Sunday, February 27, 2011


This is a comfortable place. It doesn't look comfortable. We're just sitting on the floor, so technically, it doesn't really look like a place to sit at all.... But we needed a break. We needed to just be. As it turns out, this is the best seat in the house.

Like sitting in the middle of the floor, my routine has been unexpectedly comfortable. I didn't think that three kids and everything else that goes along with caring for and supporting them would feel quite like this. Life has been good and I'm very thankful.

Will things stay comfortably routine? Or like the impending change in season, will things begin to change? Either way, as long as I have my comfortable spot on the floor with my little buddy, I'm good with whatever comes my way.


Something so simple as serving a meal has become a perilous adventure, filled with pitfalls and a level of stress that must be on par with the NASA control center. Before children, there were two questions:
      1. 1. Eat in or Out?
  1. 2. What are we hungry for?
Now neither of those questions cross my mind. Forget about taking these little people out to eat. I won't impose that on anyone. And if I only fed them what they were hungry for, they'd live on cereal, juice and pop-tarts.

The effort now is coordinated.
  1. Give them a little snack while I'm cooking. Not too much but enough to keep the whining from starting.
  2. Don't let them see what I'm actually making. Avoid at all costs the dreaded question, "What are we having for dinner?"
  3. Get Ellie up off the floor and out of the way. She can start eating first. She'll also start throwing food on the floor, so that will occupy Benett. (And technically could qualify as his snack.)
  4. Get the glasses filled with milk. But don't let them see you doing it, or they'll want to pick the 'right' colored glass. (Why do they always choose the color that's dirty?)
  5. Make sure the glasses stay far enough away from the edge of the table.
  6. Dish up Benett's plate first, so it can start to cool.
  7. Gavin is next, but don't let his chair get too close to Benett's. (Apparently that's just cause for a fight.)
  8. Don't try to sit down. At that precise moment, they'll need you to get them something.
When everyone is done eating, there's a feeling of accomplishment. (Or defeat. But that is directly associated to the number of vegetables included in the meal.) There is also a feeling of wonder. How on earth does a noodle get stuck in one's neck? How can pieces of chicken end up behind the ear? And why - why - does the stickiest part of the meal always wind up in the hair?

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Just when I thought I'd never seen another green thing again, it happened.
It's small. It's delicate, but green nonetheless.
The tomato seeds that Gavin and I planted last week are starting to push through the soil. So far only the over achievers have shown themselves, but I know the rest aren't far behind.
Like all of us, this tender little stem is bending towards the sun. Sooner or later the snow has to melt, and when it does, this little sprout and I are going to get our feet in the dirt.
I can't wait.

Monday, February 21, 2011


As a child, I'm quite certain that hearing someone was turning 40 would elicit thoughts of 'old people.' Tomorrow my beloved becomes one of the elderly. It's a milestone that he will reach with little drama. For him, it's just another day. But it's a day that has me thinking.... wondering how this decade will be defined.

The first 10 years were childhood. The formative growing-up years where values are instilled through the daily lessons in life. It's when fond memories of carefree days are recorded one after another. There were countless miles traveled on bicycle from home to pool to ball field and back home again. It was life on Richland Avenue.

The next 10 transformed a successful high school student to college student intent on taking advantage of the college way of life. (Winona State sounded like a good place to have fun.) From college to a professional career and marriage, the twenties were filled with and maybe defined by change.

The last 10 years have been filled with firsts. Our first home together. Our first 'real' vacation as a couple. For the first time being responsible for the life of a child. Gavin's birth. The loss of Grandma Humble. Benett's birth. Promotions at work. Ellie's birth. Baptisms, first steps, first teeth, celebrating potty training and lamenting the sleepless nights. It seems like we've lived a lifetime in the last 10 years.

How will we define the next 10? I'm counting on more firsts. I'm counting on good times. I know there will be not-so-good ones as well, but we'll get through those. Now I understand the saying, "Grow old with me, the best is yet to be." There is always something to look forward to, as long as you're journeying through life side by side with those you love.

