Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In a Child's Eyes

There are hopes and dreams there. Mostly mine for now, unless we count the hope that her brother won't sit on her as often tomorrow. Or the dream that she'll have be able to eat an unlimited amount of puffed rice cereal.

I hope she'll be happy. I hope she'll find a calling. I hope she finds a partner in life. Someone to love, who loves her back. I hope she'll know the love of children. I hope she'll be fulfilled. I hope she'll live a long satisfying life.

I also hope her brother won't sit on her as often tomorrow. As for the puffed rice.... well, maybe she can have a little extra, just this one time.

Monday, December 27, 2010


It's the day after, the day after the festivities. Apparently, real life was supposed to start again today, but I didn't get that memo. I'm not ready for it to be over. I'm not ready to stop listening to Christmas music. I'm not ready to stop eating (and eating and eating) Christmas cookies and treats. I'm not ready to put away the new treasures and packages that Santa delivered just a couple short days ago.

I'd love to stop the clock and live in this moment for a while. A long while. I want to enjoy these quiet moments when things aren't hectic. We're not in a rush. We can just be.

But the clock is still ticking, I know this because I can actually hear it. So, on we go.

It was with great reluctance that I plucked Ell from her crib this morning. She was warm and seemed softer than usual. Her fuzzy hair was standing on end, and she had sleepy eyes. As usual, she was as happy as can be. I took extra time feeding her. We perched ourselves on the sofa and looked at the snow while we snuggled under a blanket. I didn't want that moment to end.

Benett was even enjoyable this morning. (Miracle of miracles.) Be played with his new tractors and horses. (I chose to ignore Ell's pacifier in his mouth.) I love watching him play. He really gets into character.

It's 8:34 and Gavin is still sleeping. Monte took the little ones off to their day job and I'm here.... in the quiet. Listening to the clock tick. If I weren't so busy missing the days gone bye, I'm sure I'd be in my glory.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Wish

The Big Man has gone back up North. I’m sure he’s busy making final preparations, getting ready for the big night to come.

We’re doing the same thing here. I wish I could say that I had final preparations to make, but the truth is I’ve got the preliminary preparations yet to tackle. I should be concerned. But I’m not. I’m not feeling stressed, pressured or harried. That feels good.
Unfortunately, there are also things in my world that don’t feel so great. The economy has been an ever present shadow casting doubt and fear on the local community. It’s not just us, I know that. It’s tough for a lot of folks. But it’s affected the local community several times in the past year. Honestly, it’s hit too close to home far too many times. This week that reality is especially painful.
I’ve grown very fond of an individual who’s being laid off after many years of service to the company. He’s given so much of himself. He’s great at what he does. He’s kind. He’s dedicated. He’s a friend. Today was the last day that I’d see him sitting behind his desk. After today I won’t hear the friendly “Hey, lady…” that was part salutation and part invitation to sit in one of the comfy chairs across from his desk and chat.
He’s a great man. The past and upcoming weeks will be difficult for him. But in the end, I know he’ll find himself happy in a new role very soon. Another company will scoop him up and find themselves with a great catch.
Selfishly, I’m upset that my comfortable routine is being changed. Selfishly, the company will be a little weaker. Selfishly, I’ll miss my friend.
So, if the Big Man is listening… I’d like to amend our request. Gavin still wants a Nerf gun and the Mighty Beanz, but I’d also like you to visit my friend’s house and bring him some comfort this holiday season. And while you’re out and about, maybe you could stop by the White House?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Believe

