Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Here's a Dylan Thomas classic along with a photo just taken of my back yard. You are fighting well and hard, O Winter. You know your time is short.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Monday, March 30, 2009

And it goes on

The snow has melted in my yard just in time for . . . another snowstorm. That's right! Accuweather proudly predicts 12.2 inches over the next three days. Yippee. I am losing my sense of humor. You may be forced to read Grandma Malmberg scrapbook poems everyday in a sort of "spring dance" if you will.

I was listening to that cutie Jean Chatzky on her XM talk show today talk about how sad she felt for her little daffodils because they'd had a hail storm where ever it is she lives. "In March!" she cried indignantly. I assume she felt March was too late for a hail storm. It would be right on time by my line of thinking.



Let's make a list of the positives.

I'm glad I live in Minnesota because:
~ Cold weather prevents the habitation of poisonous snakes and spiders.
~ My automobile will start, run and drive in any type of weather.
~ I can load up on sale sweaters in Puerto Rico and other warm climates.
~ I can load up on summer clothes in Minnesota where the season simply is not long enough to own very many.
~ I do not have to chase Colin around the neighborhood to come in and practice piano. It's too cold and windy to go outside today.
~ I live within two hours of the nation's largest climate controlled mall.
~ I never say, "It's too hot to bake today."
~ I never say, "It's too hot for a coffee today."
~ I have a basement in which to store my junk. In other parts of the country they have to rent storage.
~ Friendly people. You know. For the most part.
~ My family lives here.

Clearly, I need to brainstorm some more on this.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The evacuation

A midnight run was made to pick up s'aughter (I'm trying an apostrophe today. What do you think?) Shelby from her dorm room in Moorhead. The river is about to crest about five blocks from her campus. She'd been a hard working little sandbagger, but everyone from that area has been evacuated. Big Daddy and my dad, Mr. News, made the trip up after Brent finished playing with his lounge band in -- of all places -- a lounge. (I exaggerate. It's a very nice wine bar.)

I think there was relief on Shelby's part along with a small feeling of abandoning the ship. I say if the ship's sewage has been turned off, it's time to jump. S'on (That doesn't work as well.) Jeremy is reported to have said through gritted teeth that he was not leaving. He lives on the Fargo side away from the river. His area hasn't been evacuated and, I imagine, this is the time to be making those big part-time bucks at his job at Fleet Farm.

It's a hard thing to write about the flood from where I sit. As you know, I tend to go for the cheap laugh, but there's nothing terribly funny about people losing their homes and businesses.

So maybe I'll just be quiet today.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Very Big Mall

Friends and loved ones, it snowed today. Yippee. There's a nice little covering out there in the yard where yesterday I looked out and felt hopeful for spring.

And as we always say, "A snowy day at the Mall of America (MOA)is better than a snowy day at home . . ." or something. Okay, we don't really say anything of the sort, but we did pack up the morning and head for the nation's largest mall.

If there's one thing Minnesota does well, it's malls. Minnesota, and I'm sure you know this, created the fully enclosed -- climate controlled -- mall when Southdale opened in 1956. That's older than Big Daddy! My dad liked to go to Southdale because it's in the neighborhood where he grew up, but I have also spent plenty of time at Ridgedale which was the closest to us and Rosedale which was the closest to my friend Roberta.

My friend Michele took me on my first visit to MOA shortly after it opened in 1992. I had just gotten dis-engaged and had run away the weekend I was supposed to get married. Upon returning home, Michele and I stopped for -- truthfully, I suppose it was cocktails -- when I got home. The Very Big Mall is right across from the airport. I remember standing on the second or third floor overlooking the amusement park thinking, "Wow! This is a very big mall," and the name has stuck with me ever since.

Since we did not take a tropical spring break, we went to MOA today. The boys went on rides and down to the aquarium. We ate lunch. Toddler D and I had our picture taken with Dora the Explorer. I bought shoes I do not need. We stopped at one of the three or four Caribou's in the building. It was a good day.

