Sunday, July 31, 2016

Potter Addicts

AFTER performing in two shows on Saturday, Amanda and Elisabeth begged me to attend a special release party for the new Harry Potter book at our local, beloved, independent bookstore. Dad and I had other plans for the night, but I put them on the presale list and sent them off with Uncle Terry. We got a few raised eyebrows from other parents, but, you know what? I don't really care. I know from experience that it's difficult to immediately unwind when you come off stage. Plus, HARRY POTTER! (They did sleep until noon today... And then kept reading.) I didn't want to use up my cash and I wasn't exactly sure how much the books would cost, so I sent along a signed, blank check. More raised eyebrows, to which I responded, "If my biggest worry is letting my kids loose in a bookstore with a blank check, I am one happy mama!"

The Close of Seuss

Another run has come to an end...

The kids and Dad had a great time with SOAR Arts, performing in "Seussical," and Madeline and I really enjoyed watching them! It was especially special that they got to learn the music from Uncle Terry and share the stage with cousins Kazmer, Solomon and Oliver-- there was always someone I love to watch! But, I confess, I am greatly looking forward to the few weeks of actual summer we will now get.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Beaches Reboot

I don't know. I just don't know. I am so conflicted about this:

So, one of my favorite Broadway actresses is starring in a television remake of one of my favorite movies... This could be amazing or very, very bad. I mean, how do you top this?

the beginning 


The Glory of Love

"Listen, I know everything there is to know about you and my memory is long. My memory is very, very long." --C.C.
"I'm counting on it." --Hillary

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Friends with Worms

We are celebrating Benjamin's birthday, almost two weeks late, with friends today. There has been swimming... And tubing... And SO MUCH fishing... These kiddos are like a small tribe-- they love and fight like siblings and we love having them around. Happy belated 10th birthday for Ben and friends!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sensitive Subject

I feel as though my relationship with my oldest daughter turned a corner today. I am stil processing this...

She approached me in a quiet moment, with that kind of sheepish expression that I know means an uncomfortable question will follow:

A: "Mom, would you permit me to wax my upper lip? Because I feel like I might have a 'stache coming on."
I stopped what I was doing to give Amanda my full attention. I moved closer to her and examined her face, carefully, slowly.
M: "Honey, I see absolutely nothing that would need to be waxed from your upper lip. Nothing."
A: "Really?!"
M: "Really."
A: "Well, have you ever waxed your face?"
M: "No, I haven't. Typically, it's women of different ethnicities, who have darker coloring than we do, who find they want to remove facial hair. Yes, there is fine hair all over your face-- all faces-- but yours is blonde and completely unnoticeable."
A: "Mom, are you sure?"
M: "Definitely."
A: "OK. But, if you did see hair on my lip would you tell me and let me wax it?"
M: "Yes, Honey, I would..."

M: "...Would you tell me?"
A: "Yes, Mom. Definitely."

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Another Opening, Another Show

Forgive the absence of many posts this week. All our fellow musical theater friends will understand: It's tech week-- and this was opening night! Amanda, Elisabeth and Benjamin, along with Todd, have been rehearsing for the past seven weeks to perform in "Seussical" with SOAR Regional Arts, the nearby community theater founded by my sister and brother-in-law. Three of their children are also in the show, so it's been quite the family affair!

Here's a link to a brief, promotional video for the show:

And a few photos I took during dress rehearsals:

In the first, big number, Amanda-- a featured dancer-- is on the right in the zig-zag dress, and Todd is in the back as General Genghis Khan Schmitz.

Elisabeth is a jungle creature iguana climbing the stairs.

Benjamin is a Who. That's him in the orange shorts. (His final costume involves yellow, polka-dot pants.)

Todd takes the stage as the General.

This summer, I also believe I have discovered a favorite role for myself: audience member. Truly, it is such fun to watch the people I love on stage!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Car Talk

It was just Madeline and me in the car all the way home this evening. She regaled me with tales from the playground involving her new friend Cara. She confessed she has always secretly wished for a unicorn, but admitted she would settle for a horse. She gushed over the "shooting star" that was actually an airplane. Madeline entertained me with a lengthy commentary on the neck-and-neck race between our car and the full moon. I love having one kid in the car with me, and I always will.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It Still Hurts

(Note: I began this post a few weeks back, and just came upon it again.  I don't really have a special compulsion to edit or alter it, so I will just post it as it sat in the drafts lineup.)