If there were a way to visually illustrate belief, this is surely it. Not just belief, but whole-hearted, unabashed belief. Throw in a dash of excitement (notice the edge of the seat) and a pinch of restraint and you have a little boy who’s just spotted Santa.
Even though I didn't capture the look on Gavin's face when he first heard Santa’s voice, I'll remember his reaction forever. He lit up, tried not to dash towards him, but rather patiently sit like he knew he should. For those of you who know him, sitting and waiting are not things that come easily (or naturally) for Gavin. But tonight he did both.
Tonight illustrated for me just how important it is to be in the moment. I was in the moment tonight, not thinking about anything else... all of my mental capacity was dedicated to my family, work wasn't even a blip on my radar... I was in the moment. The other valuable lesson was that though tonight wasn't supposed to be about Gavin, it meant a lot to him. These small innocuous, 'insignificant' moments are the ones that make up real life. Tonight was Benett's Christmas concert, but in the end, tonight was a big deal for Gavin and for me.
The wonder, the belief, is contagious. It’s the thing that fills up your soul and rekindles the fire in your heart. It’s invigorating and makes you feel like everything is right and good and as it should be. It’s God showing you his love through those who mean the most to you.
Gavin was thrilled. He saw the big man. He made is wishes known – nerf guns and mighty beanz are nothing to sneeze at. And me… well I’m filled with this really amazing feeling and covered with sticky finger prints. (Santa had candy canes.) Who knew a man in an ill-fitting red suit could make such an impact on a boy and his mom.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fresh Snow

This morning we woke to the pristine white of the season's first snow. There is something magical, special about the snow when it falls for the first time. (Ask me how I feel about the snow in February. That feeling is decidedly different.)
The boys were so excited to get out and enjoy the winter wonderland. Especially Benett. He didn't want to come back in the house. He was having too much fun... not understanding that shoveling is considered 'work.'

So it begins. Bundling in to snow pants and boots. Wet mittens and soggy socks. Snuggling by the fireplace and cuddling under extra layers of bedding. Call me crazy, or at least guilty of romanticizing winter, but I love the change of season. The landscape is transformed into something new, yet familiar. I don't even mind all of the little puddles that form around the wet boots that were kicked off by the door.... yet. Ask me how I feel about those puddles in February.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Project

Making this holiday season meaningful and special for the kids is important to me. Advent began today. As a child I recall enjoying an advent calendar. It was something that I looked forward to at the end of each day. I wanted to try to create that for my kids and make it a project for me too.

So I set out to sew a 'calendar.' Each day in our Advent calendar is represented by a small pocket. It's nothing fancy, just 25 pockets sewn together and displayed on a small lighted tree. Each pocket is fleece, with a cotton lining and a button closure. I hand sewed the day on each and finished each off with a garnishment, in the form of a bell.

Each pocket holds a surprise for the children. Some days have notes with reminders and some hold treats. Today was a message, "Christmas is a season of love. Love for self and others." That's pretty boring for a 7 year old, so it was coupled with extra story time tonight.

I think that message was as important for me to remember as it was to introduce to the kids. After the day I had today... I needed that reminder. And the story time was a great way to focus on what is really important.

Gavin enjoyed the story, and opening the pocket. I can't wait to do it again tomorrow. I think I'll enjoy this as much as Gavin and Benett will.

Monday, November 29, 2010


This year I’m going to enjoy the journey from Thanksgiving to Christmas. There, I've said it. Now the difficult part.... remembering to put that idea into practice!
Here’s to a meaningful holiday season where the small moments (the important ones that make up real life) are enjoyed and tucked safely away.
To gift giving that is more about the intention of doing something special for loved ones than the gift itself.
To the cookies and delectable treats prepared with the help of little hands, and not worrying about the mess made in the process.
Here’s to the partridge in the pear tree.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Secret & A Question

On my way home from the office today, I heard a story on the radio that had me wondering a number of things.

First off, I feel compelled to tell you my dirty little secret. I listen to NPR. Yes, that’s right, National Public Radio. Don’t judge.

I left the office early tonight because the weather was bad. It was the kind of icy-winter-weather-advisory bad that makes me want to snuggle up on the sofa. Not only was I listening earlier than usual, I was able to listen longer than usual. The programming was not what I normally get to enjoy.

The story was about snakes. But not just your run-of-the-mill snake, the story was about flying snakes. The researcher who was studying how these snakes fly was being interviewed. He said the following: “…the snakes leap from the branch of a tree and can fly up to 800 feet. They flatten themselves out from the back of their head to the start of their tail....”