It's always a good day at MOA. It's always a climate controlled 70 and sunny.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Because Colin is on Spring Break this week he's not memorizing a poem, so Grandma Malmberg's scrapbooks win the day with this little gem:

Spring's Magic
Faye Tanner Cool

March is:
cough drops,
wet feet,
soggy woolens,
leaden skies,
no glad sights
for tired eyes.
Then! Everything
comes into focus
With a crocus.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Greetings from the ark

Up in the northwest part of my state the Red River is flooding. My s-daughter (After 15 years, I'm trying to come up with something new. Step daughter seems too Cinderella.) has the day off of college in Moorhead to help with the sandbagging. My parents went to college up there 40+ years ago and I think I recall them saying they did the same thing.

Mother Earth always wins no matter how scientific or electronic or smart we become.

My town is in the pit of where a big glacier melted after the ice age. Many businesses in my community start "Glacial Lakes (something)." Everything is downhill into town. It's very pretty coming down the hill with the lake and the trees; however, it also means that all water runs downhill and into our basements. I don't know anyone who doesn't get water their basement here.

Right now Brent's workshop are is filling up. I was down there with towels, but it's raining so hard I gave up. I keep peeking downstairs to see if I need to move something out of the way of the water. I'm going to need to take my laundry pile in hand here in the next couple of hours.

. . . but I suppose I need to do that anyway.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Big Birthday, Big Man

It's Big Daddy Brent's Big Birthday today, and although I don't wish to make you feel nauseous, I can't let the day go by without bragging on him a little bit.

My husband has more musical talent in his pinkie than I have in my whole body. There is no instrument he can't play and his voice is gorgeous. Yet, the beautiful thing about it is, he has this amazing ability to use them to bless other people rather than call attention to himself. Even those who perform with him, no matter their talent, feel better about what they can do with him.
I'm terribly biased about this.

He is an amazing dad. You know I call him Big Daddy because he has four children aged 23 to 2. That is some BIG parenting. All of his children favor him. (Just nod, Shelby, you don't have to agree.) All of them trust him. All of them look to him for approval and guidance. In a culture where "fathering" is not really given it's proper due, Brent is an example. It hasn't always been easy for him. Jeremy and Shelby lived apart from us. Autism brings a certain set of challenges for Colin. Daniel has come at a time when he felt past parenting a toddler. He rises to the occasion with each kid.

I'm terribly biased about this as well.

He is the husband for me. No one understands me better. No one can explain me to me better. (Do you follow this?) No one has patience for me. No one has fought for me the way he has and does.

I am the MOST biased about this.

He loves God. He loves his kids. He loves me. He . . . well, he feels strongly about his work.

Happy birthday, Brent. Here's to more adventure with you!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who's watching

If it was just the girls, I would write about sticking my head into the bowl to lick out the cake batter just now and the reasons for that and how I feel about it. But I feel a tremendous respect for the Warrior Men who stop by from time and so . . . let's just move on.

Yesterday my precious friend Rita and I were visiting and she asked how the Lenten Computer Experiment was coming.

Ah . . . well, um, sure . . . sure, you know. For the most part it's going really well.

She smiled at me and said, "You played quite a few rounds of Word Twist on Facebook yesterday."

It's not really a word I use but -- busted. I didn't think anyone would notice.

We talked about this the other day, didn't we? Can I really cheat if I am the one who set up the rules? Yet, what do I gain if I can't even abide by rules I created? What is the purpose of the experiment at all if I end up lying to myself?

It's such a part of our culture, isn't it. Make yourself look good. Make yourself look good physically. Make yourself look smart. Make yourself look savvy. Make yourself look youthful/eternal. Make yourself look disciplined.

We play it in our parenting. At ECFE we sit around this parenting circle that is supposed to be there for our learning and benefit and mutual empathy, and we pretend we are these mild mannered perfectly school parents with angelic kids and a dynamite marriage.

