Wednesday, May 30, 2012


A year or more ago our blog reader-friend Jeremy J tried to convince me I would be happier using a different platform for my blog.  Now you know how emotionally attached I get to things and how difficult change is for me, so I just wasn't ready.  But Jeremy J is freaky smart about a lot of things, so I finally took a look at what he was talking about, and I was instantly convinced we need to make the move.

One of the things I am hoping we will gain in the move is the ability for you to comment.  I have had problems with the comment section almost since I started.  It seemed the only people able to comment were angry Europeans and people trying to sell "enhancement" products.

So here's what's going to happen:  The new place has an import feature, so when I get done here I am going to go ahead and try importing the old blog into the new one.  I am not convinced this is going to be as easy as it sounds, but we'll try.  If you are a subscriber or RSS reader, I think you'll just get moved over. If you visit this page or get lost the new address is:

Notice that the address here was "leastweknow" and the new address is "atleastweknow."

Okay.  Here goes nothing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Preschooler D Gets a Library Card

PLACE: The library

LIBRARIAN WENDY:  Now D, here is your very own new library card.  You will need it every time you check out a book.  There's a big card and a card for your key ring some day when you get a key ring.  This is free, but don't lose it because then you will have to pay a fee.  Are you ready? (Pushes card to D)

PRESCHOOLER D: No. (Pushes card back to Librarian Wendy. Librarian Wendy looks stunned.)

THE MOTHER:  Why don't I just put it in my purse for now?

Librarian Wendy called just now still laughing.  She said she's never had anyone weigh the responsibility of the library card so heavily.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Son Rises

Not that son (although He did too).  My son.  May I just brag on my child for a moment?  Good.  We can take turns bragging about our children.  I will start.

So we forced Colin to join the track team this spring, not sure if it would be too much for him or not.  It was an experiment, and to be honest, we were sort of expecting to fail.

Here he is with Shelby.  Colin has his eyes closed, but it is such a rarity that Shelby has her eyes open, that we have to look at this one.

I will be darned if that kid didn't run (sort of against his will), keep up his grades, keep up his music and have a cheerful and cooperative attitude most of the time.

Here he is with Jeremy:

We had a couple of ugly mornings when he had track practice, Awana and then 7 am jazz band rehearsal, but he did it AND kept up with Awana as well.  Here he is with his upside down award.

I remember bawling my eyes out 9 years ago this summer, wondering what he would be able to do.

I ask you, what can't this kid do?

Mmmmmmm, put his dishes in the dishwasher for one, put his folded clothes away for another. . .

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Insanity, etc.

I don't know for sure how parents with more than four widely spaced children do it.  We have been to a program and/or event every night for more than a week and we have one more to go to tonight.  I am running out of energy and "competent mom" outfits.  (Don't pretend you don't know what I mean.)

I am burning the candle at both ends so seriously that I ran too far today.  Normally I check, check and recheck my route for the day.  For some reason I didn't today.  I got out there and was running away like a tough girl in the raging wind.  I swallowed a bug and another one flew into my eye.  Shortly after the bug swallowing incident, I started to think, "This seems pretty far."  I was supposed to run 2.75 miles.   I checked my GPS thing and I'd gone 1.64 miles.  I'm not great at math -- especially after I've swallowed a bug -- but I realized that when I got home I would have run over three miles.  I never over run.  Sometimes when I get back from run, I won't have gone quite far enough, so I run around the parking lot across the street until I get the right distance.

I didn't know if I should be proud of myself or disgusted that I'd wasted miles I did not need.  The fact that I even had that argument with myself just proves how far I've come.

This weekend Brent took me to a sporting goods store, so I could shop for sporting goods.  Friends and loved ones, I have never been to a sporting goods store with a purpose in my life.  It was time to retire the old yoga and group aerobics clothes and figure out what runners wear.

A young tiny salesperson came over and asked how I was doing.  I looked at her helplessly.

"Well," I said.  "I'm about 10 weeks into running and I need to move into some more serious running clothes.  I don't think the world is ready to see my thighs, though.  What do you have for the middle aged mommy?"

She looked at me and smiled.  "You're a runner," she said.  "They are supposed to see your thighs.  Other serious runners aren't looking and anyone else has no right to criticize."

I wanted to hug her, but that seemed inappropriate.

Friday, May 18, 2012

At the Track Meet with Colin

SCENE:  The mother observes autistic son talking to himself at the track meet, she wanders over to remind him this isn't socially acceptable behavior.

THE MOTHER: Colin, you're talking to yourself.

COLIN: (Puts his arm around The Mother.  He pats her gently on the back and smiles.) Mom, you're embarrassing me.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Moment of Compassion with Preschooler D

SCENE:  The mother of the home is in tears over something only another stay-at-home mom would understand.  It seems no one knows how to open the dishwasher and put in his plate.

THE MOTHER:  What's the matter with you people?!  You're always eating!  You make dishes dirty and consume food constantly!!  I am always at the grocery store!! And you wear clothes that then have to be washed and folded and dumped in a drawer where they get all wrinkly and it looks like you just rolled out of bed and put on the first thing you found on the floor!!

PRESCHOOLER D:  Mom!! Mom!!  It wasn't me!!  It wasn't me who told on you!!  It was Colin!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

At the Dentist with Preschooler D

Lovely Dental Hygienist Teresa:  Preschooler D, do you have any concerns about your teeth?

D:  Well, actually, I was eating some Cheetos and got some stuck right in here. (Point to tooth)

Theresa:  Oh, yes.  I see.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Seeking Adventure

My dearest little friend Allyson came for coffee today.  You may remember her as Chief Babysitter Ally. She is married almost two years now and hasn't babysat for us since we called Preschooler D, Baby D.  Her husband joined the Air Force and they have been living out of state while he trained.  Now they are home before he takes his first permanent assignment in Germany.

Naturally, she is both excited and nervous.  Wouldn't you be?

But what an adventure -- to be so young and married and living overseas and making friends and seeing things together.

Brent asked me at lunch if I feel badly that I missed that sort of adventure.  Yes and no. It would have been fun to have lived like that with Brent.  We had a more domestic beginning.

You know I have been thinking about Gigi.  She never stops learning something new.  One day this spring she was at my house looking at a rug.  "I'd like to get a loom," my 88-year-old grandma said.

Of course she would.

I think this might be the key to the adventurous life.  Not weaving (but who wouldn't want a loom) -- but always being open to a new experience and seeing your life for the adventure it is.

A few weeks ago I was at a store that carries natural beauty products.  "Can I get a massage bar for sports injuries.  I just started running," I said.  Young, Pierced and Tattooed led me where I needed to go.

"Anything else?" she asked.

"Yes, do you have anything for the callous on my finger from my bass guitar?"

Young, Pierced and Tattooed looked at me, tilted her head and smiled.  "You play bass guitar?  Do you have a band?"

"Ah . . . well, yes . . . as a matter of fact, I do."

"Wow!! And you just started running? You are busy.  That's amazing!"

Oh, honey, I thought.  You don't know the half of of it.  You wouldn't believe the adventure in my life.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


2 hours 51 minutes until our church small group friends arrive.  I have yet to start cleaning.

Did my "speed training" this morning. Good heavens.  Not as awful as hill sprints, but challenging.

