Friday, April 28, 2017


Our big girl is on stage this weekend in her first high school musical "Pippin." It's difficult to formulate all my thoughts on this, so, for now, I will just be proud.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Her Favorites

Madeline had her well-child checkup today. All was great. She is healthy and growing as she should. I can't remember the numbers, and I didn't write them down, but she was smack dab in the middle of the chart for weight and at about the 70th percentile for height. But those things are never interesting... I don't know why we lead with them.  Maddy answered appropriately all the questions posed to her, and generally threw me under the bus whenever she thought she could get a reaction out of me or the doctor.  It worked.

The best part was when Madeline was asked one of those questions that is probably meant to assess the chances of her growing up to be a serial killer: Can you list off your favorite things?

1. Ketchup
2. Calico Critters
3. Minions
4. Barbies
5. My dinosaur suit

She totally passed.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


We're in a crazy-busy season here in Krinkeland... not that it ever ISN'T BUSY, but these weeks seem especially wild.  In the midst of preparing for Madeline's birthday and First Communion, I neglected to mention a few other highlights:

Amanda (alto) and her friend Emilee (soprano) received a superior rating for their duet at the regional solo/ensemble contest.  You can hear their performance by clicking here.

The same day, Elisabeth won her grade's spelling bee-- for the second year in a row-- and will represent her middle school at the district spelling bee in a couple weeks.

Benjamin, not to be outdone, brought home papers this week with notes of commendation on his handwriting; he also claims to have tied for the highest math score in his grade on recent standardized testing.  We'll see the number in print when Ben brings home his results, but I wouldn't be surprised!

Excitement all around!

Full Day, Full Heart

Today was such a beautiful, amazing day-- I don't even know what to say about it.  Our baby, Madeline Kate, turned eight years old AND she received her First Holy Communion.  It was such a special confluence of events... I cannot really imagine something like this happening again.  Most of our family was able to celebrate with us, the weather was perfect, and even the food wasn't too bad, if I do say so myself.  And didn't Madeline look just beautiful?!

I've been emotional all week, and was pretty proud of myself for nearly holding it together in mass.  Tears kept welling up, but I was able to think about baseball and keep them at bay, until... after Madeline and her friends received the Eucharist and she returned to the pew to sit with us, Todd put his arm around me and gave me a little squeeze and said, "Well, Mama, we got them all through."  A few things here: (1) I am pretty sure that is the first and last time he will ever call me "Mama;" (2) Since our youngest just turned eight today and our oldest is 15, I don't exactly think we are done with this parenting thing, nor will we ever be; but (3) I kind of get what he meant-- When the children receive sacraments, I just feel kind of a sense of relief and it is accompanied by the sentiment, "Well, we've gotten them this far."  We are so, so excited for Maddy and so proud of our little girl.

The afternoon was a combination communion-birthday celebration.  Madeline received lots of attention and plenty of lovely gifts.  We had just a bit of family alone time this evening, and I think I caught Maddy off-guard by actually fulfilling her birthday gift wish.  Isn't she the best?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hour Son

I am dragging my bum and looking forward to bed even more than usual, after last night's series of unfortunate events. This was a Krinkeland first, and hopefully last:

I heard Benjamin get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I absolutely always hear him if he gets out of bed, because his room is right across the hall from mine and because he walks with loud, plodding elephant feet. All the time. No matter how I remind him. When Ben returned to his room, he closed the door, but I could hear continuing commotion beyond. Minutes later, Ben emerged, fully dressed, and headed down the hall to where his iPad rests on the charger. "Ben!" I hissed. "Ben! What are you doing?" He popped his head around the doorframe, "Oh, hey, Mom." I asked again, "What are you doing? Where are you going?" He said, "I'm going downstairs to get some breakfast." "No, you're not," I said. "It's the middle of the night!" Benjamin argued with me. I showed him the digital clock: 2:32. "Oh," he shrugged and grinned. "I must've looked at the clock wrong. I thought it was 6:32." I told him to take off his uniform and go back to bed and sleep for four more hours. He gave me an Annoying-Man-You-don't-have-to-yell look, but he went back to bed.

That kid-- My reason for napping.

