Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Travel clothes

You know I've been shopping in my own closet. Well, I dug to the bottom of the cedar chest where I keep my sweaters and came up with a large green cable knit sweater from Ambercrombie and Fitch. Not "Ambercrombie!" or "A&F," mind you. No, I bought this sweater from good old Ambercrombie and Fitch back in the day when they sold cable knit sweaters. Maybe they still do . . . but I doubt it.

I bought it at Rosedale, a St. Paul suburban mall, in 1991 or so. The store used to have red plaid carpet and smelled woodsy or something. I can't recall specifically, but I thought I was shopping the big time -- somewhere your grandfather would have gone for a good coat before his Grand Tour of Europe.

It was a big purchase for me, sucking up a hunk of just-out-of-college funds. I was really excited to shop in an "older" store like that. My usual route was Express or Limited, but I thought I was ready to class it up a bit for my new career wardrobe.

In the end, I never really had a career and Ambercrombie! sells tiny t-shirts, sweatshirts and ripped jeans (Frankly, I don't know. It's been a long time since I've been in there. Those windowless stores scare me.) But I still have the sweater. It's a nice sweater. A classy sweater.

And I guess I do wear it to "work."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Broken Candy Cane

I guess I took a bit of a holiday break. I didn't really mean to. It was just one of those things. Christmas came rolling at me like a big cartoon snowball and there I was with my head and legs sticking out rolling down the hill.

By Saturday there was nothing left to eat in the house but the peanuts from Colin's chamber of commerce bag*, a broken candy cane and a dried out piece of lefse**. When they saw there was no more food, the older set of Big Daddy's children packed up their trusty Ford Tempo and headed for another Christmas. Big Daddy had a gig with his band The Velvet Brass (yes, really) and so the boys and I were left in the dust and the ribbons by ourselves.

I moved the younger boys back to their own beds and we all passed out cold. The holidays can take a lot out of quiet people like we are.

Santa brought a Wii. It was purchased before we realized the recession was going to hit us personally, which was a beautiful thing. My little Wii person cannot golf or bowl much better than I can in real life, but I am having a really fun time trying. It's keeping us very busy.

It was such a fun thing to be all together. Living in the same town as our parents and siblings, I guess we see each other quite a bit anyway, but not very often in a deliberate way. We pass one another on the way to church or we drop a grandchild off or we meet for a quick Caribou because we're in town. We managed to play a few games together and shop together and sing together and eat, of course. (No one touched my beleaguered fruitcake at my in-laws but my family scarfed it down. I'm not sure what that means. It turned out pretty good.)

Is it wrong to say, I am a little bit glad it's over, though?

* Maybe, dear friend or loved one, you've never had a chamber of commerce or Sunday School bag at Christmas time. Poor you. You must have grown up in the cold, hard city. It's a brown paper lunch bag filled with peanuts in the shell, candy, a candy cane and an apple. I don't know what to tell you, they are always the same. I have yet to see a kid eat the peanuts out of that bag.

** Perhaps, dear friend or loved one, you live in an area that does not eat lefse at holiday time. Really and truly, poor you. I have heard that Scandinavians no longer eat it and it really is too bad. It is a thin potato pancake of sorts eaten warm or cold. Honestly, it is just a vessel for butter and sugar. Out here in Boondocks, Minnesota, our Swedish grandmothers made it. We buy it at the store.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hanging our stockings

The house is crammed full of Big Daddy's children tonight. Even though there are 20 years from the oldest to the youngest, they certainly do manage to have fun together and raise quite a noise. I will enjoy every minute of it I can. The silence of January will come soon enough. Big Daddy himself is making make-shift beds right now for the younger pair. We are all up past our bed times.
Colin played Christmas carols on the piano tonight without too much nagging. Shelby carried Baby D around all day, listening to "Sheby! Sheby!" Jeremy arrived with stories of roommate gift exchange. Baby D has rearranged our nativity scene so that it appears there has been an altercation with Joseph and the shepherd. Thank goodness the wise men are there to calm him down.

Oh, forget all my crankiness. Forget the anguish of finding Christmas gifts . . . and the baking . . . and the rearranged trees . . . and the Christmas Letter.

Oh, this is Christmas.

The caramely Chex Mix.

I really must send you over to Dinner at Cathy's for "my" caramel Chex Mix recipe. I've made it this weekend and . . . well . . . it can be Christmas now. If you need a little salty/sweet fix this is the stuff. As I say over there, I usually make it right after Thanksgiving, and it doesn't make it until Christmas. For whatever reason I waited this year. Oh, yes, now it can be Christmas.

Here is a photo for Sheri who said she would like to see more photos of the food:


The problem is I don't know when to stop. It starts while I am licking the spoon while making the caramel. There is a point in this process when I say, "You must stop licking the spoon. You are going to scald your tongue off." But I just never listen to myself. Burnt tongue. Then when I am pouring it out of the bags onto the parchment paper I say to myself, "Do not pick this up now. You will burn your fingers and your tongue if there's anything left." I don't know what to tell you. It is worth the pain. Worth it!!

Once you start eating the caramely Chex Mix . . . well, if you start early in the day it may be the only thing you eat. I'm just saying. Be careful.

As a side note, our dear reader-friend Robyn asked me today if there really is a Cathy or if she is just my cooking persona. This would have been a brilliant idea and I am a little sorry I did not think of it, but -- no -- there really is a Cathy and without consulting her at all, I began a blog in her name. As we speak I am trying to convince her boys to secretly email a photo of her to post there.

I think I would have named my cooking persona something French -- Celeste, perhaps.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Yes, well, there's that.

Little reader-friend Audrey hit it right on the head, didn't she? In case you missed it she wrote:

As extreme as Arizona and Minnesota can be, they are home :)

Well, shoot. That's it, isn't it? I'm home here among my own people -- the frozen lake driving fisher people; the Lion/Rotary/Shriner "pancake feed" makers; the Bohemian (literally) kissing cousins; the hardanger, rosemaling grandmas (except for mine, of course); the polka wedding dances. Here we all are, and we all know what to do: 1. Put the winter gear in the car.

So now I am hoping that I have passed through all the stages of grief that comes with the onset of winter. Let's check:

1. Denial - "It's not winter yet. We can still grill. Just put it in the garage."


3. Bargaining - "If we go to Florida at the beginning of March, it will be halfway from Christmas and halfway to spring."

4. Depression - "I'm not getting out of bed today. It's too cold. I won't be warm again until June."

5. Acceptance - "What doesn't kill us -- and this winter certainly could -- will make us stronger."

Yes, I think I'm ready now.

I guess I'll have a pop while I make some bars to serve with tonight's hotdish. (Non-Minnesotan friends if you need help with translation, just let me know.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008


It's my Grandma's 85th birthday and, oh, how she loves it when we broadcast her age. A few years ago when my Dad turned 50 she told him, "Stop telling people your age. They are going to add some and come up with my age."

A friend of mine went up to her after Colin was born to congratulate her on becoming a great-grandmother. "Ah . . . um . . . yes," was her reply. Well, we took to calling her G.G. for great-grandma and she spells it Gigi.

I've always admired my grandmother a lot. While other little kids were visiting their grandmas and baking cookies and learning how to knit, I was touring Gigi's office and learning origami. People are often surprised to learn that the reason I went to the college I did was because my grandmother worked there as head of publishing. Astonished looks I get for my "executive grandma."

When I was a small girl I was not allowed to play with Barbie. (If I haven't written a blog entry on that, I owe you one.) So I had the Sunshine Family. (Rock on, fellow 70s love children.) The family was Steve, Stephanie and Baby Sweets who lived in the woods and lived off the land and their love. Anyway, you could also buy the grandparent dolls. My grandma was horrified when she saw Grandma Sunshine's clothing of peasant dresses and long aprons. Gigi sewed her a complete 1970's grandma-on-the-go wardrobe of flowing, embellished afghans and polyester pantsuits.

About 10 years ago she had a brain aneurysm and was air lifted to a regional hospital. We thought she'd never be the same, but as soon as she woke up she was mad she'd paid for an expensive helicopter ride and couldn't remember it.

That's my Gigi.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yes, Audrey, it is that cold.

My favorite Facebook comment yesterday was from our friend Jeremy J:

Jeremy realizes that only in MN can he "wait for it to warm up to -10 deg" before shoveling the driveway.

This is true. It was -10 this morning which was good enough to send the kids back to school. I keep my cooking oil in a cupboard which backs up to an outside wall. In this sort of weather it starts to cloud. I ran to the neighborhood grocery store in clogs Monday, for the love of Pete, and had frozen heels by the time I got back.

Our sweet little reader Audrey has invited us to move down to Arizona, but here's the thing: Have you ever seen a Minnesotan in humidity? We fall to pieces. We melt. We are aghast that anyone should consider putting up with such horrid weather. "You can always put on another sweater," we say. "But there's only so much you can take off."

