Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Have you heard the news? Monte and I are taking a little vacation... Just the two of us.

No stroller. No diaper bag. No car seats. No little people. We're very excited. (Maybe I'll even go so far as to say giddy... maybe.)

Our bags are packed (almost) and we're heading out for 5 days. And although I can say that we're on the verge of giddy now, tomorrow afternoon when we're a thousand or so miles from the little people... we won't be giddy anymore. Yes, we'll still be happy to enjoy a break, but I know we'll be missing the kids already. We'll start wondering what and how everyone is doing...

The upside is that I know the little people will have a great time. They'll get to hang out with two of their favorite people - Nana & Bapa! Who knows... maybe the kids will even miss us a little. And perhaps they'll even be excited to see us when we get home... I can bet that Nana and Bapa will be.

Monday, March 28, 2011


We're trying to teach them manners. It's an uphill battle. Sometimes that hill seems insurmountable... and then, there is a glimmer of hope.

This is what "Please" looks like. Gavin knows to pull out all the stops when it comes to asking for something he really, really, REALLY wants. Like extra video game time.

I would have taken a picture of "Thank you" but Gavin, being the smart boy that he is, also knows that when we say yes to extra video game time, he shouldn't wait around for us to change our minds.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


There are some great ideas online. Lately, I've become especially hooked on Pintrest. Gavin and I saw pictures of some tasty and fun food on the site.

This is one of the things Gavin wanted to try. We decided to call them 'hairy dogs.' I know, not very appetizing... but the kids thought they were fun. (Although... they would have been better with marinara sauce, but neither of them wanted any...)

For the record, Monte and I weren't brave enough to try them. I'd much rather have tried the Nutella meringues... Maybe next time.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


We had a great time a the Children's Museum. It's filled with a variety of activities, but Gavin was most interested in climbing. He mentioned it as soon as we walked in. Those of us with aversions to high places... don't care for those kinds of things. But Gavin, was thrilled to give it a go.

He waited in line for 30 minutes. More patient than I've seen him in a long time. As he was waiting his turn, he'd glance at me, but wouldn't smile. Each time he looked at me, I tried to get him to crack a smile... but nothing. It finally dawned on me that he was too cool to smile at his mom. Gulp. Too cool! When did he grow up and get cool? Ugh.

It was more of the same as he was getting outfitted. No smile, Gavin was all business. He was a quick climber, and scampered nearly to the top, making it look so easy. I could tell he was proud of himself. I was too. It was great to see him put his all into it. To accomplish a goal. He needed that little confidence booster.

Benett and Ellie kept their feet on the floor (for the most part) today... they didn't climb a two-story wall, but instead contented themselves to play in the lock & dam display.

Mission 'Burn Energy' was a success.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I'm amazed that we actually made it through the work and school week. Maybe now it's safe to open our eyes and take a peek at what is in store for us this weekend?

If I have anything to say about it, the weekend will be low-key... maybe even relaxing.

Low-key and relaxing aren't exactly the words my kids would like me to use when describing our weekend... So I think we'll go here and let them explore.

(Explore = burn off some energy.)

They'll have fun, and it may be the closest thing to 'relaxing' that Monte and I can get while being out-numbered by children.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Some days are trying. Today I made several attempts to course correct, but things just refused to go my way.

Reading email this morning was for some reason emotional. Trust me, an InBox containing 1,500 plus emails would make anyone want to cry... but that wasn't what had me feeling so helpless. (Right or wrong, emotional = helpless in my little world.)

It wasn't any ONE thing... but the culmination of EVERYTHING. The magnitude of it all. The weight of the burden.

That loss of control is such a challenge for me. It's tough to deal with... so I find myself thinking these silent little prayers. Prayers for peace, patience, a clear path... some kind of direction... the strength to put one foot in front of the other... to figure things out.

Although they may be silent, I know my little prayers don't go unheard. And although I don't intentionally have my hands folded in prayer... fingers intertwined, clasped.... perhaps peacefully... certainly pleadingly... I find my hands folded often on days like today.

