual family memory book, and I want a record of it. Todd does not, would not want a fuss, but he is proud to be a cancer survivor and is so thankful it was minor. Always wear your sunscreen kids, and get skin checks often!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Being True to You

We talk about sex in our house. It's important, and, frankly, we don't have a choice. We answer questions simply, but directly. We ask questions about what it means when someone throws around a slang phrase or talks about having a "boyfriend" or being "Facebook official." The kids tease Mommy and Daddy-- a little more than I would like... OK, a lot more than I would like... They know TOO MUCH, and I worry they do not respect enough.

Not all conversations have arisen the way I would have liked, thanks to the "values" perpetuated by the society we live in, and, more specifically, thanks to the reality that my children are not locked in a tower and do, indeed, interact with other people. While we, from very early on, have always discussed proper names for body parts, privacy and modesty, personal safety, and the like, I have not felt the need to give explicit information about physical relationships and intercourse. 

Yet, when our oldest child was just 10 years old, she asked, "Mom, what does 'have sex' mean?" I was caught off-guard and grasped for context by first asking back, "Where did you hear that?" It turned out some adults in her presence were discussing mission work and protecting girls and women... I suspect they simply forgot a child was in the room. She pressed me for more and more information, and so I was direct. Even in the framework of "this is one way two married adults express their love," she was horrified. My daughter was NOT READY for that truth, and I was unable to keep it from her until a more suitable age when she was better equipped to process it. 

I am not arguing against teaching all kids important information, but I resented that I did not get to decide for myself when my child could learn what my child needed to learn. And there's no keeping it from any of them. Sex is EVERYWHERE. If aliens landed and looked at our television lineup, our big-screen blockbusters, our internet searches, our bookshelves, our social media, our school curricula, they would obviously come to the conclusion that all we think about, all we talk about, all we do is SEX.

But, to what end? I think this article nails what I desire to teach my children, what I know without doubt to be true:

I love even more that this is written by a man... not just a whiny, frigid, prude as our culture could label a woman author, and as I would label myself if I believed what society was selling. There is a joy and a harmony and an unrivaled connection in the physical expression of love between two consenting adults in a covenanted union. Nothing else is right. Individuals know it in their hearts, and no peer pressure, mass media messages or pop-culture drivel can change that.

Be true to you.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Weird Things Middle Schoolers Say

"I used to think it was quite an accomplishment to wear the same pair of underwear for, like, a month, but then I discovered hygiene."

"Are you sad to know that I'm going to be taller than you?"

"Except for the running, track practice was really fun!"

"Lip gloss is fine for going out to dinner, but, at home, it just looks weird."

"There was this other girl who was never in track before, either, and she said, 'I don't know anyone on this team, so I'm just walking around looking for friends,' and so I said, 'Well, you just made one!'"

"Yes, we pressured him to go out for the team-- that's how middle school works."

"Wait, Mom-- I'm just texting real quick to remind her I can't text after 9:00."

"Can I get a Marines uniform for my Build-A-Bear?"

"What do you mean you knew I would pick the sloth because it's the 'weirdest animal here?' Have you seen its claws?!"

Friday, April 1, 2016


Well, this wasn't exactly a Spring Break vacation year... Todd was traveling for work much of the week, anyway, but the kids and I found plenty of ways to entertain ourselves: visiting Baby Rosalind, catching up on laundry, hauling loads of donations to the Salvation Army, visiting Great-Grandma Gua, the list goes on... 

Since today was their last official day off from school, we planned a spur-of-the-moment adventure to Mall of America, and followed it up with attendance at the cousins' school talent show. A great time was had by all!