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.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Poem for Tuesday: Write Your Own

Blog read-friend Mary Postage* had this website posted on her Facebook page one day and I'm just in love with the idea.  I say "idea" because (now, we are always honest with one another) I haven't been brave enough to try it.

But I am going to right now . . .

*Her name may or may not have been changed slightly to protect the innocent.

Monday, January 23, 2012

From the Sick Room. Again.

Honey, would you like to be upstairs in bed on downstairs on the couch?

I don't want to be alone.

Okay, I am going to be upstairs.  You could watch Sesame Street in my bed.

Awwwwwwww . . . when I'm in bed my eyes close.

Yes.  Well.  That's a risk, for sure.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Things I Need to Remember to Tell

Do you remember a trip we took to Florida a couple of years ago in January.  It was literally freezing which was not fun for the Minnesotans looking for some sunshine and warmth.  It was fun for us, though, to laugh at the instructions the Floridians were getting on how to survive the weather.

It's gotten normal Minnesota cold this week and driving home from that baby shower last weekend I was feeling sorry for myself that I live in such a miserable climate when Garrison Keillor came on.  His opening remarks were about the cold weather and what a relief it was to us Minnesotans that it had returned.  We don't know how to behave when the temperature is above normal in January.  We wouldn't enjoy living in Hawaii (no matter what we would tell people).  God has chosen us to live in this climate because we can take it.

I loved that.

It really made me chuckle later this week listening to the exploits of my new friend Nancy who has recently moved here from sunny Southern California.  Nancy has a tremendously good attitude about it for a women who, until recently, could go surfing in the ocean any time she felt like it.  She was laughing pretty hard at herself when I saw her last night because she had taken her dirty car through the car wash yesterday when it was 30 below.  Now if you think about this with some serious thought (and I don't mean to say Nancy isn't a serious thinker, she just didn't think this all the way through), you will see the error of her ways.  After going through the car wash, she and her daughter stopped for a few minutes to get groceries and had a difficult time opening the doors of their car which were now frozen shut.

Also Nancy did not take the snow forecast into consideration because if she had, she would have realized the amount of salt which would be on the roads, making her car just as dirty today as it was yesterday when she washed it.

There are things about living in a different climate that we do not think about because some of us have never had to.  I feel in a bit of a panic now.  I feel a little responsible for Nancy.  What other lessons of life in the snow belt does she need to know that I do not think about because I have always lived here.

Pump your brakes on ice (unless you have anti-lock brakes).

Check the forecast before you blow snow in March because it might melt/and or snow more that same day.

Dress in layers.

Just because some anxious ice fishing guy has driven his pickup on the ice does not mean it's safe.  That's God's method of natural selection.

No matter what they tell you to put in the winter emergency kit in your car, you will never use any of it.  It will just be a waste of a chocolate bar come summer when you find the old thing half melted in the back.  Carry your boots, mittens and cell phone at all times.  You're good.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I know you have been waiting for news on the bathroom.  Ernie, T--- (Troy? Ted? Theo? The plumber.), Tile Guy and Snookie the Taper have been gone since the first.  I have been waiting for everything to be just so and all clean and lovely before I showed you.

I have come to the realization that is never ever going to happen.  So without further ado . . .


We are missing a mirror.  We have tried two.  One was too small and one was too large.  We are awaiting a third.

And . . .

There's the upstairs shower.  Very exciting!  Sure it was handy to be able to talk to one another through that cupboard, but we are adjusting.

The one downside is that I am forgetting about the laundry because I don't see it piling up because I am not in the basement every morning.  I will adjust to this as well!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Poem for Tuesday

It finally got true Minnesota cold today.  I think we have hit our high of 6 degrees.  There's still not much snow, but here's a beautiful poem about it anyway.

Velvet Shoes
Elinor Wylie

Let us walk in the white snow
          In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
          At a tranquil pace,
          Under veils of white lace.

I shall go shod in silk,
          And you in wool,
White as white cow's milk,
          More beautiful
          Than the breast of a gull.

We shall walk through the still town
          In a windless peace;
We shall step upon white down,
          Upon silver fleece,
          Upon softer than these.

We shall walk in velvet shoes:
          Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
          On white silence below.
          We shall walk in the snow.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Baby (not mine, thank you very much)

*  Hey, I am noticing that certain words in this entry may be linked to advertisements.  I need to figure out how to make that stop.  Don't click on anything.  I didn't create any links.  We don't do advertising here on At Least.  We are just about working through the craziness.

