Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Long Winter Nights, Lazy Winter Days

Weazy gave Bocker her DS and he's been really busy with it. He bought Monster Truck Rally with his Christmas gift card from Grandma Sue and Grandpa Harold.

We've been making lots of blanket tents and finding new ways to be as lazy as possible!
Tommy has learned how to escape the bounds of the living room and explore the rest of the house. Here he is "helping" to do the dishes about a day before the dishwasher died forever. It went all defunct right before I was to host Christmas Eve for my family. With our past dryer troubles, oven troubles, and refrigerator troubles, and now dishwasher troubles...I've had it with this junk! All I need to poop out now is the microwave. Oh, the sump pump clamp loosened and sprayed water all over the utility room last week too. The last time that happened, it sprayed water on the water heater and shorted it out. THAT was a 350 buck repair. It didn't happen this time but it was a nice, wet mess for a few days and freaked me out because Butch was out of town. I re-adjusted the clamp and tightened it. I'm getting to be a regular handyperson around here with that hubs of mine gone all the time (he'll be home for a while now, thank goodness) Anybody want to hire me? I work for 100 bucks an hour. Tommy will work for suckers, macaroni and cheese, pieces of lint, pennies, polly pocket pieces, pen caps, or anything else you could find in corners of your living room or in between your couch cushions.

Here is a shot of my dining room wall (whoops, it's sideways) after I took off the wallpaper border but before I really got into painting it:Here is our Christmas tree, in the corner of the soon to be painted dining room. I couldn't stand looking at all the little pieces of tape holding the rippy border up on EVERY wall. I didn't have any money for paint but I had supplies and leftover yellow from the living room, also I had red from the hallway and bottom of the dining room...hey! Yellow and red make orange, right? Right?Before:After:

This is the other corner and I think the paint looks pinkish here but it's really a terracotta kind of color. I was going to go for a darkish, rusty orangish color but I like how this turned out. You should have seen the mess I made mixing paint but I am so happy with the result. I'm also proud of the fact that I didn't bother with taping the trim and did it all free hand (It's perfect, by the way, if I do say so myself.). I started the whole mess earlier in the day when we first put up the decorations on the tree and I ripped all the wallpaper off. I knew that, come hell or highwater, I wouldn't go to sleep until the whole room was painted and put back together. I wanted at least ONE THING DONE before Christmas! I finished around 3 am. (I will paint your room for 50 bucks or grocery store gift certificates.).

Here is the space above the main entry door that I like to decorate with seasonal stuff. I usually just grab a bunch of extra decorations, household thingies, lights, and other misc. statues and baubles. I asked my cousin Deedee if she had any extra things and she gave me that tree in the middle. It was just the thing I needed. The lights didn't work on it but I had extras from last year and it looks so cute from outside. I think I'll take down the colored lights and add white ones, and I'll take down the super Christmas-y things so by the time spring and summer come, it isn't so obvious that I never get around to changing that thing. When I crawled up there to change it, I was fighting dust and spider webs from LAST SPRING when I last changed the motif.

Here it is with the lights on (that's the entry chandelier in the top right of the picture). That old cabinet to the right is an old machine parts box on it's side and I like to put a bunch of things in there to play an"i spy"-type of game.

"I spy...a dust bunny, a spider web, an errant ball, an old sock that Matty thought would be funny to throw down over the ledge, an earring back, a pill bug, and parts of my Easter display from 2003..."

Okay, gotta go try to keep from pulling my hair out on this cold, blizzardy day. At least the kids have the Wii Outdoor Challenge game to stomp around on and work out the willies.

I'm outta here, people!:

Monday, December 29, 2008


It sure was windy today! Just about knocked my socks off. The stinker of it all was that it wasn't really that cold. I can take most anything but wind will RUIN my day.

I've been blogging again on my marathon training/running blog again if you want to check it out. My friend and I started running an average of 3-4 miles a few times a week back in the beginning of October. She's all pregnant now so I can't whip her, and beat her, and make her run hill drills but we're trying to keep her nice and fit so she has a healthy pregnancy and can get back in shape faster after the birth in around July.

Go check it out iffin yer want ter. Go ahead and ask to be invited and I'll invite you if you're worthy and not a stalker or an ax murderer. I have very low standards, so your chances are pretty good.

Also, check out the new header on that blog and give a shout out to Regina who fixed 'er up for me real good (she did this one too). That girl is just a ray of sunshine in a murky, dark world, I tell you. I especially appreciate her comments. She's always so encouraging, supportive, and sweet.

A Haiku. For Regina:

Thought I topped them all
But then, I met Regina
Smarta** of the world

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Would That You Could Hear What I Hear

Bocker (this morning as he was playing with Tommy):

Oh, I like touching his tongue! It's so cute! Oh, Mama he's scratching his ear! His cheeks are red! He thinks I'm bald! I'm not bald, Tommy! (he just got a haircut)

(Later, in the car on the way to wally world to spend his Christmas gift card, he looked out the window and started this conversation):

"Hey Mom? I don't think there are any more tornadoes for thousands of days."

Me: Huh?