When I consider moving to another state -- and, say, enjoying a garden with more than the four varieties of plants and flowers that will grow in Zone 4 -- I wonder what I would have to gain. A longer mosquito season? Poisonous snakes? A hurricane season? A tornado season? (Yes, we have tornadoes here, but they aren't that bad compared to the rest of the country and you know it.)

My friend Patty is moving bakc to New Jersey after living here maybe 10 years. Since I have known her she has wanted nothing more than to get back to New Jersey. She did not understand our food, our language or our ability to drive on the ice. I love languages and it has been our running joke that she has been teaching me to speak Jersey. "Yo, Patty!" I say in my most stern tone of voice.

Well, 10 years later there she goes and she just can't stop crying. She is glad to go back to her own people, but it really is "Minnesota Nice" she says.

Yeah, you betcha.

Now I need to go put on another pair of socks.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Christmas Letter: Revisited

Dear Holiday Friend,

Instead of a family photo, we have decided to include the x-rays from Jeremy's knee surgery. Fascinating, aren't they?! It was a real blood bath in there! Thank goodness he had Cute-as-a-bug (CAAB) up there with her. We like her soooo much better than the last one, but not quite as well as the one before that.

Shelby is doing well, I guess. She's a theatre major which we hope is fun for her. We're going to encourage her to learn a trade when she gets done. I hear there's a big call for border security now with all that passports to Canada business.

Colin has passed two books ahead of the girl who has piano lessons before him. I swear if I have to hear her play, "Pop goes the weasel" one more time . . . Oh! HA! I love to kid. She's a precious thing. I'm sure this is her week to finish that one up.

And thanks to Daniel we finally have finished all those child security projects we started when Colin was a baby. The other day he found a scissors and was cutting open his own bag of Ritz Bits.

Well, Brent and I stay out of trouble!! It's a big birthday/anniversary year for us. We're not getting any younger. Brent is going deaf. I had to scream at him to pass the popcorn at the movies the other day. Don't think we were very popular with our neighbors!!

Blessings and peace to you in 2009.

Okay, none of that's really true either except the knee surgery, the scissors and -- just really bless her little heart, she is so cute -- "Pop Goes the Weasel."

There are no girlfriends before CAAB, so we like her best and that's all there is to that, and Shelby is a theatre star.

Honestly, I gave up on the letter and just stuffed the picture cards alone. I feel sort of bad. I feel like I'm saying, "I'm sorry. I didn't even have time to write you a mass produced letter much less sign these by hand." You and I both know that's not true.

I'll try again next year.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Yesterday we had a bit of a blizzard. It is Minnesota after all. Big Daddy and I had to go to church because we were singing on praise team, but we dropped the boys off at Cyberspace's to be picked up by Grandpa and Grandma when they got back from church. Grandpa's the head usher this quarter or I don't think they would have gone out either.

Well, we got there and and were just getting ready to start when the Senior Pastor announced we would do the opening songs, let the preschoolers sing their Christmas songs and then go. Fine. Big Daddy and I were sort of on a date at that point. We stopped at Caribou for a coffee for the 13 miles drive home.

It was a little dicier going home than it was arriving. The wind had started to blow and it was drifting. This was made all the more interesting because the windshield wipers weren't really doing their job and Big Daddy couldn't really see.

Now BD drives an over sized American SUV. It's big. It's the kind of vehicle I curse when I try to back out of the Target parking lot in my small American sedan, but yesterday, that giant truck was all for me, 4-wheel drive all the way.

So there we are chugging along on our car date. I'm watching out my side and reporting if I think he's gone a little far to the right. There was a small car in front of us fish tailing along, which suddenly spun in the the lane of oncoming traffic. I was surprised to see, when the young woman came into view spinning out on the opposite side of us now, that she was talking on her cell phone and did not put it down.

Who, may I ask, will you be talking to who is so important that you cannot say, "I am sorry, but I need to throw the phone down and grasp my steering wheel with both hands because I am careening into oncoming traffic and endangering lives in both directions of the highway."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

At Cathy's expense

I am experimenting with another blog at my friend Cathy's expense. Without her knowledge or consent I started a recipe blog in her name. Let's see if I have a career in ghost writing. It's called Dinner at Cathy's.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sports News

Uncle Brennan (Captain America to some of you) sees Baby D as a football player or wrestler. D is just, as you know, always in the middle of the action.

Our Chief Babysitter "Andy" is on the wrestling team. I don't get it. Andy is a smart, well-versed, positive, interesting kind of kid and yet he's starving himself to meet his weight so he can roll around on a mat with another sweaty, hungry kid. I was in the wrestling annex in high school. I remember the smell. Yuck. Really? I'm not a huge follower of football but at least they are outside and have helmets and stuff. The smell sort of dissipates in the fall air.

I need another cup of coffee.

We were at school yesterday for Colin's "staffing." This is where we meet with Colin's entire team. There's the speech therapist, occupational therapist, social therapist, special ed coordinator, the principal, and his teacher -- who is "Andy's" mom, by the way. It's always a good meeting. They do awesome work in our school district, and we really couldn't be more pleased. Colin has worked with several of these people for his entire school career. He's had the same occupational therapist since preschool and she will be going with him to middle school next year. They are always full of high praise for Colin and even though I get misty when I have to sign the paper that says I understand that he's in special ed, I know that what they are doing is working. We are so proud of the hard work Colin has done.

I have to admit, though, that I can never get used to the tone of the meeting -- and now I understand this is the nature of the process -- in which they explain my own child to me. "Colin gets anxious over this . . ." As though I didn't know.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Questionnaire

You know I'm not very good at the list blog entries, but if this one is good enough for Beth Moore's blog, it's good enough for mine.

1. Fresh Tree or Fake Tree
(2) Fake -- you can get more ornaments on that way .

2. Favorite Ornament
That's like asking me to choose a favorite child (Shelby). That's why I'm not very good at these lists. Probably this one. It's from a set my parents brought back from Germany when I was born. They've been on every tree I've ever known.

3. Favorite Christmas Song
I like "I heard the Bells on Christmas Day."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep. God is not dead nor doth He sleep.

4. Favorite Tradition
Advent calendars
Also Mrs. Claus used to bring underwear (I don't know what to tell you. She did.)

5. Favorite Gift Ever Received
Baby D. He was a little late, but I consider him a Christmas gift anyway.

6. Favorite Christmas Meal
We made a tasty prime rib last year.

7. Favorite Christmas Cookie
It's not a cookie. I enjoy a piece of lefse with brown AND white sugar.

8. Favorite Place To Be
At home

9. Favorite Memory
My first Christmas present from Brent was a pair of gold earrings. He didn't quite have my style down yet, but I was so tickled I just wore them with pride all year.

10. Favorite Christmas Movie
We've already discussed this but I love "A Muppet Christmas Carol" for it's faithfulness to the book.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Christmas Letter

Dear Friend and/or Loved One,

So sorry to hear about your tragic loss this year. We have had an amazing year! We took THREE lovely vacations. The children are doing OUTSTANDING work at school. Jeremy composed an entire opera which was preformed by the FARGO CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS! Shelby directed her first musical at the FARGO CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS! Colin plays the RECORDER!!Baby D just brings light and life to our home every single day. AND we are looking forward to 2009 being out BEST YEAR EVER!!

No. I am uncomfortable with that one. The only truths in that letter were the vacations, the outstanding work and the recorder . . . oh, fine, and Baby D on a good day.

Let's start over.

Dear person I only correspond with at holiday time:

Well, we survived another year. Brent got sick while traveling across eastern Montana. We didn't buy enough cake for my in-laws anniversary party. Baby D took a scissors to my lap top. I can only see half the screen. The dog died and Colin isn't particularly sorry. Jeremy's car stalled. Shelby's cell phone died and now she has to use Grandpa's.

Nice photos of your trip to Europe.

Okay. Well, that one is all true, but . . . I need to work on this more. There must be some sort of middle ground.

How many weeks do I have left? Like five or six, right?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In the basement

I met someone once who thought it was winter in Minnesota all year long. He or she (I can't recall) was surprised to learn we have summer and sometimes wear summer clothing.

If I met you on the airplane and you asked me what it was like to live in Minnesota, I would tell you about the quality of the people. Or maybe the beauty of our heritage. Perhaps how green it is in the summer. The rolling hills. The beautiful lakes. I would avoid discussing the weather unless you asked me specifically. Then I would say something like, "Oh, it's not that bad. You learn how to dress for it." And I would smile enthusiastically.

And I'd be lying.

It's cold here. Really, really cold.

The older I get, the less I understand how it was that my Swedish great-grandfather came into the harbor at New York City and beat a hasty path to a place that looked just like home. Where were the fliers for Florida? Arizona? California? What about my father's family. They're not even from here. What made them say, "Yes, Minnesota. That's where we shall settle and my great-granddaughter in her first born, family oriented, heritage loving way shall be imprisoned here all her days!"

Maybe that's a little harsh.

But it's cold here.