We play it at work. I can handle it and yours too. Look out. Get out of my way.

We play it at church. "I once was lost but now am found," we sing. "Listen to my powerful testimony. Listen to what a lost and hopeless sinner I was and how I have it completely together now. All I needed was a little prayer."

We make it as intimidating as we can for the next guy. Why? Are we so insecure in our own shortcomings we think there will be no mercy for them?

Do you wish I had stayed with the cake batter thought?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

You may be glad to know that I did NOT shave my head, but my hair is an inch shorter.

Today's poem is another from Mrs. Clare's room. It really hits the spot this week, and Colin puts a lot of energy into the reciting of it!

Goodbye My Winter Suit
N. M. Bodecker

Goodbye my winter suit,
Goodbye my hat and boot,
Goodbye my ear-protecting muffs
And storms that hail and hoot.

Farewell to snow and sleet,
Farewell to Cream of Wheat,
Farewell to ice-removing salt
And slush around my feet.

Right on! to daffodils,
Right on! to whippoorwills,
Right on! to chirp-producing eggs
And baby birds and quills.

The day is on the wing,
The kite is on the string,
The sun is where the sun should be -
It's spring all right! It's spring!

Monday, March 16, 2009


How I wish to be one of those women confident in their every moment.

Huh. Do I know any of these women? Come to think of it maybe not. Some are better at pretending than others. I think we all have our own personal issues. Our own "problem areas." My problem area is my hair. I hate my hair. Let me say it again for good measure. I HATE my hair. I am fine with my teeth, my body shape, my foot size. I HATE HATE HATE my hair.

My desire is to have long flowing tresses that cascade down in a lovely strawberry blond shade to the middle of my back. Oh, to pin it up with a single hair device. Oh, to braid it! Oh, a pony tail!

Nope. None of this. My hair is fine and dull and (naturally) dirty dishwater blond with gray the quantity of only my stylist knows.

Even when my hair is long, it's not a good long. It's straggly . . . and come to think of it, scraggly. I can't put it up with out a lot of bobby pins. I have a sad, sad little pony tail even when my hair is beyond my shoulders which has happened maybe two times in my life.

Mostly, I keep it cut short. I had managed now to grow it beyond my earlobes, which was a happy thing, but I have woken up this morning and it is over. Over I tell you!! The sides are so dry they stick up Pippi Longstocking fashion. I started snipping it with the pinking shears and then made an emergency call to my hair place. My hair dresser is not in today and she is booked all week. I am going to a stranger. Hopefully by the time I have driven to Next Largest Town (NLT) I will have talked myself out of the Sinead O'Connor shave. Remember how great she looked in the "Nothing Compares 2 U" video?!

Keep you posted.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lenten Computer Experiment

Well, we are two and a half weeks into the 30 minute Lenten computer experiment.

How's it going? (And thank you for asking, by the way.)

I'm not sure how to answer. In some ways better than I thought. The freaky dreams have stopped. I have been finding other things to do -- although the needlepoint eyeglass case from the cruise remains unfinished.

. . . but to be perfectly honest with you . . . some days I cheat. Some days I cheat worse than others. It just started this week. A casual turn off of the timer for something I deemed necessary at the beginning of the week turned into a long game of Word Twist on Facebook by the end of the week.

It all seemed so necessary. Yet none of it really is. I don't see much point in beating myself up about it, but at the same time, what is the point of the experiment if I'm not going to abide by the rules I made up by myself, for myself?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Toddler D Rides Again

I really wanted to take a photo for this post, but well . . . I have some mercy.

On Tuesday at ECFE, one lovely, bright, young mother I have known forever shared how her Preschooler B is determined to dress himself. If she so much as uses her pinkie to unroll the back of his pants which have gotten caught, he has to start over. "Back to naked," she said.

