Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Association

I've posted this on my Facebook page, so if you've seen it there, you'll have to forgive me, but -- even though it's not my favorite song from The Association -- I just can't get enough of this video. The suits . . . the jazz penny whistle . . . the filmed montage with dancing scarves bikini stormy eyes girl . . . it's just a super package from 1967. It's the perfect antidote for a cold rainy day in West Central Minnesota or where ever you are. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Too much love

I suspect that s'daughter Shelby is the tiniest bit relieved to be back in the peace, quiet and roomy abundance of her dorm life. Here is a photo of what she looked like all weekend:

Everybody loves hanging out with Shelby. I am no exception. I like to think that I give her a little more breathing room than these two. I am a first born with one significantly younger sibling. I need more breathing room, myself. These second and subsequent children -- I'm not sure they care. They seem to enjoy being one on top of the other.

When you are the first born with a significantly younger sister, you're not very good at being near anyone for very long. It gets a little claustrophobic. Air, air . . . I need more air.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

We had a poem by Mary Howitt not too long ago. Because I am approaching middle age AND have a two year old, I don't remember what it was. Anyway, this was oft quoted by Grandma Malmberg, and I think it makes a nice little salute to Halloween.

Walk Into My Parlor
Mary Howitt

"Will you walk into my parlor?"
said the spider to the fly;
"Tis the prettiest little parlor that you ever did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show when you are there."
"Oh no, no!" said the little fly,
"to ask me is in vain;
For who goes up your winding stair
can never come down again."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sibling synergy

S'daughter Shelby is earning the stars in her crown this weekend. She is on mid-semester break and has had a little 2-year-old shadow since the moment she walked in the door on Friday. Toddler D has forced her to play nearly every game in the house including the ones he can't really play. The worst has been SpongeBob Monopoly which requires massive assembly only to have her small partner declare, "I done!" the minute she gets the whole thing put together.

S'on Jeremy has offered to come and take the little brothers Trick or Treating next weekend. I think this is a brilliant idea. Although I love to dress my children up in costume (Colin is always a ghost), repeatedly getting D in and out of the car in a Tigger suit is not my idea of a fun night. I nearly did a dance of joy.

If you're going to be having small children in your approaching middle life it is handy to have two other responsible energetic legal adults around. There are disadvantages to having children spread 21 years apart, but there are advantages. Oh, yes. There are advantages.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Writer's Block Friday

Blah, blah, blah . . .

1. Hugs and kisses out to Roxane for reminding me that every mother struggles with letting go. She has written a beautiful entry today on infant loss.

2. Still no sign of H1N1 in our house. I can't remember if I told you that, ever the eternal optimist, I have purchase movies (for myself) to watch when I go down. I don't want to say I am disappointed I've been wrong so far about being sick, but nobody likes to be mistaken, right? (I've confused myself with that sentence.)

3. Groovy time with Cyberspace Sarah last weekend at Women of Faith. We had not been in several years and it was really fun. There is something about being in an area with 13,000 women that is just a hoot. When it was time for the group leaders to stand up to be applauded, I stood up, even though it was just the two of us. That wasn't entirely fair. Cyberspace booked the perfectly located hotel. Still, it's good for my fragile first-born ego to be applauded.

Now if we can only figure out who we need to know to be able to sit in one of the corporate boxes . . .

4. Toddler D is just not himself today. He sat through an entire episode of Winnie the Pooh and Friends, which is NOT like him. Maybe he's getting sick. That would not make me happy, even if I was right that we are doomed.

5. We are looking forward to a visit from s'daughter Shelby this weekend. The kid is so busy, this is a rare treat . . . hmmmm, we'll probably all come down with something.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boring Treatise on Child: Read at risk of snooze

Colin does many things well, but one thing he really, really struggles with is reading comprehension. This is . . . I don't even have a word . . . let's just say beyond difficult for me to understand. I started reading at age three or so and never looked back. Zoom. In kindergarten they had to keep telling me to slow down. I thought what they were trying to make me do was ridiculous. "Go the door. Look at the moon." Puleeeze. I'm bored. I've been told that my parents were given the option of moving me ahead, but at that time I would have had to go to an older classroom, and since I had issues with social confidence, they weren't sure that was something I would like. In the end, they were probably right.