So I went downstairs today to look at my own graveyard of old coats. I had my mind set on finding a down coat from back when Eddie Bauer made warm coats. It's got a fur hood. I was thinking that's what I really needed -- a fur hood. I dug around a little and was giving Brent a bad time about all his coats in the graveyard when he came over to look, "Well, this one's not mine," he said. "Well, it's not mine!" I shot back. Without saying another word he grabbed the collar to show me the shiny, girly pin on the collar. That's not his. It must be mine.

I have NO memory of this coat. None. This isn't a pair of shorts or socks or a neck tie that you bought and then got shoved to the back of the drawer, it's a COAT. A big, furry COAT. I live in a state where it's possible to have outerwear you don't remember having.

And I wore it some day in the past. I put a shiny pin on it. I don't remember this.

Well, hooray!! It's like new to me! I went shopping in my own basement.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Joke for Mary H.

My friend Mary is cleaning out her house. She has such a lovely, sensitive spirit. She asked if I would write something funny to cheer her up while she worked on this project that is so bittersweet. So here is one of my favorite jokes for Mary:

A man walks into a health food restaurant after a day at the office, sits down and orders a nice big dish of brown rice and stir-fry veggies. He grabs a handful of peanuts from the bowl on the counter by the cash register while he's waiting for his order, and as he starts to chew he hears a voice say, "That's a beautiful tie, is that silk? Very NICE choice!"

Wondering who would make such a strange comment, he looks around and doesn't see anyone near him who would've been speaking to him. With a shrug, he pops a few more peanuts into his mouth. Next he hears a voice, "Those shoes are stylin', my man. Are they Italian leather? They look GRRREAT!"

He whirls around to again but sees no one near him. He glances nervously around and then at his shoes, which he tucks self-consciously under the stool. A little weirded out, he grabs another handful of peanuts.

This time the voice continues with, "That suit looks FANTASTIC! Is it an Armani? Very nice!"

He immediately calls the waiter over and says, "Look. I keep hearing these voices telling me how great my tie, my shoes, and my suit look -- What's up with that? Am I GOING CRAZY??"

"Oh," the waiter nonchalantly replies, "those are just the peanuts."

"The PEANUTS?!?" the astonished man asks, staring at the bowl beside him. "Yes," replies the waiter, ". . . they're complimentary !!"

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Who me, insecure?

I am a big fan of Beth Moore. I've done several of her Bible studies and I really like that she doesn't dumb things down. Some of her stuff isn't easy, but I appreciate the opportunity to try. More often than not, I walk away feeling like I have grown in my faith or at least my knowledge.

So I read her blog regularly (It's down there in my list), and I was interested a couple of days ago when she invited women to comment on their insecurities. The questions had to do with listing your insecurities and, as a woman, what role have men played in them. Well, now, I am not stupid. I have father figure issues and I can just jump right up there and admit it, so I answered the questions. Yes, I have insecurities and, yes, I have made decisions in the past based on what I thought would gain the approval of the men in my life. (As a boring side note, I would like to say I don't think my husband really counts in that department because I think that is a different situation, and we can talk more about that later if you really want to.)

Anywho, I was just fascinated to read the other women's comments. Many, many of them said it's not men, it's other women. Many said they had issues with their appearance and the way they felt because of the way their mother, mother-in-law, sisters, friends treated them. Girls, do NOT tell me you don't know what they are talking about. I had to go back and make more comments. I think I've written an entry about this. (Lace up my Chuck Taylors and call me Rockii )

As I read these entry I thought of the women I have spoken to lately who ALL say the same thing, "I just can't figure out how to get along with other women." These are smart, lovely, funny women who feel like everybody else knows how to do it and they don't. Holy cats, I am starting to wonder.

I also thought about pants. In sixth or seventh grade the pretty, blond, popular Barbie-like girl in my class asked my best friend at the time why ever she would want to be my friend when I wore such weird pants. Every time I am in the dressing room trying on pants, I freak out. Are these pants weird?! It was 30 years ago!! Get over it!! I can be a snappy little dresser when I get the opportunity to leave the house. Yet I am still bound to the memory of what that child thought of me.

I sure hope Beth is going to devote some energy on this project.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Kara's blog

Hey, check out the new blog on my list "Kara's Blog." That little cutie from our neck of the woods is following God's call to Asia. Believe me it's a far cry from here. She does an awesome job laying out her prayer requests, so let's follow her adventure and lift her up.

Writer's block

I have writer's block today.

Blah, blah, blah. Let's see . . . Baby D was comparably good yesterday. Colin had school concert that was very fine. (That's "certainly adequate" for my mom.) Brent had a hard day at work. Let's say now is not the best of economic times to own your own manufacturing company.

Huh. Cyberspace Sarah is so good at making those interesting lists. Maybe I could try that. Why don't I make a list of all the movies I need to watch at Christmas time:

1. White Christmas
2. Muppet Christmas Carol (I don't know what to tell you. It's very faithful to the book and Michael Caine sings. Sort of.)

Okay. That was dull. How about a list of all the places I'd like to be right now:

1. Florida

Okay. A list of my favorite desserts:

1. Chocolate

A list of my least favorite foods:

1. Marshmallows -- I think you knew that one.

I'm just out of ideas . . .

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fruitcake Massacre

So the fruitcake had been in the oven an hour like it was supposed be. It didn't look done. I left it in 10 minutes more. Still didn't look done but it was pulling away from the sides of the pan and was really getting brown. "This MUST be done," I said and pulled all three fruitcakes from the oven.

They weren't done.

I have salvaged the ends of two of them. I guess the good news is the tiny bit of brandy my sister, Cyberspace Sarah, had left over from a ham a few years back will be enough to baste it for the next three weeks. The bad news is that I am really discouraged and this has done nothing to increase my sense of holiday cheer.

My little blog friend Margaret has taken a sabbatical from her blog to prepare her heart for Christmas. I admire that a lot. I don't feel much of a sense of holiday joy at all. I feel like we have gone screaming from Thanksgiving to Christmas without so much as a thank you Wampanoag Indians for coming. I thought maybe if I submerged myself in cookie baking/decorating/fruicake experimentation, I would feel more excited, but I can't even turn the Christmas XM station on yet. I'm feeling all Charlie Brown.

Maybe a sad looking little tree . . .

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The record

I mentioned Mr. Pederson yesterday and I want to set the record straight on a couple of issues. The first is that I had Mr. Pederson in the mid-80s. There is no need to make me older than I am, but I thought if you didn't go to my school, it might be easier to picture him if you thought about the 70s.

Mr. Pederson was the nicest man and a good shop teacher. The proof of this is that I enjoyed shop. Thanks to him, I can proudly say that I actually finished a Tandy Leathercraft wallet, a small stepping stool (well, honestly, most of the credit should belong to my shop partner Kevin McCrory) and, in case of national emergency or something, I could draft by hand.

Secondly, I mean no insult to his hair. His hairstyle would have been a throwback in the 70s and certainly was in the 80s. It was large and elaborate and involved a lot of what we might call "product" today. It was probably Brylcreem or something. I have no idea. There was a curl in the center of his forehead. At any rate, it worked on Mr. Pederson, and I mean that sincerely.

In other news, I am making fruitcake. Why? I don't know -- as part of my practice of the ancient art of home economics. I want to see if I can. Right now I am macerating dried fruit in rum. How bad could that be?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sound of Silence

Thursday we hosted 23 people for Thanksgiving. The next day we hosted cookie bake and over the weekend all of Big Daddy's (BD) children made our home a bustling haven of fun . . . and then yesterday three of the four of BD's brood went back to school.

Baby D and I did NOT know what to do with ourselves. I put a few ornaments on our too large living room tree. Baby D took them off and played a bowling game with them. I drank that second cup of fully caffeinated coffee while Baby D sat and watch all of Monsters, Inc, like a good two year old. (Wait . . . foggy memory . . . pediatric academy something . . .no television . . . two years old . . .) Then we went upstairs to get dressed before BD came home for lunch. I got dressed. I got Baby D dressed and then he took off for -- what? two minutes? -- while I put a few things away. In that time Baby D went into the bathroom, opened up a jar of Vaseline and smeared it all over his hair. Great.

Downstairs to the kitchen sink we went. "I'll just wash his hair up quickly in the sink, " thought I. "No problem." As I carried him downstairs I discovered that his clothes were covered in Vaseline as well . . . and now so was I. "Okay," thought I. "We'll just wash up that hair and change our shirts. No problem." I must say Baby D was really most cooperative in the sink, but apparently I was asleep in every science class I ever took because Vaseline is an oil and oil and water don't mix. This is what makes Vaseline so effective in many uses like moisturizing your lips and such. So now Baby D and I are wet from head to toe from the hair washing, and there is still Vaseline in his hair.

I looked up our problem on the Internet. Apparently D is not the only toddler to have ever done this. There are a variety of solutions. I went with corn starch. It helped, but his hair still has an Ove Pederson style this morning. (For non-GHS grads, just picture your late 70s shop teacher.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Deck them halls

I started decorating this weekend. It's difficult for me to transition so rapidly from Thanksgiving -- my favorite holiday -- to Christmas. I really feel like Thanksgiving gets the short end of the stick. BUT Christmas really is lovely and if one goes to all the work of decorating, shouldn't we enjoy it for the maximum amount of time?