Bocker: I said that there's no tornadoes for thousands of days. A long long time ago there was a tornado but I don't think it was here except I think it was.

Me: ?

Niklaus, what made you think about tornadoes at this time of year?

Bocker: Well, I don't know, I was just thinking about tornadoes. I think that hurricanes are tougher than tornadoes, though.

Me: Well, actually...

Bocker: Yeah, they are WAY tougher.

Me: No, they are both very dangerous and they both are wind that's swirling around a lot and causing all kinds of damage. Tornados are faster but hurricanes make a big mess with the water and damage a lot more stuff... but we only have tornadoes on land and hurricanes happen where there is water...

Bocker: (perking up because the next think he thought of was...) Hey! You know, there's hurricanes in TEXAS, right? Hey Mama, you know those friends of mine who live in Texas, do you? They live in Texas and also there's bees in Texas and rattlesnakes. Oh, and there's cowboys in Texas too.

Me: Yup, you're right about all that!

Bocker: Mom, can tornadoes pick up bricks?

Me: Yes, they can pick up whole houses and smash them down into piles of sticks. See that big house there? A tornado is nothing to mess with. A tornado could pick up that big house and twist it around into a smushy pile of sticks.

Bocker: Yeah, but could a tornado pick up a brick?

Me: ?

Bocker, I just told you that a tornado could pick up an entire house MADE OF BRICKS, so don't you think it could pick up ONE brick?

Bocker: Yeah, I think it could maybe pick up one brick. I always wondered about that.

Me: Bocker?

Bocker: What?

Me: I love you.

Bocker: Yeah, I know.

The Princess and the Bocker

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"Dazzle mine eyes, or do I see three suns?"

My cousin, Deedee called me the other (@ 9:30 am-ish)day and told me to look out the window at the sun. She said that some man stopped to show her and called it "three suns" and said he'd seen it once before and that it was a special phenomenon. I've never heard of it or seen it before that, ever! I ran to grab my camera and got a pretty good shot of it:

I just looked it up. Wowie. You really do learn something new every day!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Two Tu-Tu and One Fru Fru (VIdeo Added: Parental Advisory: Extreme Ballet Moves and Mild Violence)

...aaaaannddddd the big finish:

Aren't they just so graceful? No formal training, even!

They must have gotten their moves from their big brother:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Too Much Noise

Go Here. Read This.

I have a bunch of really fun pictures (for people who don't like to read) soon.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Moron Vaccines

Whoops, I meant to write "More On Vaccines".

My bad.

It occurred to me as I read some of the responses to my last post that I should explain my positions on vaccinations in general.

(You can email me any time if you have more detailed questions or comments re: this issue. This is just a little, teeny overview.)

First, before you get all hot and bothered, I'd like to offer this caveat:
Every parent has unique experiences/friends/family/physical issues/children and I understand that, and the many different reasons people choose to, or not to vaccinate their children/parents/anyone in their charge.
Sometimes it's a guilt thing. Sometimes it's a tradition thing. Sometimes it's a "go with the flow and don't make waves" thing. Sometimes it's a forced thing. Sometimes it's even a good thing (like if there were a vaccine for Ebola in a third world country or something, I'm sure). But EVERY time, it should be a CHOICE and not a law.

I didn't always think the way I think about vaccines. I started out trusting that the medical community had all of our best interests at heart. I worked in a nursing home my senior year of high school, and after in assisted living and home care, and also with profoundly, mentally retarded teens in a group home. I started to go to nursing school and quickly realized that, as much as I loved caring for vulnerable people, nursing was NOT for me. I hated the whole cold, know it all, big butt nurse attitudes and was disillusioned with the whole mess. I took a break for a little while and worked in an office until I had Trina then went back to work in a nursing home until that didn't work out any more and I came home for good (with little odd jobs here and there since then).

I tried to keep up with Trina's vaccination schedule (big poster in the doctor's office with ricket-y kids and kids with giant pustules all over their poor, third world bodies convinced me it must be the right thing to do) but we didn't have health insurance and I missed her 18 month boosters. The guilt racked me on a daily basis back then. I remember feeling like the worst mother in the world and even went to a "wellness on wheels" van one time to see if I could get her updated but chickened out because I couldn't bear the thought of her screaming in that small space while I filled out forms, etc. (I'm also a little claustrophobic).

So, fast forward to right before Matty was born ('97) when mom mentioned to me in passing how they were starting to do the hepatitis b vaccine in the hospital (at birth) and she wondered out loud why they would need to do that if most of the people who got hep.b were actually AIDS patients? I just kind of shrugged and didn't think too much about it but decided to just wait until later to study up on that and delay that vaccination. I had to sign a waiver at the hospital and I remember thinking that that was odd. At his two, four, and six month appts. I told the doctor each time that I DID NOT want the hep b vaccine but that I was fine with all the others (I still hadn't done any research and didn't want to take a risk). Each time, she had a student with her that would ask the same questions separately and each time, the student asked me why I was refusing the hep. b. I thought that was a little personal but I wasn't too bothered by it at the time. The nurse would bring in the shots, hand me the "sign on the highlighted lines" carbon sheet with the vaccines listed. I signed them quickly, ready to grab my screaming child and nurse him so he'd be comforted. I didn't even think any thing more about the whole thing until I got the bill from the ins. co. that stated the vaccines he had received and that they had paid for. I noticed that they had paid for hep. b. shots and I didn't think it was fair that they had to pay for something that the patient hadn't received so I called the hosp. and got his records only to see that I had signed off on, and he HAD RECEIVED all three shots.