Colin started sounding out words very young and I was sure that I had an apple off the ol' tree. Colin can sound anything out, but he doesn't understand what he is reading. They are just words parading by on the page. He can read it over and over and over and still not understand what he's read. Although he's very high functioning, one of the traits of autism we see very plainly is a lack of imagination. He's never liked costumes. He didn't want to pretend. And think about this: It's difficult for him to predict what's going to happen. He just can't imagine. He likes what's concrete -- what's known.

Our school district uses the Accelerated Reading program. You read a book; you take a computer test; you get points. Games, prizes and treats are awarded based on the amount of points you have. What happens, though, if you read and read and read the book, but you just have no idea what happened in the book? No passing of the computer test. No points. No games, prizes or awards.

Oh! So frustrating for Mother. This would have been a cinch for me. I would have walked off with every stuffed animal, pizza and t-shirt in the place! Yet here I am -- helpless -- to give my child understanding. We can work on this. We can practice, but . . . I can't make him have understanding. I can't give him an imagination. Oh, I would if I could!

I am reminded in this powerful way, he is not mine to possess. He is his own person, created to do something that may be very different from what I imagined for him. And believe me when I say (and I'm talking to myself here), I have no doubt it will be better.

But I can't wait for Accelerated Reading days to be over.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

I heard a mature sister in Christ, a woman who often imparts wisdom, speak of the freedom and glory of being an empty nester. She said, "The children are gone. The dog is dead." Friends and loved ones, these standing in the trenches years with small children and pets are where we as parents earn the stars in our crowns.

This morning at ECFE the dear little new mommy sisters shared so freely of getting to the end of the day with nothing left to give. They are met at the door by husbands who wonder if they are glad to be home or not. These little mothers are at the exhausted end of their ropes.

But (with the exceptiong of Big Daddy who has been a "new father" for 23 years now) these days, emotionally draining, furniture wrecking, band-aid placing, Kool-Aid staining though they be, are just a season. We will have new furniture. We will wear clothes without stains. We will get in the car with just one bag. We will sleep through the night.

So here today is an ode to my children and my dog. My horrible, chewing dog.

Dog (an optional, non-speaking part)

My Dog Has Got No Manners

My dog has got no manners.
I think he’s very rude.
He always whines at dinnertime
while we are eating food.
And when he’s feeling thirsty
and wants to take a drink,
he takes it from the toilet
instead of from the sink.

He never wears a pair of pants.
He doesn’t wear a shirt.
But worse, he will not shower
to wash away the dirt.

He’s not polite to strangers.
He bites them on the rear.
And when I’m on the telephone,
he barks so I can’t hear.

When I complained to Mommy,
she said,

“I thought you knew:
the reason that his manners stink—
he learns by watching you.”

The End!

© 2004 by Bruce Lansky. Adapted from the poem in Rolling in the Aisles, published by Meadowbrook Press. This classroom theater play version of “My Dog Has Got No Manners ” is © 2005 by Meadowbrook Press.

Monday, October 19, 2009


My brand new chair.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Out to Lunch

Friends and loved ones, I have gone to the Big City -- well, actually I have gone to the Big Sister City for what Cyberspace Sarah calls a "chick conference."

I am excited to see Cyberspace. I hear she may have sold her house. We're going to have a great SisterChick time! I'll see you next week!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Photo Shoot

This morning Toddler D and I got up, got showered, got dressed and ran out the door so that D could have his picture taken. Poor D, being the baby, has had no formal photos taken . . . at all. When I saw that they were taking preschool photos during picture retake time at our local elementary today I thought, "Yes! Easy peasy! I know what package to get. We'll just fly in there take the picture, fly out. Someone will call when they come in -- no mess, no fuss, no sitting fee, no pressure to buy more than we need! I am a brilliant mother!"