So Baby D and I got going. Three -- wait, four or five ornaments have been broken or needed repairs due to excessive handling. As you may recall, last year I put up a small, out of the way tree. (O Christmas Tree )I've decided to go back to the two full-sized trees this year, so this is all new for Baby D. New and very exciting. And so pretty. And so tempting. And so breakable. Here's the thing, though: It's Christmas, and you're only almost two once, and it really is pretty. I feel very confident that for every ornament that gets broken, there is another one somewhere to take its place. Eat up, kid.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jets v. Sharks

Baby D and I got into a knife fight yesterday.

It's not as bad as it sounds. Someone -- and I guess that would be me -- left the silver out where he could reach and he opened the little drawer and got himself out a knife. He then proceeded to RUN around the house where the first adult type figure he ran into was me. He decided he not going to give up this knife without a fight, and I'm pretty sure I lost as I now have a small gash across my palm.

I'd never been in a knife fight before. I don't care to again real soon either.

Not that I use this skill so much these days, but I had a male friend (fine, he was my boyfriend) who taught me to be on the lookout for bar fights. When you see the looks being exchanged, the words being uttered, or someone looking like they're going to throw up or pass out, time to leave or, at least, move yourself to the other side of the room. It's sort of silly when I write it out, but during my party girl phase it was really a handy little skill.

Apparently I haven't quite mastered translating this old skill into something useful in my present life. When you're the Mom you can't dive across the room and hide, you have to wrestle away the knife. That's all there is to it.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I feel like I've been on the go since very early yesterday morning. Our Thanksgiving meal is in the evening, so we have all day to finish cleaning and cooking. I shouldn't really say cooking. We make the turkeys and the stuffing and everyone brings something. It's not a terribly difficult meal to host that way, but we do sometimes tire out before the evening even begins. I'd definitely say that happened last night. I found myself yawning through quite a bit of the evening.

As far as I know, a good time was had by all. As Brent said, "No one left in tears." That's an A+ right there.

So today Mom, Cyberspace, Shelby and Jeremy's girlfriend Cute-as-a-button (CAAB -- I think I will keep her identity safe for now, in case she ever has to deny knowing us.) baked cookies and really had more fun than should be allowed for such an activity . . . but I continue being tired. CAAB was a more than delightful addition to our little group and certainly held her own with us. Brave girl.

I wish there were more of a rest between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I really like Thanksgiving. It barely gets its own day and -- ZOOM -- we're off to Christmas.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Little Secrets

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

But I don't clean

(The title's just a little play on words for my sister, Cyberspace Sarah.)

Brent and I started hosting Thanksgiving at our house -- well, I think shortly after we moved into this house. I'm thinking seven years. I wasn't working at the time and Colin was pretty well behaved, so I had everything set up royally in advance. I had place cards. I had hot hors d'oeuvres. I had a "sherry table." It hasn't even been quite that good since, but people still come, so I imagine it's doable.

This year we will be hosting 23 guests. I have two turkeys thawing right now. We like to brine, so I'd better get going on that. I love the cooking part. I make a truly tasty chestnut stuffing -- which sadly gets turned down by most guests in favor of Stove Top. Go figure. I make it anyway. I love all that.

I HATE cleaning. How can I put this so you'll understand. What is the point of housecleaning? Please take a look at the photo of my great-grandmother in the upper right hand corner and understand I come by this very honestly. That is a woman at the turn of the century who lived on a farm and had farmhands and children to feed and clean up after . . . and yet she has found time to sit on a couch she has made for herself in the woods and read that newspaper or whatever it is.

I think most of my friends and loved ones understand this about me. We don't live in a dirty home or a home where you'd need to fear for your hygiene, but it's really not particularly tidy. This is the one time a year I chase the spiders out of their homes in the corners and go after the goo around the faucets with a toothbrush. Yuck. So boooooring.

But by tomorrow night it will be over and I'll be eating a big plate of chestnut stuffing. Hooray!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In the end

I learned nothing from my phone call to the vet.

When we decided this weekend to put Zoe to sleep, Brent suggested we get the job done at our local vet. I. Was. Aghast. Zoe has gone to the same vet clinic for nearly 15 years. How could he think of sending her to a strange place with strangers to do the deed?!

Well, I rethought that as we got ready to go and Brent said, "I've got Daniel" as he dashed out the door, leaving me to find and carry and ride with Zoe on my lap the 20 MILES to the vet clinic. Well, fine. She rode with me when we brought her home. She could ride with me on the Last Car Ride.

We were all fine and jovial on the ride there. Tra-la-la. Nothing unusual about this trip. Then we got there and -- completely forgetting about the morning's phone call -- I determined I would be the one to walk her in. "It will be less embarrassing if I burst into tears than you," I said to Brent, fully intending to walk in there calm as could be so Zoe would think she was just going to the kennel.

We got inside and behind the counter was not my high school friend Mary, but a STRANGER. I burst into tears. I could not see to sign the paper that said yes, you may kill my dog; no, I do not want the body; no, I do not want the ashes.

Out from the back popped Mary and she came cruising from behind the counter hugged me and said, "This is hard, but it's time." More crying, but I am completely relieved.

"Do you want the collar?" says new girl. "Won't (wheeze, sob) she (sniffle, snort) be worried (sob, sob, sob) if you take it off?" Like my standing there convulsively crying wouldn't tip Zoe off. "No, no," said Mary. "She knows us. She knows it here."

If I had to name the 10 best days of my life, this would not be one of them.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Calling the vet

In my mind the call to the vet's office was going to go like this:

Yes, hello, Mary, and a happy Thanksgiving holiday as well. Say, Brent and I have decided that it is time to put Zoe to sleep. She is having a difficult time with the colder weather and we feel it would be more merciful to let her go . . . yes, thank you and have a pleasant day.

Here's what really happened:

Mary . . . WHAAAAAAAAAA!!!!
Did Zoe pass away?
No, but it's WHAAAAAAA time . . . WHAAAAA
Okay, let me know when you're ready to bring her up.
WHAAAAAAA! (heave, snort) today.
Do you want to sit with her?
I don't think I canWHAAAAAA!!
Okay. Do you want the body?
No. Yuck. Do people want the body?
Okay, we'll cremate her. Do you want the ashes?
No. Yuck. What would I do with those?
Okay. We'll expect her this morning.

So far, so good.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


We have decided that it is time for our dog Zoe to be put to sleep. I can write it, but I can't say it aloud without crying yet. She is 15 and we have known for several years that the time was drawing near. Several weeks ago when the weather got colder she started to refuse to go outside and that's not good.

I think I have told you before that she was our honeymoon gift to ourselves. She was from a show dog family but was born with a hernia which made her unshowable. She has papers and everything which was a first for any dog I had known. She was so tiny we could hold her in one hand. She was my companion many evenings when Brent was out playing music. I never figured she would attack an intruder or anything, but I figured a burglar might trip over her and that would give me time to call the police.

We are constantly scolded at the vet because she is overweight. She is supposed to be on heart medication but the medication made her incontinent to the point of furniture replacement. She has a collapsing esophagus which makes her wheeze.

Oh, but she has been our friend and our little mascot. We named her Zoe because it means life. We dressed her up when she was young. We amused friends and loved ones with her antics. She kept us company. If I could say thank you to her, I would say thanks for getting me through those first tough years of marriage. Thanks for always being my friend. Thanks for listening to me even when what I was saying didn't make sense. Thanks for protecting me from the mailman, the neighbor children . . . a leaf blowing in the wind.

Well done, good and faithful servant.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I think I have finally fixed it so you can comment on my blog without being a blog writer youself, but I won't swear to it. I thought I had done it before . . . another craft project poorly finished.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sewing 101: Defeat

Are you very disappointed in me? It was on clearance. It has no turkey on it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


We started Colin on an anti-anxiety drug last week. I don't think any parent says, "Hooray! Drugs for my tween!" It has never been something we wanted to get into with Colin. For one thing, there aren't any drugs for autism spectrum no matter what Jenny McCarthy tells you will "cure" them. For another, Colin is so high on the spectrum, I suppose in our first born heart of hearts we hoped we could just handle it.

And really we did. Colin has done very well up until now. The early childhood special educator told us at the time we found out that there was nothing more to be done for Colin that we had not already done. Of course once he got to school there was more, and I am thrilled to say we have been very pleased with our rural special education program. Colin really flourished with their help.

But now. He's just gotten crankier and crankier and many of the tantrums I remember him having as a three-year-old we have relived again in the past few months . . . only now he's bigger . . . and stronger.

So Friday we began a half dose of this medication. On Sunday he ate an entire waffle. Colin has not eaten an entire thing -- ever. Monday and Tuesday homework went so well I put sunshiny happy faces next to where I am supposed to sign my name in his assignment notebook. Me. Smiley face. Today he was a little grumpier, so he took ten minutes in his room and came down rested and ready to go. This was huge. Two weeks ago, he would have gone up there and worked himself up into a lather. Kicking. Stomping. Not today.