When I was in high school I was involved with my church youth at a state level.  While I am no longer a part of that particular denomination, I still keep in contact with several of the very, very good friends I met there.

Roberta, Alison and I called ourselves the Sashes.  We wore shiny scarves as sashes, thus the name.  It was our all-girl rock band name -- only we were too avaunt-guard to be a rock band.  We sang folk songs and Broadway "hits."  Well, we thought we were fabulous.  Our first long-playing record album was going to be "Rhinestone Kind of Night."  I know you had to be there, but -- trust me -- we were hilarious.  Or at least we thought so.

I wanted to show you a picture of us then, but I could not find one.  I would have suffered the truth of big hair for you.  I could find Ali and Birdie, Birdie and me, Ali and me . . . but not the three.

Well, anyway, it's 30 years later. If I told you the kinds of things each of us has been through you wouldn't believe it.  You would think I was making it up.  Ups and downs. Downs and ups.  Sickness, heartache, failure.  Things not so hilarious as our made-up record albums.

Today Roberta is a lawyer and pottery artist.  She won't admit to either one, but she is.  Alison has been literally all over the world.  She teaches English as a second language.  Most recently she taught in Iraq where she met Josh and came home with this most precious and delicious surprise:

That, friends and loved ones, is her first one.  I won't give her age away, but you know how old I am, so you can guess Ali's about the same.  It's not the best picture of the tiny baby Sash, but look -- oh, look! -- at my friend.  Look at that beautiful and delighted face as she starts a brand new phase of life and hear the splash of my tears of happiness for her as they hit my keyboard.

As I think back on the trials we have faced and the many different starts and stops we have had to make, I think you just never know when new adventure is on its way.  Sometimes life throws you a surprise you just want to throw right back.

But sometimes life throws you a surprise you just can't believe is really yours.

Isn't it interesting?  Isn't it good?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Expiration Dates

Something is wrong with this little video, but I do not have time to make you another one and you don't have time to wait, so listen to the soothing sound of my voice and I think you'll get my point.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And brrrrrrr . . .

What's not to love about the ever surprising weather patterns in Minnesota.  Today is cold and icy . . . and cold.  On a plus note, my sinuses seem to feel better when the weather is more winter-like and less spring-like. It was hard to know what to cheer for -- the lovely moderate temperatures and sinus pain, swelling and pressure OR cold wind blowing an icy chill down the bone and the ability to breathe.  Right now, I am on the fence.

There must be a middle ground somewhere.  Where can I go where I can both breathe and be warm?  This place must be free of yucky bugs and tropical snakes and large rodents.  It should have water, but I am not into flooding of any kind.  Also, I can get a little claustrophobic, so I can't have too many tall things surrounding me -- for example, buildings or mountains.

Perhaps, I'd better stay put.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Poem for Tuesday

It's another nearly 50 degree day here in Central Florida Minnesota.  This poem struck me funny as I think of Minnesota trying to have a more southern like climate.

The New Duckling

Alfred Noyes

'I want to be new,' said the duckling.
'O, ho!' said the wise old owl,
While the guinea-hen cluttered off chuckling
To tell all the rest of the fowl.

'I should like a more elegant figure,'
That child of a duck went on.
'I should like to grow bigger and bigger,
Until I could swallow a swan.

'I won't be the bond slave of habit,
I won't have these webs on my toes.
I want to run round like a rabbit,
A rabbit as red as a rose.

'I don't want to waddle like mother,
Or quack like my silly old dad.
I want to be utterly other,
And frightfully modern and mad.'

'Do you know,' said the turkey, 'you're quacking!
There's a fox creeping up thro' the rye;
And, if you're not utterly lacking,
You'll make for that duck-pond. Good-bye!'

'I won't,' said the duckling. 'I'll lift him
A beautiful song, like a sheep;
And when I have--as it were--biffed him,
I'll give him my feathers to keep.'

Now the curious end of this fable,
So far as the rest ascertained,
Though they searched from the barn to the stable,
Was that only his feathers remained.

So he wasn't the bond slave of habit,
And he didn't have webs on his toes;
And perhaps he runs round like a rabbit,
A rabbit as red as a rose.

Monday, January 9, 2012

From the Sick Room


Yes, my love.  What is it?  What can Mother do?  Do you need water?  Would you like a light snack or does your tummy hurt?  Do you think you need to throw up?  Are you hot?  Or are you cold?  Do you need more blanket?  Does your head still hurt?  What can I do?


Yes, darling, what do you need?

I need you to move out of the way.  You're blocking the TV.