Maybe I was a little distracted after some guy in a Prius cat-called me at the mailbox, because I couldn't decide if I was more offended or amused, and whether the offense and/or amusement was directed more at the cat call or the Prius. No matter. The point is-- I walked around to the backyard to get some photos for Todd, who is away on business, of the landscaping progress, and I slipped on some loose dirt and I fell flat on my back. My first thought was to get up before the landscaper, who is the loveliest man, or the neighbors saw me. So, I did. And I scrambled out of the way.  I took the photos for Todd and I went into the house.

I wasn't hurt, really... Was I? It was mostly just my pride injured. Nothing was broken. In my mind, I began to place blame-- or not. I was glad the landscaper had not seen me slip because I knew he would blame himself, for placing the plywood on the path, for dropping the sand, for not warning me... And it totally wasn't his fault. I blamed myself, for wearing slippery shoes, for not watching where I was going, for being in a hurry, for contemplating Prius Guy... But, I really didn't do anything wrong, either. It was just something that happened.

Lots of things happen. Every day. Things happen around us and things happen to us. Some things that happen are totally awesome, but lots of things are decidedly NOT awesome. Many of those things hurt.

Yet, my experience is that, in the vast majority of situations, the hurt is not intentional. The things are not done on purpose, with forethought or malice, so how could the hurt be on purpose? It's not.

But it still happens.

I knew I was dusty from my fall, so I went upstairs to change. I washed my hands and saw, underneath the dirt, the heels of my hands were red and scraped. When I removed my t-shirt and pants, I saw just how filthy they were... Now that I'm thinking of it, I didn't even look for holes. Underneath my clothing, my backside was filthy; the dirt had penetrated the layers. Both my wrists were beginning to ache.

Some time later, I felt my sweater rub against my arm. It hurt. I removed the sleeve and found my forearm, all the way to my elbow, was scraped. No one is at fault, but I still hurt.

It is such an obvious connection to all our actions and interactions in life. 

When the kids were younger (and, yes, sometimes still) something would happen-- a milk spill, a bonk by a kickball, a Big Wheel sideswipe-- and something or someone (usually it was feelings) would be hurt. The person behind the swipe or spill would invariably claim, "I didn't do it on purpose." And I would say, "I know you didn't, but we still need to fix it." The milk still needed to be mopped, the boo-boo kissed, the apology given.

If we learn that as children, and teach it to our children, why doesn't that continue in our adult lives? Do we say, "I'm sorry" acknowledging we caused hurt or upset, even-- especially-- when we didn't intend it? Or do we qualify it, dismiss it by saying, "I'm sorry you feel that way"? Whether or not it was intentional (and it almost never, is, right?) IT STILL HURTS.

It's one of those "men are from Mars, women are from Venus" the things, I think, when men want to fix something and women just want to talk about it... Maybe I'm not getting the psychobabble, exactly, but it is my experience that most humans want to feel acknowledged, considered, heard.  When hurt happens, we must do what we can to soothe the hurt.

I believe we were created to love one another, so, in doing, we learn to love God.  We are here to care for one another.  Yet, we hurt one another all the time.  We do.  Admit it-- you do.  I do.

Yes, in most cases, the hurt is unintentional.  Sometimes, it may not even be realized until, and unless, it is brought to our attention.  When it is, we must act.  Do it for others, and do it for yourself.  Whether or not you believe you have done something wrong, you will always feel better-- the world will always be better-- for your apology.

"Never ruin an apology with an excuse."  --Benjamin Franklin

"Apologizing does not always mean you're wrong and the other person is right.  It just means you value your relationship more than your ego."  --Mark Matthews

“Never forget the nine most important words of any family-- I love you.  You are beautiful.  Please forgive me.”  --H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Some Things Do Not Change

A couple weeks back, I received a message from my college roommate, who lives more than six hours away, saying she and her daughters were coming to our area for a lacrosse tournament and asking whether we could get together.  Could we?!  Since our only regular forms of communication are Christmas cards (which I can never seem to send to her correct address) and Facebook posts, I was excited by this prospect.  I was so excited, I invited her family to spend the night and whatever extra time they had with us.  It was a bit of an iffy proposition, however, because (1) we all know I am not a host by any stretch of the definition and (2) our children had never really met... and we really needed them to form an immediate bond, so that we could stay up late, drinking wine, looking at photos and reminiscing.

