Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Kids Say Funny Junk

When the children were young, the things that came out of their mouths (words, not vomit) greatly amused me.  As they've grown, they've only gotten funnier.

"Do you ever forget about your tongue? I mean, sometimes I just forget my tongue is even a thing... but, if you really think about it, you need your tongue for, like, everything."

"Look what I found-- a crusty nickel hiding in the mud!"
"What were you doing digging in the mud?"
"Looking for crusty nickels!"

Third-grader to Fifth-grader:
"Ben, what you need to do is just find your passion and do that.  Do you really LOVE singing?  I didn't think so.  Mine's basketball."

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Homecoming 2017

There just hasn't been time to even catch my breath (or catch up on laundry) much less to be writing on the blog these days.  In this whirlwind, while Todd and Madeline were performing in their second weekend of SOAR Regional Arts's "Annie," Amanda, a sophomore, attended her high school Homecoming dance.  Here are some photos of Amanda (navy, lace dress) and her friends from the upcoming high school musical cast.  After the dance, a large group of them went out to dinner and then an upperclassman friend drove Amanda home.  I gave permission and then worried every second.  Growing up is hard for me.  Love my big girl!

Sunday, September 17, 2017


We've finished the first weekend of performances for "Annie," with SOAR Regionals Arts, the community theater my sister and BIL founded in their neighboring town. "Annie" is one of my favorite musicals, so it didn't take too much persuading when Madeline said she wanted to audition. I did have my reservations: Rehearsals went every night until 9:30 and then performances began during the second week of the new school year. Aaand, she has been a zombie, but Maddy is also having a man awesome time, making new friends and learning so much. I love watching her perform, and just sit in the back of the theater and grin. She did it all without any stage-momming from me!

Madeline plays "Kate," one of the littler orphans and a friend of Annie's. She has a handful of lines, mostly to torture Miss Hannigan, as well as some featured singing parts. Then, there's the added perk of being on stage with Dad. He plays FDR, Bert Healy, and others. So fun!

We have another weekend to go, but tonight I am grateful for a matinee show time and on-time bedtime. We're so proud of our little starlet and this opportunity for her to shine!

Maddy and Daddy after the show

Alexa (Molly) and Maddy (Kate) who became fast friends and head mischief-makers

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Age of Daddy

Today is Todd's birthday. Of course, it is a busy, busy week, but we tried to squeeze out a few minutes to make sure the birthday boy felt special. It was a lovely day, filled with laughs. This morning, the kids were signing a card for their dad, and cracking the classic jokes like "Happy 60th Birthday." Madeline giggled along, but seemed like she wasn't really getting it...

Mom: "Wait-- Madeline, how old do you think Dad actually is?"
Maddy: (shrugs) "57?"
Mom: (chuckles) "No, no, Dad is not quite that old yet."
Maddy: (muttering loudly enough for me to hear) "Whatever. Well, I know for certain you guys are way the oldest parents of anyone in my class."
Ben: (trying to be reassuring) "No, no, that's not true... you are at least the second or third oldest parents out of all my friends."

Happy birthday, Old Dad!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Grandpa's Anniversary

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the grandfather I never met.  I know this because my dad told me, and maybe it is on the minds of others as well, but I did not have the opportunity to know my grandpa.  I believe I will know him when I am one day welcomed into glory, and I know he is well.  Each life, however long, after it ends, continues sharing lessons with those still here.

What I am about to tell you about Grandpa Paukert is what was told to me.  I may not get it right, because all I have are stories.  There is no photo of him, smiling, with me on his knee.  He never saw me on stage or danced at my wedding.  Yet, the love is there, and it has molded all of us into who we are, into what Grandpa Paukert's legacy is.

Grandpa Paukert was a small-town family man, a leader in his Catholic church and in his southern Minnesota community.  He wanted to be a farmer, but asthma and allergies forced him into town and another line of work.  He and Grandma had eight children, and miscarried additional babies.  Grandpa was always lending a helping hand, always looking for an adventure, and always brokering a deal.  One day, while on the job for the power company, he lost his life in an auto wreck.  He was in his mid-forties, with his oldest children barely grown and the youngest just three years old at home.

I remember my dad, Grandpa's third child, when in his forties going through a bit of a crisis as he became older than his father had ever been.  My dad now has a dozen grandchildren, has retired from a successful career, lives in a paid-off home, has vacationed across Europe and the Caribbean, and has lived so much more than his own father did on this Earth.  It gives one pause, especially one granddaughter now rapidly approaching her mid-forties.

We know love never dies.  Here are photos of all of Grandpa Paukert's children and their spouses, along with a random collection of grandchildren and spouses, at a recent wedding of one of the younger grandchildren.  Wouldn't he be proud?