Baked a birthday cake for my mom.  Her birthday isn't until Saturday, but I thought she might like to serve it to unexpected birthday company that will drop in on her now through the weekend.

Delivered cake. Had argument with D.  He felt since Grandma's was close we should walk and therefore not pollute the earth with our drive over to her house.  I won the argument, but I felt like a heel.  Forgive me, Mother Earth.

Made chocolate chip bars.  Not sure if someone is bringing dessert tonight.  I like to be ready.

Finished a game I was playing with D.

Talked to my cousins on Facebook.

Emptied and filled the dishwasher.  Brent started it, so I have to give credit where credit is due.

Talked to the lawn guy.

Couldn't start vacuuming because there was a good song on.

So now I am talking to you.  Amid the rabble. With 2 hours 40 minutes to go . . .

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Well, I think I have finally recovered from all the excitement on Saturday.  I had to.  Coach Sam, seeing my commitment to the process, has decided it's time to step it up, so yesterday I did my first hill sprint. Yeah -- no -- that's just what it sounds like.  I jog *a mile* to a hill, sprint up the hill, and jog home.  It was awful.

Let me say that again so you understand.  It was awful.

Carrie, my friend/dental hygienist, asked today, "But wasn't it great when you got to the top?"

No.  No, it wasn't.  I was seriously, literally nauseous.

Plus then I had to jog *a mile* back home.

But . . . why not?  I mean, eight weeks ago I didn't think I could run a mile.

How do you like me now?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

‎2 Timothy 4:7

I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.
(Shout out to Cousin Josh for the theme of today's blog.)  

Friends and loved ones, I finished that race and I ran the whole way -- except for the part where I had to stop and tie my shoe.  I should have had pants on.  I should have checked my laces.  I should have . . . who cares?!!  I did it!

Here I am with Rita, my photographer and the sweetest BFF a girl could have.  I was getting cold and discouraged out at the starting line waiting for it start -- when along came Rita with a coat and a prayer.  Just what I needed.

Don't I look serious??  It was my goal not to look like I was in pain.  I am nearing the finish line in this shot.  I run with an app that tracks me via GPS.  Brent sent me messages along the way and the app read them to me.  How great was that? Say it with me in your best computer monotone, "Doing great, baby. Run your own race."

There I am crossing the finish line ahead of several girls who are obviously younger than I am.  (HA!)  I was so glad to see my cheering squad:  Big Daddy and the boys, Sue and Les, my parents, Rita and Gregg, and Coach Sam . . .

Isn't he cute in a completely platonic-brother-in-Christ way?  Wouldn't you run 3.1 miles?

Do you remember my rather blue entry from Wednesday or so?  Where I said I hoped that my zit would be cleared and Gigi would be at the finish line with my birthday card?  Well, thank you Photoshop, we will never remember that zit.  And after I finished my shower and came downstairs for a coffee, the doorbell rang.

It was Gigi.

Thank you all, blog reader-friends, for praying for me and cheering for me.  What a day.

Friday, May 4, 2012

2 Timothy 1:7

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pre-Dinner Conversation with D

Preschooler D:  What is that smell?

ME: French fries.

D: No, what is that delicious smell?

M: French fries.

D: And?

M: French fries.

D: No, I mean what else?

M: Just french fries.

D:  It smells like chicken nuggets.

M: Oh, yeah.  It does.  Nope, just french fries.

D: But it smells like chicken nuggets.

M:  I don't know what to tell you.  It's just french fries.

D:  Mom! It looks like the smell of chicken nuggets.

M:  Yes, son, I actually follow that train of thought. Sadly, there are only french fries in the oven.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Birthday Part 2: Still not whining

Gigi forgot my birthday, but she sent my niece two presents which makes us think she forgot to flip the calendar and is just living last month over.  Perhaps I'll see something at the end of the month . . . or maybe she will have caught up by then.

I called my mother to complain and I realized at the end of the conversation that I wanted to hear her say, "Well, I'm sure she'll make up for it when she's feeling better."

I don't think that's going to happen, but you never know with Gigi.

My life right now feels like a series of little defeats.  There's nothing big.  No major tragedy or catastrophe, but just when I've caught my breath from the last hurdle, there's another to jump over. (Nice running metaphor, right??)  There's a giant infected zit in the middle of my forehead.  My hair is especially wonky in my new driver's license photo. My pedicure was smooshed in my new shoes. The coffee machine makes a sick whirring sound which makes me think it's on its deathbed just when I have received a three month back order of coffee in the specialized pods it takes.

It's just one of those small seasons where it's important to focus on the bright side and the things for which I can be thankful; otherwise, the whining could get ugly and I think Cyberspace is still in a pinching mood.

Somewhere in the back of my head I think when I conquer this race on Saturday, everything is going to turn around.  My forehead will clear up.  My pedicure will be magically fixed and Gigi will be standing at the end with my birthday card.

That's an awful lot to ask of one little race.  Maybe I should just focus on getting to the finish line.

Monday, April 30, 2012


If I whine about how it's going today -- my actual birthday -- my sister Cyerspace Sarah will drive up here and pinch me.  I will be silent.  Let's just say some days don't go as we plan, do they?

No, I had a truly delightful weekend with Big Daddy Brent.  We stayed at the hotel where he took me out for dinner on my 23rd birthday, (ahem) 20 years ago.  We had fun hanging out together, window shopping, eating and such.  The highlight of the trip was going to see Mama Mia.

Now, I knew that Mama Mia had a pretty enthusiastic following, but I was not prepared for how excited these friends would get.  The large grandpa-type man next to me could not stop dancing . . . even though there wasn't really room for his dancing and my body in the seat next to him.

Grandma lady in front of us brought her daughter and three small granddaughters.  I wouldn't have done that.  There are some "adult situations."  It was all pretty funny stuff, but I wouldn't have brought the boys.  At one point small granddaughter turned to ask her mother about a certain word that was used . . . that had to do with the pollination of gymnosperm . . . sort of.  I thought, "Well, that kinda serves you right, lady."  Anyway, apparently grandma had gotten into an altercation with a man in the bar line and used a naughty word with him and then spun around and had a drink spilled on her.

"Serves you right," said daughter.

I don't know.  It was an interesting crowd.  Lots of cheering.  Lots of dancing.  That's the way to celebrate a birthday!

PLUS, Brent bought me a pink birthday cake.  Just right for a gal in a household of boys.  Think I'll eat some right now.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I Can Fix It

"I am so mad at you," said our dearly beloved reader-friend Sue. And then we were interrupted by another friend so I could not hear exactly why she was mad.

Do you remember the movie Protocol with Goldie Hawn?  No?  Just me, then.  The head of the protocol office asks Goldie, "My dear, do you know what you've done?"

Goldie answers something to the effect, "Whatever it is I can fix it. Or clean it. Or pay for it."

That was the thought going through my mind, "Whatever it is I can fix it. Or clean it. Or pay for it."

I panicked because the last thing in the world I wanted was to have Sue mad at me.

Turns out Sue thought it was time I stopped referring to myself as a fat mommy runner.  I will do my very best, but it is going to be a while before I can refer to myself as a runner -- period -- without laughing.