Pizza Party

After Madeline dressed as Pizza Dave, owner of our local Domino's, he let her know he was honored and offered to host her next birthday party at the store. Well, even an anti-birthday-party mama such as myself could not turn down such a fun and generous offer. So, today after school, Madeline and nearly every girl in second grade (just one couldn't make it) turned up to give that joint God's Greatest Gigglefest! Boy, was it something! We're good on parties for a while now... and I still cannot believe our baby is about turn eight. (I also cannot believe how much noise 10 little girls can make, continuously, in an enclosed space, about nothing in particular.) It'a a good thing they're so cute.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Loss, Easter Joy

Who doesn't love a dozen cousins on Easter morning? (If you don't, then go away... this is not the blog for you.) But there are some missing-- three more nephews; and at least three babies lost to miscarriage, two of my sister's and one of mine-- and that makes those of us here work a little harder, to share the joys, to mask the sadness, to rejoice.

Today, Easter Sunday, is also my nephew Truman Mark's third birthday. I don't know why it never occurred to me that sometime his birthday would probably fall on Easter. After all, he was born late Wednesday night of Holy Week and he died on Holy Thursday. That day us forever etched in my mind, and I can obviously only remember it from my perspective. 

Grief changes over time, but it never goes away. You must know this. I just read another friend's post about how subsequent holidays without his wife actually get harder to handle. If you are not walking through these days without your beloved child/spouse/parent/sibling/best friend, you cannot really understand this concept... but you can trust and know that it's true. At the end of the prayer before our Easter meal today, we wished Truman a happy birthday. One of his sweet brothers said to me, "Yeah, and last week was my brother Michael's birthday, and the day after that is my mom's birthday." I gave him a squeeze and said, "I know, Bud. Your family has a lot to celebrate this month." He replied, "Yeah," in the most un-celebratory way.

When I recall the hours surrounding Truman's birth and then his death, it is all a haze. It's stunning, really, how there was an emergency, late-night surgery where a perfect, tiny baby was born from a mother's body that was so sick and broken. There was a fight for life, by a medical army and a legion of prayer warriors. Then, Truman died. His mom was so sick, and now her heart was shattered, too. His dad was also broken, and sick with worry for his wife and his little family.

My presence was small. I made arrangements for my kids and I drove, with my mom, to the hospital. After Truman died, I remember sending a message to my priest, telling him what had happened, asking for prayers, and assuring him I would be back in town as scheduled to read scripture at the evening Last Supper mass. I did do that, but it still kind of stuns me... how the human body keeps going through the paces, as expected, even through unspeakable tragedy.

Now, I am not claiming, and never would claim, that Auntie Me did anything stunning that day... but so many people did, and their names are forever written in the playbill of the little star's brief, amazing life:

Truman's mom: fought with everything she had, risking her own life for her boy's, and I know she'd do it again just for the chance to gather him up in her arms and gaze in wonder

Truman's dad: took on the roles and the worries of many men to care for his family

Truman's brothers: who had known grief before and who would know it again, not understanding but loving their family in unspeakable sadness

Our parents: undoubtedly wanted to be every moment at their daughter's side but knew it was necessary to separate their heart's desires and step up to care for their grandsons and provide for them in every way

Our SIL: newly pregnant, she kept vigil through the night, balancing her professional position and knowledge with love of family

the neonatologist: determining Truman's time was ever-so-brief, the doctor made sure the boy was placed in his mother's arms; she was holding him when he died

the NICU nurse: I stayed with Truman hours after he died so his mother could get medical care, and so the nurse stayed near me, anticipating my every need and helping me to capture the few, precious memories and mementos

our cousin: working in the hospital that day, she heard about the baby's birth and came to visit; I do not know whether she knew Truman had died when she arrived, but she sat and shared in the joy and the sorrow

There are more, more, more, but, like I said, it's hazy... and beautiful... and painful. In this way, it is as though the family experiences Holy Week in reverse. As Christians, we can feel the loss of Christ in his death on the cross, but we do it through anticipation of the resurrection. As those who love Truman, we celebrate his Holy Week (this year on Easter!) birthday... and then know the loss. It makes the Promise all the more precious; it just takes even more faithfulness in prayer to feel the joy that comes in the morning.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday

It's been a Good Friday. Some praying time... some family time... some working time... some thinking time... I don't fool myself into thinking I can possibly grasp what our Lord has done for us. Gratitude, as I know it, doesn't touch this. But I am grateful, and I excitedly anticipate the resurrection and our salvation.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

All Right

Some days, I wonder if I am doing anything right, anything at all. Other days, I volunteer in the classroom and witness firsthand the glory that is one of my children:

You know what that is? Something right. A girl who loves God and displays it on a plate is just RIGHT.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday=Early Easter

We spent the day celebrating Palm Sunday and an early Easter with Todd's mom and sister. We are still navigating new territory since their move nearer to us, but we're doing it all together! My MIL recently returned from a month-long road trip, and we were on our little waterpark getaway, so things were pretty low-key... full of fellowship, food, tradition and treats. We laughed and loved and wiled away the day together. What more could we ask for?