You see, I'm impatient. (I know... news flash...) I want to sort things out right away. I don't like things to linger.

Although it didn't happen as quickly as I'd like, I did realize that what I'd earlier perceived as a burden isn't a burden at all. My responsibility may be great, but that's something entirely different... scary, yes, but a burden... not at all.

I'm hopeful that tomorrow will be better. I'm sure it will be... after all, I did manage to clean up some of my email today... So if nothing else, at least I won't have 1,500 emails staring back at me... One small thing that has been sorted out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


For the past 12 months, I could count on one thing... A softly lit room and a seat on a comfy chair for Ellie's evening bottle.

I loved the way she looked up at me. And in that quiet time, could see the world in her mystery colored eyes.

Like clockwork, after a couple of minutes her eyelids would become too heavy... her arms would go up and her hands would find her fuzzy blondish hair. I can still tell when she's about to fall asleep, when she plays with her hair.

I still cherish that time. I will forever and always.

But now that she no longer takes a bottle, I've been trying to find a new ritual. Time spent together, just the two of us to quietly reflect on the day. Tonight we figured it out.

We have a different comfy chair now, in Ellie's softly lit room. Listening to music while quietly rocking and reflecting. It's a respite for me... and for Ell? Well it only took her a couple of minutes to put her hands in her hair, silently telling me it is the perfect new ritual for her too.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Today everything is instant. Want to watch a movie? Stream one, instantly. Want to talk to someone? Send them an instant message. Want to play a video game? Go online and play instantly. No waiting. Little work.

With all of that on-demand, fast paced content, it's tough to encourage kids to participate and develop a love for things that are markedly slower. Like reading.

Reading is one of those things that requires work. As parents, Monte and I have to work to make time to read every night... We love it and it's become a ritual that we wouldn't want to give up.

Reading is work for Gavin too. He's doing great so far, but he gets frustrated sometimes too. Reading isn't always easy like watching TV or a movie.

But so much better than TV or a movie, reading is a joy that he's learning page by page. Each day there are little triumphs when new words are mastered and recognized. Each day the story of a chapter book grows and develops. It's slow, letting the mind fill in blanks and help to create the story. And each day that love of reading grows a little more. I love that it's slow. I love that it's methodical. I love that he loves it too.


IWe've been practicing. Things have been going swimmingly. (All of the nautical and water references have got to be from the overabundance of rain...soaking into my subconscious.) We're not quite there yet, but I was willing to give the big boy pants a try today.

More and more, Benett just looks uncomfortable in his diaper. Or maybe this is just me wanting him OUT of diapers, more and more? Could it be that I'm manufacturing this idea that he 'looks' uncomfortable?

That must be the case... I hadn't left the room for more than 5 minutes and he'd decided that big boy pants aren't for him... yet.

But aren't they cute? Pirate whales... what two-year-old wouldn't want to wear pirate whale underwear?

Monday, March 21, 2011


We don't do it as often as we should. It's traumatic, for me... But today it was time to clip Ellie's finger and toe nails.

That task has got to be some how similar to wrestling with an octopus. Arms flailing... twisting every which way in a desperate attempt to get off of my lap... and yelling. Lots and lots of yelling. (I'm not sure if Octopi yell, but if they had finger nails to be clipped, I'm sure they'd try.... vocal cords or no.)

I'm happy to report that all 10 digits remain in tact, although you'd never guess it by the sounds of things... Benett's up next, so say a little prayer for me. He's a much bigger octopus.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I had a chance to sew today. A treat to myself on a gloomy day. While I was looking through my fabric for the perfect piece of pink I came across this one. It is from Ruth’s collection. I can tell, because this piece of pink fabric, which must have started out as a table linen, had her signature yellow pins in it and had been cut.

Ruth was the original up-cycler. She was always taking a piece of fabric that she liked and repurposing it. This pink table cloth for example… it had a couple of spots on it. Aside from that, it’s in great shape. She recognized the value in things, no matter how small the scrap.