I haven't actually seen Coach Sam in several weeks; although, we have kept in touch by email.  Sue's husband Les has done a nice job acting as assistant coach.  I'm not sure he knows I've given him the title.  He will now.  One day my leg was bothering me and because he is a former phy ed teacher*, I asked him what he thought.

"Well, you should ask your coach,"  he said and then gave me a list of about 20 things to try.  It was excellent advice and my leg felt better in a couple of days.

Are you ever too old to need the comfort and advice and cheerleading from people a little farther along the path than you are? I surely hope not.

* I'd like to insert a joke here about him being especially helpful because he was an adaptive phy ed teacher, but . . .
 (1) I don't want to get into more trouble with Sue.
 (2) I don't want to show any disrespect to adaptive phy teachers who are amazing heroes in this particular house. ;)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

More Track Meet Thoughts

Before Colin's last race on Monday I found myself in a panic, "That's too far!  He can't run that far!  How can he run that far?"

I was in such an awkward position. I didn't want him to the the autistic kid on the track team.  Above all else I want Colin to be one of the guys, but there in that moment I wanted to shout, "Shouldn't someone let the autistic kid have a head start????"

No.  Not if he's going to be just one of the guys on the track team.

And he didn't need it.  Sure he came in last, but he kept up.  And we found out later that for whatever reason he was running with older kids.

Sometimes "normal" kids come in last.

At dinner the subject of marriage came up.  I asked Colin if he thought he would get married.

"Yeah, I don't think I want to be single."

Panic set in my heart.  Will there ever be a girl with the patience for the kind of isolation Colin requires to recharge his batteries every day?  Will Colin learn to communicate effectively with her? How is this ever going to happen??

But wait. How many mothers of 13-year-old boys wonder if they are ever going to leave the nest. I would guess a lot.

What a gut-wrenching heart-ripping thing motherhood can be.

Curses to you, autism, for making it even more complicated.

Thank you, autism, for making my child the lovely interesting kid that he is.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Track Meet!

Hooray, the track team finally had their first meet.  Colin will not be going to the Olympics this year, but I don't think any other junior higher from this group will be either, so if you look at it that way . . .

It's hard to get a good start when you have your ears plugged because you don't like the starting pistol.  Maybe some ear plugs would help.  We should have sent some today.  I have to say that even though he didn't come blazing across the finish line in any of his races, he did look like a tough track team kid.  These weeks in the weight room are really paying off.

I found the whole thing sort of tortuous.  I would never have said I was a pushy athletic parent, but there I was from the sidelines, "KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN!!!!! KEEP RUNNING!!!!!! DON'T QUIT NEAR THE EEEEEEEEEEND!!!!!"

Really the other junior high parents were most silent.  It was just me.  Horrifying.  I have seven more meets to practice good parent etiquette.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Diana's Dresses

My dear friend Roberta and I went to see Princess Diana's dresses yesterday at the Very Big Mall.  You are forbidden to take photos inside the exhibit.  One teeny, tiny little old lady in a large red hat was taken to the ground when she took a snap of the wedding dress.  You could, however, photograph this replica of the wedding cake all you liked:

Those decorations on the sides are different state symbols.  Thank goodness there were not state symbols on mine.  Just dessert-y goodness.  Can you imagine?  "Oh, look!  I got the Windsor coat of arms!"

Truthfully, I got a little misty in the wedding dress room.  I was 13 when she got married.  The perfect age to imagine there was an older charming prince waiting for me.  The dress is starting to yellow and it looks dated by today's wedding dress standards, but it is still certainly beautiful.  In fact, with the exception of a few dresses she wore during her engagement, all of the dresses displayed were beautiful and classic.  You could wear any one of them today and no one would notice that you were wearing something 15 plus years old.  She had good taste . . . or she was surrounded by people with good taste.  Either way.

In the end, even though my prince doesn't have as much nobility as hers, I think I got the better end of the deal, if not the clothes.  My prince is unarguably better looking and more emotionally stable.  He did not come with lands and castles, but he came with Jeremy and Shelby and that was a pretty good deal.

Plus, no one from the press is chasing me down.  Well, except for Jimmy who publishes a monthly paper for seniors.  We saw each other at preschool pick up.

He wanted to tell me he saw my letter in Newsweek.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Entry Form: Part 2

I left you hanging.

I did enter the race, so here we go . . .

Two and a half weeks.

I would like to tell you I am feeling more confident emotionally, but I am not.  Complete panic in my heart of hearts.  That being said, I do think I can drag my fat mommy butt across the finish line, so that's something.

I shall think about and look for signs of the life cycle of the gymnosperm on my way.

HA!  Ohhhhhhhhh!  Some days we are crazier than others.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Pine Cone resting comfortably after exhausting trip through reproduction
 Who is ready for a break from 7th grade homework besides me?  Last night we had this:

(which is a pine cone in case you didn't remember)
Fill in the blank.

The (blank) is (blank) and grows (blank) to (blank). (Blank) then (blank) and is released by (blank) which then (blank).

Okay.  I am exaggerating.  It wasn't that bad.  Or maybe it was worse.  Either way, I wanted to cry.  I am going to be 43 in a couple of weeks.  I have two bachelor's degrees and I just couldn't figure out what was supposed to go in those blanks.

Not that I was doing my son's homework for him, but reading comprehension isn't really his bag.  It helps if I can point to the area in the text where he needs to start looking.  Only last night (and this was not the first time), the text and the worksheet didn't seem to match.

This is good for me anyway.  Reading comprehension is my bag, so when I was Colin's age I zoomed through these worksheets.  I retained none of it.  Now I know the life cycle of the pine cone.

Soon to be track star and favorite s'daughter Shelby.

Track is getting less painful for Colin each passing day.  We have yet to go to a track meet.  It was cold and rainy -- and when I say "rainy" I mean snowy -- from Friday to Monday, so two meets were rescheduled.  We try again this Friday.  I will keep you posted.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Letter to the Editor

One of the best parts of the week in the family weekly newspaper business was reading the letters to the editor.  Every periodical no matter how large or small has writers who send in regular letters.  Some of these writers are crazier than others.

One of ours was a woman whose personal campaign was public schools.  She lived near an elementary school and she had some really powerful opinions.  One of her beefs was that the elementary school had trees on their property.  The leaves fell off these trees and she, an innocent taxpayer, was forced to clean up the mess.  The least the school could do was send over some child to rake.  I mean how were those kids going to learn responsibility?

My favorite letter from her concerned school breakfast.  In Minnesota if the majority of your district's residents are under a certain income level, the school must serve free breakfast to the elementary students.  My letter writer was incensed! Incensed, I tell you!!  Couldn't these children learn to make toast?!  Why was she, an innocent taxpayer, forced to feed them?  Especially since they couldn't even be bothered to rake her yard!

She was just one of several regular writers we had.  It made me sensitive to responding to something in writing. I really have to be fired up -- and then I tend to assume maybe I am overreacting.  Maybe I need to think carefully and choose my words carefully, so I don't sound like a crazy person forcing kindergartners on a diet of bread and water and forced labor.

