Friday, December 30, 2011

The Secret Of Life

Whew, with a title like that, this aught to be a doozy of a post, right?

Without further ado, I will now tell you "The Secret Of Life"...

Naw, not really. I was just hoping to attract more people to this post and my blog and to re-vamp things a little bit around here. Since the dawn of facebook, it's just way too easy to ignore this blog (I hate it when people talk about their blogs) and just spew whatever and post whatever on facebook and occasionally link to some profound thing here at my blog where the crickets are singing and the wind blows, unobstructed, through the lonely plains of my long forgotten worrrrrrrrds of posts past.

Kids, screwing around while Trina tries out her new backgrounds in her "photo session"

The photographer, trying not to laugh her pants off at how ridiculous it is to have a photo session in the playroom.

The pictures turned out so cute, good thing you can't really see the room and the mess in the finished product!

They get their flexibility from me.

My dumb camera captures Mari's funny face. Trina's shots turned out way better, of course!
 "The Secret Of Life" was inspired by the fact that we are not going to find out the sex of this baby in my tummeh. We didn't know what Katrina was going to be but we knew for all the other 6, so this is the first time in a long time that we DON'T know this basic thing about the baby we can't see on a daily basis while s/he is cooking.

I went to the doctor for the first time yesterday and I am 17 weeks along. I had no excuse for waiting so long, other than "I was busy." The doctor bought it. He knows I'm a 'frequent flyer' so he also knows I have healthy pregnancies and that I don't like to come in to the doc office every 4 weeks. I was so worried though, when he couldn't really feel where the edges of my uterus were for the measure tape and suggested we do an ultrasound (another reason I love my doctor: at the very first sign of ANYTHING, he whips you into the ultrasound room!). I think that they forgot about me for a second though and I sat and stressed out, thinking back to how I don't really feel this baby moving yet and how early I've felt my babies in the past. I sat in front of the empty ultrasound screen, imagining the worst. An undeveloped baby, all kinds of deformities, a baby missing limbs (so it couldn't kick), or any other manner of horrors before the doctor and nurse came in. I have to say that I was actually kind of surprised to see a normal, moving, heart-beating BABY right there on the screen! Yup. Everything is fine. It's just that the placenta is right underneath my bellybutton and it makes it that much harder for me to feel any movement right away. WHEW!

So, the "Secret of Life" here could easily be figured out if the doctor just moved the ultrasound probe around a little and checked around (kind of snoopy, isn't it?) but we are content to not find out this secret until June 16thish or whenever I get restless enough to induce labor and have this baby.

Oh, the kids already know he's a boy, anyway. They shouted to my tummy, "Hey, Baby! WHAT ARE YOU?" then they listened, very carefully, and the baby told them that he was a boy. Why waste time and money on an ultrasound scan when you can just ask a sibling? I should add that they have always been right in the past. Hmmmmm.

Trina's new website is here: I think there are some pics from that photo session in her gallery, so you can see how a pro does it ;)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Name Your Inspiration

Butch and I had a small book of baby names for our first baby (we didn't know the sex) so we both took the book, crossed off every name we refused to name our child, or names of old girlfriends/boyfriends, compiled the list of what was left, and waited.

We knew the name would be Alexis Katrina or Katrina Alexis. "Alexis", because I was obsessed with the name "Alex" for a girl since read the book and I saw the made-for-tv-movie "Alex: The Life of a Child"  and "Katrina" because I had always loved my bff/sister's name and how much people thought it was so beautiful and exotic sounding and how much attention she got for her name. I figured I'd give MY Katrina every advantage by naming her that feminine, ethnic sounding thing.

I'm pretty sure that, if it had been a boy, we would name the baby "Ryan". We had a nice friend named Ryan and didn't know many other Ryans so it had good connotations with us.

Of course, you know it was a girl and, immediately after her LONG AND DIFFICULT NATURAL DELIVERY (40 hours of labor and about 5 of it really hard labor) I just really wanted to rest. I'd pretty much had it with everyone and everything around me and I just wanted to sit there and get stitched up and cleaned up and not be bleeding or pushing or in pain. They put her on my chest for just a second but they couldn't keep her there because I was still delivering "stuff" and was bleeding a lot. They brought her over to the light bassinet and dealt with her while my mom, Butch and Auntie Nina ogled her and exclaimed stuff about her. They kept trying to get me to look over there at her but I couldn't say what I was feeling because the doctor was stitching me up and pressing on me and making me feel that I was still in labor!!!