And did she have scraps... Ruth had tubs and boxes and bins full of scraps. After her estate sale, I hung onto quite a few. Some of the designs are wacky and fun and full of life. Each time I dig through the box, it’s a little like a treasure hunt… I always find something new.

They all remind me of Ruth. She taught me a lot about sewing, and today finding the pins sent me on a journey down memory lane.

Before we had kids, Monte and I would drive down to Winona to Ruth’s house on Sunday afternoon. We’d head straight for the basement to start sewing. Monte would have a couple of chores to do (mostly light bulbs needing to be changed or something along those lines) and then settle in to watch the game.

Those quiet afternoons sewing in the basement meant so much to me. It taught me that you can learn a lot about a person, without saying much and that you can make something lovely with bits, pieces and scraps that look destined for the trash.

Ruth’s birthday is in April. I don’t know what her exact age would be, but she’d be in her nineties. She’s been gone for a couple of years. Sadly, she never knew Benett or Ellie. I so wish she had know them both. I’m thankful that she did know Gavin. She loved him like a great-grandson, because in her heart, that's what he was.

I miss her… Finding her pins today was like she was right there sewing with me…. Reminding me that, “sewing is 50% ironing.” I happily did a little extra ironing today. Enjoying the smell of freshly ironed fabric and my memories of Ruth.

Friday, March 18, 2011


These flowers have me thinking of spring. I'm ready for the snow to be gone and things to start growing again. Mother Nature seems to be taking her sweet time though... we still have drifts in our yard... sigh...

Regardless of the lingering snow, the tulips are reminding me that soon my own flowers will start to send green shoots from the earth. There is something about spring flowers that makes them seem brave. They are so tender and fragile looking, yet they risk the frosty spring weather to be some of the first blooms in the garden.

What inspirational little fellows. Wish I were feeling brave, but the truth is that the tender flowers have me by a long shot these days. Maybe I'll get my gumption back when all the snow is gone and I won't have to worry about risking the frost.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I picked up a new gadget the other day, and now I'm hooked on making iCord. Gavin's even gotten into the mix and has been helping make this knitted rope too.

When the rope is made, I've been knitting that into something else. I love the transformation of it all... yarn to cord to knit. To me, that's just cool. (I know, I know... my definition of 'cool' may need some examination.)

Even though an item may not be especially useful or even practical, the act of creating things is soothing for me. (What does one do with a knitted piece of cord anyway?) I think the kids are soothed as well when they become immersed in a creative activity. I would love to spend my days doing those kinds of things... but for now we get little bits of creating in at night, before bed. I think it's a great way to end the day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Poor little Benett. He's under the weather. This time, it's not the messy kind of sick... he's just not feeling as spunky as usual.

He was running a little bit of a temp, so he had to come home from daycare. What he wanted most when we got home was to snuggle and watch Elmo. Normally, I'd do nearly anything to get out of an hour of Elmo... but if Benett is willing to sit still on my lap and cuddle... well in that case, I'm all in.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I guess when it boils down to it, we're all looking to be rescued from something. I think that's why fairy tales and the Prince in Shining Armor makes such an appealing figure. The character is strong, confidant and ready for battle... no matter how daunting the foe.

I don't like to think of it as 'battle' but my children are always trying to... well, let's say they're trying to 'express their points of view.' Sometimes that expression gets... loud. Sometimes there are tears. Sometimes tempers flare. It may not be 'battle' but they skirmish, that's for sure.

Ellie being the smallest and less experienced in point-of-view expression, is often in need of rescuing. I had no idea just how much, until we saw her trying to summon her prince... in a most dramatic fashion.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Although nobody likes to lose control, sometimes it's just easier to have decisions made for you. I find that for me, the more difficult the situation, the more I like to have the decisions made for me. Then all I have to do is roll with the punches.

That's what it must feel like for Benett. Someone is always running his show. If not Monte and me, then it's Gavin. But that's not all bad... for better or worse that's how he's learning right from wrong. What he likes and what he doesn't care for so much.