Lucky for us, our kids are as weird and wonderful as their mothers!

The last time Kristin and I were together, we each brought our one-year-old daughters and met another friend and her one-year-old daughter for a long weekend in the Wisconsin Dells.  Now, we each have four children-- three girls and one boy.  We still have the same husbands.  We still work in pretty much the same careers (though she has been more consistent with hers, working throughout in the same school district.)  We talk the same way.  We appreciate the same things about one another.  We look better than ever!

I am so thankful for this kind of easy, consistent friendship.  Kristin is a blessing in my life.  Here's hoping 13 years don't again pass in the blink of an eye!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Perfect 10

Exactly a decade ago, this boy entered our world. It was a time of frantic, uncertain, unsettled change in Krinkeland, and, frankly, Benjamin's arrival brought more uncertainty and change. Today, things are as settled and as certain as anyone could reasonably expect for our son and our regularly chaotic family. That may be the greatest gift of turning 10.

In the midst of summer musical season, a small celebration with friends will have to wait a couple weeks. But, Benjamin still managed to spend the day with family... and take treats to both CrossFit camp and "Seussical" rehearsal. And, with buckets of bait amongst his gifts, there was fishing.

Happy, happy tenth birthday, Benjamin Todd! Jesus loves you, and Mommy does, too.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Being a Kid

This girl. 

Upon flying off the playground and launching into a detailed explanation of the similarities (many) and differences (none but the name) of playing "Black Magic" versus "Cherry Bomb" with her newfound friends, Madeline stopped and declared, "Playing is so much work, Mom! I am serious! I play so hard I get sweaty-- can you see this?! Playing is such hard work, it really should count as CHORES!"

Yes, those are dilated pupils. During the latest, particularly arduous, eye exam today, we learned the function of Maddy's right, lazy eye is finally improving! So, Patchy will stay, for a while, but we can dial it back to four hours a day. (She did some tough negotiating with the doc down from six hours.)

The eye doctor also made a slight adjustment to the prescription in Madeline's right eye, so we ordered a new lens for her glasses. I never cease to be dazzled by the doctor and technicians who can somehow discern a prescription out of Maddy saying, "O-O-O" or "I have no idea" or "No, I really cannot see any of those letters-- they all just look like numbers again!"

She has an answer for nothing, yet an answer for everything. I really split a gut earlier this week when Benjamin announced, "Only three more days till my birthday! Well, I mean, that is, if we don't count tomorrow." And Madeline dryly replied, "Oh, we're gonna count tomorrow."

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Angler Boy

Our boy has a new/renewed/recent obsession: fishing. He has previously liked to fish, and is lucky enough to have the opportunity both in his own backyard and in Grandpa's. Recently, though, fishing has become a FULL-TIME thing. Benjamin is going through so many worms, I am threatening to charge him for his own bait. Yet, there are worse things he could do... And, with Daddy unexpectedly gone much more than anticipated these days, we all appreciate the moments to reconnect.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

What a Day!

Today was one of those absolutely perfect days on the lake-- calm, sunny, warm but not too hot. If you're lucky, you get a couple of these days each summer... Lucky enough for us, this one fell on a Saturday when we happened to be hosting a party for everyone at the gym.

This morning, Benjamin ran his first 5K; it was a community-wide CrossFit event. Don't see him in the pictures? Well, he might have hopped a brief ride on Dad's unofficial support vehicle. Don't see me in the pictures?! Well, someone had to be the official photographer!

Then, everyone came to our house for a pig roast and lake play day! Madeline was disappointed the pig came already slaughtered... Benjamin was "disturbed" when the guys had to saw off the pig's legs to make him it fit in the roaster box.


Then, everyone played, played, played in the lake. Amanda and Elisabeth again tried wake surfing behind our generous neighbors' boat. There was kayaking and paddle boarding and tubing and plenty of bouncing on the Rave. It was the kind of day where we knew exactly what we should be doing and we did it. A gift.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wind Damage

We had quite the line of severe weather blow through last evening. Here in Krinkeland, we spied some wild wind through the basement windows, but ended up with minor, reparable damage. The neighbor did send over a wild video of the water trampoline trying to take flight. (The steel cables kept it in place.)

Things were more serious at both my sister's and my brother's homes, about 10 miles to our east. They both lost trees, large limbs, and power. Roads were blocked and farm fields flattened. Thankfully, their homes-- and more importantly, their people-- were spared damage.