Happy Birthday, Monte. I love you.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I was excited about this blast of winter that was being forcasted for us.

Let me revise. I was excited about the IDEA of the winter weather that was forecasted. My idea didn't include sheets of ice and flickering lights that threaten a loss of power.

Today has been nothing like this image of sunny snowman-building weather. This guy almost seems cuddly in comparison to the weather today.

No matter. We're hunkered down. Enjoying the cozy feeling of the house, getting caught up on some of the inside projects that we'd been putting off.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


We had things to do. Places to go and people to see. For this reason Monte and I ventured out with all of the children in tow… Something we have never done before.
People laugh when I say that we don’t take Benett out in public. But it’s true… no joke. He’s been to the grocery store maybe 5 times in his two and a half years. Sad you say? Yes, I’ll agree. It is sad, but you’d only have to be in line behind us once, and you’d be thanking me for keeping him at home where he belongs.
Gavin isn’t much better. “Mom, can we leave now? Are we going yet? I’m thirsty. Can I have a drink? Can we eat at McDonalds? When are we going to go home? Can I look at toys? Can I buy a toy? I wish I could have a toy….” It’s incessant. It. Doesn’t. End.
And what about Ellie? She’s an angel. She’s in it purely for the people watching. That child will go anywhere - do anything. All because she’s nosey.
Despite the fact that they had us out-numbered, we ventured out anyway. We packed like we were going to be on a week-long expedition. Diapers, snacks, sippy cups/bottles, wipes, toys, a huge stroller and a big dose of courage.
We got most of our errands done. We conquered the mall. There was only one melt-down. But I’ve since stopped crying and have regained my composure.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


There is something about baking cookies that makes wearing an apron seem necessary. Double that if you're a child. When I reach for my mixer, my boys go straight for the apron drawer and drag them all out. I'll help them get outfitted and then away they run. It's funny and I love the way they look in their little red numbers. (They always choose the red ones.... I'm not sure why!)

As rough and tumble as these two are, put an apron on them, and they become civilized. (I use the term 'civilized' very loosely.) I think it's funny that Gavin is wearing a football shirt, and Short Stuff is sporting the John Deere number (and of course no pants). It makes the aprons look that much more comical.

Priceless. I'm sure this will become a blackmail photo in a couple of years.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


The snow is starting to melt. I'm ready for that. I think the children are as well. Even Benett, who normally will indiscriminately put snow directly into his mouth, has been exercising a little more caution. Everything is gritty. Sandy, wet... dirty.

I'm ready for 40 degree days. Melted snow. Green grass.

To get into the spirit, we looked through the Gurney's catalog today. Marked our choices, and made our plans for the garden. I can't wait for that box to arrive this week so we can begin sowing seeds.

I love the smell of peat pots. (I know, that sounds weird.) I will enjoy having tender little plants in the sunny East window. Something about seedlings makes a heavy heart light...

It will also be a present reminder that spring is on its way, and something new for Benett to try to eat.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Gavin is having a sleep over at his Nana & Bapa’s house tonight. He's been very excited... He loves the time with his grandparents.
That means here at home we have one less at the dinner table. One fewer mouth of teeth to brush. One less bedtime story to read. One less goodnight hug to give and to receive.
It’s a little quieter here. The pace is a little slower. It’s amazing how different the dynamic.
It makes me think of a friend who’s experiencing the painful first days of a new dynamic in his life. My thoughts frequently drift back to him and his family.
Tomorrow the energy level will instantly rise when Gavin comes home. I’m looking forward to him being back, but for now I’m enjoying the quiet.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