These days I can relate. But like Benett, it's not all bad. I'm learning lots along the way. Let's just hope that's where the similarities with the two-year-old end...

Sunday, March 13, 2011


After all of the preparations, and the festivities themselves, we were ready for a low key day. We found it, under a table playing hide and seek. We found it downstairs on the Wii. We found it in the living room, on the floor while playing with toys.

We were so relaxed that we forgot to turn our clocks ahead. Did you remember?

Saturday, March 12, 2011


The dishes are clean. The crumbs are swept. The birthday girl is fast asleep, undoubtedly dreaming sweet dreams.

I should be relieved that the dishes are clean and the crumbs are swept... but I'm preoccupied with a heavy heart. I feel like I'll never be the same again. My baby is a year old. And while I'm excited to see what she'll become, I'm misty to think about what she has already outgrown.

Maybe I'll steal an extra kiss tonight and content myself to live each moment with her to its fullest. All the while looking with excitement towards what it is that is coming next.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I wasn't expecting it. I wasn’t even consciously hoping for it. But deep down in my soul I needed a little girl.

Low and behold, one year ago on this day, our little Ellie Page was born. She came into the world chubby and pink, the polar opposite of both of her brothers. They were both small and reserved, dare I say even quiet.

Not Ellie. She came into the world howling.

Despite her noisy entrance, her life in the womb was quiet. She was an easy passenger. She didn’t cause me any nausea. No paralyzing heartburn. My energy level was pretty good for the most part too. She was easy-going. Uncomplicated.

One year later, she’s still easy-going and uncomplicated. She's one of the most content children I've ever known. She’s still chubby and pink - cherubic. I love her. I can’t imagine life without her.

At 9:36 PM tonight, I’ll have been holding Ellie in my arms for exactly one year. But it turns out I've been holding her in my heart for my whole life.

Happy Birthday, Ellie Page. Mommy loves you.


All of the preparations have been made. We made our trip to Daube's. The party dress is washed and pressed. The only thing now is to pick up toys and wait for our guests... how will we keep from sneaking a taste of the cake?


I thought they were sleeping, but even the flowers and trees put on their party clothes today in honor of Ellie's big day.

She thinks that is pretty special, and I agree.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crazy Legs

We call Ellie Crazy Legs. She’s earned the moniker. From the time she was small, when she’d get excited, her legs would just a move. As she got bigger, and was sitting up by herself, those little legs would really get going and she’d clap the bottoms of her feet together.
If you've never seen her do it, it's probably difficult to image what she looks like... but I'm sure it looks as weird as what you're imagining. (It is nearly impossible for an adult to replicate this. Don't ask me how I know that.)

It’s a riot to watch Ellie and her crazy legs… especially when she’s in the tub. She makes a splashy mess. There’s water everywhere. She’s like a human agitator. Maybe I should be tossing some laundry in the tub with her… now that's multi-tasking!


The love of a child is a wonderful thing. It's the stuff that makes adults soft and pliable. It makes us weak.

There is something special about the request, "Mommy, me sit your lap?" I don't get a lot of snuggle time out of my kids... that's not who they are. They're still very affectionate, but in their own ways.

Affection for Benett is offering his favorite car to you for a 'drive.' It's a little bit of lap time. If you're really lucky, it's a smooch.

This look, with these big brown eyes makes me go soft. I go weak in the knees. It's these big brown eyes that make me consider spending all day just watching him... being amazed by what he can do, what he's becoming... enjoying his personality.

And when I'm really lucky... then I get a smooch... and when that happens... forget about it. I become an irrational person who decides it's a good idea to spend all day in jammies. Forgetting about everything but my responsibility to him and his siblings.

As parents we learn early on to take the good with the bad. There are parts of being a parent that are difficult.... trying... just plain hard. But these gestures of love, which may seem small, make all that other stuff go away.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I was minding my own business today. I wasn't particularly inspired, but there is just so much to do at the office. So... inspired or not, the demands can't be denied. The pace has been hectic. More than busy... manic. It's frustrating and it makes me anxious.

In the midst of all of this, it happened.