Well, last week I read an article in a national news magazine that I mostly agreed with but thought the author had taken some liberties with what I believe are the facts.  Rather than mull over my best argument, I sat right down at this very computer and dashed off a strongly worded email with pertinent references.  As I hit send I thought to myself, "Huh.  I wish I had taken more time to think that through. Oh, well.  I will never have my letter printed in this magazine.  They will probably say, 'Crazy person!' and throw it in the trash."

So it was with trepidation I opened this week's copy of the magazine and . . . there it was.  Right there.  In a national news magazine.

I have never felt such a tremendous mix of pride and horror. Why, oh why, oh why didn't I take a few more minutes to think through my argument rather than just fire off what was on the tip of my tongue?  Why?

On the plus side, it is nicely edited.  And it is my debut as an international writer. HA! And the news cycle is very short.  As we used to tell upset people when they called the newspaper, "Next week there will be a different copy."

As long as I don't keep writing or endorse child labor, I should be okay.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Entry Form

This is week five of my running training.  It's going better than I thought it would.  It's time to pre-register for the 5K which is four weeks from now.

I've had the on-line form open on my desktop for two days now.  I can't bring myself to do it, but what am I afraid of?

I suspect I am having old phy ed emotional issues.  I don't want anyone looking at me while I run (even though my daily route takes me alongside a state highway).  I don't want to be passed by 10k runners.  I don't want my high school classmates laughing at my goofy self-expressive running outfit (even though it's been 25 years since I was in high school).  I don't want to be defeated by the hill which starts the run.  I don't want pitiful looks as I come panting my fat-mommy pant across the finish line.

What if I get stuck?

What if I get sick?

What if Jesus comes and I am out in the middle of a field instead of standing with my family?

What if I am beaten by a rogue gang of highway robbers?

What if I am the dead last one and everyone has gone home?

What if I am the dead last one and everyone has stood around waiting for me?

What's that you say?  Just enter the stupid race because you're going to be fine?


Okay.  But you better wait for me at the finish and pretend like I'm not dead last and you haven't been standing there all day.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Running Update and other Sundry Items of Little Interest

I chose today's title over "Writer's Block Monday: The Anguish Continues."  It's just very dull around here.

Running is going fine.  Saturday was 2.5 miles.  It's been very windy which has been a challenge.  Also, I seem to have aggravated an injury I received walking downhill at reader-friend Molly's last summer.  I may or may not have been trying to balance my tasty summertime cocktail and some snacks as I made my way back down to the lake in wedge flip flops.  Tricky.

Colin has survived his first week of track.  He's not in love with it.  He doesn't like it when he doesn't know exactly what to expect.  I, personally, know how this feels.  I'm hoping when he gets his first meet out of the way, he'll rally.

I was remembering this morning that for the entire length of last school year, he swore up and down it was his last year of choir.  Then when it came time to register, he registered for choir.  Who can understand the male adolescent mind?

The neighbors out my kitchen window are snowbirds.  They have not returned yet, but someone came and got their car.  This weekend a great-granddaughter or someone came and dug up the peonies.  Stay tuned for further action packed neighborhood updates.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


My 88-year-old grandma, whom we call Gigi, came over yesterday.  She is cleaning her house and brought me a few silver serving pieces.  I smiled and nodded through the lecture on how to keep silver clean.  Gigi is a stickler for untarnished silver.  I have heard this lecture many times.

As she wrapped up the lecture she looked at me.  "Now," she said. "Do you have silverware?"

I tried not to let the panic show on my face.  "Yes, Grandma.  I have silverware."

When I was in my teens, Gigi relaxed from her high pressure university job by going to auction sales.  She collected several sets and when I was 13 or 14, I was allowed to pick out my own set.  Grandma knew who had which set and as she auctioned away, she added to mine.  I was underwhelmed owning silver at 14, but I carted that silver to all my single girl apartments.  When I got married, I started digging it out for every little guest who came by for grilled cheese.  Why not.

Gigi has personally washed and dried my silverware at every Thanksgiving dinner at my house for the past 10 years.  As I said, she is a stickler for clean silver.  If you wash and dry it right away and put it back in its plastic in its case, it stays nicer longer.

It's not unreasonable for an 88-year-old grandma to have a lapse in memory.  Think of all the things you'd have stored in your brain by that time.

It's just unreasonable for my 88-year-old grandma to have a lapse in memory.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Light it Up Blue

Today is World Autism Awareness Day.  I have written about this over the years, most recently last Monday.  My passion on this topic has become to urge people to understand what autism really is and how to interact with autistic people.  There are many good websites.  This one from is my favorite.  What can you do to emotionally support someone with autism?  What can you do to support that person's family?  Even a really high functioning autistic kid needs a lot of support from his or her family, and it can be physically, emotionally and financially draining.

Right now my autistic son is practicing with the track team -- not as the "autistic kid" on the junior high track team, but as a kid who can run like the wind.

Learn what autism really means.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Writer's Block Friday: Still Nothing to Say

Blah, blah, blah . . .

We went to the Big Mall (You might call it the Mall of America) on Wednesday.  On Tuesday D declared it was hard staying home all the time.  This is so true.


I didn't tell you but I was a small competition to be an Internet correspondent at a food and wine festival in California.  I think I was one of a handful of contestants.  Got my "thanks, but no thanks" email today.  It's all right.  I can eat chocolate chips at home, I guess.  Who needs a stupid ol' trip to California.


Tough Girl Running Journal:
Wednesday - Cross Training Day
Thursday - 1.5 miles. As I was running along my earphone cord was flapping around, and I decided that it was not helping the picture of fat mommy running.  I ordered some made for running.  They came today, and I must say I certainly look the part until I actually start running and you see the huffing and puffing fat mommy part in full.
Today - .5 miles.  This was nothing.  I am a machine!


Blood Marrow Journal:  No report

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Writer's Block Tuesday

Blah, blah, blah . . .

It's spring break week here.  Preschooler D has been wearing the same set of PJs going on 48 hours now.  We are all having a hard time remembering we took our fun trip to "Central Florida" during the teacher convention.  It's a long time from October to March in Minnesota -- even with the great weather we've been having.


Colin's summer shoes arrived today thanks to the FedEx man.  They are the same size as his dad's.  I am having a hard time keeping up with his teenage eating schedule this week.  I've set a huge bowl of snacks out in the middle of the kitchen.


To entertain D at lunch time I suggested we play Sorry with Brent.  D took about five turns, declared "this game is wearing me out," and took his PJ'd self back to the couch.


From the whiny department:  Who besides me is tired of mommies who only post the best of their children on Facebook.  "Little Irwin is finally potty trained at 6 months!!!"  Since both my boys weren't trained until after 4 years, this makes me want to make unloving statements in the comment section.  Something like "Who's really trained, honey?  The kid or you?"


My last Facebook status: "Thought I was looking foxy at the grocery store. Turns out I had a big blob of coffee on my nose." Yes, that really happened.  Yes, it really was a big blob.  It was where my nose pressed against my travel mug, so it covered the whole end of my nose.  Here I thought I'd been rocking my Phoenix Zoo sweatshirt.


Tough Girl Running Journal: I was out for what I had calculated to be a mile this morning.  It wasn't.  It was .81 mile.  The wind was really howling this morning, and I don't think I could have kept up my record of not stopping to walk much farther anyway. Every little bit counts, though.  Three weeks ago I didn't know I
could run a  whole mile.