Creepy, right? Snakes are bad enough, but now they will not only slither-up on you, they’re going to fly at you from as far away as 2 football field lengths.

But my first question is the leaping part. In order to leap, don’t you have to have legs, or at the very least, feet? And what’s this business of flattening themselves ‘…from the back of their head to the start of their tail.’? Aren’t snakes ALL tail?

I’m more than a little disturbed by all of this. So... if anyone has recently discovered snakes in their house... it may be a good idea to make a second story window wasn't left open. Apparently, the snake could have flown in.

Forget Me Not

The Minnesota weather this week belies the fact that it is indeed only November and Thanksgiving is only two days away. (My Christmas tree softly glowing in the next room doesn’t help either.) Despite the chilly weather and the excitement that the impending Christmas holiday brings, Thanksgiving is important and I am guilty of not giving it the space, the deserved attention, it is due.
I am thankful for much. I’m thankful for people. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you are one of the blessings that I have counted.
Life is not idyllic. It is real. I like real. My house is chaos most of the time. At any given time there is someone yelling. There are tears. There are crumbs and something sticky on the floor. There is laundry… (*sigh*) … so much laundry.
There is also laugher. There are sweet moments between siblings. There are kisses. There are hugs. There is love. I am thankful for all of these things, and so much more.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Forbidden Fruit

The saying goes, "There is more than one way to skin a cat." As gruesome as that sounds, it’s nothing compared to the sound a little boy makes when his sister unwittingly picks up and chews on one of his toys.

Let's forget for a moment that the little boy in question has several tractors. And that at any given time, he's horded more around him than he can possibly play with at once. None of that matters, because this tractor is the favorite one he isn’t currently holding.

Dear reader, I’m sure you can almost hear the sound that was made at the moment Ellie touched the beloved farm implement. The sound was so much more than loud. My alarming new case of tinnitus is proof. And in case you’re wondering, two crying children can almost harmonize. Maybe that’s how Donnie and Marie got started?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Free to a Good Home

It started out as a mealworm. The little guy came home from school in a plastic tube filled with oatmeal, back in early October. I didn’t think much of it. To tell you the truth, I forgot all about it. So you can imagine my surprise when I went to grab the phone book out of the drawer today, and much to my dismay, found the tube. It no longer contained a little worm. Now we’ve got a big, black, UGLY beetle.
Gavin told me what the beetle was called… but to tell you the truth I wasn’t listening. I was too horrified by the bug. (Did I mention that it’s large?) Don’t get me wrong. I’m very impressed that Gavin remembered what it was, and knew so much about it. He also informed me that these particular bugs need to live in the dark. Perfect. Not only is this bug big and ugly, but it’s more comfortable in an environment where it can sneak up on the humans. (I’m sure it’s plotting an escape now.)
So now what? What am I supposed to do with the oatmeal eating bug that needs to live in my dark phone book drawer? I can’t leave it there. That just doesn’t seem right. I thought about releasing it into the wild… but with a high temperature of 29 degrees today, that didn’t seem right either.
So, if you are looking for a low maintenance pet... have I got a deal for you!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Traveling for work can be wearying. Driving to the airport, waiting to board, waiting to take off, waiting to land, schlepping to the rental car, finding a place to park the car in the full hotel lot at midnight, ironing the clothes that I'd wear in too few hours and finally settling in to try to sleep. Waking groggily in the morning after too few hours of rest and nervously preparing to do justice the work done by 10 people the months prior.
It's glorious when the rental car is returned, the boarding pass is printed and the TSA agents are checking the poor fellow behind you. (Or the poor fellow's behind. Can you believe those scanning machines?) The seats on the airplane seem softer and the flight seems shorter. The drive home is cheerful.

No matter how long the trip, how tiring the trip... getting home is glorious. With these rosy cheeks waiting for me, how could it not?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Boys will be boys?

I may never understand little boys.