I think they thought (for those brief moments) that I wasn't caring about my newborn baby or that she had caused me so much pain that I didn't want to look at her or connect with her but the truth was that I felt as though I already KNEW her and didn't need to SEE her to have that connection. I was just needing to be clean and fresh when I held her and had the time to really look at all the wonderful features of that new little creature and I felt as though it was VERY unselfish of me to share her with the people I loved so that THEY could finally "get" what I had been feeling all those months!

Maybe I'm not saying it very clearly but these were the things I was thinking back then and I remember them like it happened yesterday.

So, my bossy sister finally YELLS at me "Laura! LOOK at her!" and she held her up, angled toward the bed. I looked over and saw her giant eyes and cute little face with perfect dimple on her right cheek. Golly. She WAS cute! (I still just needed to get cleaned up before I wanted to hold her, though.) I finally held her and we all marvelled about every wonderful thing about her and all that mushy stuff you can only know or feel with your firstborn child/grandchild. Blah blah blah mooshy mooshy stuff you-know-all-that...

Back to the name thing...
So my mom keeps saying "What's her name? What's her name going to be? What's her naaaaaame?"
I told her the two names I liked and repeated them to see which combo fit.

They didn't!

I panicked for just a second and I remember looking at the clock across from the bed that I'd been staring at for hours and hours, counting the minutes like they meant the world. Why hadn't I been thinking about NAMES during this time?

All of the sudden, the song "They Call the Wind Mariah" came to me so I said:

"Katrina Mariah"

It was beautiful and rolled off the tongue. My sister was so honored that the baby's name would be Katrina and I knew Butch was leaning toward that for a first name anyway. MY middle name is "Maria" so I thought it was a good combination of my sister's name and my name (that I actually LIKED, I had never really liked the name "Laura". It was a boring and sensible name, I thought).

At the time, Mariah Carey had hit one of the peaks of her fame. I didn't like her or her music at ALL so of course I flinched when Butch or someone said "Oh, Mariah like Mariah Carey?"


I said, "NO! 'Mariah' as in Paint Your Wagon and They Call The Wind Mariah" which is a really strange story/musical where Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood actually SING...a LOT. It's so stupid but I watched it every time it was on tv on a Sunday afternoon. My dad would laugh at how those two were these serious tough guy actors who sang in this silly musical. It really is slapsticky but I always loved the power and might of that one song with that old west-y theme behind it. My parents had the record album soundtrack for that musical and I would listen to it on my record player all the time (along with David Allen Coe and a bunch of my mom's old 45s she got when she worked at a drug store in the sixties...another story for another day).

There. That's my story about how a song inspired the naming of one of my children...and HERE is a link to my friend Jim's interpretation of this story mixed with other stories about our other children and how Butch and I met.
(You can view the video of the song I'm talking about at the end of his post)

I will be having to figure out another new name for a boy or girl around June 7th, 2012. "Surpriiiiiise!" if you aren't on facebook. :)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Bottle Is Best

Butch brews beer in the garage. He has a turkey fryer set that he uses for the burner (hooked up to propane) and the aluminium pot for the brew. I'll post that process sometime down the road (it's been done before online...MANY times but it would be fun to show it on video) but today I'm going to post about bottling. We don't have a keg so we just gather bottles from neighbors and friends (NON twist off, brown varieties) and make sure they are rinsed well before we are ready for bottling. We've struggled with fruit flies all summer because the first batch of bottles we had were only semi-rinsed and the flies made their way into the house every time someone opened the garage door. YUCK.

First, Butch soaks (washes) all of the bottles the night before and gets ready to wash all of the materials we'll need for the bottling. This step is necessary BEFORE sanitizing. Next, he sanitizes everything that will touch the beer. I have a picture of the bottle caps soaking in sanitizer and Butch, in the garage with the giant plastic tub we use for washing and sanitizing everything. The green bowl has the priming sugar dissolved in 1 cup of boiled water (cooled) for putting in the bottling bucket before we add the beer.