And last night. Last night. Colin hugged me and said, "I love you, Mom." I can't recall a time when he has ever done that without prompting from Brent.

Friends and loved ones, here comes my son.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Everywhere I go

I am still laughing.

I missed ECFE last week, so imagine my surprise to discover that this week was "Make and Take Craft Week." What?! Seriously?! We're crafting?! I am going through a sewing trauma and it's "Make and Take Craft Week?" Oh. My. Stars. I just started laughing.

Serious craft people don't think anything about it. ECFE Coordinator Cathy zipped through the instructions ("Make sure you round the corners!") before I even realized she expected me to be listening and following directions.

In the end I was supposed to have brought pictures for my craft but I wasn't the only one who hadn't. We made little laminated books for our children. I slapped a few stickers on and -- presto! -- I'd finished a craft.

Could I laminate a turkey and pin it to my chest for an apron?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sewing 101 . . .

It's . . . sigh . . . time . . . I guess . . .

I have nine days to finish my apron. I have -- sort of -- "marked the pattern," although I must say my Sewing for Dummies pattern was not very helpful. Sigh. I . . . don't want to. I . . . am afraid of failure. I DO think it would be fun to have a nifty Thanksgiving apron AND I have come this far. The thing is . . . this is always where I quit on my craft projects . . . right when I can see the end in sight. Did I write a blog entry on my graveyard of craft projects? I' m sure I did. They're all like this. So near. So far.

Scary . . . sewing . . . machine . . .

Sunday, November 16, 2008

White Rose

Our church displays a white rose every time someone prays to receive Christ. Today there was one for Colin who prayed with his Sunday School teacher.

Julie, the Christian Education leader, called last week to ask if Colin had told us. No, I explained to her. Reporting things at home is not a strength of Colin's . . . besides, I patiently explained, Colin sometimes says what he thinks you want to hear. I'm not really sure . . .

So I asked Colin, "Did you ask Jesus to come into your heart?"


"Do you understand what that means?"


"Oh. Wow. Well . . . Dad and I are really excited and proud for you, honey! That's really neat!"


Julie told me she was sort of worried about her teen aged son having not prayed this prayer and confronted him.

"Oh, Mom, I did that years ago at camp."

Well. I guess Mother is always the last to know. I want to say so much that I am just proud and happy and not in the least a little sad and jealous that I wasn't there when he prayed, but I feel a little bit like my baby took his first steps and I wasn't there.
BUT, I did see his first steps and I have been there for so many things and I am the one who drove him to Sunday School that day and picked him up . . . and I am here now. Colin is now, and has always been, in better hands than mine.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Well, I am back from a great chick trip with Roberta to Disney World. It was a little strange to be there without the boys, but I managed. Birdie and I went on all the scary rides. We even did one twice because we had freaked ourselves out so badly the first time, we missed the actual ride.

It's very easy to be a brilliant parent when you don't have your kids with, but I was really surprised again to see how quickly a trip to the "Happiest Place on Earth" can go so terribly wrong. We saw so many parents at their worst. So many couples at their worst. I can't help but wonder if everyone's expectations on a trip like that can get a little unrealistic. I know0 this is true. You go down to Florida, spend a lot of money and everyone is supposed to have the best time of their lives, DARN IT!! And meanwhile kids (and adults) get hot, tired, cranky, hungry and disappointed just like at home.

If you ask my boys their favorite part of a trip to Florida, they will say the pool every time. I'm pretty sure they aren't the only ones and I'm also pretty sure that's not what most parents want to hear. I don't care. Trips to Florida are about me, me, me getting some sunshine during an otherwise dreary fall and/or winter. Let's just call that spade a spade.

The highlight of my trip this time was our spur of the moment decision to ride in first class. You would not believe how lovely it is up there: beverages, hot food, cookies . . . exclusive bathroom for the "mommy bladder." I may never go back. Economy? What economy?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

And away I go . . .

Well, tomorrow's the big day I start off for my Chick Trip. I have never felt this much excitement and guilt all at the same time. (Well . . . that's not strictly true, but the past has passed.) I made a last ditch attempt to get Cyberspace to come with yesterday. What after all is a Sisterchick trip without your actual sister? Alas, no luck. I even offered her my unused Disney Visa points.

Yes, I do have a Disney Visa. I have the classic red with just the ears on it -- not Sleeping Beauty or anything that screams, "SCARY DISNEY ADDICT!!" It may be a little bit true that I am a SDA, but I am not ready to admit it as, I believe, we have discussed before. I don't have a Tinker Bell tattoo or anything . . yet. I do go to other places besides Orlando . . . occasionally. It may be there are hidden Mickeys in my kitchen tile, but that was Big Daddy's idea . . . sort of.

The boys have made it slightly easier to go today by being as rotten as they possibly can. Colin was nearly dragged to piano performance in his pajamas. Baby D poured an entire Happy Meal pop on the poor beleaguered den carpet on top of a puzzle which I put directly into the garbage. So, although I admit, Roberta will not be dragging me to the airport Monday morning, I really feel for Big Daddy. I have a suspicion this isn't going to be easy.

Friday, November 7, 2008

In hiding

I am hiding from Baby D. We will see how long I have up here in the computer room before he finds me. Is this bad parenting? He's watching TV. Did that statement just make my bad parenting concerns worse?

My sister, Cyberspace Sarah, is 9 years younger than I. All those parenting gurus will tell you that in birth order status we are like two only children. This is true. We very much need our own space and our own things. But we do also have that first born-second born thing going.

For example, yesterday we were on the phone while I was packing my suitcase for my Chick Trip next week. I was worrying about something very irrelevant about appearances whilst I did this and I was also muttering to myself, "Hmmmm, I think I'll put my tennis shoes in their practice spot in my suitcase."

This is not an exact quote but Cyberspace said something to the effect, "If I was going on a trip next week I'd be packing Saturday night and then I'd get there and discover I had only brought one pair of pants."

I was amused by this and thought myself very smart for organizing so early . . . until I couldn't find my shoes this morning. They were still in their "practice spot."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Half Birthday

It was my half birthday last week and I think I am starting to have a 40 meltdown. I didn't think I would. I am a busy at-home mom. I don't really have time for a crisis and yet . . . This morning while watching an old West Wing I start crying. Where is my high profile West Wing job? Where is my Emmy nominated performance? Where is my Latino President-elect husband? I mean no offense to Big Daddy Brent. He is all the high powered white boy CEO I'll ever need and the very suggester of the topic of this blog, but this is my point: The rational part of my brain which sees full well that my life is as it should be seems to be shutting down a little bit. This makes me nervous. What do women do when they have a mid-life crisis? Have another baby? Not for me. Shiny sports car? No room for the kids. Run off next week to Disney World on a Chick Trip? Well . . . hee hee. Maybe that one.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

And then . . .

Then you read this:

And then this:

And then I don't want to hear any more of this. Honestly.

Post Election Exhaustion

Look, kids, Cyberspace Sarah has gone into electronic hiding until after the election buzz has died down and THAT is serious business her older sister cannot take lightly. She was told on Facebook today that the sins of our country will be paid for by -- oh, I can't remember the exact wording -- something to the effect of a president who won't need to veto anything.

Honestly. Just honestly. Friends and loved ones, from reading my blog, do you understand how seriously I take my God? Will you then believe me when I say I firmly believe my God is bigger than the United States of America?

A few years ago during the Bush/Gore debacle I was asked to join a prayer group who would "stand against Satan's minions in Florida." Honestly. As though the King of the Universe couldn't handle a few hanging chads. As if the the One who saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could not raise up a leader or bring him down. You better read the entire book of Daniel and then you better get your flag out because I am just getting warmed up.

Do you not see that democracy works in the United States? As a people we vote and every one gets one vote and every vote counts. (Let's not talk about how I feel about the Electoral College, though) In January, the outgoing president will meet the incoming president in our nation's capitol and shake his hand and that's it. Our country will transfer it's power from one party to the other, no mess, no fuss, no coup, no blood. Am I the only one who thinks that's a little bit cool?

If you don't like what happened yesterday, then you'd best get down on your knees and pray for our new president and the unity of our country because, frankly, you're not making it any better by whining.

Oh, my goodness, I have worked up a sweat. Do not upset my sister and expect me not to get loud.

Monday, November 3, 2008

In between trouble

I have posted so many photos of Baby D getting in trouble, I thought maybe I should show one of him just being cute.

And this is Colin in as much scarecrow costume as he would consent to. I'm a little biased, but he's pretty cute too.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Is it Tuesday?

Who, besides me, is ready to vote? Who, besides me, is tired of the automated phone calls? Who, besides me, has had it with the fliers in the mail? Who, besides me, has given up TV all together until the negative campaign ads are done?