People love to spout out those platitudes, the cliches, truisms on life:

Live each day as if it's your last.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
There's no time like the present.
Don't let the sun go down on your anger.
Always be the first to say, "I'm sorry."
Never forget to kiss me goodnight.
Live, laugh, love.

Here's why people keep saying those things: They're true.  Life really is as short as you think it is.  None of us does know how many days we have.  Bad things really do happen and they really are hard.  So, what to do about it?  Be like Grandpa Paukert.  Be who I am told Grandpa Paukert was.  Do what you know to be right at every turn and let the rest take care of itself.  Have peace in your soul.

I wish I had been lucky enough to know my Grandpa Paukert.  Because of all these loving and beloved descendants, I know he was a blessed man.  May memory continue to be a blessing to us all.


She tossed the envelope on the dresser before muttering, "Ugh, I look like I just woke up," and walking away.  I walked over and picked up the school photo packet.  She's beautiful.  And that's not just something I say because I'm her mother.  Her smile is wide and genuine, her hair looks so shiny, and it was a sweet wardrobe choice.  She is so beautiful.

In contrast, there's this:

I pulled from an old album this snapshot of me (right) and my best friend on the first day of junior high, and I keep it handy to boost my daughters' self-images.  I remember the school-clothes shopping trip and keeping the tennis shoes white, white, white for the start of the year.  I chose that outfit so carefully.  I wore the shirt again for my school photo that year.

This picture is always good for a laugh.  But the image thing-- it's not funny.  I don't have any sage advice or sure-fire quick fixes, but I do think it's something we need to discuss and keep discussing.  Our children's minds, hearts, and souls depend on it.

Amongst the Krinkeland offspring are a daughter in high school and the above-pictured daughter in middle school.  Some of their friends are starting to get interested in boys and even to date.  They have also transitioned from parochial school uniforms to having more options in what they wear and how they look, because things like makeup and jewelry are allowed by public school dress codes.  As you can imagine, this leads to many discussions, usually initiated by me, but not completely shut out by the girls.  I tell my daughters, "Not that I recommend this, because I DON'T-- but I always had a boyfriend, someone interested in me, someone I was dating.  It wasn't because I was pretty; it was because I was fun."  What I mean is, I would do the silly thing and not worry about what other girls would say.  I wasn't worried about messing up my hair riding in a convertible or on a motorcycle.  I wasn't high-maintenance about my appearance.  I liked to go places and get dirty and just have fun with the guys.  If my husband is reading this right now (and he's not,) he's asking, "What happened to the fun?"  That, my friends, is a topic for another post.

I never got much into makeup.  I really think that's just a lifestyle thing more than anything else.  I am not opposed to cosmetics and I certainly encounter many women who look beautiful wearing makeup.  It's just that my mom never wore makeup, so I didn't grow up seeing that as the standard.  Then, I got involved in theater and lots of makeup was required to make features stand out under the bright lights.  I really hated wearing all that makeup, how it felt, how I worried about scratching it off or rubbing it off, how much work it was to scrub my face before going to bed and again when I got up in the morning.  Once, when my husband I were dating and preparing to marry, I asked him if it bothered him that I didn't wear makeup.  He kind of shrugged and said, "I mean, I'm not opposed to a little bit of makeup, but I think most women wear too much.  I want to see the same person in the morning as I saw the night before."  So far, the trend has continued here in Krinkeland.  The two older girls have lots of makeup for theatrical purposes, but rarely wear any on a regular basis.  

Yet, we have these image issues.  Why do girls feel so negatively about themselves?  How can we fix it?

There was a time in my young life when I did a lot of babysitting.  Mostly these were the years BB (Before Boys) but, I confess, sometimes the babysitting work carried over DB (During Boys.)  Mom, I never invited a boy over anywhere while I was babysitting.  I swear.  We didn't even have cell phones or email or any way to do that back then.  Once in a while, though, I must have let something slip, because, there I'd be, casually encouraged six or eight little urchins to go play in traffic when a boy's car would pull up to the curb.  He'd get out and chat, but, I promise, we were not headed inside to make out on the couch while the little loves ate dirt.  For real, that one guy had all the older sisters and was already an uncle many times over by the time we got to hanging out, so he was actually helpful with the kids.  Not that any of this matters, anymore... It's 30 years under the bridge and everyone survived.