This brew is our fourth batch and it's called "hophead". It was a little different from the other three that we did in that it required "dry hopping" (sounds dirty, doesn't it?) which just means that, instead of adding all the hops while the beer is cooking, you add SOME of the hops after you move the beer to a secondary container. Our primary container is a five gallon pail with an air lock on the top so bubbles can get out but yuckiness can't get in. We moved it to this glass "carboy" to eliminate some of the hops and sediment on the bottom of the bucket. That stuff is really gross and looks a lot like the contents of a baby's diaper. In this glass carboy, you can see SOME of the sediment remains and ALL of the hops that he added the week before (floating on top). This will be a VERY "hoppy" beer which means it will be so stinkin' bitter that most people wouldn't really be able to drink it. Hops (did you know that beer production uses 98% of the world's hops?) were added to beer to make it bitter (on purpose) because it acts as a preservative (antibiotic properties) since beer was originally made before plastic and sanitizing were invented. Double yuck.

Here is what the top of the beer bottles looks like before it is filled. We put the cleaned bottles in the dishwasher and run it on super hot with no soap to sanitize them as best we can. We try not to open the dishwasher until RIGHT before we are ready to bottle. The key to non-skunkified beer is bottling with care.

 Butch attaches the plastic tubing to the siphon and then pumps it a few inches up from the bottom of the gunk in the carboy. We want the clearest beer so we watch the tube for floaters and other goo and try to keep that to a minimum. We are trying to get as much of the clearest stuff into the bottling bucket (five gallon pail with a spigot) as possible. This takes a long time because the tube is so small. Our arms get a little tired.

 Now comes the fun part. I take the plastic tubing off of the siphon and put it on to the little stick bottler. It's a neato invention. It's hard plastic with a little rubber stopper on the end. I put the other end of the plastic tubing on to the spigot and then one of the kids (who is the bottle-hander) hands me a bottle. I put the stick into the bottle and press the little stopper on to the bottom. The beer rises right up to the top and the second I lift up on it, the stopper stops the flow. When I remove that little stick, it leaves just enough space in the top of the bottle! The priming sugar feeds the little bit of yeast that is still active (after the beer has been just sitting for a few weeks in the basement in the primary and then secondary) and, if done correctly, will cause carbonation for a nice, bubbly brew. It doesn't really pay to open any of the bottles for another 4 weeks, at least, or you will have very flat beer (which might actually be still pretty tasty...just flat) so the hardest part of all of this is just to have patience. We've had two successful batches and now we have two batches bottled that we haven't tried yet.
 Oh, I forgot the most important part! We have two neighbors that brew their own beer so it's really cool to have other people to bounce ideas off of and have experienced tasters around. Here is one of our favorite neighbors who DOESN'T drink beer but who is awful handy. He got snagged into the capping job. He just grabs a bottle cap, places the capper on top and squeezes. This batch was approximately 2 cases (50 bottles or so). It doesn't take long for those bottles to disappear once they are ready to drink...not because we're lushes or anything. We just really like to share!
This has been a really fun and pretty inexpensive hobby that we hope to expand. I want to try wine and maybe a batch of root beer or some other girly kind of brew. I know we'll have some duds and some great successes but it's mostly fun and pretty educational as well.

I wonder if I can write off some of the kits as "educational materials" on our taxes for homeschooling? Probably not, but beer making covers History, Science, Math, Home Ec, Gym (those carboys and five gallon buckets are NOT light!), and all of the new terminology I've learned even make it a little bit about English!

Don't go all crazy now and destroy your livers with all kinds of beer. Brew and drink in moderation. You are a little bit smarter after reading this post and I don't want you to fry up some of those good brain cells!

I always blog responsibly. :0)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Obstacles to Sanity

There were sure a lot of men in skirts. I'm still not quite clear about the reasoning behind that particular trend.

"You're CRAZY!" is what I heard every time I showed anybody the course of the Warrior Dash. They'd have a perplexed look on their face for a while and I'd say "I just REALLY want to do it!". Yeah, I know, it's not the most descriptive reason to do... a thing.

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There were all kinds of people there, old, fat, fit, very young, smokers, non-smokers, hippies, rockers...this race was pretty much the great equalizer of all races. I thought people were weird at marathons. OH NO, I'm pretty sure the weirdness factor was over 90% at the Warrior Dash in Minnesota on July 23rd and 24th, 2011

The two boa girls were with me for the start of the race. I ran into the green boa girl along the way. She was struggling a little and her friend had left her in the dust. I ran with her for a little bit but I was feeling really good so I didn't linger with her for too long. I feel kind of bad about that.
There were hundreds of people in each wave, one half hour after another, all day long. My wave was at noon. It just so happened that my friend, Nicole's wave was at 12:30 so we drove together and supported each other for the days leading up to and on the day of the race. It was nice to have a friend there to figure it all out and take it all in with me. It was also great to have her experience the whole thing so we could hash it out afterwards. It was very difficult to process, as it's unlike anything I've ever done before. It wasn't a race, it wasn't a run, it was almost like a playground for grown-ups. The mud and the hills defined EVERYTHING about that day!
"At the end of the race, there are water and bananas for you." Um, yeah. Sure. Yum.
I tried to engage a lot of people in conversation, even during the race. Usually, a race is such a deeply personal thing but this was much different. This was almost like a bonding experience. I made sure to try to encourage people who were struggling and sympathize with those who were running alongside me at times. I wanted to take in the beautiful scenery around me (it was in a ski resort in the summer on a beautiful day in Minnesota! What's not to love about that?) instead of focus on the path in front of me, which is what I would usually do for a road race, especially a lousy 5k. This was NO "lousy 5k"!
As we were leaving, throngs of people were just getting there. I would tell them as we passed, "Beware of the hills! They're killer!" I thought that was very helpful of me.
The very first obstacle was just a giant hill. They didn't really tout that as a true obstacle but most people I talked to afterward agreed that the hills were way harder to handle, mentally and physically, than the man-made obstacles.
This picture was of me AFTER I had "washed up". I went to the grocery store like that. I don't think the customers appreciated that very much. I got a lot of very funny looks.
The expression on the faces of each of the people I saw crossing the finish line (before my wave) was very hard to read. I saw them slog through the final obstacle, a giant mud pit covered in a bunch of barbed wire, with dead-pan faces. I couldn't tell if they were enjoying it, just glad it was over, or just too tired to care? Either way, the amount of mud covering each person was daunting. I wondered if I could even finish the race or if I might get hurt. It was kind of nerve-wracking to think that I'd look like THAT by the end of the race. Not that it made any difference at that point. I was already so muddy from the finishers rubbing past me on the grounds before I even ran! I saw the finishers walking toward the end of the grounds where a giant water blaster was shooting water to "wash off" the bulk of the mud. The people were swarming up against a mesh fence in an effort to get just a little bit of the mud off of them. The result was that they were no longer covered in the thick, 20 pounds of goo but that they were still, by any one's standard, VERY dirty!
Me and Weazy on the chairlift
My wave time was announced so I got in line toward the end. I figured that it would be much nicer to pass more people than would pass me and, since I had no actual time goal, I really just wanted to kind of take it all in and enjoy the day.
I gave Weazy and Sara (my only cheering section for the day) tickets to ride the chair lift to see me up on top of the hill (they missed me but enjoyed the ride...I didn't know that they'd have to WALK down the hill! Haha!) and we were off! I knew that I'd be able to handle a light jog for a couple hundred feet but that the first hill would be killer (I had seen it on the way in) so I took it easy. My strategy was to MARCH up the hills, try to jog down them, and at least jog in between all of the obstacles. I did pretty well on all of those goals. I never really "walked" except for up the hills. My legs were pretty much numb from using muscles I didn't even know I had after a while. I did do a lot of the stair climber at home before the race...thank GOD I did! I would have been sore for weeks if I hadn't somewhat trained for all those hills!
Linda, Nicole, and Laura...ALL "crazymama"s!
The walls and things to climb over were many but that part was actually a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. The mud pit at the end was the most surprising. I remember stepping into it and the strange, immediate feeling that this was SO wrong and that I needed to get OUT of that mucky stuff as soon as humanly possible. I remember hearing this giant man yelling at me to "GET DOWN, GET DOWN, YOU DON'T WANT TO SNAG ON THE BARBED WIRE!" and me, in my tired rebelliousness was thinking (really loudly at him) "SHUT UP, YOU FOOL. I'M TIRED AND I'M TRYING TO FINISH WITH THE MOST DIGNITY I CAN MUSTER AND THIS CHICK IN FRONT OF ME IS GOING SO SLOW!"
Unfortunate clinginess of clothing. This is not a very flattering picture, but it's what I looked like, I guess.
In the end, I wasn't content to just finish but I wanted to finish with as much speed as I could and try as hard as I could through the whole thing so I would have a good "control" for the next year's Warrior Dash...which I FULLY intend to enter! I wasn't in it for a good time but rather to HAVE a good time! Maybe next year, I'll actually have a better, faster time than this year and possibly some family members and more friends with me IN the race too!
I was in ‎396th place for our age group (35-39) on the satrun Overall number: 2625 Time:52:09.00 minutes per mile:17:16 I think there were over 800 women in my age group. Funny little tidbit was that Nicole and I ran different waves but she was only three seconds behind me in time and just a few places after me! She was running with another friend and her friend told me that she held Nicole back so I'm sure Nicole (who recently lost a lot of weight and is in way better shape than I am) could've been even faster had she been on her own. I sort of wish I had been with someone who had slightly more ambition than I did so I'd have been pushed just a bit more but I think I did pretty well all on my own.

I can't believe how the mud stuck to me in places I didn't even barely know I had places. I had to take a shower and two baths before I could get that stuff off of me and out of every crevice and crack. The worst was my feet and hands. I think because we have so many wrinkles and crinkles on those things. I had to buy a pedicure kit with a pumice stone and nail brush and some of those scrubby gloves and a bath pouf and take a soaking bath to get the final crud off of me.
  I've worn my Warrior Dash T-shirt (the white one you see in the pictures) to a few places since then and I ALWAYS get comments about it. The other day, I was walking out of Goodwill with four kids and these two guys walked in after me then walked out as I was walking out. The one guy looks at me and throws his hands up in the air in an "I am thee champeen" pose and yells "Warrior Dash! Woo!". Then he got into his car and drove away.
  I just smiled and kept walking to the car. I understood he was unashamed to do that goofy, public display because we had a bond (along with a few thousand other MN folks). We are all self proclaimed "warriors" in the battle of the mind and body against obstacles we have placed in our own paths. We actually PAID to slog through that mud and climb those nasty hills and jump over those impossible barriers! We came out on the other side fatigued, grubby, slightly cranky, uncomfortable and with goofy grins. We are all very pleased with ourselves and can't wait to do even better next year!
Most people wore old shoes because they knew they'd be all beaten up after the race. I brought some flip flops and dropped my old shoes in the pile along with thousands of others. They are washed up and donated.
 Nicole lost her husband to cancer almost 2 years ago and is raising 4 children on her own now. She lost a ton of weight and looks better than she did in high school and is working out nearly every day because she needs to be here for her kids. I know that there are far more challenging things to face in life than a silly race where you get to climb over old cars and have water sprayed at you but the whole thing taught me some great lessons about my fellow man. I realized that each person there had a story and a reason for trying to get through the race course and face VERY public humiliation. I pictured the words of each of their stories on their foreheads, like little signs proclaiming their particular battles to the world "My mom died last year." "I have a bad back and I'm overweight." "I have a drinking problem but I'm getting better." "I'm young and healthy but there's diabetes in the family." "I have 7 children and I've been feeling lumpy lately and need a goal to get off my lazy butt and finally do something about it."
These two fire pits are right at the end of the race. I jumped over it with flair for the girls to take a picture. It didn't turn out but I just saw it on the race photo site and it's quite something. I may have to get a copy, just for myself to look at and laugh and laugh.
 Just threw that last one in there, you know, specific reason.
Weazy took this one. It perfectly captures how gross the mud pit was.

Since this is my first and probably last post for the month of August, I'll just end it by writing that it's been a very exhausting summer and that I'm looking forward to fall and school and being a little more organized (for at least a few weeks at the beginning of the school year, anyway) and maybe getting back into checking out how my blog friends are doing. I've been really bad about keeping up with my in-person friends, much less spending any great amounts of time on the computer. I think the magic number of kids is seven. It's the tipping point of responsibility. No more long baths, long phone calls, or sit around in your pajama days for this mom! Time to grow up, I guess.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

S' Mothering

I'm standing in the waning sun, wondering at how it can be 90 degrees and actually not that bad.

The medium kids are running around like crazy, trying to get as wet as they can with two kiddie pools and bowls for splashing.

As I hold my (clean) naked chunk of a one year old, I marvel and how she rests on me all heavy and soft like a giant, weighted marshmallow.

I think how it must look to people driving by, me: all frazzled with my hair freaking out from the extreme humidity, skirt all wet from kids wanting to give me "WET HUG!", shirt all wet patches, juice, and chalk hand stains.

Tommy screams with pleasure as Mari chases him around with the hose, entangling my legs and laughing evilly.

I know it's soon time to go in and get these rug rats dressed already but...

She rests her head on my shoulder and says ""

Oblivious of the chaos around her or the fact that she's naked as a jaybird.

Sing song butter baby is too squishy and wonderful for me to move and lose this moment.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

April Showers Bring May Showers Etc. Etc. Etc.

But they also bring new and wonderful changes this year to the Nielsen household! Trina got confirmed in the OLD RITE at the Church of St. Agnes in St. Paul, MN last week! It was sort of a surprise to us that she'd get the opportunity but we got a letter of permission from our parish priest (Thank you, Fr. Richards!) and Trina picked a wonderful sponsor (Thank you, Jodi!) and a handful of our friends and family went to the city with us to witness the HISTORIC (I found out at Mass) occasion.

Apparently, it's been something like 40 years since any one's been confirmed in the old rite in the archdiocese! Trina was SO honored to be a part of it but she was mostly giddy that she'd get the "slap" on the face that she'd read/heard about! She posted more about the feelings she experienced on her blog.

Here is a video of the "girl's side". Trina and Jodi are on the far right. You can hear the men's group chanting in the background. It was beautiful to listen to live! If you drag the dot to around 1min 30 or so, you'll see me pan to the group that was in our pew. Weazy mouths to me "You can't take photographs!" but I was taking video so PPPPTTHHTTT on you, Weazy. Also, if you forward again to around 2 min 30 you'll see Trina get confirmed a little closer because I zoomed. So, I won't win any awards for videography, but it was pretty cool to have it recorded like that, seeing as how it WAS "an historic occasion" and all. :)

It was nice to don the good old veil again. I'd love to veil at my church but I still have the problem where nobody else really does it so would I be drawing attention to myself? It's a touchy subject. I've stressed about it for years. I feel drawn to veil but I don't want to make other people think that I think I'm "oh so pious" or "better than you". Then, I run into the thought "Oh, well, wouldn't it be a sacrifice if you KNEW you'd be drawing attention to yourself and that people would think you're trying to look holier than them?" It's convoluted, I know, but these are the things that run through my head...I let them do that and don't bother too much about anything but this one's got me stumped. I think people must already think I have issues because I like to receive on the tongue. I HAVE started to receive in the hand when it's an extraordinary minister. I figure then that way I don't have to crouch down to receive from a short person or (God please forbid) have the EMHC stick his whole hand in my mouth looking for a place to "land". I SHOULD solve that problem by kneeling or just going to the priest but crying kids don't always allow for that possibility.

Anyway, I'll post again later this week on the birth of my new niece or nephew on Thursday! I'm so excited to find out if it's a boy or a girl and to SEE who s/he looks like!

P.S. I fell asleep while composing this post. Let me know if I have any mistakes. Thanks, editors! ;)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Because He First Loved Me

My buddy, Ray tagged me in this meme thingy.