I was so mad! I could see it happening ONCE, by accident, but EACH TIME??? It made me think back and I remembered the look on the nurses face (photographic memory) and how she was all sneaky-like and sheepish as she brought the tray of shots in. It was the same nurse every time for sure. When I went for his 18 month appt. I expressed my disgust with the doctor and she just kind of shrugged and apologized for the miscommunication but didn't offer any more advice or reassurance other than an "oh well, at least he's vaccinated against that" kind of attitude.

In the years between him and Analise, I did some research (mostly at the library, I didn't have great internet access at that time) and the more I looked into it, the scarier it got.

See, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't when it comes to vaccines! I know you know what I'm talking about no matter which "side" you're on in this issue!

I decided not to vaccinate anymore until/unless I was totally convinced it was necessary and that it could do good for my kids instead of being a risky endeavor. Matty had all kinds of food (milk, peanuts, eggs, soy) and pet allergies and got asthma-like symptoms whenever he got fevers or colds (he outgrew the food ones, except peanut, by the time he was 3). Nothing freaks out a mom like a three month old baby who turns blue because of a lousy 101 fever and a little cough! Luckily, he nursed like a bandit and I didn't have to buy that super expensive hypoallergenic formula that would have broken the bank!

Okay so here are the stats (take them for what they're worth):

Trina-vaccinated up to 3 years (not hep b and not chicken pox)
Has a diagnosed, lifetime disorder (that I won't name for her privacy) that is endocrine system related.

Matty-vaccinated up to 18 months (not chicken pox)
Has lifetime allergy to peanuts/pet dander, and tendency to sinus infection

Neither Trina nor Matty threw up as infants.

Trina, Matty, and Analise all had chicken pox at the same time when they were about 6, 3, and 1

Analise, Niklaus, Mari, and Thomas are all not vaccinated for anything.

Analise, Niklaus, and Mari all had MAJOR barfing when they were infants up until they started walking. Thomas missed out on that particular thing (yay!).

Analise had pertussis (whooping cough) when she was about 2 but handled it quite well. She does have a problem breathing when she has a severe cold that affects her lungs and sometimes needs an inhaler/neb treatment (about once a year or less).

None of the kids have ever had chronic ear infections (Only Trina ever really had a bad one at all).

None of my kids have any kind of learning problems (other than the one where they can't seem to "learn" how to avoid getting in trouble for picking on each other!) or need glasses.

I'm not sure what anyone could DO with all that info but, in the interest of full disclosure, I thought it might be interesting to see a little history "snapshot" of why I don't vaccinate and some possible health problems (either way) regarding my decisions to vaccinate/not vaccinate.

Also, could anyone PLEASE let me know if they have been exposed to chicken pox? I need to get my three youngers exposed (totally bearable and easier the younger you are and absolutely HORRID to have as an adult)!

Yeah, I'm the meanest mom on the planet and NO, I won't accept anonymous comments for this post.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Don't Poke The Baby!

Hey! MN PEEPS! Did you know?...

"Thus far, the state of Minnesota has illegally collected and claims ownership to the DNA of 780,000 children (soon to be voting adults) and has provided the DNA of 42,210 children to genetic researchers without parent consent. Approximately, 73,000 children are born in Minnesota every year. About 4.2 million children are born across the nation. All of them are losing their genetic privacy and DNA ownership rights."

Funny how God works, isn't it?

Here's the thing: Last night I was chatting with my sil about some junk and I brought up some stuff about when Tommy was born. I was telling her about how I found out (about six months before he was born) about how MN was taking the DNA (blood samples) of our babies and storing them without the parent's consent. I told her about how I opted out of the PKU test (where they take the sample) and how there was this weirdo nurse who kept hounding me about it. She became absolutely gestapo and repeatedly brought me information about immunizations, testing, etc. etc. I opt out of the eye goo for gonorrhea, and all immunizations. That info was on the wipeoff board in big letters right inside my door in the hospital so the nurses couldn't say they weren't informed and she couldn't let it go that it was my INFORMED CHOICE. She even gave me one of those passive/aggressive smiles and asked me, "Can I ask WHY?" Then, after I gave her my short answer, she tried to cover up that she thought I was the most idiotic mother she's ever met by saying, "Oh, I just was wondering because some people don't really have any info. and just hear stuff or read it on the internet blah blah blah." After that, I was DONE with her. When she saw my doctor was visiting Tommy and I, she came barrelling in the room with her arms full of three ring binder files and gasped out, "I just wanted to let you know...did you tell him?...that she is not doing the PKU testing!!!!???!!!".