We spent a few hours today working on cleanup... It could have been so much worse... And, in my mind, there are definitely worse ways to spend a day. Forecast rumors say there is more on the way tomorrow. I pray we are all spared.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hidden Pictures

Walking down the hall, I stopped to notice this picture on the wall:

It was taken in the summer of 2002, on the occasion of Todd's dad's wedding. Incidentally, it was exactly two years ago today that my FIL suffered a massive stroke and fell; he would never regain consciousness, and, after two days, we would lose him as he gained salvation. That is not the reason for this post, but it occurs to me maybe angels prompted me to see the portrait today.

As I stopped to look at the portrait, I had a torrent of thoughts: Ugh, my stylist would say my hair was awful and my brows were worse. Blech, my coach would think I looked fat (though he would never say in as many words.) Ha! My pearls were real but my dress was from Target, as we were trying to figure out how to budget for indulgences as a newly one-income family... Still haven't mastered that, by the way.

But then I shook my head to clear the nasty thoughts, and the truest idea from this picture emerged: Yes, but look how HAPPY I am!" Look how proud. This is an amazing little family, with a happy baby, loving parents and an overflow of excitement for the blessed occasion. I don't see the exhaustion of middle-of-the-night feedings that I know were happening then. I don't see disappointment the photo was taken inside due to torrential rains outside. I don't see any concern that Todd and I are not dressed in summer finery to match our baby, or any anxiety that she is missing her afternoon nap. 

I see JOY.

There is so much joy, by the way, that within the month I would become pregnant again! (I don't know why I am sharing that... Middle age is wearing on my filter, which has always had huge holes.) To me, this is the picture of a young family that has it all. We did then, and we have even more ALL now.

So, why is it we have those knee-jerk reactions to seeing ourselves on film, in photos, in the mirror? Why did I text my friend this morning a photo from yesterday and ask her: Why do I look weird? Not because of the bathing suit... I mean my face... I look weird... Like a ghoul. Tell me straight-- is that how I look? If so, what do you think I should do about it? Lose weight? Gain weight? Facelift? Stop wearing childish braids? 

She replied as any good friend would, telling me I looked awesome, fit and youngish, and the poor photo was all the fault of the camera angle... And then she confessed she had an equally revolting reaction to the photo, asking why she'd worn that shirt, feeling like she was a circus tent wrapped in a picnic cloth. Yet, when I look again, what we ARE in this photo, and everywhere at all times, are beloved friends who are supportive enough for hugs and long listens and comfortable silences, and silly enough for matching Independence Day sunglasses.

These are friends who have it all.

My prayer this day is for my children, and all people, even me, especially me, to see the beautiful photos, the joy, the love. It is  hanging on the wall, and it is who we are.

Find Your Pot of Gold

The kids were completely unhinged today. You know, that kind of unruliness that comes with an extended holiday weekend of extensive work and play, late nights, too much sun, too much sugar? Lest you think this is only an issue with very young children, I can assure you it does not get easier as they grow, and, really, this makes sense, because I was done in, too. They alternated between licking empty potato chip bags, half-heartedly begging to go swimming again, and nodding off on the sofa.

In the afternoon, severe weather rolled through, and our brief foray into the basement added to the over-excitement. Because of the storms, their evening activities were canceled, and I felt relief that we could just wind down and call it an early night at home. That didn't really happen... And, hours later, as the two older girls were enthralled in a "Psych" marathon and the two younger children were engaged in a fierce game of Nerf gun hide-and-seek, I noticed the lightning had finally subsided and ventured outside for cleanup. I didn't make it far, because huge raindrops were still falling, but o did notice the most beautiful, full, vibrant double rainbow!

My little cell phone photo does not do it justice. I called the children outside to look. One declared she was getting on her bike to head for the treasure. The next asked me again how rainbows "work." The oldest dragged the dog through the mud to see the rainbow. Then, they traipsed back inside, because, as I said, it was still raining. A couple minutes behind the siblings, the last daughter emerged and grumbled, "What? I don't see anything."

It was clear. The rainbow was clearly arched across the sky. She saw what she wanted to see. And isn't that true for all of us?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Glorious Day

Today we celebrated Independence Day, along with my dad's 68th birthday. Summer is fleeting. Family can be taken for granted. We don't often enough make the time for friends. Yet, today and every day, we are free. Rejoice in this! Be love to one another.