Out of nowhere, it seemed so clear. I realized what really and truely matters most. The people in my life have always mattered most, but today the clarity of what that really means struck me like a bolt of lightning.

When I woke up this morning, it seemed like any other day. Ordinary. I didn't wake up and feel like anything particularly special would happen, let alone life changing. But the truth is, each day we all have the ability to make a change. It only requires us to slow down and listen. Listen to our hearts and then act.

The action part is difficult... sometimes it's a slow process. And waiting isn't always an easy thing. Instant gratification is more than a motto, it's a way of life. (The Kindle and Netflix have me spoiled.)

Sometimes action means that things move faster than is comfortable. At my house, we're creatures of habit and the thought of abandoning a comfortable routine... well that's scary.

But what I learned today is that the most important thing is to listen to my heart. It may catch me by surprise... but now I'm hooked. I can't wait to remain quiet and listen some more. Who knows, maybe I'll learn something new and unexpected tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Fat Tuesday is a day of indulgence. It's that one last day before the solemn time of reflection and deprivation that is Lent.

To be honest, I haven't ever really given much thought to a Fat Tuesday celebration at our house. The day only seems like an opportunity to justify this idea that more is better. I can't really get behind that... especially when we're trying to teach the little people about limits and moderation.

If Lent is about reflection and prayer, then perhaps today should be more of an outward celebration of life. Celebrating the vibrancy of our lives. Enjoying the boisterous nature of children and families. So in that way we did celebrate Fat Tuesday - big time!

Things were so vibrant in fact, that I decided everyone should go to bed early. This Fat Tuesday has also made me realize that my Lent will certainly be prayer filled... I'll be praying for patience... lots and lots of patience.

Monday, March 7, 2011


For me, watching Ellie learn to walk is like watching as someone else plays a fast paced video game. I can’t relax and simply watch, it’s a work out!
I’ll lean this way then that way, brace myself, and then gasp as she corrects her balance at the last possible moment. I tense up and hold my breath when Ellie falls, to see if she’ll cry. (Trying the whole time not to look concerned or she’ll cry for sure.)
It’s tough learning a new skill. But for little girls, not only do they need to learn how to put one foot in front of the other… they need to learn how to do it while making sure they’re not exposing themselves. Walking and dresses is a complicated combination.
The whole process is bittersweet. We love to watch Ellie learning new things. It’s so fun to share in her excitement. But our baby isn’t such a baby anymore. Today she’s walking, tomorrow she’ll be running and then what… senior prom and a driver’s license?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Brick by Brick

Legos are a big deal, but not for the faint of heart. It's a dangerous business playing with legos.
They're small.
They're sharp.
It doesn't matter how well you think you cleaned up the mess... there's always one more lurking in the carpet... waiting for a bare foot to come along.
The other thing about legos is that there is no such thing as too many. Gavin has a really nifty storage unit for all of his legos. He's very carefully sorted them all by type and assigned a bin for each kind of brick.

Even though he has a gazillion pieces, there always seems to be one more set that he needs. He's always scheming and saving up for a new set.

Each set comes with a very detailed instruction book. It's fun to watch Gavin with the booklet open before him, as he intently searches for the correct piece to assemble his new favorite toy.

But even better than that is the thing that inevitably comes next. When the novelty of the new construction wears off, that's when the creativity really kicks in. Gavin has a desk full of trucks, 4-wheelers, space ships and other fantastic things he's built brick by brick, with no instruction, except that of his own imagination.

So despite the danger of losing a brick in the carpet, we'll continue to scatter the legos and unleash our imagination in an attempt to build something new and even more fun. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I’ve had my fill of winter.
It's true, the top layer of snow is slowly melting and we can see that there is actually something other than more snow beneath it. That helps. But I’m tired of the bundling. I’m tired of the cold wind. I’m tired of the sand and grime that is tracked into the house every day.
Despite the fun that the boys had sledding today, I think they’re growing weary as well. Even their snow pants look tired.
Gavin's lost 4 pair of gloves this season. I think he's just tired of wearing them, so he takes them off and misplaces them. I can't say that I blame him. The winter dressing routine has lost its novelty.
As the days grow longer, our resolve does as well. The winter will give way to spring sooner or later. In the meantime, we'll continue to bundle up in our tired snow pants and drag sand and grit into the house. But in the spirit of springtime, I think we'll break out some short sleeve t-shirts for tomorrow.