Anyway, he just sat there calmly and told her that there really wasn't any good reason to do that testing except for a stop gap for mothers who might not really care about their infants. He told her that if there really was a child with one of the diseases they test for, that that child would be a SICK child whom the mother would bring to the doctor and that they would do the testing then. He basically BRUSHED HER OFF (yay doctor!) and she finally shut up and left me alone. That was the same idiot nurse who kept waking Tommy to get his temp when he was on his third day and perfectly healthy in my arms nursing himself to sleep. If I wasn't holding a sleeping infant, I would have shoved that damn thermometer up HER rea...ahem, I digress:

SO, today, I was listening to the radio and they were talking about that same thing! Not the thermometer thing. That would be gross...the DNA testing thing! Here is an open letter to our RINO Guv about it:

"You're just being paranoid, Laura! No big deal! Just let them test the baby for pete's sake! They find these diseases...it's GOOD for the baby! They've been doing that and the eye goo thing for years! It's all about prevention!"


Think again.

It's all about control and power. The more power the state has over you and your person, the more they want. Like HELL they would take my baby to poke and prod and use as some sort of commodity!

We are HUMAN BEINGS with dignity and freedom. We are NOT guinea pigs to be used at the government's pleasure.

PLEASE think about what they will do to your infant while they are busy sewing you up and distracting you from your screaming child.

Oh yeah. Eye goo is for gonorrhea. ONLY for gonorrhea.

I like my babies to see around them when they first pop out! It was amazing to see how much they looked around and how alert they were because they weren't irritated by that gooey stuff.

Just thought you'd like to know.

H/T Sue Jeffers' radio talk show on KTLK

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bittersweet Times

Some people very close to me have recently announced their pregnancies (when I'm allowed, I'll let you know who they are!)!

I am so so so sooooo happy for them but always, with that wonderful happiness, there is potential for such great sorrow. It's so hard (especially this time of year) to think about that profound sadness and how to make happy Christmas memories out of it all. I have a picture of myself from the Christmas '01. I was on the couch completely miserable with morning sickness, watching the kids open their presents. Two days later I started to lose my fourth baby (early miscarriage). I look bloated, unhealthy, and unhappy. I looked that way because I WAS all those things. I almost threw that picture away about 10 times because it's not a happy memory and I think I knew at that time that something was not quite right. I'd rather just throw away the whole memory all together but that would mean that I'd have to forget my CHILD. How could I do that? As painful as those memories are (I lost another baby a few months later). I force myself to revisit them so that those babies are prayed for and aren't forgotten.

I don't mention these things often and I've had a hard time "naming" or grieving my babies because it seems like such a private thing. Sometimes when I'm talking about it, I get embarrassed like I'm maybe embarrassing the person I'm talking to because they don't know how to react to sad news like that, so then I change the subject and shove it in the back of my mind again. Do you know what I mean? I hope not, because that means you've had that loss too and it's so wretchedly awful on so many levels.

Please, if you have a moment, could you say a prayer for my friend and her family this Christmas? That's all. They need some spiritual support and I can't think of a better way than to send earnest prayers to Heaven that their hearts are lightened despite their GREAT LOSS.

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Matt Cubed

My sister, Anna is 12 years younger than me. She is 10 years younger than my sister, Katrina (there were three boys in between us but I'm not talking about them right now). When she was born, us girls were so happy. We had a little, beautiful, living doll to play with and adore. She grew in much love and grace and today is a wonderful person and I'm so proud of the woman she's become.

We missed her horribly when she went to college. We couldn't believe we let her live in Alaska for the summer after she graduated college but we knew it was a good opportunity for her growth. We felt sorrow that she couldn't seem to find any man who would treat her so well that he'd be deserving of her love but we knew that someday (even if it didn't seem like it to her) she'd find the perfect person to share her life with.

Ahem (excuse me whilst I get a tad verklempt).

Last spring, she found that man. He's a sailor out in the Indian Ocean (but from Wisconsin) and was working out there when they met. They got to know each other from afar which was an unconventional but ideal way to start a relationship (in my opinion!), and when they met in person? Oh man, I'm pretty sure they both got hit with the fireworks pretty instantly! Katrina and I met him and we both KNEW that this was IT. That was just this summer! We met his family and can see where he gets his good nature and happy, good attitude. We are already planning the years to come and Matt is intertwined in our family and our plans.

Matt is a total goof and fits in with the boys in our family so well, you'd think he's been around forever. Upon our first meeting, both Katrina and I told our SIL separately (without having talked about our first impressions with each other) that one word to describe him would be "humble"!

We've all fallen in love with him. I have a hard time NOT referring to him as "your uncle, Matt" even though they have one of those already (Matt is my sis, Katrina's hubs and also my son's name...in case you didn't know).

So, Matt has to share names with his future brother in law and future nephew (no, they're not engaged yet...a girl can dream) and he's also going to have to share Anna's best love with me and Trine (thus, "Matt Cubed"! Hahaha! Get it????) but he's so sweet, he can handle it all.

He had to go back to his job on the Ocean for four months and we are already missing him so much. We said goodbye at Thanksgiving and I got a chance to take some pictures of him and Anna and also took some video which perfectly illustrates how comfortable they are with each other and how DANG CUTE they are together.

Check it out and just TRY not to say "awwwww". I dare you.

Happy Birthday to you, Anna (December 24th) and Merry Christmas to Matt on the other side of the world.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


My friend from school, Nicole's husband isn't doing so hot. They have four young children and could use your help (he is receiving radiation and is very ill and cannot work). I know this is last minute, but if you're from MN and live within an hour or two of St. Michael, could you PLEASE consider coming to town for a benefit dinner/silent auction tomorrow afternoon? It is reasonable price for dinner and the silent auction is SURE to have lots of desirable items for gifts or for yourself! If you can't attend, anything you could maybe contribute (do you do an annual holiday donation as a family?) to the fund for this family. They are people I know personally who really could use your help in this desperate situation!!!

Here is their caringbridge update:

Mike had an appointment with his ENT doctor today. They decided that Mike needs to continue using his tracheotomy tube to assist in his breathing. He has too much secretions to stop now. The last few days were kind of rough on Mike. He wasn't able to swallow liquids. He also got pretty weak again and walking around was more difficult. Sleep is still elusive during the night as well.

But, he is feeling better today and at this point, plans on attending the benefit on Sunday. Please plan on joining us and cheering him on post-radiation!

We hope to see many of you on Sunday! Thanks again for your continuing your support these past two months!


The Benefit Dinner/Silent Auction is only TWO days away (now, one)! It will be held at the NEW St. Michael Middle School (on Naber Avenue) on Sunday, December 7 from 2:30-7:00pm. A catered broasted chicken dinner will be available from 3:00-6:00. Cost is $12 per person, $30 per family of four. "Cupcake" the Clown will be there with face painting and balloons for the children.

We have over 250 items for the Silent Auction, so be ready to bid! We have many items that would make wonderful Christmas gifts. Cash and checks will be accepted.

Items for the men include: Deer Hunting trip for 2, Guided Musky Trip on Lake Minnetonka, Ryobi drill, Poker Table Top, Carhartt jackets and tickets to the MN Vikings, Twins and Wild games.

Items for the women include: Gym memberships, Facials, Theater Tickets, Keurig Coffeemaker, Designer Purses, crafts and Tastefully Simple, Pampered Chef, Bath and Body Works baskets.

For the kids, we have: a brand new American Girl Doll (Mia) with accessories, Groovy Girl Basket, Slumber Party baskets, Tickets to Water Parks, Family Fun baskets, homemade blankets and much much more.

We hope you all can join us on Sunday, December 7. Please pass on the invitation to your family and friends!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

" I've no time for broads who want to rule the world alone. Without men, who'd do up the zipper on the back of your dress? "

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Bette!


You are a Bette -- "I must be strong"

Bettes are direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Stand up for yourself... and me.

  • * Be confident, strong, and direct.

  • * Don't gossip about me or betray my trust.

  • * Be vulnerable and share your feelings. See and acknowledge my tender, vulnerable side.

  • * Give me space to be alone.

  • * Acknowledge the contributions I make, but don't flatter me.

  • * I often speak in an assertive way. Don't automatically assume it's a personal attack.

  • * When I scream, curse, and stomp around, try to remember that's just the way I am.

What I Like About Being a Bette

  • * being independent and self-reliant

  • * being able to take charge and meet challenges head on

  • * being courageous, straightforward, and honest

  • * getting all the enjoyment I can out of life

  • * supporting, empowering, and protecting those close to me

  • * upholding just causes

What's Hard About Being a Bette

  • * overwhelming people with my bluntness; scaring them away when I don't intend to

  • * being restless and impatient with others' incompetence

  • * sticking my neck out for people and receiving no appreciation for it

  • * never forgetting injuries or injustices

  • * putting too much pressure on myself

  • * getting high blood pressure when people don't obey the rules or when things don't go right

Bettes as Children Often

  • * are independent; have an inner strength and a fighting spirit

  • * are sometimes loners

  • * seize control so they won't be controlled

  • * figure out others' weaknesses

  • * attack verbally or physically when provoked

  • * take charge in the family because they perceive themselves as the strongest, or grow up in difficult or abusive surroundings

Bettes as Parents

  • * are often loyal, caring, involved, and devoted

  • * are sometimes overprotective

  • * can be demanding, controlling, and rigid

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz
at HelloQuizzy

H/T Michelle "Katharine" of Rosetta Stone

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Forest of Wonderland/Adventures in Homeschooling

Tracy has already documented part of our adventure in (what her 2nd daughter dubbed) "The Forest of Wonderland" but I just found a bunch of really pretty photos and a video of that day so I'll post them before I do my Thanksgiving post and my Niklaus' birthday post!

The pictures do NOT do this wonderful place justice. I don't want to tell anyone where it is because it's so pretty, and surreal, and...magical! There were all kinds of colorful fungi/mushrooms and berries. I doubt we could have seen those things in the summer because of the foliage so, even though it was very cold and windy, it was worth the trip. Going into the depths of the forest, the wind died down and we really enjoyed the hike. Even with a crabby Mari who ended up being carried by me most of the way, it seemed like our angels were with us because my back didn't hurt at all from carrying the two little ones for several miles.