Back on topic:  One of the families for which I babysat frequently was an interesting cast of characters.  There was a mom and a dad and a little boy and a baby girl.  They later added another baby girl and had also lost a little girl to a heart condition, though this was some time before my arrival.  For a few years, I spent a lot of time with this family.  I taught the little boy to swim in their backyard pool.  I took the kids trick-or-treating on Halloween.  I even went along on a family vacation, with somewhat disastrous results because who in their right mind thinks a 12-year-old is ready to be in charge of youngsters in a foreign environment for a week?!  Anyway, we established history.  The family eventually moved out of our neighborhood, and then the parents split up.  At some point, they no longer needed a sitter, and then I didn't hear from them again for years.

Then, one summer day when I was home from college, alone at my parents' home, the doorbell rang.  There stood the father and the once-little boy upon whom I had doted and for whom I had cared.  The dad explained he and his son were visiting the old neighborhood and reminiscing and had stopped just to see if they might catch me.  As I invited them in, the father exclaimed, "Wow!  You really grew up!'  He didn't sound lecherous, just genuinely surprised.  When I looked at him quizzically, the man stammered and then made it much, much worse.  "I just mean-- you had those braces for your awful overbite, and you wore glasses at the same time.  Your hair was so short.  I drove you home from our house all those nights and it was always awkward in the car.  I could tell you just didn't feel comfortable in your own skin.  And, now, you're a young woman!"  There was no going back from that speech, and we shared a few more "pleasantries" before their quick departure.

After the guys left, I thought to myself, Wow, was it really that bad?  I mean, of course, it was... You can see the photographic evidence above... But I actually think I grew into having a pretty healthy self-image.  I know I could be taller and thinner and have better hair, but I accept myself.  I'm good with me.  Yet, I'm not sure why, especially when society sends so many awful messages, and I'm not at all sure how to get my girls to be good with themselves.

This song popped up on a recent playlist and it says it all.  "Take it from me that you have to see it first."  I pray they see it first.  They are so beautiful.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Happy Birthday, Dear Elisabeth

Our treasured Elisabeth Connie is 14 years old today! We have already been celebrating for a week or more, and I suspect the good times are not over yet! Elisabeth is a beautiful, brilliant girl, and there are many special things I could share. On this, her fourteenth birthday, I will tell you 14 interesting things about Libby:

1. She is on the school swim team-- first meet of the season tomorrow-- but only likes the breaststroke.
2. Elisabeth's favorite drink is a Starbucks strawberry acai refresher.
3. She has a tight bond with cousin Kazmer and counts him among her closest friends.
4. While she rarely watches television or movies, she occasionally uses an old sitcom or internet series episode like "Psyched" to unwind.
5. She is enrolled in a gifted program at school, but really does not care for English.
6. Libby is passionate about CrossFit and works out on the regular.
7. She loves opportunities to be part of a social group but most of the time is more comfortable with just one or two friends.
8. Libby's favorite splurge is a fresh, raised, glazed twist roll from Moon Donuts.
9. She is thinking of pursuing some kind of medical career.
10. Libby sometimes begs for her "own" dog because she doesn't think Jones loves her (but he does.)
11. While quite a healthy eater, she really doesn't like vegetables.
12. Elisabeth is also not a huge fan of reading novels, but makes it more fun by reading in her hammock.
13. Libby wants to one day live in New York City.
14. She is extra-adoring to all who show her love.

Happy, happy birthday to this girl I adore! Thanks for being my daughter.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

First Day Funnies

Today was the first day of school. That means it was also the beginning of the second year of Krinkeland enrolees in three different school buildings, thus further contributing to my insanity. As we do in most chaotic and/or new situations, we found plenty to laugh about today.

Todd: (writhing in pain due to a thus-far un-surgically-repaired hernia)
Andrea: "Well, is tonight the night we finally go to the hospital?"
Todd: "We're not having a baby."

Maddy: (missing her best friend, who transferred to another school)
Mom: "So, did you find a new girl friend to play with today, or did you stick to the boys like you planned?"
Maddy: "Boys."
Mom: "Which boys did you play with?"
Maddy: "Grant B., Brandon and Cash."
Mom: "Oh, those are nice boys."
Maddy: "Well, they're the naughty ones-- but I gotta stick to my own kind."

Amanda: "Libby, do you want this little white board to hang in your locker?"
Elisabeth: "Nah, I don't need it."
Amanda: "Well, then, I'll keep it."
Elisabeth: "You're going to hang it inside your locker?"
Amanda: "Nah, I'm going to hang it on the outside and encourage others to leave me notes of affirmation throughout the school day."
Amanda: "I'm just kidding! That board would fill up with drawings of penises."

Todd rolled out of bed and insisted on filming at the bus stop (times three) in his jammies. Poor, poor Krinkeland babies. Watch the funny, sweet product here: