Friday, December 31, 2010


I am writing this ahead of time. If all has gone well, I am in Wisconsin eating cheese at Cyberspace Sarah's house. The forecast was for freezing rain which is kind of an oddity this time of year, so the pessimist in me feels obligated to suggest that perhaps I am celebrating New Year's in a ditch down by Rochester.

Let's hope not.

Happy New Year, dear friends and loved ones!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

All is Calm

It was a pretty sad day yesterday when s'daughter Shelby, the last house guest, packed up her things and left.  Preschooler D wouldn't even look at her, much less say good-bye.  They are two peas in a pod and he feels betrayed every time she leaves.  For some odd reason, she'd rather go and celebrate the new year with her friends than hang around here playing Wii and going to bed once it's midnight in New York.  Big Daddy and I call that close enough.

I threw out the last of the old dried out cookies and washed an endless mountain of sheets and towels.  I walked around Target looking at the Christmas carnage.  All the good stuff was snatched up on December 26.  There's nothing left but boxes of graham crackers shaped like gingerbread houses and lime green short sleeve t-shirts that say "Have a Cool Yule."

Aren't these days a little melancholy?  As hard as we try to make that Christmas feeling last all week, there's just no denying it's coming to a close. I feel a sort of painful good-bye to Christmas that's just like Daniel feels when Shelby goes back to school.  It's all nice to be getting back to a regular routine -- eating the right thing at the right time, getting enough sleep, not worrying about having the right gift for the right person.

But wasn't it nice while it lasted?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

When You Know It's Time

How do you know it's time for your child to commit to potty training?  "Experts" have all sorts of suggestions.

  • Can your child follow simple one word instructions?
  • Can he stay dry for two hours?
  • Can he walk to the bathroom?
  • Is he generally cooperative?

To those questions we can answer a definite "Yes!"  But I have a few more to add:

  • In the middle of a Caribou coffee date, does your child say, "I need to go to the bathroom.  I need my diaper changed."
  • Can your child take a bag containing a dirty diaper, unlock the back porch door and set it by the back door?
  • After being forced to sit on the potty for "5 minutes," does your child look up at the clock and say, "Mommy, it's been five minutes."
Where we seem to be getting into trouble is the part where your child wants to learn to use the potty.  Preschooler D does not want to learn to use the potty. He is perfectly content with his diaper.  We have lots of rational conversations where we discuss the merits of using the potty and lots of irrational conversations where I start promising, as one friend I know did, any toy in the store.

Since our holiday schedule is still a little off what we normally do, I am going to wait until next week.  Next week.  When D turns four.  That's right. Four.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

Because we're all about multi-media here at "At Least We Know," our poem today is a video presentation.  I found this on youtube.  I don't know any of these people, but it looks like they are getting ready for a great new year, and I think we should too.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My 600th Post

Heavy from a weekend of eating ribs and homemade caramels, I have just rolled over to the computer through the cast off wrapping paper, empty boxes and already broken toys. I see that today will be my 600th post.  Thanks for being faithful readers, friends and loved ones, and happy holidays from my writing material family.
Cute-As-A-Button (CAAB) Rachel, Preschooler D, S'daughter Shelby, S'on Jeremy and Colin
Your crazy friend me and Big Daddy Brent
You know those photos were taken this summer, right?  Because right now my yard looks like this:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

Good heavens!  I didn't realize I'd been away so long.

It snows all the time here now.  It's like we're trapped in a snow globe.  Here's a little ditty from our buddy Irving Berlin in salute to our dear reader-friend Audrey, who had to turn on her air conditioning to do her Christmas baking.

White Christmas
Irving Berlin

The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I've never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills LA.
But it's December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the treetops glisten,
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright.
And may all your Christmases be white.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Songs of the Season

By now, we all know my feelings on "Marshmallow World."  My favorite song this year is this one, and the trees singing it make me chuckle.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

We've had Billy Collins before and we are definitely having him again -- today for the man who makes grocery store trips fun.

Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

Anonymous submission.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Date Weekend

On Saturday Big Daddy Brent and I were supposed to go to the Big City and go out with friends and have a jolly holiday time. Instead it snowed a foot and the wind started blowing and the high Sunday was -2.  Yes, that's right the high was minus 2.

Here was my front yard on Saturday:

Oh yeah, I can hear you.  "What is that even a picture of?  What is that?"  That, my friends, is the place where the grass used to be.  Now it is a big pile of picturesque Christmas snow.  That will be fine and lovely as long as it's Christmas time, but if it's all the same to you, it can melt and be spring December 31. What if spring is late?!

So anyway, my Big Trip to the Big City turned out to be dinner in town and a trip to the grocery store.  It wasn't the same.  No, it wasn't . . . but I have to say, one of the things I appreciate about BD Brent is that he is optimistic in an understated way.  He's not all Pollyanna about it.  He's not all "Hooray! Rah! Rah! Go team!"  He does, however, manage to turn a depressing night of emergency food shopping into a real date, and that is a jolly holiday no matter what time of year it is.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Company You Keep

As an admitted crazy person*, I tend to gravitate towards fellow crazy people as friends.  I have a few whom I have loved since before time.  They see the world in a way other people don't.  They make me laugh so hard.  It brings me unmatched joy to know I can make them laugh too.

The up side of crazy can be a riot. It's drug-like.  It's Jim Carrey.  It's the chocolate at the bottom of your drumstick cone.  It's a short line at Disney World.

It's a roller coaster.

The down side of crazy is that it's unpredictable.  It's lonely, not just for the crazy person, but for his and her friends.  It's helpless because there's just not one thing you can do.  You can't make them come out of the fog.  You can't make them answer the phone.  You can't make them commit.  You can't make them feel better.  It's a process.  Part of it is choice.  Each crazy person must walk his or her own lonesome valley.  Each day is different.

Some fellow crazy people don't like to talk about it.  I don't mind discussing the topic, but I very rarely like to admit that I am going through a difficult time.  People who don't struggle tend to shy away.  One dearly beloved friend of mine will change the subject quickly or even not acknowledge when I say I am struggling.  It's hard not to take that personally.  It makes it harder to be honest.

But I understand she doesn't know what to do because I am also on the other side with the "before time" friends.  I think I will be a better kind of friend because I can understand what they are going through, but I still get my feelings hurt.  I still take it personally.

If I were a better friend . . .
If I had said something differently . . .
If I could think of something truly fun . . .
If I could make it easier . . .

we would be laughing together right now.

* If you're not a faithful reader, you may not realize I am talking about chronic depression.  I like the term crazy. It sounds more fun.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Little Story for Sue

I told my friend Sue I didn't have anything interesting to say today, but I hate to disappoint a faithful reader.

Once upon a time . . . Nope.  I'm sure that's not my life.

It was a dark and stormy night . . . Well, it was cold.  It sure was dark, but it hasn't been stormy in a day or two.

There once was a woman from Glenwood . . . That will lead to trouble, sure as shootin'.

Um.  Let's see.

Today I got up, got dressed and drove over to see my friend Sue.

The end.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spreading Rumors

Is is just me?  Remember this gem from Hee Haw?

Now we're not ones to go round spreadin' rumors
Why really we just not the gossiping kind
Oh, you'll never hear one of us repeating gossip
So you'd better be sure to listen close the first time!

Oh!  Precious memories.  What can I say.  We only got two channels back in the day.

I've been thinking about gossip.  In the evangelical circles I run around in sometimes we call it "prayer requests."  You just really need to pray for so-and-so because they did such-and-such.  Now, don't generalize.  Not everyone does that . . . but some do.

Back 20 years ago I got myself into quite a pickle that set every one's tongues wagging out here in West Lake Woebegone.  Some of it was true.  Most of it was not.  I think everyone had an opinion on the subject -- which was me.  The stories just got bigger and bigger.

For a long time after I wanted to give as good as I got.  If there was talk to be talked I wanted in on the action.  If there wasn't talk I was a good speculator about people and I imagine I started a few things whether I meant to or not.

Some time over the last four or five years the fun went out of it.  I started to feel like gossip didn't really suit me so much any more.  I started to think I had enough business of my own to worry about much less stick my nose in someone else's.

That doesn't mean I've stopped entirely.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Poem for Tuesday

Here's a little something for the season.  I dig verse 5.

Once in Royal David's City
Cecil Frances Alexander

Once in royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour Holy.

And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honour and obey,
Love and watch the lowly Maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God's right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Just as Bad This Year

I heard the song from this blog entry and was mortified all over again.  What if spring is late?!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Sled Incident

I was sitting in my jammies dripping from the shower making a list of the 101 things I need to do today when the phone rang.  It was Colin.

"I need a sled."

I'm sorry.  What, dear?  I thought you said you need a sled.

"I have enough reading points to go sledding today.  I need a sled."

All right. Huh.

So I got dressed and went out to the garage, fearful of disturbing the mice or voles or whatever is living in the eaves while I tried to dig out a sled I didn't think I could reach.  But -- hurrah! -- Brent in a stroke of genius had already gotten the sleds down.  This would be easier than I thought!

That's when I went back inside to get Preschooler D dressed.  Now, I wish I could post a photo of how I found PD.  I took one, but he is naked and I don't think that would be fair.  Yes, naked and with a plastic hanger around his waist.  I don't have husky children and this particular child had just stepped into and worked a hanger around himself.

Step one:  Remove hanger.

D did not want to take the hanger off.  He did not want to get dressed.  He did not want to go to Colin's school.  My patience wore down really, really quickly and there might have been one spank involved.  I will not say for sure in case you are opposed to such things.

I wrestled D into his pants, t-shirt, sweatshirt, socks, boots, coat, hat, mittens, car seat and we were off to Colin's school with D wailing all the way.  I got out, got the sled out, got D out and walked the long and snowy walk to the door.  We made our way past the check-in point down to Colin's hall.

"Hey!" said a random sixth grade girl I would swear I had never seen.  "Is that Colin's sled?  Do you want me to take it?"

(Don't you love my small school?)  Um, yes, random child.  Please take this sled.

Since we had extra time I thought we would poke our head into the classroom where Colin was.  He and a bunch of other kids were playing a game.  One random child I would swear I had never seen before looked up and said, "Hey!  There's Colin's mom!  Hey, Colin!  I didn't know you had a baby brother!"

Colin looked like he wanted to crawl in a hole and die.  "Did you bring a sled?!"  Of course, I brought a sled.  Are you kidding me?  (I actually just said, "yes.") D started taking off his coat. NO! NO, D!  We are not staying!  We must go!

And that's when I had to haul the wailing D back across the snowy parking lot where I wrestled him back into the car seat and home and back into the house.  We had to sit together for a full hour watching Mickey Mouse and lamenting how we had left poor Colin behind before we felt better.

And I never did finish my list of 101 things.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cookie Bake

I have such wonderful memories of baking roll out cookies with my Grandma Malmberg.  It's been my heart's desire to share this experience with my own children.  I think favorite s'daughter Shelby and I might have cranked out a few, but she was more into egg dying than baking.  Still is.  Jeremy and Colin aren't really into eating so much, so they're not really into cooking.

My last best hope is Preschooler D. So far, so good.  Here he is making spaghetti with his dad the other night.

This year was really going to be our year for roll out cookies.  It started out quite promising.  Isn't this precious?  This is exactly how I imagined it. (It was a Home Day. I'm not wearing mascara.  Move on with your life.)

But then we got to the decorating part.  Now, I don't care about any kind of research you can show me.  My personal experience is that boys and girls are different.  While I was picturing a lovely pretty princess fairy sugar dusting of the cookies, Hurricane D came by with double fisted sugar pumping action.

Actually the tray still looked pretty good at that point.

I don't know if we made precious memories or not, but I have a feeling we'll still be picking sprinkles out of our socks come Easter.