Blood Marrow Donation Journal:  Nothing to report.

Monday, March 26, 2012

How Autism Looks

Sometimes when I am telling someone about Colin, my 13-year-old son who is on the autism spectrum, I will get this response:  "But he doesn't look autistic!"  I know the well-meaning friend means to comfort me in some way by saying this.  Or maybe the well-meaning friend is just surprised because Colin seemed "normal" to them.  I'm not sure, but I haven't figured out the polite answer yet.

He is an honor student.

He is the jazz band pianist.

He plays the drums in our worship band.

He will be on the track team starting Monday.

I've always tried to be very up front with people about Colin because -- in all fairness to them and to Colin -- I want them to know what to expect.  Colin has a hard time with eye contact. (So do I.)  Colin will be able to talk to you for a few moments before he will bolt away.  Conversation is difficult for him.  The words and ideas get mixed up and he has to untangle them.  It's a lot of work for him.

People give up trying to engage him in conversation.

No one calls him.

He doesn't call anyone.

He spends most of his free time hanging out with his parents.

He spends a lot of time talking to himself.  Out loud.

There's beauty and heartache to autism.  My son sees the world differently than I do.  My son worries about things he does not need to worry about.  My son plays the piano more beautifully than anyone I know.  My son  remembers things other people would forget in an instant.  My son is more polite than the average 13-year-old because he knows he has to be.

Would I change him if I could?  I don't know.  I love him so.  I would like it to be less hard for him that's for sure.

Next Monday is World Autism Awareness Day.  Will you do me a favor and click on this link?  It's an article from written for teens about other teens with autism.  I find is so well written and so helpful.  There's a kid version as well on the site.  

The more we know how to include people who fall on the spectrum, the more normal everyone will look.

TGRJ:  Sat. and today 1.5 miles NO STOPPING!  Wind was nasty ugly today.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Church Ladies

"Do you want me to do it?  I'm faster," he said over my shoulder.

I was in the tiny office of our new baby church working on the bulletin because reader-friend Sue who normally does this is in Nevada (not Arizona as some have reported). Now Sue had most of the bulletin finished, but it's really challenging to sit down at someone else's desk, someone else's computer, someone else's programs and pick up where she left off.  Even though bulletin creation is right up my publishing background alley, it took more time than Sue normally takes, I guarantee it.

So I had a little voice over my shoulder at the beginning.

"Pastor," I said.  "Why don't you go into your office and wait there until I need you."

Most people call him Steve, but I like to call him "Pastor" in my most grating little old Scandinavian-Minnesota accent.  Our new baby church is woefully short of little old church ladies and the tone of voice is something I like to contribute to the cause of our church plant free of charge.

It sounds like this, "Paaas-ter."

I don't think Steve is in love with this, but you can't just run off and start a church and expect that you can run away from little old church ladies.

Our church has some ladies who are grandmas, but I wouldn't say they are little old church ladies.  One of them wears yellow Chuck Taylors with shoelaces that say Jesus on them.  I like this.  I am a daily wearer of cream no-lace Chucks, but they're just not as jazzy.  I think you need to be of a certain age and disposition to wear them, and she is.

I might need to purchase some for later use.

Thurs - 1.25 miles.  Almost stopped to walk. Didn't.  Probably could have walked faster than I was running.
Fri. - .5 mile.  Got myself an armband so I can wear my phone as I run and it will keep track of where I am and how fast I am going.  It's a pretty cool program, but I have a big phone and I can't decide if I look like a techie runner or a fat mommy who is trying too hard.

Blood Marrow Journal:  No news is no news.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rethinking Kindergarten

Kindergarten Round Up was yesterday.  I didn't cry, but I may have to rethink this whole thing because, clearly, it was traumatic for D as seen here:

Can't you see the terror and fright in his face as he proudly displays the button which says he is a future Laker?


Okay . . . you're right.  He LOVED it.  He can't wait.  He wants to know why it is so far away.   He insists he is going to ride the bus.  I wouldn't let Colin ride the bus until he was in third grade.

But Colin is a different kid and I am an (ahem) older mother now.

It's better this way.  How awful would I feel if he wasn't excited?

TGRJ:  Cross training day.  Also got on scale which was a huge miscalculation on my part . . . and the scale's.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Grace of Marilyn

Who besides me is in love with Marilyn Hagerty from the Grand Forks Herald? Apparently a lot of people are because the 85-year-old daily columnist has received national attention for her recent review of the Olive Garden.

Grand Forks is about three hours northwest of here on the North Dakota side of the border.  It's not a huge place.  They have a daily paper, and I'm pretty sure they have a mall.  Any new restaurant in town is probably a big deal.  Marilyn writes a daily column about various topics, one of which is restaurant reviews.  She wrote a glowing report of the Olive Garden and the rest of the country found it charming.  She's been on all kinds of talk shows.  I just watched her on Anderson Cooper.  Andy gave her a cruise to Italy.  She was just tickled, but I think he was surprised to discover this will not be her first trip.  She was on a University of North Dakota alumni trip a few years ago.  She said she'll have a great time if she doesn't have to "go to the old folks home first."

It doesn't seem like anyone is making fun of her.  Even the acerbic celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain tweeted that he, "Very much enjoying watching Internet sensation Marilyn Hagerty triumph over the snarkologists (myself included)." 

Maybe the rest of the country is delighted to discover we don't take ourselves too seriously up here.  Maybe they like a woman who brought beauty and honesty to a lunch at the Olive Garden.  Maybe the rest of the country is ready to admit out loud that there's nothing to be ashamed of with a lunch at the Olive Garden.

I automatically have a fondness for her because all little newspapers used to have a Marilyn.  My dad owned a couple of weekly papers and our "Marilyn" was Lila Marie.  Lila Marie was abandoned by her first husband (if I remember right).  The man who owned the paper before my dad felt sorry for her and hired her as a columnist.  Lila Marie had a very similar writing style to Marilyn.  She was very good at describing things and could make the two squirrels wrestling outside her window sound like a trip to Cirque du Soleil.  In my teenage years, I thought she was awful and thought Dad should just get rid of her.  The older I got, though, the more I began to appreciate seeing the good in all things, even squirrels.

Lila Marie was killed tragically a few years ago in a car accident.  It has been wonderful to see Marilyn shine and take it all in stride as befitting a beautiful woman of her age, disposition and heritage.  It is never too late to shine.  It is never to late to be graceful and gracious.  It is never too late to enjoy your lunch -- no matter where it is.

TGRJ: .75 mile.  Left after 7am today.  Note to self:  That is too late.  There are too many dogs out.  There are too many neighbors out watching me huff and puff along.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Where Am I?

This weekend the weather in Minnesota made me wonder if I had been transported to a brown lake-filled Florida.  It will not surprise you to know, faithful reader, that my weather home page has the current temperature for Central Minnesota and the current temperature of a certain resort in Central Florida.  On Saturday morning the temperatures were the same.  Crazy.  Normally we'd be on sandbox watch about now.

Here it is:

I did not realize the sandbox was so blind until I went to take this picture.