It seems as though the only news these days is Egypt. From afar it seems scary. I’m sure it’s scary up close too. It’s also an exciting time for the Egyptian people. All of the protesters have really shown what a group of people can do when working together to achieve a goal. Even though their goal hasn't been realized...
That single-minded focus, the idea of setting your sights on a goal and seeing it through to the end, is something that can be difficult to impress upon children. (Heck, it’s difficult for adults sometimes!)
February is “I Love to Read Month.” Gavin’s goal is to record 300 minutes of reading. So far we’re on a pretty good pace. It’s a challenge, indeed. But I’m happy to see this seven year old interested in something other than video games! Each night after our reading, he’s excited to tally his minutes for the day. It’s become a new evening ritual.
Paddington Bear and Star Wars chapter books are topping the list of favorites. Even Benett & Ellie are getting into the spirit of our reading challenge. I’m thrilled to see Ellie sitting so still and listening to the story.
My next goal is nearly as daunting as removing a president from office... It's even complete with protesters... getting a two and seven year old to brush their teeth before bed... that will require single-minded focus. It may be mission impossible.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I've heard that life as a working mother is best described as a balancing act. But I’m not really sure what that means... Maybe because being a working mom means that the lines are blurred so much. When I think of balance I think of a fulcrum supporting two items. Balance means that they’re equally weighted… like two children on a see-saw.
My life isn’t like that. I’ll be the first to admit that balance isn’t something I do very well. Work affects me at home. Home affects me at work. Try as I may to keep the two parts separate… I can’t do it. The two aren’t always perfectly weighted. But that’s okay.
I know what is most important to me. Although I’m preoccupied by work sometimes, my family is number one. I’m fiercely passionate about them. My family is what defines who I am. It’s what makes me, me.
The other part is my profession. It’s what I do. It’s a part that has given me some great opportunities… introduced me to people, places and ideas that have helped to shape my world. Ultimately that’s also shaped my children’s collective world. For that I’m grateful. (I think.)
But under it all, is the fulcrum – the thing that supports both parts. My fulcrum is Monte. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without him. He precariously holds things up. And like any good fulcrum, he’s helping me look for the point of balance. (Don’t tell him that I’m comparing him to a triangle right now.)
I guess what I’m saying is that each of us has our little trade secrets for keeping everything in life orderly, maybe even balanced. For me that secret is Monte.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Some days we’re required to do battle. While most are just skirmishes there are some times, some topics, that just hit close to home. Those battles are worthy of a more passionate fight.

In my professional life I’ve decided two things. 1) I’m too opinionated about too many things. And 2) the person who coined the phrase “choose your battles” didn’t work in a marketing department. After all, anything worth doing is worth doing right – in business and in life in general.
Each day we arm ourselves with the tools we need to get the job done. Our armor may be knowledge, it may be dedication to a cause, and it may be something else entirely. The important lesson that I’ve learned along my way is that no matter how much I prepare myself, how complete my set of armor, there are always vulnerabilities.
Perhaps a better way to look at this is not as battle and the adversarial connotations that are associated, but rather as opportunities to work together… That evokes a happy feeling and may very well work at the office, but it’s not an option when bundling children up for play time in the snow… that is most definitely a struggle.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