"Oh, you poor, poor dear," I thought self-righteously to myself. "You've got a strong-willed one on your hands with B. That's going to be a problem."

It was as though I had not met Toddler D. As though I had forgotten the climbing of the refrigerator. The Vaseline in his hair. The baking of the birthday cake.

For the next day, Brent went in to get him in the morning and said, "You have to come see this." And there Toddler D was . . . in all his naked glory. No pajamas. No diaper. Had Preschooler B instructed him? I shall never know.

So this is the new trick: getting naked. So far we haven't had any "diaper accidents," but I fear it is only a matter of time and -- frankly -- I hate to even bring it up because it's like I am tempting fate . . . which you know I don't believe.

Knock on wood.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Forgotten Olives

I had a bit of a mid-life crises tonight while eating an olive at my kitchen counter. It was a fancy schmancy olive from an "olive bar" from the grocery story in Next Largest Town (NLT). I was eating it with a small piece of fresh mozzarella and a carefully counted out amount of Ritz Crisps.

The chicken I made tonight must have been still partially frozen because even though the part with the thermometer in it was done, there was a big raw blob in the middle when I cut it. Being the good Proverbs 31 wife, I gave the cooked portions to my husband and children. (Come to think of it, I don't recall that Mrs. Proverbs 31 goes hungry herself.)

At any rate, I was eating these items when I flashed back to high school. My friend Michele and I were really, truly good girls who stayed out of trouble (until we got to college, but that's another story). A big Saturday night for us was taking Michele's mom's Lincoln to NLT to Pizza Hut for a pepperoni and black olive pizza followed by a trip to Super America for Dove bars. When, oh when, was the last time I ate a black olive and pepperoni pizza followed by a Dove bar and not felt guilty? When, oh, when was the last time I ate a pepperoni and black olive pizza? My pizza consumption is dictated by my children. Cheese.

I like cheese pizza. Don't get me wrong.

And the truth of the matter is, I'm pretty sure half a pepperoni and black olive pizza followed by a Dove bar would make my nearly 40 year old tummy not feel so great. There. I've said it.

It just got me to thinking about those things you do one last time without realizing it's the last time. Eating pizza and ice cream without a stomach ache. Painting your fingernails Barbie pink. Talking to a college friend you swore was going to be your life-long bosom buddy. Having your kid sit on your lap.

I can tell you the last time I ate a Dove bar. It was Disney World last fall on my Chick Trip with Roberta. They come in the shape of Mickey and one of the ears lost a big chunk of chocolate which fell down and melted into my shirt and shorts, ruining them both.

It was worth it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Enjoy this poem that Colin is memorizing for Mrs. Clare this week as you gaze at the photo
I have just taken out my back door.

Wearing of the Green
Aileen Fisher

It ought to come in April,
or, better yet, in May
when everything is green as green-
I mean St. Patrick's Day.

With still a week of winter
this wearing of the green
seems rather out of season -
it's rushing things, I mean.

But maybe March is better
when all is done and said:
St. Patrick brings a promise,
a four-leaf-clover promise,
a green-all-over promise
of springtime just ahead!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sunday Shoes

I was in my first play directed by Lee Paulson when I was in 6th (?) grade. Mr. Paulson was my Sunday School teacher from that year through senior high school as well as my high school English teacher and community theatre drama coach. That first show was "Debby and the Dragon" and was performed for church on Sunday morning. (Roxane from Peace Garden Mama will have to ask her husband if he remembers if he was the dragon.)

The rules for these productions were the same be it church skit, depressing high school play about Holocaust Germany, or full-out community theatre musical:

1. For Pete's sake (and I'm cleaning it up here), do not stand in a line on stage.

2. For Pete's sake, do not stand in one big circle on stage.

3. For Pete's sake, don't just stand there on stage.

4. For Pete's sake, do not turn with your back to the audience.

5. For Pete's sake, Mr. Paulson canNOT HEAR YOU!! PROJECT FOR THE LOVE OF PETE!

6. All female leads must wear heels; otherwise they look flat . . . or short . . . or something.

I don't remember why -- perhaps Shelby, our little theatre major, will tell me -- but it's just stuck, and I always think of it when I'm on "stage." Must wear heels.