Last night I was watching 48 hours on CBS and during commercial break it was one negative campaign ad after another after another (People, I am not even listening any more!) when all of a sudden our Minneapolis affiliate ran 30 seconds of a baby eating spaghetti with the caption "political ad break." I loved it!! So fun.

It's time. It's time to vote. It's time to choose. It's time to trust in our process. It's time to be done. It's time to heal.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The day I missed class

I fully admit I was not the star student of Mankato State University's Business School 1991, and I must have missed the day in marketing class when they discussed under which circumstances we would encourage the public to LIE about the use of our product. The fine folks at S.C. Johnson company have done just that in a series of ads for Glade candles. Rather than admit they have a good product, we are encouraged to hide our use of their product and LIE about it.

In one of my recent favorites in this latest series, we see a woman who has apparently found five minutes to herself to soak in her over sized bathtub. She has surrounded herself with Glade candles and -- for reasons unknown to me -- her cell phone. Her friend calls and rather than admit she is taking a quick bath while hubby gets dinner started with the kids, she LIES and says she is at a spa. WHY?! If any friend of mine said she'd managed to get in the bathroom alone with the door locked I would shout, "Hooray! Go, girl!! I'll call you back later!!" This chippy lies and then -- again for reasons unknown to me -- LIES about her candle which her friend can't see and didn't even ask about.

Today, I have seen a holiday commercial featuring this woman. She is burning a Glade holiday candle and lying about her baking ability. Who cares?! Pass the coffee. As she lies, one of the little gingerbread men pipes up, "IT'S GLADE!" and rather than display the proper shock and awe of the phenomena of a talking cookie, she EATS IT. That's right. She eats the talking cookie rather than admit she uses Glade candles.

I don't get it. Honestly, is our culture so obsessed with materialism that our brand of candle matters?

Don't answer that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sewing 101: Phase 2

Well, kids, I've gotten the pattern pinned and cut out. As I was sitting on the floor sticking myself with stick pins, I was hoping it would all come back to me like riding a bicycle. It did not. I've cut two pieces where I should have one and I certainly hope I've got my turkeys all lined up in the right direction. Too late, if not.

I was trying to energize myself for the task by bring back positive memories of sewing. I envisioned my Grandma Malmberg. In my mind she is sitting at her cabinet sewing machine. (Is that what it's called? It was in a cabinet thing. You used your knee to make it go.) Her brow is screwed up and she is swearing . . . as much as a Baptist swears.

I tried envisioning my mother. She is sitting at the dining room table with her table top machine. Her brow is screwed up and she is swearing actual swear words . . . and throwing things.

I don't think this type of project is in my blood.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Where is Nanny?

Oh, right . . . I don't have one.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Colin needs a scarecrow costume for Awana on Wednesday. Do you think the other 4th grade guys are going to go all out in this? I'm just not sure. I was thinking of putting him in a flannel shirt and stuffing a little straw in the pocket. Done.

I wasn't allowed to go trick-or-treating for religious reasons I really and truly understand . . . now as an adult. I didn't so much understand it at the time. I was allowed to have a costume, but I think my mother, a faithful reader, will admit that costumes weren't really her thing when I was small. When I had Colin, I was bound and determined he would have good costumes for this time of the year. Hand made costumes. Thought out costumes. Costumes that reflected my son and his interests.

The first year he was a scarecrow -- in a costume made by my mom, now that I think about it. He had a small crow on his hat. He was also a small cow, the Count from Sesame Street with a cape I hand cut flannel letters for, Tigger, and Linus from Peanuts. My most triumphant costume was a Lego costume made with a box, margarine tubs and a lot of spray paint. Colin hated them all. He did not like costumes. He's not big on pretending. The year he was Linus he put his blanket over his head and would not come out. I gave up. For several years after he agreed to be a ghost with a Peanuts like sheet with eyes cut out. The end.

So, as I said, I'm thinking a pocket full of straw. Baby D will be a puppy . . . in a costume I bought.

By the way, it's snowing. Snowing. SnowING. Cold, Icy. Snowing. I want to be a good sport. I really do. Brrrr.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sewing 101: Phase 1

I had my hair colored today and while Sharon, my beloved hair person and aunt by choice, was waiting for my foils to set, she slipped in Miss Ruby who was having a wash and set. Do you know what this is? Some great-grandma types have their hair washed once a week, rolled in rollers, dried under the dryer, backcombed and sprayed to a shellac like consistency to last until the whole process happens again next week. Anyway, I mentioned that I was thinking of sewing an apron. Oh, sure, says Miss Ruby. You just sew up the skirt and attach a top piece if you want. When I explained I was going to need a pattern, she looked at me as though I were too dull to walk and chew gum at the same time. If I needed a pattern, I should just take a favorite apron lay it on newspaper and cut around with 1/2 inch seem allowance.

I didn't think it wise to mention I was going to need directions on how to thread my machine. I just smiled and said I hadn't thought of it.

Well, I made it as far as the fabric store where I found this pattern. I don't think I bought enough fabric. I may have to leave off the pockets. And I didn't get thread or the do-hickey for the top part, but it's a start.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let's think on this

Brent and I are not huge entertainers. It's not that we don't enjoy doing it, I think we are just shy people who think no one would want to spend that much time with us. We do host a few things, the biggest of which is our Thanksgiving party. I just love Thanksgiving and I get really excited about it. It's all about the food.

So yesterday I got a bee in my bonnet that I should have a spiffy new Thanksgiving apron with turkeys on it or something, and I started to look at them on etsy. There are some great ones, but the manufacturing economy being what it is, my small business owner husband is all jumpy about money this week, so I'm having a hard time justifying a special Thanksgiving-only apron. (Well, who says Thanksgiving is a one day occasion.) At any rate, I started to think, could I sew my own Thanksgiving turkey apron?

Now, my high school home ec teacher was Mrs. Redmond. At the beginning of our sewing class project, which was a square animal pillow, Mrs. Redmond made a very serious announcement that she WOULD NOT, WOULD NOT be doing any one's sewing for them. If she did so, she announced, there would be no way for her to fairly grade our projects. Early on in my sewing Mrs. Redmond (who sometimes spoke of herself in third person) said, "Mrs. Redmond will just do this part for you. You have a difficult fabric." I don't think I did have a difficult fabric. I think I was just that bad and she felt sorry for me.

My parents gave me a sewing machine for college graduation and my mother promptly took it back for her own use. Maybe it's better that way. Maybe I could just pin a picture of a turkey on my apron.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Who's ready to go?

Let's establish first of all, that when it comes to caffeine consistency, I prefer a homemade latte made in my Tassimo. I think we've established I'm all about consistency. That being said, I am missing the daily stops for Caribou (and one Starbucks) made every day on our little trip. I get a feeling when Big Daddy and the boys are together with me enjoying a little coffee. I can't quite put a name on it. Peace, maybe. There's Colin complaining about having to work on Awana verses during coffee time. There's Daniel making friends with the people at the next table. (He's been offered a job at our local Caribou as soon as he can see over the counter.) There's Brent looking for all the world like he's not worrying about work. I tell you what . . . sure maybe we have a little caffeine addiction problem, but if that's all the worse we get, we're probably doing all right.
* DISCLAIMER: That's not a picture of us at Caribou. That's a picture of us at the Children's Theatre with my imaginary apartment in the background, but that is sort of what the boys look like at coffee time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

And another thing . . .

Hey, buy a CD from our friend Tony who is dealing with some health issues right now. Not only is he a good guy, but he's a good musician and I wouldn't recommend it if I didn't think it was worth it. You can also download his music at itunes.

No plan: Epilogue

I am a first born married to a first born. Until Baby D came along we were a happy little band who liked our things just so. This being said, I must say we survived flying by the seat of our pants this Educate Minnesota break very well. Oh, sure we forgot things like pajamas, toothbrushes and the stroller, but they have Target "down south" too. After two trips to the Target in Stillwater on Day 2 of our trip -- and a Caribou fortification -- we set off! We went to an apple farm, a Caribou in an old train depot in Red Wing (That's it up top), visited Lark Toys in beautiful Kellogg, Minnesota, saw Minnesota's only remaining covered bridge, went trick or treating at the Minnesota Zoo and, most excitingly, saw an apartment Brent lived in in Rochester. Will wonders never cease.

Does this mean we will be traveling like this from now on? No. Absolutely not. I have a sisterchick trip with Roberta coming up in a couple of weeks which I have planned down to the minute. I have already purchased a guide book to Boston for next summer even though we haven't really decided we going there. The point was, I can, if I really, really try, be spontaneous . . . if I plan far enough in advance.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No plan: Day 1

So we didn't leave until noon which sent us from Plan A to Plan B to Plan C. We drove through McDonald's for lunch and Baby D fell asleep in the drive-through and did not eat lunch. Colin ate D's as well, so when Baby D woke up, he kept whining and pointing to the empty bags, not matter what kind of interesting snack I found. After a brief stop at the outlet mall for my winter wardrobe of long sleeve t-shirts in every color, all the further we made it was Rosedale for a quick stop at Sephora (that stop was oddly for Brent) and dinner at Big Bowl. Baby D didn't feel like sitting nicely at Big Bowl and, in the process of chasing him around the booth, both Brent and I managed to spill our ginger ales. Our waiter brought Brent a replacement in a normal glass instead of the large top heavy ones they normally come in. We laughed . . . and left him a huge tip.