We also went to Alexandria again to visit Daddy at work. We stayed in the same hotel we stayed in last year. It was very cold so we were only able to go to the Runestone Museum again and swim a little at the hotel but it was a nice break and good to see Daddy while he was out of town (which he has been for so many weeks this year!). He's going out of town again soon to Red Wing, MN and we hope to meet up with an old friend and her children and see what there is to see there.

One more head on the Nielsen Totem Pole

1800s version of Wal-mart

"Oooooh! A TEA PARTY!"
"MARI! The sign says 'do not touch'! Don't go under the rop...never mind!"

Every day is a tea party day for Mari! Analise and Mari wake up every morning planning what dress they'll wear and what treat they'll make for the tea party. Sometimes Mari wears her dress up dress all day long. Actually, almost EVERY DAY she wears her dress up dress all day long.

For your listening pleasure, our pipsqueak princess, Mari singing "Bye Baby Bunting":

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Good Cause



Holy Family Catholic Adoption Agency is the only pro-life Catholic adoption agency that offers adoption at extremely low cost for couples wanting to adopt a baby (only $350 for all our adoption services). We do not charge our adoptive couples the normal fees associated with adoption. Instead, we ask them to pray at least one hour a week before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and we encourage them to join us on the sidewalks outside abortion centers where we pray and offer help to the abortion-bound mother and a Catholic home for her baby.

Since we do not charge the normal adoption fees, our agency subsists on donations. We are the only pro-life Catholic adoption agency that goes on the sidewalks outside abortion centers to offer help for the abortion bound mother and adoption if she wants to place her baby in a home.

We are in need of donations at this time. Our Agency has been involved in placing 15 babies into good Catholic homes in the past 6 years.

Any donation can be sent to:

Holy Family Catholic Adoption Agency

525 Thomas Ave

St Paul Mn 55103

Monday, November 24, 2008

Texas Obsession

I can't explain when it started or why, but my children are all about Texas. Every time someone mentions that state, it sets off a huge conversation about where they would go in Texas, what they might do in Texas, what and who they might see, and all kinds of questions get fired at me about the history and terrain of a state I've never been to (except for a layover in an airport once) and have no real pressing desire to visit (at least not as pressing as THEIR desire!). So, Bocker all of the sudden yesterday started talking about our old neighbors who moved months ago...to Texas, of course:

Bocker: Mom, why'd they have to move to Texas?

Me: Because their daddy got a job there.

Bocker: Why can't they move somewhere in THIS world?

Me: ? (No answer for that one. I know that Texas is probably nice in places and maybe a really different place to visit but I didn't realize it was...otherworldly!)

Bocker: (pausepausepause) Mom? Does Texas have real cactuses?


Just now, as I was reading this article to the kids, Bocker came up to me, shared some of his freshly, self-frosted cupcake and asked:

"Mom? If someone eats frosting off a knife can they get worms in their brain?"

Friday, November 21, 2008

Real Women, Real Saints

NO, it's not a "list of people I know" and "how much I am JUST LIKE THEM"...it's a book review!!!

I normally don't read those "compilation of little stories" books. You know the ones...Chicken Soup for the Color Blind..., 101 Things To Do While You Are Waiting For The Dryer To Stop, coffee table books, "good to read on the toilet" books? This one is that sort of book, but I'm willing to suspend my "normal" book reading genre for a little variety, as long as I think it's worth it!

Since I'm a reviewer for The Catholic Company, I had a choice of several books to review and since Weazy is a HUGE saint junkie, I chose the book Real Women, Real Saints-Friends For Your Spiritual Journey and read it as if it were a book book. Front to back. I think it should NOT be read that way. I enjoyed the little tidbits about each of the saints (and even learned some things I did not know before about some saints) but I should have read it little by little or maybe even "a saint a day" style. I found myself wishing I knew more about fewer saints rather than less about MANY (102 or so) saints.

At the beginning of each little tidbit (and when I say "little", I MEAN "little. On average, I'd say each story is only about 4 paragraphs long), there is a sort of annoying little, kind of "preachy" paragraph that prepares you for the story of that particular saint. I would rather just hear the facts, ma'am than have someones opinion about how this saint or that exemplified a particular virtue that makes her oh-so-understanding of my particular problems. I do understand where the author was going with that format but it just isn't my cup of tea. Here's an example from the book:

(Re: Saint Mary Magdalene De Pazzi 1566-1607 p.20)
"Faith flourishes in the dark. Trials, temptations, spiritual dryness and suffering are all opportunities for our faith to grow stronger. We can, of course, neglect these opportunities to allow our faith to wither and die. But those who praise God in life's difficulties will experience the opposite effect."

See? See what I mean? Maybe you don't and that's okay. It's just that when I read those preachy statements (even when they are true) my eyes kind of glaze over and I get very bored. When the author tries to "spice up" the story with modern references or language (it doesn't happen often, just once in a while), that kind of bugs me too. I'm a horrible writer so I know it would be hard to compile a bunch of historical info, put my own twist on it, and actually make it interesting to read. I'd probably be inconsistent and scattered in my writing but that's why I DON'T write things like this book! I hope I don't turn off someone who might actually LIKE books like this but I have to be honest about how I felt about it (even if that means the author gets all mad at me or that the people who solicited the review say "bye bye" to their new, crabby reviewer!).

I would recommend this book for a lukewarm Catholic woman friend who may not have time for heavy, theological reading, or maybe a new convert that isn't convinced that the saints actually were human persons who had sinful thoughts, feelings, and/or actions. I would not recommend this book to the Catholic woman who has a lot of books about saints flowing over on her bookshelves and who knows her saintstuff pretty well already (no, I'm not bragging about my saint IQ, I'm just saying that someone who has a lot of saint reference books might be... underwhelmed by this one. That, and it doesn't even have any pretty pictures!).

I'd give it a two star rating out of five.

The Catholic Company has a lot of great books and neato gift items so go check them out asap!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Help A Soldier

On Veteran's Day, we went to our local program held by the American Legion. It was a very sweet tribute complete with a reading of the names of all of our local veterans of past wars and current men and women serving in the military from our area. There was a representative of a local Operation Minnesota Nice group that encouraged us to "adopt a soldier" and we were so excited to be able to do this! Last night, in the basement of the American Legion, we packed our very first box for our soldier and it was SO FUN! It was so wonderful to hear the letters and responses from soldiers and even one from a fallen soldier's mother who thanked the sponsor after she found cards and letters from that person in her son's belongings sent home from Afghanistan.

We went to Wal-mart and bought some cocoa and cookies for ten soldier's boxes. When we got to the packing, we just put one thing each in the 8-10 boxes on our table (there were 8 on our table last night and each of those people brought things to put in each box as well) and then used some of the extra stuff people had donated from a group table on the side to fill our box to bursting. We brought the box home, and since it's a Christmas themed box, we are going to wrap each little thing individually and include some info about our family and our gratitude for our soldier's service and sacrifice. It's SO SIMPLE and (literally) takes only a few dollars and MINUTES of your time. If you are one of my MN peeps, PLEASE consider doing this once a month for a soldier. Your kids will LOVE doing this and it feels so good to help in a small, but concrete way.

(you can also do a one time, Christmas shipping!)
...or contact me if you're from around my town and I can get you in touch with our local group's leader.

One Handed Blogging

Dedicated to multitasking mommies everywhere!

(P.S. Don't you just love those finger dimples?!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

God Reminded Me

I went to check on my sister's boyfriend's nephew (Mason caringbridge site) and found that his mother had provided some links of people to pray for. I always loved the name "Liam" so I was drawn to his site:

Here is a mother in the worst moments of her life.

As I was reading the whole journal, Niklaus came downstairs for his story (that I promised him if Tommy fell asleep about 3 hours ago). How could I tell him, "No, just go back to bed!" because it's late and he should be sleeping? How could I waste one minute of time or attention from my beloved children when there are mothers out there just praying desperately for one more minute with their dying child?

PLEASE, if you could offer some sacrifice for her baby today, if you could just pray for some sort of miracle for her. I think she's at the end of her rope as she watches her baby slip away from her so painfully. Please pray.

Thank you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Speaking of Words

Does "Catholic" have two syllables or three?

I say it with two but I think there's a sneaky syllable in there. I hate those sneaky syllables.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A Vote That Will REALLY Make a Difference

Go here and then go vote for Thomas Peters. He's so super cool and he really works to make his blog a good one. He deserves a break for school and the vote only takes a couple seconds!

Plus, he's got one of the coolest headers on the internet!

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Word

"IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."

I can't say anything more profound than this, but I want to talk about my love for words and where I think it comes from.

(boring post alert...please feel free to completely ignore the following introspective blather)

I really love words. I love to hear them, see them, read them, write them, say them, touch them (raised letters embossed on things). I've always loved them. I've been told that I always spoke very clearly (the neighbor girls made fun of my super-pronunciation) Before I went to kindergarten, my mom taught me to read and I still remember the first book I read all by myself and understood. It was "The Secret Three" about a club of boys by a lighthouse. I remember the day I actually grasped that the words formed an idea, and that idea made sense, and was a good story! I read it over and over again (even though we had lots of books in the house) because I had such joy in that discovery. I probably ran through the house reading to anyone who would listen. Maybe I even read and re-read it to my baby sister, Katrina? I just was so excited to be a part of the bigger story of man. It was as if I had joined a club that I could never be kicked out of. No matter what happened socially, I was a part of some bigger world that would grow exponentially now that I had the key to decoding mankind and all of its mysteries.

Okeydokey, that's getting a little deep. I was just a four year old and learned how to read a little book. But it was SAWEEEEET!