Well, singing with the worship team involves standing on a "stage" of sorts -- although I really don't like to call it that. "Altar area," perhaps, but there's no altar up there. And not that it really matters what I look like, but I feel I should wear heels because -- and I'm just being honest here -- Mr. Paulson yelled a lot and it's really stuck in my head that it makes a difference.

What's my point, you've been asking for the last three paragraphs or so. Well, here . . . have a glimpse at my shoes from yesterday morning:

So trendy, so cute, so fun . . . so very, very uncomfortable for an entire morning of standing and tambourine playing. (Oh, yes, I did!)

Next time, tennis shoes. Take that, Mr. Paulson.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Conference

Why is it I always think of the questions I want to ask at parent-teacher conferences after the conference is over? Brent and I sit there and smile giddily as we talk about Colin as though he were not there, praising him to high heaven. Brilliant child. Brilliant child. Amazing progress. Delightful in the classroom.

Of course he is. What did you all expect?

Do you have any questions? Of course not! Why would I question the brilliant, amazing work he is doing? No, no! Everything is fine! Everything is great! No questions.

Then I get home and I start looking at the papers. Hey, wait. Is he behind here? Was he supposed to have this thing done by now? Are these all the points he has? Why is this?

Have I been tricked? Have I been duped? Was I just flattered up at the beginning, so that I would ignore any concerns I would have? There should be some sort of follow up questioning period.

Oh, I know I can contact Colin's staff any time I want to and believe me, I have. But I always end up second guessing. Is Colin doing grade level work or not? Is he ready for 5th grade? Are you sabotaging my child so he has to stay behind because you love and adore my brilliant child so very dearly?

It may be that I am unable to view Colin's progress in an unbiased fashion and I do not want to be one of those parents who assumes her child is more than he is nor do I want to be one of those parents who doesn't raise the bar high enough for her child.

Oh, parenting. It's just the hardest job.

And hey. . . I was just on a website www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org which donates photography for parents with babies who did not live. They have some beautiful sample photographs. Don't go there just for fun if you have a super tender heart (me!) or are pregnant right now (Margaret!), but if it's a cause that is meaningful to you, they accept donations on the site.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Quick to Judge

So I was listening to the 911 call that Octomom made last fall when one of her children went missing. I feel actually quite sympathetic to Octomom. She's crazy . . . and she doesn't know it which, we have established, is a problem. She had a missing child and pregnancy hormones, so she got a little -- well, a lot hysterical and started ranting that she was going to kill herself. Doesn't seem like a logical solution to the problem. Anyway, child showed up after taking a long walk with grandma. End of story. Only "they" are using at to fuel the fire that she is not equipped to handle that many children.

I agree that she probably can't. I can barely handle the two I have in a two parent household with at least one working parent. Anyway, I have to say, I thought she was a little over the top dramatically on that phone call.

So imagine my surprise when the bus came this afternoon and Colin did not get off the bus. "Don't Octomom. Don't Octomom. I kept saying to myself. There is a logical explanation." I called Brent who suggested I call school. I called school. Nope, they didn't still have him there, but they would call the bus. YES. He forgot to get off the bus.

We are the first stop. He forgot to get off the bus. I am reminding myself right now that when Jeremy was this age, I had serious doubts about whether he would grow up to become a responsible adult. Look at him now.

Colin and I had a serious discussion about remembering to get off the bus, but I'm not entirely sure it was as full of grace and compassion as it was a scared mom lecturing about personal responsibility.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Poem for Wednesday

Before we get to the poem, I had a good laugh after writing yesterday's post. I put on three sweaters this morning before I found one that didn't have chocolate stuck on the cuff.