I appreciate that we need to be aware and proactive about global warming and climate change, but I have to say that -- and I think I speak for many of us -- for most Minnesotans, it's going to take us a while to really get on fire about this subject.  A mild winter and freakishly early spring is . . . well . . . nice in a climate where winter takes up most of the year. We could have been buried by a snowstorm on this date in mid-March and instead we were grilling.  


In our shorts.

We are living in our own spring break.  How great and economical is that?

TGRJ: 1.25 miles.  I really wanted to stop and walk the last two blocks, but I realized that I would be walking the extra mileage I was trying to add on today.  I made it.  I am almost up to the halfway point.  Caught a glimpse of a huffing and puffing little middle aged mommy in a business window.  Wait, that was me.  I've got to  work on looking cooler.  Literally.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Blood Draw

Today was the day of my blood draw for confirmatory testing for the National Marrow Donor Program.  Because I live so far from the nearest center, they sent a nurse to my home.  I thought it would be a vial or two.  It was 11 vials.  I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take some pictures, but as she kept unpacking vials I got a little overwhelmed.

But now listen -- it took less than five minutes to fill those vials up.  Less than five minutes to continue to be a potential candidate for someone whose life is running out of options.  It was not that big of a deal.

Was it a little creepy to see them all lined up on my kitchen table?  Well, of course, it was.  I didn't really want to look at it or watch her draw the blood and I ran out of places to look. But -- I started to think about it this way -- that was perfectly healthy blood  in those vials.  Someone needs perfectly healthy blood.

As far as I know it's perfectly healthy.  I was able to answer no to the awkward questions about my (ahem) history* on the forms I had to fill out prior to this point. They will tell me if there's an "abnormal" result.  They are testing for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Human T-Lymphotropic Virus, Cytomegalovirus, syphilis and "other infectious diseases that could affect the patient's outcome."

*Think hard.  What kinds of questions would they ask if they wanted to rule out HIV/AIDS or syphilis, for example. Good.  Now assume in addition to those, there are questions you haven't even thought of yet.

TGRJ: .5 mile with Fritz who really wanted to go but didn't want to run -- so basically .5 mile dragging dog.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

True Confession Thursday

Up until Sunday my five-year-old was still using a pacifier.

Don't judge like you don't have some skeletons in your parenting closet. Come on now.  I know you do.  Anyway on Sunday the pacifier went missing.  We were down to one and it was sad.  It was Fritz T's goal every night to see if he could sneak it away from D without waking him up, and let me say, Fritz T is a talented dog.  Maybe not talented in the ways I would like -- not barking at mailmen sort of talent -- but talented.

That's right.  I was letting my five-year-old use a pacifier the dog had repeatedly chewed on.

Fritz never ate the entire thing.  In fact he would usually come and deliver it like a prize.  Perhaps he was trying to remind me that five-year-olds shouldn't be using pacifiers.

So anyway, the pacifier was missing and we spent the evening trying to track it down.  D, my future soap opera actor, had a traumatic time going to sleep.  "I will never sleep again!!!"  Eventually he did go to sleep, and so did we all. My husband got into bed, reached his arm under his pillow, and I heard this:  "shoot."

Pacifier found.

Well, if you think I was going to have the first night without the pacifier be in vain, you are wrong.  The pacifier quickly became lost again in this drawer:

We've had a rough couple of nights, but he's doing great.  He has a new video game today as a prize/bribe. I am not above that, and neither are you, and don't tell me otherwise.

Tough Girl Running Journal (TGRJ): 1 mile. No animal bites. No foaming at mouth or gangrene from Tuesday -- so far.
Blood Marrow Donation Journal (BMDJ):  Blood draw postponed until tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 2: I Become a Real Runner

I got bit by a dog this morning.  It drew blood. And I . . . kept on running.

Right?!  Good, huh?? Tough girl!! Plus -- and here's the best part -- it was dark out.  That's right.  I was up before day break to run, PLUS I got bit by the dog.  I mean if that isn't earning my running wings, I do not know what is.  Good for me!!

It hurts, though.  I would not recommend it.  I will call the police next time.  Don't get me wrong.


In other news . . . you may have heard things about my school system on national news.  I hope you have not.  I'm not going to talk any more about it because I do not want to draw attention to it.  There are two sides to every story and the side that is being told now does not line up with what I know to be true about the school my children attend.  To me, it lines up more with an adult who is trying to gain attention and using her child to do it.


In other news . . .  I got a call from the bone marrow people today.  I am moving on.  Someone is coming to take my blood on Thursday and it will be tested for West Nile Virus, HIV/AIDS, and a range of other infections and diseases.  They will also test to see how close a match I am to determine if there's a closer match.  If I pass the next round, there's a physical and more blood.

I know now that the patient has Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.  This is apparently a rare and aggressive form of cancer.  Please continue to lift up this person and his or her family.  Can you imagine (or maybe you know from experience) what an exhausting and anxious time this must be for them?

Monday, March 12, 2012

She Runs: Day 1

I decided to get a real running coach.  Okay, no -- well, sort of.  One of our small group members is a runner, and so I begged him to take me on as his pupil.  My husband is a runner, but I know how to work around him. I thought it would be better to have someone more emotionally detached.

At first Coach Sam thought I should get someone else from our church.  This woman runs marathons . . . you know, before breakfast.  I think she gave birth to her fourth child and then hit the trail the same day.  She is a serious, serious runner.  After I laughed in Coach Sam's face over this suggestion ("I need to run with the fat mommies, Sam!!), he admitted he'd tried to run with her once.  Once.

Coach Sam sent me my first week's assignment last Friday and I laughed out loud.  On my first day, I was to run a mile.  HA!  A mile.  Right.  I've never been able to run two blocks.  In the one and only 5K I have ever actually entered when I was 20 years old and in the prime of my youth, I was beat by a lady who walked the route. No, that was a joke.  Run a mile.

But you know . . . somewhere between all the yoga, Pilates, low impact, high impact, blah, blah, blah, I must have gained some strength.

"I will run as far as the store and then I can walk,"  I thought.  But when I got to the store . . .

"I will run as far as the lake and then I can walk," but when I got to the lake . . .

"Oh, look.  My turn around point isn't that far.  I will turn around and then I can walk."  And then . . .

"Well, it's all gravy now.  I'll just run as far as I like and then I will walk."  But when I was ready to walk, it was only two more blocks.

So, I will be darned but I ran the whole way.  No one was more surprised than I.  So, it's only day 1, but I feel sort of hopeful.  Maybe this is the year I become a runner.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Running Again

Every spring I think I am going to be a runner.  I'm sure we've talked about this before.  Remember the story of how when I was in college I announced I would be running a 5K and on the day I was going to quit, I got the paper where my dad had written how proud he was of me for being a runner?  Remember that?

So . . . I ponder training so that I can spend the summer running 5Ks and impressing my friends and family. And . . . then I get out there and I remember I don't really like running.

Last year I did the training on my treadmill, ran a 5K on my treadmill, and quit the day after.

I am a faithful exerciser, you know that.  Weights, Pilates, yoga, tae bo, low impact, high impact, step, Zumba, dance, walking -- I've done it and survived.  What is it about running that defeats me?

I'm not in a mood to be defeated right now.  I have cleaned the Christmas decorations off the treadmill and am back in action.