Saturday, April 8, 2017


I've spent the past two evenings in a little, basement, Catholic-school gymnasium, watching some pretty fun acts take the talent show stage.  Among my favorites are my favorites-- my nephews!  One told jokes, another played the piano, and another played the piano while singing!  Their mama, I'm sure, will post more, but I am busting with pride, too.  And the Beaudry Boys, well, they're busting some moves!  See for yourself.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

These Arms of Mine

She hovered over me, dangling a wiggly, damp infant. "So, you and your kids must really have it together if you can sit and read a book at a water park," the stranger proclaimed. I closed my book and stood. "No," I chuckled, "we have nothing 'together.' I think my family is at a different stage than yours." And it's true. Yes, I read with one eye and monitor swimmers with the other, but, also, there are lots of competent lifeguards on duty, and, on a weekend getaway such as this, my children tend to band together in fun-- equal parts protection and entertainment. I said, "But what I don't get to do is hold babies anymore, and I can't believe how quickly that phase passed!" The woman, dripping with exhaustion and pool water, said, "I don't believe you."

I know she doesn't. I know she cannot see it now, but that doesn't make it less true. My arms, that were once never empty of a baby, now, rarely hold one.  (The Otis Redding song came to mind.)  The woman needed to talk. She and her husband came from Rochester. The baby is three months old. Her sister is two. The boys are five and eight, and one has autism, which can be quite a challenge in this environment. There's also an 11-year-old stepdaughter who stayed home this week because there was literally not enough room in the car.  That's what I was told.  It didn't all make sense to me, but it wasn't my business.  I smiled.  It's the simplest acknowledgment that we're all doing the best we can.

My family had noticed, from a distance, this younger family earlier in the morning at a different resort pool, and my mom remarked, "That little girl's not even two and already another baby." I responded, "I WAS that mom-- I'm not saying a word!" Now, here they were again. I didn't see a stroller or a diaper bag or any outline of a plan. Who can outline plans when you're overwhelmed with keeping them alive?  I held out my arms, "Why don't you let me hold the baby for a while?"  The mama looked tired and torn.  She wanted to hold the baby.  She wanted to catch the toddler as she jumped into the pool.  She wanted to take a turn chasing the younger boy so her husband could catch his breath.  She wanted to watch the older boy navigate the rope ladders.

This woman didn't ask my name, but she told me the baby's and proudly smiled, "If you're sure..."  She handed over her littlest love.

Young mama trailed after her daughter while Dad chased the little boy, and the older brother was still vying for his parents' attention.  Old mama held the baby.  We walked.  There was some swaying and a lot of bottom patting.  The baby was pleasant.  Why wouldn't she be?  And what would be the point of being any other way?  I got a moment back, and my favorite Darius Rucker song played in my mind.

My boy came over to me and said, "Ooh, you have a baby!  She's so cute!  She's so CUTE!  She's so cuuuute!"  My girl came over to us and asked, "Why are you holding a baby?"  But the jealousy turned to amusement as a tongue-sticking-out contest ensued between the cuties.

The mama checked in from time to time.  At one point, I spied Mom and Dad even holding hands while wading in the kiddie pool, I suspect because each finally had a hand free.  The five-year-old ran over to me at one point and said, "I just want to hug my baby sister!"  And he did.  We both got wet.

I held that baby for quite a while, and I was so happy to do so.  Yes, my own children are growing and becoming more independent, as they should, as they sometimes make me sad and scared.  But there are always more babies.  There can never be enough arms.  There is never a good reason for my arms to be empty.  The book can wait.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Gua Visit

The kids, my mom and I went to visit my grandma today. She's on her way to 102, so, sometimes when we visit I think, This could be the last time I see her... Other times, like today, I think, This woman is going to be around forever!

Sure, she doesn't always make sense, and she can't hear for anything-- but she knows me and my kids, she remembers birthdays and other important dates, she tells funny stories even if only for attention... Gua shared some real gems today. I'm not really sure what any of this means, but she had so much clarity, I felt compelled to take notes:

"One old lady is my neighbor. Our bathrooms are next to each other. Sometimes, I knock on the wall and she knocks back. We're gonna have a zip code."

"No, there is not just one lady older than me-- there are three here older than me... and one's birthday is on Saturday, and then mine's Sunday." (Gua's birthday is in mid-September.)

"Yesterday and the day before were supposed to be good days, but nothing happened. I read it in one of those magazines."