I know I usually have "A Poem for Tuesday," but we didn't and now it's Wednesday. You can get past this.

Today's poem is not from Grandma Malmberg's scrapbooks. Colin has to memorize a poem every week for his classroom teacher, and I just love this week's.

Rhinos Purple, Hippos Green

My sister says
I shouldn’t color
Rhinos purple,
Hippos green.
She says
I shouldn’t be so stupid;
Those are things
She’s never seen.
But I don’t care
What my sister says,
I don’t care
What my sister’s seen.
I will color
What I want to-
Rhinos purple,
Hippos green

By Michael Patrick Hearn

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In like a . . . lion? . . . lamb?

I don't know. It was perfectly clear on March 1st which was lamb-like, but it was 9 below. That's not windy or stormy, but 9 below isn't lamb-ish. I would say it's more lion.

I'm sure I don't know. I've never thought that adage really worked in Minnesota -- like Groundhog's Day. Trust me. We have six more weeks of winter whether there's shadow or not, just bless their pea-pickin' weather bug hearts in Punxsutawney, PA.

Beloved Audrey in Phoenix claims it was 90 degrees there this week. I cannot wrap my mind around this at all. At all. Not at all. I don't get it. How can it be 90 in the beginning of March? I believe her because she seems to be a trustworthy soul, but I don't get it.

Every morning when I go into my closet, I sigh. I look at my sweaters which at this time of year have taken a beating. I wrote to someone this morning that they are sad and pilly and there is something crusty at the bottom of each and every one no matter whether they are fresh from the laundry or not. What is this crust and where does it come from?

Weeeeeeell . . . this just has to be the downhill slope of winter. History proves it so. In another month or two . . . or so . . . I will leave the house without a coat. Until then, that purse I bought is yellow. I'm just going to hold it in front of my face whenever I go outside and pretend it's summer sun.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Experiment

As we have established before, I write for my good mental health. If you find it amusing -- great. So in the spirit of my good mental health, I am shutting off my timer while I work on the blog.

It's been interesting. So far I have noticed that I watch more daytime TV and snack more. I'm not sure that's keeping with my original goal of finding more productive uses of my time, but rather than get all obsessive over it, I have revised my goal to just keep my computer time within 30 minutes a day and see what happens.

This morning Toddler D and I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain which left us wanting to travel to New York City where we would disguise ourselves as locals and eat a pastrami sandwich in a deli. We followed this with an episode of Samantha Brown Passport to Europe(complete change of pace as you Travel Channel lovers will know) which left us desirous of a trip to Innsbruck, Austria, with a camcorder and a guide from the chamber of commerce.

Since starting the 30 minute thing last week, I have had strange dreams every night about unfinished projects or people trying to intimidate me physically. I wake up exhausted from the fight. You'd think this would make me want to quit, but instead it gives me the feeling I am on the right track and working something out . . . whatever it is.

Yesterday I decided I wanted to buy a purse. I knew just what I wanted and made a quick purchase with two minutes to go. For whatever reason, I then checked eBay where I found it new with tags for less money. I bought that one too and then felt stupid. Stupid for making an emotional purchase of something I didn't really need. Stupid for buying it because I was running out of computer time for the day. Stupid for checking for a different price after I'd bought it. Stupid for buying two of the same thing . . . even if I could send one back.

This morning I got an email from the eBay seller. She felt awful, but she couldn't find this purse. Where could it be? Would I like her to ship something else at the same price or would I like a refund? Even though I wished it was the more expense purse that disappeared, I saw it as a sign, asked for a refund and she gave it immediately.

This has me absolutely convinced I should keep on truckin'. It was such a little thing -- the purse incident -- in a seemingly silly game of "stay off the computer," but I read somewhere recently that it's possible for a butterfly to start a chain reaction that ends in a typhoon.

Maybe I should get out my raincoat.