I should be offended that Benett will lick a dirty pumpkin or eat crumbs from the kitchen floor without a thought. But when it comes to eating a meal. Something that I've actually prepared, he refuses. Vehemently refuses.

He would rather lick a gourd and scavenge from the floor than eat my cooking. I should be offended. But I'm not. Why? Well, little boys grow into men. And if Benett is anything like his father, he will try my cooking and smile. He'll tell me how much he likes it despite the fact that I know he doesn't. And I'll love him for pretending. Until he has a bowl of cereal later.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Barn Raising

When we decided to have a home built, Monte and I knew we wanted to be in the country. There is something about the air here. It's fresher. Except when it's not.... maybe it's not so much the freshness of the air but rather the wide openness of it all.

For me, as much as the house, I was looking forward to the little barn. After all, you can't live in the country and not have a barn.

We commissioned Ryan to help us raise our little barn. It was satisfying to see it happen little by little. Gavin was small at the time, but he even got to help in the process. His little hand prints are in the cement floor. I love those little hand marks.

The barn has been standing for a few years now. As the years have passed, our barn has weathered. The paint is chipping in places. The weather has added character... like the weathered hands of a farmer. But like the weathered hands of a loved one, the barn is comfortable. The chipping paint makes it feel... right.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Boy

I love this child. He is genuine. He throws himself at whatever it is he’s doing with complete abandon. No trading for this boy…. Nope, he gives away his silly bands. He is brimming with love and compassion. He is good at math. When I grow up, I want to be like him.
Gavin is full of energy. He is full of the dickens. He loves to tease his brother. He schemes and ponders and asks questions like, “Mommy, what if our house was hit by a shooting star? Would we still get the wish?” He makes me laugh, even when I’m so mad I could spontaneously combust.
How does he know so much? I'm fairly certain that Gavin is clairvoyant. He just knows things... he's adamant that he is responsible for his brother and sister... because he 'wished' for them. I'm glad he did. That's funny, because, you see, I wished for him too. Maybe it's just the way of things, to come full circle.
I love this child.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two Can be Terrible

This little boy is Benett. He is two. I probably don't have to say much more than that... but I can't resist.

For Benett, being two means that he has a new job. That job is to figure out who he is, to become more independent and to learn to express himself. He takes this new job seriously. Very, very seriously.

So serious in fact, he forgets that the rest of us have to live within the same four walls. We've been trying to remind him. Each of use in our own unique way.

Little Miss Ellie is less subtle in her approach than the rest of us. She howls. I can almost hear her say, "Benett, stop! Please, I beg you! I'll do anything just stop the [insert loud noise of choice]. You're scaring me."

Once she gets going, Gavin starts. "You guys! Stop! [even louder] MOM! Benett and Ellie won't stop crying!"

At this point, Monte and I look at each other. I can hear you, Monte. You're not saying it out loud, (I don't think) but I can hear you clearly. I can hardly stand it either.

And then... low and behold... quiet. They're all sleeping. I'm not sure how we did it, but they're all in bed. Sleeping. The only sound I can hear is that of the dishwasher. I had no idea the dishwasher sounded so magical.

So with my magical dishwasher lulling me to sleep, I'm headed to bed. I need to get a good night's sleep. I know Benett is taking this time to think up new ways to do his job. He's learning a new trick in his sleep that will make me look back on today with fond memories of when things were easy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


The seasons are changing and it is decidedly cooler. Autumn is here. Frost has been covering the lawn each morning and everyone is getting ready for the impending winter.

This weekend we tried on all of our winter coats, snow pants, hats and mittens. It felt good to get prepared. This guy seems to be doing the same. His coat is getting heavier, even his ears seem to be preparing for the cold wind that will be blowing soon.

Good bye Autumn, hello winter. Go easy on us!

Monday, November 1, 2010


This picture of Ellie looks like I feel. TIRED. Not just a little yawn, but the what-do-I-do-next kind of tired. Dog-tired. Weary. Why you ask? Well...