Let's not get our hopes up, but I have made it that far.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Poem for Tuesday on Thursday

We have to have a poem this morning because I have gotten up too early.  I was up late watching TCM again. No, really.  I get sucked in.  Last night was Troy Donahue.

Why Am I Glad?
Solveig Paulson Russell

Why am I glad when march winds blow?
Can't you guess?  Don't you know?
Why, March winds toss my kite so high
It seems like an eagle in the sky.

And March winds drive the white clouds so
They look like sheep or drifts of snow.
They turn the windmills and play such jokes
As blowing off hats from the common folks.

Why am I glad when March winds blow?
For all these reasons.  Besides I know
That the winds of March are the wings of spring,
And soon we'll have flowers and birds that sing.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Round Up Envelope

The kindergarten round up papers came the other day.  I just sat and stared at the envelope for a while.  I don't want to go down like this.  I don't want to be the crying mommy.  It is my job as a parent to prepare my child for each step in his journey.  It is my job to hold his hand until he can walk on his own.  Then, it is my job to walk behind him until there is no danger of falling.  It is my ultimate responsibility to create a responsible, independent adult.


It's because I am doing my job well, that he is going to be totally ready to go to kindergarten in the fall.


If we're going to get from the little one on the right to his neighbor, to the one on the left, and finally the one in the middle . . . well . . . we can't have meltdowns over filling out the round up papers.

Just fill them out and get over it.


Pass me a Kleenex.  I am going to be totally ready when the time comes.  This happened with Colin too.  I freaked out until the day actually came to take him to kindergarten and then I was fine.

Monday, March 5, 2012

My New Fear

Several years ago I wrote about my true feelings for marshmallows.  I don't particularly care for them.  Other people do, and I celebrate that.  Good for you, marshmallow lover!  More for you!!

Today while grocery shopping I saw a sight so hideous, I made large retching, gagging noises right in the middle of the store.  And, of course, I stopped to take a picture to send to my sister.  It took all that I had to even look at this:

Look at that.  Can you see it?  Down at the bottom in the yellow oval.

That's right.  They're "jelly filled."  What????  Why????  Who would do that???? Who would make that????  Better yet, who would eat that?????  It's just. so. wrong.

I mean, bless your heart if a green apple filled jelly marshmallow is your idea of a good time.  It takes all kinds.

I just don't know if we can still be friends.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pink Strings

In the middle of Grandpa's long drive through the desert last week was a stop at this place sort of in the middle of nowhere that had this band playing outside in their porch area.  Of course, I was delighted because they had a fellow chick bass player.  Well . . . she could actually play the bass.

She was such a rocker chick player she had pink strings.  I mean, how great is that?  I cannot imagine getting to a place where I was bold enough to have pink strings.  I don't think anyone should be looking at my strings or fingers right now.  In fact, I would prefer if no one looked at me because I fear it would be in alarm.  "What are you playing?  What have you done?  What note was that supposed to be?"  No, it's better if no one looks at me at all.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Snow Day

Is there any greater look of joy on a kid's face than when he hears school has been cancelled on account of bad weather?  If you know one, I will be glad to listen.  The victory is especially sweet when the announcement comes the night before, as it has to our house.

Yes, Minnesota has decided to act a little bit like Minnesota.

We spent the day in a blizzard watch counting our cans of tomato soup and shaking the milk jug to make sure there was an adequate supply.  As I write this we've been downgraded to a winter storm warning.  We'll have to wait and see.

We were so ready.  So ready to get out the big coats and the Sorrels.  So ready to have school called off.  So ready with the snow blower.  And it just never came.

So hearing the ring of our land line phone and our cell phones all at once, Colin  started to do a little dance.  He knew he would sleep the sleep of a teenager who has had a little reprieve.  The sleep of a guy who was owed one this week because his mother and father missed the date change of piano contests, and he got up at 6:30 am last Saturday morning for nothing. Now he'll have to get up at 6:30 am again this Saturday.

Oh, yes.  He was owed.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pizza and an Organ

I want to clarify in case reader-friend Robyn wasn't the only one confused.  My trip to Arizona was to see my parents and had nothing to do with bone marrow donation.  I am still very early in the donation process.  They may find a better match or go with a different treatment option.  I am on sort of a hurry up and wait holding pattern.  I need to answer questions as quickly as possible and then I wait without really knowing what's happening.  That's okay.  They'll let me know if they need me.  Hopefully because of miraculous healing, they never will.

I also confused Robyn when I was trying to explain our trip to Organ Stop Pizza.  She thought it had something to do with organs (like liver or something) on the pizza, not music to accompany pizza.

Mom and Dad were really excited to go to Organ Stop Pizza, and I have to say I was a little skeptical.  Mom and Dad are easily amused.  So am I.  How do you think I got this way?  But organ music and pizza reminded me of Shakey's of my youth -- and I don't remember it being that great.  Well, Shakey's wasn't like this.

Look at that.  There's organ everywhere in this room.  There's so much more organ than you can see.  It was hard not to be impressed, especially when you are easily amused as we have established I am.  You can't see very well, but the bellows that really impressed my are in the lower left hand corner.  They are the size of beds.  Very fun.

There were lights too.  Very nice when he played Phantom of the Opera.  I don't know what to tell you.

And the pizza was good which made it all the better.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Back from the Desert and /or Dessert

A beautiful, darling angel-child traveled with me to Arizona.

Yeah, I know it looks like Preschooler D, but I am telling you I am just NOT sure.

This child never forgot to say please or thank you.
This child made grumpy looking air travelers smile.
This child charmed every person he encountered (including a fellow elevator traveler whom he thanked politely for pressing our floor button).
This child participated in all planned activities (including Grandpa's long drive in the desert) with nary a complaint.

Yes, I know he is very similar in appearance, but . . . well . . . back at home, my child has appeared again whining about how much time he gets on the Wii, and what he wants to eat, and if he has a choice about wearing snow boots.

I am just not convinced it is the same boy, but I had a great time with that other kid, no matter who he was.

In other news, I have made it past the first filter in the bone marrow donation process.  I was just reading again that there are several more filtering steps before donation, so just keep keep on cheering for that unknown person.

Monday, February 20, 2012

This Week

Saturday the family went to see Harold and the Purple Crayon at the Children's Theatre.  It was part of an exchange that they are doing with the Seattle Children's Theatre.  I thought it was lovely and gentle.  The guys found it a bit hippy-dippy, if you know what I mean.

Preschooler D did not want to go from the start.

"I like Florida and I like home,"  he announced from the backseat.

Well, don't we all, kid.

This week he and I are going on a trip to see Grandpa and Grandma in Phoenix. I hope he adds Arizona to his list of places he will go; otherwise, it's going to be a long four days.

Don't bother to come and steal the TV. Brent and Colin are staying behind.  If I get the chance, I'll let you how it's going, but as Grandma Malmberg used to say, "Expect me when you see me."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Math Class

Seventh grade pre-algebra has been making me crazy.  I ordered a couple of books so I could keep up.  Homework time with Colin requires a lot of concentration as it is without me going, "Yeah, I don't know."