So now we are at our hotel in Stillwater. For some reason the smell in here reminds me of the month I lived in my grandmother's basement.

We press on.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Running wild

We are getting ready to go on a little trip over Educate Minnesota Break. (How can anyone be educated if we are on break?) We love to go up the North Shore of Lake Superior, but we thought we'd do something different and go down to the southern part of the state. I have been to Rochester twice in my life and I don't ever think I have been to Red Wing, so this is a big adventure for me. What's an even bigger part of the adventure is that I have nothing planned. No. Really. I don't lie to you, friends and loved ones. I am going to fly by the seat of my pants. Now earlier in the evening when Cyberspace Sarah heard this news she stopped, looked opened jawed at me and said, "You've made hotel reservations, right?" It may be that I have planned my vacations six to nine . . .um . . .okay . . . 12 months in advance. I like to plan. I like to be prepared. I like to know what to expect. This little weekend is a real step in faith for me. I admit I am a little anxious, but I can't wait to tell you how it goes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My public

I have to be honest with you. I know you're there. No, I don't know who you are, but I do have a nifty program that tells me how many of you there are. I haven't looked at for a while because -- well, because I didn't really want to know. I liked the idea that it was just my mother, Cyberspace Sarah, Molly, Audrey and, of course, that sweet little peanut Margaret, who is teaching me pray like a Catholic. I have scars. Pope County Tribune scars. Big, "Good heavens, Mother, the entire county did not have to read the personal details of my life in your column!" scars. You get gun shy about having stories in print. But several of you have spoken to me of late about reading my blog and so I feel a little speech is in order.


If you know me personally, you need to know I am not holding anything back here in my blog unless I think it might hurt someone (PCT scars!!). What you see is pretty much what you get with me, but there may be parts of me you just don't know about. Not because I am deceptive -- au contraire -- Jesus Christ calls me to a life of truth, but like all human beings there may be parts of me I reserve for whatever reason. Well, you're going to read about them here, and you need to keep in mind that what I write, like the great Psalmist David, may be a reflection of how I feel at the moment. It is for my good mental health that I write here, and I am delighted if you get a kick out of it too, but you must take me warts and all.

So there.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The best years?

Chief Babysitter "Andy" had us all in stitches at coffee after church yesterday with his comment, "High school dating is a nightmare!!" His story is not mine to tell but can be best summed up in his own words, "It was JUST pizza!" Suddenly everyone at the table had a story of dating gone wrong come to mind.

Brent moved from Minneapolis to our small town when he was a sophomore. There was a certain bit of culture shock to work through. One weekend he called five girls out for a date. The fifth one was not busy and went out with him. As she left the car she said, "I had a nice time even if I was number five." Without realizing it, he'd called the whole girls' basketball team.

I went out on a first date in college where we drove to the boy's hometown to meet his mother. He bought me clothes and entire pie on that date. It was a bit overwhelming. We didn't go out much after that.

My mother remembered that my dad had to go get his fraternity pin from another girl in order to give it to her. Better the one getting pinned than the one who had to hand it over, I say.

I have no doubt Andy will navigate through these dangerous waters just fine, but I am surely glad it's not me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

For Leigha DVT

I had a request this morning for the recipe I wrote about earlier on my blog from Jeremy J. He was at our house last week and a great time was had by all. I guess I shouldn't speak for him. Brent and I had a great time. Jeremy J is a bit of a foodie, and he brought dessert which was this terrific berry sauce over cheesecake. I haven't made it, but I did eat it and enjoyed it tremendously:

2 pints blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 cup water

In small sauce pan, add the blackberries, sugar, and cornstarch and toss together. Add in the rosemary, lemon juice, and water.Cook on medium low heat for about 15-20 minutes until the fruit breaks down and the liquids thicken. Strain out the solids and cool before serving.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

100 miles shoes

To celebrate 100 miles walked, I bought a new pair of walking shoes on I love this site because it is so easy to use, and free overnight shipping is a rural girl's best friend. On the plus side, the shoes I picked were on clearance. On the minus side, they were so on clearance that there was no free overnight shipping. There was a note on them that basically said, "Because these shoes are so cheap, no overnight delivery for you." That's okay. Due to an onslaught of beautiful allergy laden falling leaves, I've had to move my walk inside to the treadmill anyway.

Outside, I walk down to the lake through the park and around home. On a typical, beautiful day this summer, it was not uncommon for my 40 minute walk to stretch to more like 50 minutes to accommodate all the visiting I had to do. First I would run into my grandmother weeding the gardens in the park. She will be 85 this winter (shhhh), and she cares for two large patches of native prairie flowers planted by someone with a grant and then abandoned. In the winter she presses the flowers and tries to memorize them so she can tell them apart from the native prairie weeds.

Then I would run into Grandpa Larry. I should probably send him a note. He might be worried about me. We see each other every day. Grandpa Larry is not my grandpa, but grandpa to the young boy next to Cyberspace Sarah's house. It's a small town.

Then I might have to grunt at my junior high math teacher or my father-in-law's number one golf partner and by that time Bonnie or some other member of my mother's self declared "Purple Pants Club" would be done at Curve's and be ready for a chat.

So you see . . . that 100 miles was a real victory!

100 miles!

*A big bienvenue to my reader in Paris. I don't know who you are, but I have seen that you are there on my reader tracking map. You've absolutely made my day. Welcome!*

I am celebrating having walked 100 miles today.

As I wrote a few days ago, I've just never considered myself a person who really cared for physical activity. I was always the girl everyone shouted, "Move up!!" whenever I served or batted anything. It was really depressing. I had that short stint with running. Then a few years ago my friend Sylvia, the Hollywood actress, invited me to aerobics class. I really got into it and then added yoga and Pilate's -- which I loved. I ended up teaching Pilate's for a year which was such an exciting accomplishment. My dream was that one of those girls who yelled,"Move up!" would walk into my class. We were going to have some workout that day. It never happened. Anyway, I was sort of buff for a while. I started to think of myself as a tough girl. Grrr.

Then I was pregnant. I did yoga the whole time I was pregnant anticipating what a breeze labor and delivery was going to be in my new tough girl state. It wasn't. Baby D got stuck. I wanted to quit. I felt like a weenie, but D and I did it. We survived. Tough girl. Tough baby.

So now, here I am, just short of this side of 40. My life doesn't really have room for hyped up aerobic woman right now, so I have been walking. Walking and listening to gospel on my XM. Me and CeCe Winans and Kirk Franklin tearing up the streets.

I'm still a tough girl. I've decided it's a state of mind more than an exercise class.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bottomless Pit

My Chief Babysitter (CBS), whom I shall call Andy to protect his identity -- no, shoot. That's his name -- well, "Andy" dropped by a few days ago after school. "Do you need a snack, Andy?" I asked. "Sure," said Andy. I started to reach for a cheese stick. You see my stepson Jeremy and my son Colin are -- shall we say -- selective in their snacking. They'll eat a cheese stick, maybe, and a Triscuit. I asked Andy, "Cheese and crackers or sandwich?" To make a long story shortish, I handed this kid a PB & J on half a loaf of French bread, a banana, cookies and something else I can't recall. I was in heaven. I am a cook. (Please see my Facebook page for tasty recipe from Jeremy J for rosemary/berry sauce.) For 15+ years I have been trying to delight the boys in my life with snack mix, muffins, cupcakes shaped like spiders, hummus, name it. Name it, I have tried. Cheese stick. Triscuit.

Andy, you come over ANY time . . . especially if you're going to babysit.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Home away from home

The boys took me to the Children's Theatre yesterday. We've been quite a bit this year. (Hooray, Madeline. Eh, Peter Pan.) I have my eye on an apartment across the street. It has a courtyard, for Pete's sake. How great it that?

I started to think about it, though. What would I do if I had an apartment in the city? Where I live hundreds of people from the city drive up to their cabin every weekend. If I had an apartment in the city I would have the best of both worlds without the maintenance. No putting in the dock. No mowing. If something in my apartment needed fixing I would call and theoretically someone would come and fix it. (I have lived in apartments. I know the truth.) Perhaps I would take my active youngest across the street for theatre group while I stared at a French Impressionist painting. Maybe I'd sit there and read a book and look out at the courtyard. Maybe I'd make Brent take me to restaurants that didn't serve chicken nuggets. Oh, the possibility!!

I haven't convinced Big Daddy that this is a brilliant idea. He keeps mumbling something about finances. Why must money always get in the way of the fun?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ah, memories

I was reminded of a Cyberspace Sarah story at dinner last night and it just made me laugh. Forgive me if you were one of the two people who heard it last night.