Friday, March 4, 2011


As a mother, having a routine is a necessity. With it, we all stay on track. We know what to expect and when to expect it. With a routine we get to school and daycare on time. Without it, chaos reigns and things just don’t feel right.
Basically, a routine keeps us all happy.
At the office, a routine is an okay thing when it comes to basic task management. There is a level of comfort in a weekly meeting, or a daily check of web stats. But when it comes to being creative, a routine can make me complacent.
That is the upside of travel. Don’t get me wrong, being away from my family and my home is tough. But being on the road is a great way to keep things fresh. It’s an opportunity to learn about other markets. It’s an opportunity to expose yourself to new cultures and people... to see your world in a new way.
For kids, there is no need to get on an airplane or learn a complex new business/product line in order to jump start the creativity. All they need is to be held upside down for 10 seconds and their world is transformed.
If it were only that easy for us adults... I'd stand on my head once a day if that would make me more creative. Maybe I'll start tomorrow. It can be a part of my new routine.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


When things are going your way, it seems as though you can just glide through anything, doesn't it? It’s like a perfectly folded paper airplane slicing through the air. Gliding along, straight and true.
Gliding feels great.
If yesterday I was gliding, then today my paper airplane was folded funny and didn't fly at all. I couldn't fly straight, and eventually I began to spiral downward. I tried to right myself, but to no avail.
Today was rough. Nothing seemed to go my way. Each email, every phone call, around every corner there seemed to be a new issue that elicited a feeling of angst.
I left the office at 5:26. I had more to do. But I left anyway. I thought that if I got out of there, the remainder of my day would improve. But my theory didn't hold true.
I’m not sure if there was more of the same at home, or if I was still reeling from the bad day at work. There seemed to be a lot more noise at home tonight. Why does that always seem to be the case, when a hushed tone and a sense of peace are needed most?
I have to go back to the office tomorrow, but trust me… it’s the last place I want to think about right now. At least the kids are in bed. I’m not sure how we accomplished that without major drama. But they’re tucked away, hopefully dreaming sweet dreams.
I’d like to tuck myself into bed too and end my bad day once and for all. But things are quiet. I can almost feel that sense of peace growing. Maybe if I give it some time I will have the energy to mentally re-fold my paper airplane and get things in order so I can glide through tomorrow and into the weekend.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Small Hands

These hands are small. They’re little boy hands. Rough and tumble. Full of mischief and always ready to explore. The best way to judge a good and productive day is by the amount of dirt on these hands and under these fingernails.
These hands are attached to little arms. Little arms that were made for tight hugs. One of my favorite parts of the day is getting home from work and hearing, “me want to hug e-you.” And hug he does… And my day is instantly a little bit better – no matter what.
The little arms are attached to a smallish body. (Smallish but going through a growth spurt… this little body can pack away the food!) You can’t see it, but inside this smallish body is a heart. A heart that is anything but small. It’s so large that I’m amazed that it can be contained at all.
Benett shows his love in unconventional ways. When someone looks sad or is having a rough day, his way of saying “cheer up, things will be okay” is to give that sad someone his matchbox car/tractor/horse/train/stuffed animal.
He’s also happy to share his food. If you happen to be near him while he’s eating, you’re sure to end up with a morsel. It’s really an act of great kindness, although the recipient of the morsel might not know it. (Sometimes he takes the liberty of chewing it a bit before giving it away.)
He’s great at Eskimo kisses and smooches. Before we left his great grandfather’s house on Saturday, he made everyone laugh when he puckered up and tried to give grandpa a kiss. It was sweet, and genuine.
These hands may be small, but they have done great things. These small hands and big heart make a family complete.