Yesterday was "Muffins with Mom" day.  I never did find the muffins, but I did find Colin just before math class.  Colin goes to special ed math, and it's not what you remember from high school.  I don't remember anyone getting pulled out for math unless they were really, really behind.  There are three guys in Colin's class including Colin.  They are all doing grade level work but they can't do it -- for whatever reason -- in the classroom.

Colin was clearly the brains in the group (terribly, terribly biased), but his slower communication skills made this extra brain power useless.  The other guys are the brawn of the group.  I don't think anyone is going to be messing with their friend Colin.

We did a number of problems on little white boards.  I only led Colin astray once. We had to subtract a negative from a negative (or positive?) and I went the wrong way on the number line.  We got it figured out.  Hooray!

Then we were off to health class with my former gym teacher.  Hilarious.  Reminded me in two minutes why I would never sign on to any time travel that involved reliving junior high.  This has nothing to do with my former gym teacher and everything to do with junior high.

Good for Colin!  Good for me!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I went to a small high school.  My graduating class had about 80 if I remember right.  We knew each other as small children.  Many of us know each other now.

Michele D was one of our sweet classmates. Michele is just a genuinely nice person with a positive outlook without getting all Pollyanna about it.  Two years ago she got physically tired beyond what was reasonable for a mother of two young children.  She had leukemia.  We watched her fight and cheered her through chemotherapy and radiation.  She needed a stem cell transplant and her brother was a miraculous match.  Something like 70 percent of recipients don't have a family match and must receive from a donor.  Michele got better and better.

And then she had a really bad earache.  The leukemia was in her brain.

How can a blood disease become a brain disease?  I have no clue other than it's weird and unfair, but that's what happened.  She has not written on her Caringbridge site since January.  She wrote about how much she hated being sick and losing her hair and being in bed and the pressure it put on her family.

She wrote about how much she loves her family.

I have been registered as a potential donor on the National Marrow Donor Program list since 1996.  I was barely married.  I had no children.  It seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do.  I have never been contacted about being someone's match -- until this week.

So far I have been through a brief health history.  If "my" patient needs me, I will be contacted in the next eight weeks.  I am compulsively driven by the love I feel for my own family and my long friendship with Michele to do now what seemed so long ago as "perfectly reasonable."

While I wait to hear, I am praying for my dear patient -- that it will not come to this, that there will be unreasonable, miraculous healing.  I am praying that if she or he needs me, I will be ready and that it will go smoothly and there will be healing through this.

I am praying for Michele -- for perfection in every area of her life right now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Poem for Tuesday

This poem is for my Grandma Malmberg, the little girl in the picture above.  She is no longer with me on earth, but she is always in my heart.

Valentine for Granny
Solveig Paulson Russell

Dear Granny, here's a valentine;
I made it just for you;
This rosebud and this paper lace
Are fastened tight with glue.

This little heart I painted red,
These flowers I made blue,
And Granny, look, here are the words,
"Dear Granny, I love you."

* Gigi, in case you have been wondering, would hit me hard if I called her Granny.  She has taken her 88-year-old self and her new Kindle Fire and hopped on a bus for Mexico.  I am not even kidding.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Anniversary 18

Eighteen years ago yesterday I married the guy in the bow tie.  He wasn't wearing a bow tie that day.

He is a good father.

A thoughtful musician.

Handy around the house.  Or in this case, my mother-in law's house.

My dearest friend.
And because of him all of this . . .

. . . belongs to me.

Psalm 113:9
He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.

Friday, February 10, 2012

How to Avoid Practicing Piano

A photo essay by Preschooler D.

Start by refusing to get dressed.  No reason.  It's an "at home" day.

 Page endlessly through book while wearing ear muffs because you don't want to hear yourself play.

 Glare at Mother.

Try to convince Dad that if he plays it will be the same thing.  Better really.

Be very stubborn about it until you get sent to your room to have rest time.

Cheer up.

Without being asked get dressed by self. Come back downstairs. Play piano without being told.

Smile at Mother.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

End of the Day

Do you get to the end of the day and say to yourself, "Another great day where I accomplished everything on my to-do list!  I can't wait to start with a fresh brand new to-do list tomorrow!"

No, that's not me at all.  I pass a small patch of debris in the upstairs hallway that the work guys left that needs a little vacuuming.  It's such a tiny spot.  It would take two seconds, yet when it's out of sight, it's out of mind.  I see it in the morning when I'm getting ready and I think, "I shall go down right now and get the Hoover."  Then I get downstairs and get my coffee and start chatting with my sister on the computer and doing laundry and emptying the dishwasher and helping with homework, and the next thing you know I am going into the bathroom to brush my teeth before bed and I see it.  Again.  Now Preschooler D is sleeping and I am getting ready for bed and I think, "Well.  Okay.  That's the FIRST thing I will get to tomorrow."

I do admire my optimism.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Writer's Block Wednesday

Blah, blah, blah . . .

* No really.  Nothing cute is going on.  Nothing discouraging.  I can't even whine about the weather.  Just plugging away at our daily life.

* And . . .

* Um . . .

* So . . .

* It's my anniversary this weekend.  We're going to Fargo.  Yes, there's romance in Fargo!

* Ah . . .

Okay, we'll try again tomorrow.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Getting an Eyepatch

Preschooler D and I played a lot of Wii Lego Pirates of the Caribbean while he has not feeling well.  A lot.  We finished the regular game.  Now we have to go back and tackle the bonus features.  I've had a really good time playing Wii Lego Pirates, and to be honest (because I always am with you),  I let him play more than a preschooler probably should.  I may have encouraged it.  There was something just so satisfying about flinging my cartoon sword around and -- well -- hanging out with D.

Kindergarten round up is next month.  I have a very sneaky suspicion that I am going to be what one local kindergarten teacher labeled "the Criers."  She said the number one goal of a kindergarten teacher was to get the Criers out of the room so their children wouldn't also freak out.

Do you think that will be me, or do you think I will have pulled it together by that time?

I was having a small mid-life crises when I found out I was pregnant with D.  I didn't know what to do with myself.  My career in weekly newspapers had come to an end and I didn't know what I was going to do with myself.  Since then I have discovered I make a pretty good career Stay-At-Home Mom.  I see no reason for me to change careers at this point, but it will be an adjustment.

Am I writing about this every other day now?  I feel like I have said most of this before.  It probably won't be the last time.  You have my permission to skip these days in the future.  I don't think I am done obsessing about it. I'll try to remember to label them "More Working Through Kindergarten Issues."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Piano Practice

Colin's homework is getting harder.  Sixth grade was our last year of forced reading time.  I thought we were never going to make it through those books -- but how I long for them now.  Now we have pre-algebra and mixed fractions and frog dissection parts and a haiku assignment on the art of Mongolia.  I am exhausted by the end of homework time.  I can't imagine how Colin feels.

Being a man of predictable habits, every day when Colin finishes his homework and his Bible memory work, he asks the same question, "Should I practice piano now?"  Every day my answer is the same, "Yes, go ahead."

And I listen to my son play piano.  He plays beautifully.  He plays effortlessly.  He plays without struggle or argument, brain strain or strife.  He doesn't want my help.  He doesn't need my help.  I couldn't help him if I tried.

We both heave a sigh of relief at piano practice time.

(I meant to take a serious photo, but Colin was laughing so hard at me, I couldn't resist this one.)