I don't usually do the meme thingy since I've been blogging long enough to know that hardly anybody reads through those things...except this one was a nice challenge so I think I'll tackle it...

"5 Reasons I Love Jesus"

Alright, one wouldn't really think it would be that hard to come up with reasons they love Jesus, right? Just go ahead and name your hubs, family, kids, whatever and WHAMO, Meme Accomplished.

Not so fast, for me. I really had to think about it.

Conversation with myself:

Nice Me: I can just write the things I'm thankful for and then...

Evil Me: Yeah, but that's stupid and easy and everyone will just fall asleep...BO-RING.

Nice Me: Well then, I'll just say that one of the reasons is that He gave me everything I have and so...

Evil Me: SNORE

Nice Me: Then what the hell should I say??? What is really going to impress people and change their lives? I have to say something totally profound or people are going to think that I don't love Jesus and that I'm just faking it!!!

Evil Me: Well, are you?

Nice Me: Uh, no. Of course not. I may not LIKE Jesus sometimes but I LOVE him, always!

Evil Me: Oh, REALLY? You DO, huh? Were you loving Him when you yelled at the kids for spilling things again? Were you loving Him when you talked behind that person's back the other day? Were you loving Him when you weren't paying attention in church but were picking at that crusty cookie stuff on your jeans?

Nice Me: Leave me alone. I don't like you anymore.

Evil Me: Were you loving Him when you just told yourself that you didn't like yourself anymore...just now...

Not-So-Nice-Me: Guess not.

Just Me: Here's why I love Jesus: He gives me at least 100 of those "God Moments" every week. I know He is with me and in my heart when I'm trying to talk to my friends. He knows all of my shameful ways and He still fills my heart with joy and proof that He loves me in the form of the kindness I am shown by my family and friends who are filled with His Spirit. He suffered and died for my sins and takes away my suffering every time. He probably had a beard and He died an old guy (hey, 33 was upper-middle-aged back then. PLUS, He's really been "alive" for eternity so that's REALLY OLD!) and you KNOW how much I love old guys!

So, these are just some of the reasons I love Jesus.
That reminded me of that song we used to sing when I went to the Lutheran summer Bible school:
Oh, how I love Jesus.
Oh, how I love Jesus.
Oh, how I love Jesus...
because He first loved meeeeeeeeeee.

Also the snacktime song:
Oooooohhhhhh, the Lord is good to me,
and so I thank the Lord;
for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the apple seed the Lord is Good to meeee, amen amen amen amen amen,aaaaaaahhhhhmen.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


As I was cleaning up the mess from the broken tea plate (while trying to keep the kids from stepping on the scattered shards)...

...I heard a banging on the sidelight by the front door and went to investigate...

..."Tommy! WHAT are you DOING?". "Lookit my dirty hands!" So, I sent him into the bathroom to clean up the non-water-soluble sticky stuff for a half hour or so (he loves the waterplay in the sink. Makes me wonder if that was his plan all along?)...

...I had to find where that mess came from and there it was, in the classroom, on the little plastic kitchen (his favorite place to experiment)...

...also, the stuff had burned two nasty melty holes in the carpet next to the wall..
...I changed Tommy for the fourth time, today, because he had baby cream all over his clothes and that stuff could not be trusted on clothing...but I hadn't gotten to cleaning up the stuff on the carpet or the play kitchen. I went in to rescue the neighbor girl, who was starting to discover the interesting white stuff all over the play kitchen (my freaking out at Tommy had fallen on deaf, toddler ears, I guess...what IS it with the mess magnet deal??? WHY do kids automatically sniff out a mess-making prospect in an entire house of non-messy projects and toys?) I had to change HER out of HER clothes which had been dirtied and wet from outside adventures ANYWAY and now had white stuff all over them. I found some more clean clothes for Tommy and the milk man came. While I was ordering from the milk man, Tommy came around the corner, looking like this:

"Tommy? WHERE did you find CHOCOLATE??? And what is that DUSTY STUFF all over your clean clothes?" I puzzled over what he could have possibly gotten into 32 seconds after I JUST PUT ON CLEAN CLOTHES? Could it have been a piece of chocolate from Weazy's secret stash? Could it be dust from the vacuum cleaner that was parked in the living room from cleaning up the original smashed plate mess? No. After the milk man left, I went through the kitchen to put away some milk and found this:    

Ah, so THAT explains THAT.