The long days at the office, without a doubt contribute. It's not just the length of the day, because some days are magic. Everything seems to be going your way. You know the kind of day I'm talking about... the stars are aligned and working in the zone is easy. But lately, a day at the office is more akin to sprinting on a treadmill. (Not that I've done that anytime recently, but that sounds tiring.)

It could be the three very active little people who call me mom. Repeatedly, call me mom.... I think the boys are having a private contest to see how many times they can say "mom" in a 12 hour period. Let's not go there.

It could be the husband. I love him. Really. I adore you, Monte, but GEEEEEEZZZZ why do some things require so much explanation. It's got to be a Mars vs. Venus thing.
Maybe it's because the list of things that need to be done exceeds my will to start even one of those things. Say it with me everyone, LAUNDRY. UGH... children are little. Why do their clothes make up such a significant portion of the laundry pile?

So thank you, Miss Ellie. While I am weary, you are just trying to lick your tray, because that's what babies do.

Enough said.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sad Shoes

These shoes just look sad. They should be. It's only October and Gavin has already managed to wear through his 'new school shoes.'
Does Nike make steel-toe-tennies? I'm not sure it would help. Gavin views new shoes as a personal challenge. His feet just can't be contained. Even summer flip-flops are no match for him.
So the bet is on. Monte (who is apparently living in some kind of fantasy land) believes that Gavin will only go through two additional pair of shoes this school year.
Me on the other hand, well I have a firm grasp on reality. I know that Gavin will have at least five pair of shoes (and don't forget winter boots) shredded before the school year is out.
The sad shoes have found their way to the garbage bin. Gavin is working on pair number two, and already they are no match for him. I broke out the glue... after a week. Monte's going to lose the bet. Maybe as soon as next week.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Can't Find Anything

You know life is getting way too complicated when everything seems to be lost. Where does it all go? Is there someone following me around moving things? How can it be that the chapstick that I keep in the same drawer, or the scissors that live in that junk drawer in the kitchen are mysteriously missing? How can they be missing! They're always in the same place!

And where is my camera cable? Is it hiding with that file that was on the corner of my desk? Why are only my things missing? Ask me where Gavin's black Bakugan is and I can tell you it's under the middle sofa cushion. Where is Benett's bankie? In the back seat of the van of course.
Who is going to help me put the puzzle pieces back in order? Monte's been working crazy long hours, so it's not him. Ellie is on 'the pink stuff' for her first ear infection, she's usually a good co-pilot... but the last couple of days she's been too busy crying. So I'm on my own... I usually work pretty good that way... until I get hung up on something silly. Example... could someone explain why Benett's shoe is full of sand? Doesn't he keep his feet in his shoes? How is there room for a pound of sand?

Even with all of the chaos, and sand, life is good. It really is.... good. Everyone is healthy. I love my husband and my messy children. I really feel fulfilled and blessed, despite my missing chapstick.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Mornings

These are my favorite days. The pace is markedly slower. The breakfast components 9 times out of 10 include syrup. And the conversation is much more.... interesting.

"Mom, I'm keeping my money safe in my armpit." Apparently, this is the seven-year-old's approach to a nest egg.

We learned that the middle one, who is two (going on 20), knows how to count to four. We learned this when I asked Oldest Son to please drink his milk.

Mom: "Do I have to start counting?"
Middle Son: "Bubba, One... Two... Three.... Four.... Eight...."

But my favorite exchange of the weekend, and not for the faint of heart... so if you're a sensitive it's best to skip to the end... is as follows:

Oldest: "*Toot*"
Mom: "Gavin please don't do that."
Oldest: "But Mom, if I hold it in, it will come out as a burp and you hate it when I burp at the table."

Enough said.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

And it Begins

I'm really not sure why, but starting this documentation process did become important... today. All at once. It caught me off guard. It's all I've been able to think about.

My brain has been working overtime trying to sort out the chaos that surrounds me. I've usually been pretty good at getting things back into order, but lately.... well, lately chaos reigns supreme.

This is, simply said, my way of putting the puzzle together, freeing those fleeting thoughts. Thanks for joining me!