Oh . . . yeah . . . sure.  I'll just move over . . . here . . .

Friday, January 6, 2012

What I meant was . . .

First of all it's 45 degrees and still climbing in Central Minnesota right now.  If I had my makeup on I'd make a little movie for you . . . but I don't.  It's unusually warm.  I have snow boots I bought this fall I haven't worn yet.  Go figure.

Okay.  Have you even made a comment you that was a perfectly innocent statement of fact only to have your listener (or two) reel back in horror and proceed to tell you how wrong and short sighted you are?

I have.  Um, recently.  It feels awful.  I think the worse part about it is I thought my listener(s) knew me better than that -- might have given me the benefit of the doubt.  Might have said, "I'm not sure what you mean."

No, I think the worst part of it was trying to tell this story to a dear friend through email today and making it more complicated by comparing the incident to a situation where I might actually have been short sighted.  My analogy was confusing and I have made it worse yet by sending 15 follow-up emails.  "No, what I meant is this . . . Do you see where I am heading . . . Let me give you another example."  She hasn't responded yet.  Maybe she's fallen into coma.  Or more likely maybe she's giving me a chance to settle down.

What is it about finding people who really understand us, or understand our intentions at least, that can make us so crazy?  I know I am not alone in this.

Sometimes we get so wounded we clam up and refuse to make friends.
Sometimes we make as many friends as they can so that we never have to be close to anyone.
Sometimes we say too much.
Sometimes we don't say enough.
Sometimes we don't give relationships enough of a chance.
Sometimes we hang on too long.

This is making my mind spin.  I am going to eat a leftover caramel and quit feeling sorry for myself.  Hooray for the healing powers of homemade candy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Birthday Boy

Well, the decorations still aren't down, but we had to take a break yesterday to celebrate Preschooler D's 5th birthday.

I won't lie to you.  I don't particularly think of myself as sentimental mother, but . . . well . . . that picture seems like yesterday.  I am sure we took it yesterday.  I think he is watching for Colin.  Look at that saggy, romper butt.  Look at his chubby little feet.  Look how he barely can see over the screen

Ah, jeepers.

No, I tell you.  Childhood goes so stinkin' fast.  Next thing you know your tiny baby is being surround by his peers acting as candles.

He's coloring with thin markers instead of those chubby crayons.

Why, tomorrow he'll probably be getting his license or graduating from college.

Heaven help me from rushing things.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Marking the Ornaments

Some years I put the Christmas ornaments away with more care and organization than others.  This year Brent and  I have terrible colds.  I'm souped up on TheraFlu, so I'm not really sure what's going on.  One year my mother-in-law made some comment about marking things in case she died that year.  I don't remember exactly what she said, but it drew eye rolling and heavy sighing from all family members.  She was in no more danger of dying that year than anyone else.

Keeping track of several Caring Bridge sites this year and the death of my college friend's husband this fall reminds me that every Christmas, every year, every day brings change.  We don't know how next year will be different than the last.

So . . . it feels a little morbid and I creep my own self out, but it is important to me to take the time to mark and put away the kids' ornaments because I think the only one who knows for sure whose ornament  is whose is me.

Here's Colin's ornament from his Aunt Cyberspace Sarah this year.  I've just noticed.  It's got that horrid song about spring being late on it.

No! I told you I am souped up on cold medicine!!  Marshmallow World is the horrid song about spring being late. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Post Christmas Life

Preschooler D with cousins in Wisconsin last week.
You must jog over to little Minnesota Mom Margaret's blog.  She presses on celebrating Christmas here on day nine.  There is a misconception that the 12 days of Christmas are before Christmas.  They actually start with Christmas Day as day one with the partridge and all that.  They end on Epiphany, the day which tradition says is the day the wise men finally made it to Baby Jesus.  There should be more celebrating after Christmas day.  It was a painful stab in my heart to go to my local grocery store last Monday and find that they had put the Valentine candy out.  Come on, little hometown grocery.  How pre-ghost Scrooge of you.

Colin singing carols with some new Wisconsin friends.
My mom was really good at making Christmas last until Epiphany.  I hardly ever make it.  I insist on having my trees lit through January 1, but today I am starting to take things down.  The personalities in my family thrive on schedule, order and sameness and we have had a lot of excitement the past month.

Speaking of January 1, who besides me stumbled into the den yesterday, blurry eyed, coffee in hand only to discover the Rose Parade never takes place on a Sunday.

Cyberspace with small niece and me with a Christmas tree coming out of my head.