Only D had a 3 hour nap from 2 to nearly 5 yesterday afternoon which meant he didn't go to bed until 11:30 . . . and yet he got up at 6:15 a.m.

D didn't want to cooperate with anyone on anything. He didn't want to take a shower with his dad and get his hair washed. He didn't want to put on his puppy dog sweater. He didn't want to wear a coat. He didn't want to get in the car.

I was concerned. No, I was resigned. Resigned to a meltdown in front of the photographer.

We made it to the school and found where they were taking pictures. He smiled beautifully and chatted up the photo assistant and I thought, "Yes! This is going to work as wonderfully as I planned after all! Brilliant!"

It was our turn at the little stool and we marched over there. He sat up straight, like Mother's little soldier, look straight at the camera . . . and scowled. Scowled, scowled, scowled. The photographer and I sang and danced and made funny noises. I moved D off the stool, smiled a big cheesy smile and had her take my picture, so he could see what what he was supposed to do. (She found this hilarious, by the way. Me, not so much.) Finally the photographer put a duck on her head, D smirked and the shot was taken.

Then he made a beeline for the playground, and I had to drag him out of the building literally kicking and screaming.

We came home. I had TWO coffees and we haven't done much else. It may be a while before D has more formal shots taken. Like kindergarten.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Poem for Tuesday

Perhaps from yesterday's post you have noted I am in a bit of a mood. Winter is beautiful but hard. There's some adjusting that needs to be done when it comes early.

Let's have a little Shakespeare today and think about mercy. Sometimes we have to give ourselves a little bit. Things don't always go the way we planned. Winter comes around again and it feels like it was just barely spring. Sometimes it feels like we're not gaining any ground, doesn't it?

But we do. We are.

My husband and my mother, both true optimists in their pessimistic heart of hearts, bet me that it will be nice again before winter really begins, so I say, let's give ourselves a break today whether it's -- well, weather -- or parenting or career or relationships or illness that's making us feel like it's over before it began.

We're going to have Indian Summer yet.

The Merchant Of Venice
William Shakespeare
Act 4, scene 1, 180–187

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes:(190)
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;(195)
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,(200)
Though justice be thy plea, consider this—
That in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer, doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much,(205)
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.

Monday, October 12, 2009


There wasn't enough tasty Tassimo latte in the world to compensate for the falling snow when I got up this morning. (The sun came out and melted most of it or I would have shown you.) It was falling in giant fluffy flakes. Very beautiful. Very Currier and Ives.

But it was snowing, and there's no guarantee it will get above 40 degrees again before May. None.

I have met people in my time who actually thought the snow never melted in Minnesota. Seems odd our slogan would be "Land of 10,000 Lakes" if that were the case. Wouldn't we brag about being "America's Winter Playground" or something? (Is that Vermont?) At any rate, sometimes the snow does melt. Sometimes the grass is green. Sometimes the lakes are actually warm enough to swim.

Truth be told: That is not the case the majority of time here.

But we press bravely on and we sniff condescendingly at the people who ask us if we've ever worn shorts. We get our feeling bruised so easily up here. The Cohen brothers make a movie like Fargo and we roll our eyes. "We don't talk like that!"

Yes, some of us do. The problem is most people trying to copy our accent do it very badly.

Or we watch a movie like New in Town (which was actually filmed in Canada). "We don't dress like that. They weren't very respectful of Minnesota."

Well, no, but they weren't very complimentary to the chippy from Miami either as far as I was concerned. I thought it was funny. In many ways, I thought it was a tribute to our kindness, our perseverance. And I know several women with the kind of seasonal "theme" sweaters as shown in that movie.

But for some reason, we let Garrison Keillor get away with being down right mean at times to us. (I am a huge fan. Do not misunderstand.) Why is this? He doesn't actual live in Lake Woebegone, you know. I hate to spoil it for you, but there is no Lake Woebegone. He made the whole thing up, but he is dead on when he describes it. I live there. I know those people. And sometimes the descriptions aren't very flattering.

Mr. Keillor actually lives in St. Paul. I think he has an apartment in New York City, too.

He's totally cheating.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Death of Dahlia

For those of you who have been following the near demise and triumphant return of Dahlia and the Slugs, I am sorry to announce today that she did not survive the frost last night. I thought of taking a picture, but I think it's better if we don't. Let's just remember Dahlia the way she was yesterday -- green and ready to bloom. Rest in peace, dear Dahlia.

I think we looked at this poem this spring when it looked like winter would never give up, but let's see it once more for Dahlia's sake and for the sake of the leaves now falling in buckets off the trees.

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.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

More accurately, I have returned . . . in a Tahoe, not a jet plane . . .

Everything went fine, thank you for asking. We sang our little hearts out. I purchased my own egg shaker and whoo-ha! There was a whole lotta shaken goin' on.

Oh! The three of us are such geeks. (No offense to Steve, of course.)

If you don't mind, I think we should have a poem today. I don't wish to talk about artificial nails, acetone polish remover and my new table.

Nope. I do not.

How Can I Keep from Singing
My life flows on in endless song:
Above earth's lamentation,
I catch the sweet, tho' far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul--
How can I keep from singing?
What tho' my joys and comfort die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho' the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smooths,
Since first I learned to love it.
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am his--
How can I keep from singing?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Peter, Paul and ML

If you miss me next week, it's because Brent and I have gone up to the North Shore to lead some singing. It won't be quite "Kumbaya," but darn close. We're singing with our current favorite trio partner Pastor Steve (Cyberspace Sarah is another good one), and we're like a sort of sad 2009 Peter, Paul and Mary when we get together . . . only Steve is on keyboard . . . and my hair's too short to swing around in that cool way Mary had . . . and Brent is too good looking to be either Peter or Paul . . . and we're singing contemporary Christian music instead of "If I Had a Hammer" . . . and, well, you get the idea.

I'm looking forward to it because it will be a couple of days alone with Brent . . . only we're singing for a retreat for pastors, so we won't ever really be alone . . . and we have to bring up a bunch of sound equipment and the keyboard, so we'll be busy setting that up and not taking walks in the beautiful changing leaves . . . and, well, you get the idea. I'm looking forward to it all the same.

I was really sad when Mary Travers died last week. My parents had all their long playing record albums, I think. Mom and Dad enjoyed a really wide variety of music -- still do. They particularly are fond of quality harmony, no matter what the musical genre is and I think that's why I love singing harmony so much. I had some good musical examples -- like Mary Travers.

I don't have good bangs though.

Anyway, have a good beginning of the week, and I'll see you later.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Table and The Mitten

The new kitchen table came today which was very exciting -- especially exciting since the delivery guys were supposed to come at 9:45 but arrived at 9 while we were still standing around in our jammies drinking coffee.

They also delivered a new chair for our den. ("Den" sounds fancier than fingerprint covered old chocolate milk smelling pit of chaos TV room.) This afternoon as I was running around trying to tidy up, I pulled the tags off the new chair by pulling instead of finding a scissors to clip. As I did this a huge tuft of chair stuffing came out. I panicked not wanting Brent to come home and discover I had pulled and not clipped our new chair. I ran downstairs to the land of forgotten craft projects in search of a knitting needle to poke the stuffing back.

The first knitting needle I grabbed had this attached:

Do you think it's a mitten?! Do you think I was attempting an advanced project like a mitten? I think it's a mitten! What was I thinking? There are two mittens in mitten craft project. Do I not know me? Have I not been down the road of forgotten craft projects a thousand times with me?
Looks like I quit as I was getting to the thumb.
A mitten. Ha.
It's pretty. It's too bad.