Fast forward to my school years. I know I've written about this before but it comes back to haunt me that I really don't remember much about grade school. I do remember the smell. I am shocked that the smell of the school hasn't changed (when I go back there for book sales and things). I do remember my teachers and funny things that happened in between classes but I sure don't remember any lessons or anything they taught me. I also remember almost all the words to every song we were ever taught.

White coral bells
Upon a slender stalk;
Lilies of the Valley deck my garden walk.

Oh, how I wish
That I could hear them ring.
That can only happen when the fairies sing!

I had my head buried in a book during every class. If it was impossible to read (teacher sees me!) I would be dreaming about what was coming up next in the current book I was reading or looking out the window, making up some fantastical story about "what would happen if..." and imagining some crazy scenario where one of the students would do something totally out of character and how the teacher would react. Basically, I had plays running in my head all through the lesson. I would do my homework very quickly and roughly so I could get back to my passion, reading (okay, I also watched a fair amount of cartoons when I didn't have a book to read). I would have read all of the teacher's books by the middle of the school year and I had already read everything interesting in the library so I was often bored by winter time.

Looking back, I guess I could have poured some of that energy into actual studying of my subjects. I did love English and reading class, of course. I could have probably found geography, history, science, social studies a little more interesting if there had been stories that illustrated some of those concepts. I just had trouble processing anything on a chart or on the chalkboard...anything NOT in book form! Math just sucked always. There are no good books about math, lets face it.

Now, because I have so little time to read books (although I've been hitting them hard lately and have some good reviews coming up), my word fix is online or the captions on the TV, or listening to talk radio. I can't totally express how much joy it gives me to turn on the radio in the morning. I love the words, the laughs, the funny parody songs. LOVE IT. It's not an addiction, it's a gift. It's a necessity for life for us to have these words and these sources of light in a dark world. I'm probably dramatizing things a little but when I'm at my lowest, a kind word or just the company of words can lift me up again. Total darkness isn't absence of light, it's absence of communication!

Think about it: true hell would be not evil demons torturing you mercilessly and endlessly, THAT would be kind of funny after a while. True hell would be not knowing anything about where you were, where anyone else was, why you were there or why no one would visit you. True hell would be no communication between you and your loved ones or any other person. If we had total ignorance of any word, we would be in a living hell. One saving grace I have in a world of darkness is that voice inside me that can create imagination and stories, songs and praises. I could be locked in an endless cave with total darkness and no stimulation around me but, because of my past with words and how to use them, I have a treasury of beauty inside me that could sustain me indefinitely!

I've been thinking a lot lately about how words have affected my life. I get into trouble a lot for the words I choose to use. I always try to pray before I speak but I'm imperfect and don't always say the right or the most succinct thing. I find it hard to write properly without injecting my voice or way of speaking (onomatopoeia much?). I don't write in the best way or use my writing to further God's glory always. I will always try, but I often fail. I often think, "If you can't say sompthin' nice, don't say nothin' at all!" but then my mouth opens and the words spill out. I wonder sometimes if God has something to do with that? I wonder if he hotwires my brain to circumvent that little, nagging voice that tells me, "HEEEEEYYYY, don't you DARE say THAT! It's gonna make you enemies and cause you all kinds of problems, lady!" just so I can learn my lesson and maybe do a better job of listening the next time? I wonder if He makes me learn from my mistakes so that I have greater patience with people who are a little farther back on the path than I am in any area in life? It's a lot to think about.

I'm obsessed with other languages and accents. I love how all of our words are connected by a very few degrees of separation. I wish I had more time to study all of that (maybe when the kids are grown?)!

Okay, so some questions you can answer (you don't have to answer them, just think about it):

What are some of your favorite words?

Which words make you happy just when you hear them?

What are some made up words that you have in your family?

What is an "old word" that you wish would come back in style?

Do you use "proper words" when you speak in certain situations but not with your friends or family? (for instance, when I'm in public and I bump into/almost bump into people, I say, "pardon me" but not around my family...I usually just say, "get outta the way!" hahaha, just kidding)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

All Saints Day

We have an annual party for Halloween/All Saints Day/Lexi's Birthday (Nov. 1) over at my brother Nick (Deb)'s house.

They went all out this year and had wooden cutouts, nice hay bales with decorations all over the place, fun food, outdoor projector for movie, firepit, and four wheeler hay ride.

I took about 100 pictures and it was really hard to narrow it down so here are some highlights.

Nick (patient with...exposure issues) Deb (doctor)

Pete as Obama. (I guess he is trying to stop smoking by dipping instead?)

Pete and Sofiapuppy

The birthday princess, Lexi


Lovelylovely Lucia


...yeah, I...

...ahem, well, er...


...just, like, wow, um...

...okeydokey, then...

One thousand apologies to those of you who think the denim jumper is the height of fashion for all modest, Catholic, traditional, homeschooling, shapeless moms. I just couldn't resist.

Oh, and the hands down winner of the costume contest (in my head, we didn't actually compete):

My brother Rudy.

Try and hold yourself back. OH YEEEEAHHHHHHH, he is VERY single!

Oooooohhhhh, alright! One more bonus shot, just for the single ladies out there:

You're WECOME!
Don't say I never did nothin' fer ya.