Our dad was the president of the Minnesota Newspaper Association last year which is only a big, fat hairy deal if you happen to publish a newspaper in Minnesota. If you don't -- big whoop. At any rate, with that particular group it is a big deal, and he was in the presidential suite at the top of a large hotel in Minneapolis. Part of his duties as president was to hold receptions in this room, complete with open bar. Now, if you've ever met our father, you know he likes to save when he can, so instead of hiring a bartender, he asked Cyberspace and me if we would like to do it. Well, we thought this was just a hoot and agreed. Our favorite local restaurateur Jill agreed to give us a quick bar tending lesson. We'd be set. Well, the week of the convention Jill went to Hawaii. I mean, who wouldn't in January, but we had not had our lesson. Not ones to panic, we thought to ourselves, "It's probably just wine and beer. How hard could that be?

Now for whatever reason Cyberspace went the day before I did and called in a panic, "It's not just beer and wine. There's a room full of alcohol here!" Now we started to panic. I started memorizing the Boston Bartender's Guide on the way down and Cyberspace looked up how to pour a shot out of those jigger things. We were still nervous. That night we stood in the empty room wondering how we were going to manage. It'll just be beer and wine we kept saying. Our first guest came in and bellied up to the bar, "I'll take CC & 7." I felt the color drain from my face and was just about to say, "What?!" when Cyberspace shouted out "CC & 7, coming right up!!" She was off like a shot, so to speak.

We did serve mostly beer and wine that night and the next. I highly doubt either one of us will look to bar tending as second career, but it was an experience. The party got shut down that first night, so it must have been good.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Someone? Anyone?

Someone please testify that my butter cake is tasty. I am getting a complex. Do you all sit there at birthday time going, "Oh dear heavens, will someone please drive to Elden's. We cannot bear her 'cake' any longer."

Friday, October 3, 2008

For Margaret

Friends and loved ones, my little cyber friend Margaret has made a gooey butter cake and it left her lonely on her birthday of all things. Who will testify that it's worth another shot?

1 pkg plain yellow cake mix
1 stick butter
1 egg

Put this in the Kitchenaid and beat it for 2 minutes until you can make it into a ball. Smoosh it into the bottom of a 9x13. Set aside.

8 oz. cream cheese at room temp
2 eggs
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
(Do I need to remind anyone that imitation vanilla is made from wood pulp?)
1 stick butter, melted
3 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

Put the cream cheese in the Kitchenaid (no need to clean it) and beat it until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and butter and beat. Add the sugar. Beat. Pour this unto the crust and spread it out.

Bake at 350 until it's "well browned but the center still jiggles when you shake the pan, 45-47 minutes." Cool 30 minutes.

With many apologies to Anne Byrn from her book The Cake Doctor, Workman Publishing 1999.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Baby D: Toddler Ambassador

So Brent takes Baby D and me out to lunch today. We go to this place a lot. It's in the next town, but it's on our side of the next town, if you know what I mean. We are familiar with many of the staff and feel very comfortable going there with the kids. At lunch time the place is mostly people having business-type lunches. Today was no exception. The restaurant was crawling with employees from the local home party industry.

Baby D had spent the morning watching the cement truck pour cement for Grandma's new garage and did not have a nap. He was a little grumpy and every time he let out a little squawk the entire restaurant stopped and turned in unison to see what the problem was. As an older mommy of a younger child, frankly I don't really care about that sort of thing, but at one point Baby D got down and started to make friends with the business-type lady in the booth behind us. She seemed okay with it and I wasn't too worried until he crawled up into the booth and laid down in her lap and closed his eyes. What do you even say as grilled cheese toddler drool goes dripping down onto this young single woman's executive pants? I fished him off with many apologies. She was more than lovely and gracious and thanked D for "making her day," but once again I found myself at the crossroads of wanting to hug him and simultaneously PULL OUT ALL MY HAIR!! What is he going to do next?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Who does?

I see Cyberspace Sarah has added another blog to her list. I've added it down on my list there. It's called "But I don't run" which is just a brilliant name. It's an entire blog devoted to fitness. I'm impressed.

Our grandfather died of heart disease when he wasn't much older than I am now. Huh. Anyway, our dad was always a big fitness nut and tried to get us to be as well. I think Cyberspace probably did a better job impressing him than I did in this department. I think she was on the volleyball team. She skied. I always preferred to be inside reading. I used to say I enjoyed a nice brisk sit.

When I was in college I took up running and decided I was going to run in our town festival's 5K. I hate running. I loathe running. I despise running, but there I was running in circles around my college town. One day I came home from running and decided that was enough. It was just silly for me to run. Unfortunately that day my newspaper came and Dad had devoted his entire editorial to how proud and impressed he was that I was running. Shoot. Well, I did it. I ran that 5K. I came in slightly ahead of a lady who was walking it. She was kind enough to keep me company along the way.

In spite of all this, I now exercise every day. The research on exercise and depression is irrefutable. Do I love it? No, but I do it. But I don't run either.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Poem for Brent

Woody Guthrie - NYC 1954

My Battle

Show me how, how to fight my battle in life
Show me how to fight
And I'll run away with you

Teach me how, how to fight my hard times in life
Teach me how to fight
And I'll run away with you

And I will never dread the day I will die
‘Cause my sunset is somebody's morning sky

Show me how, how to face my troublesome fights
Show me how to face them
And I'll run away with you

Teach me how, how to win my union in life
Show me how to win
And I'll run away with you

And I will never dread the day I will die
‘Cause my sunset is somebody's morning sky

Show me how, how to win for all of my people
Show me how to win
And I'll run away with you

Teach me how, how to love this battle of life
Teach me how to love
And I'll run away with you

How to fight, how to win, how to love
Teach me how, show me how, teach me how
How to love
How to fight, how to win, how to love

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I belong to an online book trading club. Tonight I got one ready to send to Hawaii. I was so excited. I wrote on a little post-it note, "Wish I were there!" and I underlined "there" for emphasis. I think for a Minnesotan to imagine such a life as one might live in Hawaii is nearly impossible. It's raining now. The rain is bringing in a cold front. At the end of the week the high will be 56 degrees or something. What even would it be like to live in a place with such a moderate climate you never had to check the weather forecast because it would always be the same? We Minnesotans brag that we would get bored. We love, love, love the change of seasons, we say -- as though a few brilliantly colored leaves made up for 50 degrees below zero windchill.

I don't want to sound grumpy. I have made a choice to live here and I do it gladly. I'm sure I wouldn't like living in Hawaii . . . for long. Garrison Keillor has said something to the effect that living in Minnesota makes us a heartier, more interesting people. People who live in Florida or Hawaii don't have to work their weather the way we do. I think there's something to that. I look at it this way: A blizzard gives us a snow day to sit inside and make Rice Krispie bars. (What is my marshmallow obsession?) A hurricane gives our tropical friends a basement full of water. Wait. They don't have basements, do they? You understand my point. An arctic climate may not have the most beautiful plants and fruits, but we don't have many poisonous snakes either. Sure it's so cold that we can't make snowmen until spring, but look at our lovely pale complexions. Hmmmm. That's a bit of a reach, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hidden Talents

You know . . . it's about 45 minutes past the time when I should be in bed, but I came across this photo from our trip to Wyoming this spring. Frankly, it brings me joy to know that when I leave this earth there will be something for people to say about me.
Was she the greatest singer? "She was all right. Flat." Was she the best writer? "If you like that sort of thing. I didn't understand her half the time." Was she much of a homemaker? "Well, no. My sock once got stuck on something sticky on her floor and there was a smell in her bathroom I could never describe, but, you know, she had the right kind of nose for hanging a spoon on and that certainly is something."
I also treasure this photo because I think you can just make out that my aunt Rayna has made a Cherry Coke Jell-O. Marshmallows in Jell-O? No, thank you. Coca-Cola, a trough of sugar AND a can of cherry pie filling in Jell-O? Yes, please!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm it.

My sister, Cyberspace Sarah, has "tagged" me again. You'd think she'd know me well enough to know I'm not very good at running games. I often remain "it" because I can't catch anyone.

Let's see. Here's what she wrote:

The "rules" of the game are as follows:

1. Post the rules on your blog

2. Write 6 random things about yourself

3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post

4. If you're tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag

Oh, good heavens she's bossy. Look at the capital letters in number 6. Six random things about myself. Random. Yes. All right.

1. My bedroom has orange carpet and, after eight years, I am learning to like it . . . sort of.

2. I have a low tolerance for marshmallows. (She said it had to be random, not something you didn't know.)

3. I would love to have shoulder length hair. I just can't. It doesn't grow.

4. All the trees in my yard are ash and they're going to die as soon as that bug gets here. (She said it had to be random. She didn't say it had to be cheerful.)

5. Right now I am reading American Wife by . . . someone. So far it's a really good book.

6. No one reads my blog except my sister and my mother . . . and, I guess, Molly because she didn't feel sorry for me after viewing my last entry, so I feel excused from tagging anyone else.

It's a good exercise, Cyberspace, but I don't have a following like you do. (sad violin music plays out)