The weekends go so fast. It’s nearly bedtime and we didn’t get to do many of the things I had mentally planned.
In my head Saturday is a busy day where all of the laundry gets done, the floors get vacuumed and things are picked-up and tidy.
This magical Saturday also includes baking, craft projects and completed homework. There’s time for a movie and a trip to the grocery store. I know this is a mythical day. But in my head, it’s devine. It's the perfect day.
In reality, there were no neat stacks of folded laundry. No full cookie jar. No crafty projects completed. But, I think I’ve figured out why my windows are so grimy.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Affection is the glue that keeps families together. I feel lucky that my children are so affectionate with one another. For the most part… but now when I really think about it… maybe all of those hugs aren’t quite so sweet and loving.
Maybe those hugs aren't tender embraces at all! Maybe this is really a head lock. (Look at that grip!) Maybe this is why she screams so much?
Like the song says, "Love hurts..." Apparently, in more ways than one.
Even if it is indeed a head lock, I'm going to continue to believe it's a hug. Just a really tight hug.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Milestones come in all shapes and sizes. Some are major. Some, not so much. As a parent I find myself counting each accomplishment, each achievement, using them as more accurate indicators of time passed, than a calendar. I try not to wish my way through any stage of development… although that required momentary reminders, when as babies the children had yet to sleep through the night. I knew that time would pass all too quickly, and no matter how much I just wanted to sleep, I didn’t want them to get so big so fast.
Just last week we were bringing Gavin home from the hospital… oh wait… that was 7 years ago. So much has happened in that short span of time. It’s been a wild, fun, amazing ride. I know there will be so much more. I’m excited to experience all of it.
There is something bittersweet about each milestone. As parents Monte and I want to encourage and delight in the new stuff. We want to celebrate. We love each second. But in that same moment, I wither a little. I’m sad to see my babies growing so independent.
I look back at the video from the hospital, when Gavin and Benett met Ellie for the first time, and I can’t believe that so much time has passed… Gavin now has a front tooth, where there was a gaping hole. Benett looks so much different… older. And Ellie, well she’s my baby. I thought she was still little, but my baby is nearly walking and wearing pigtails.
Pigtails may seem like a small thing... but to me they symbolize 11 months on the calendar. Eleven months and a little girl who is each day growing more and more independent.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


What is it about the other side of the fence that is so appealing?

Lately I've been finding myself longing to be on the other side of my life's proverbial fence. Things look so much better over there.

I'm sure the view is different up close. I understand that things aren't always what they seem from afar... None the less, I find myself looking out towards the horizon. Dreaming new dreams. Dreams of greener grass.

Maybe it's the lack of grass altogether that's got me down. Perhaps the winter chill is leaving a frosty coating on more than just the window.

Sunlight, warm air and spring-time are powerful juju. So until I can feel the sun on my face and the warm spring breeze in my hair, I'll work harder to tend my garden on this side of the fence.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I've never had a problem with the Dentist. Visits weren't painful or tedious. Dr. Hawk was a great guy. He would look at my teeth and tell me to, "Keep up the good work. But don't brush so hard."

When he got sick and decided to sell the practice, I was sad to see him go. But at the same time knew it was a decision for him. I supported his replacement as long as I could.

Now I have a new dentist. They're not monkeys... I like the new gal. But I haven't been able to make time to go every 6 months like I should.

No more excuses... starting tomorrow I'll think about making an appointment.

Rosemary, did you know this fellow liked to brush his teeth? Such good oral hygiene he has!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I came across this picture the other day. It's a great illustration of three little people with very different personalities.

Mr. Man is on the left. He's the spitting image of his Bapa and mimics his every move. If you could see him put on a hat and adjust it, you'd envision him as an old farmer who'd been doing it his whole life.

Ms. Serious in the middle. She's usually pretty stoic... although in the last couple of weeks she's found her voice. This child can get your attention. I'm definitely not used to the screaming. Ugh.

And on the end is Mr. Let-the-Good-Times-Roll.  He is the life of the party. There is so much joy in him, it just seems to burst out in every direction. Containing it isn't an option.

I love how this picture shows all of their personalities. It makes me think about Nature vs. Nurture.

As parents, Monte & I are challenged to support and encourage their uniqueness while instilling in them universal values that will guide them through their lives. It's their personalities that color each of their worlds (and ours too). It's the personalities that will make each of their journeys very different.

I'm excited to think about the adults they'll become. For now, I'm content to enjoy each of their differences. Each of their similarities. I'll revel in the mimicking. The seriousness. The joyfulness. (I'll try to get used to the screaming.)

Most of all, I'll remind myself each day that they'll never be this small again. They'll never be exactly the same as they were today. I'll remind myself to enjoy every second of the time I have with each. Drinking it all in, carefully tucking away the memories to remember tomorrow.