I gave up around that time. He's been just wearing his underwear ever since. One and a half loads of laundry containing JUST the clothing that they had to change out of because of sticky, icky messes, spills, food all day long was more than I could handle for one day.

 A lot of things happened to save the day but this is just ONE typical day of life with Tommy the Terrorist Toddler Tornado.

He's so super!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

One Plus One Equals Infinity

Tonight, Butch and I did something we've never done in the history of our marriage since we've had children.
We went to church together...without the kids.

It all started this morning when I was having a hard time getting everything ready for the day and getting myself ready in time for church.

Then, I remembered: I have a child who can DRIVE NOW!!!

All three of the biggers went together and Butch and I made the plan to go to 6pm Mass. 6pm mass is normally not our very favorite because we're not fond of the contemporary music where the verses last FOREVER and are so repetitive that everyone around us starts looking uncomfortable...BUT, it is MASS and sometimes you just go and try to filter that stuff out.

We sat there feeling just ODD.
Here are the things we did NOT do (that we NORMALLY do, when we have kids with us):

1. Flash the peace sign across the crowded pew.
2. Take any bathroom breaks.
3. Have to move from kneeling to sitting to kneeling to sitting to walking out of church because some child is trying to get us to pick them up during the kneeling part.
4. Miss the entire Gospel and most of the homily because some child needs to be set right or brought potty.
5. Wonder how many people are staring at us and wondering "Are all those kids from those parents?".

and many other things that I thought about during Mass...that I actually kind of missed!

Yes! Surprisingly, while I was very happy to have the time to reflect on how it did feel a little like back when we were in RCIA and we would go alone together all of the time, I saw a little baby girl who was SO cute and it made me think about my little baby girl that was the first little one we brought to church...and THAT made me think of every other baby I brought to church over the years...which brought me right to the present and my little baby girl at home with my biggest baby girl...and I couldn't wait to get home to all of them.

We were walking out of church and I commented on a friend's little girl and how big she was getting. She and her husband noted "How did you get to come here with NO kids!? THAT must feel strange!"

We both laughed and kind of let out our breaths. It was SO weird to sit there the whole time with the elephant in the room being the one that was at home (namely, our missing family). I actually started to wonder if we were being stared at because we normally have so many bodies between us and the people at church maybe thought we were strangers or something! It's all about context, right?

The whole thing made me reflect on something I told a friend last night at a cancer benefit that Butch and I got to go out to last night. I was telling her that I was thinking how, someday, all of our kids will be grown and we might be faced with an empty nest of some sort. I was saying how very odd it would be and what the heck would we do without any children to care for and just each other? I thought about it a little more and then I laughed. YEAH! RIGHT! Duh... because we've increased our potential for MANY grandchildren and there will NEVER be a time when we have an "empty nest"! That's the most ridiculous thing ever! We'll ALWAYS have people in our home. Our doors will always be open to the people that need care. If it's a friend, neighbor, child, grandchild, long as we're living, we will have someone who depends on us and who we depend on to help us get through this life.

I'm so very glad to share it with the ONLY man who understands me and loves me as much as he does. I like time alone with him, but I like time with him and the people we love TOGETHER, even more.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Babies Don't Keep

I took this picture of Evangeline last night. I was reading a story to Tommy in his bed. I had my phone with me and Tommy was playing solitaire on it (to tire him out and entertain him a little before I had to go into my room and plug it in). To my surprise, Butch CALLED me from our bedroom. He said Evangeline had fallen asleep after squirming and playing around on our bed (pretty much her favorite thing to do in life) but that he couldn't move and if I just came in there, I'd find out why...

(Don't worry, I'm pretty sure she was just REALLY tired and hadn't actually passed out from the stink.)

I was cleaning out my game/craft cupboard today. For some reason, this one verse was going through my head all day as I watched the kids mill around, and play, and generally make extra messes because it was too cold and windy to go outside, and it's been that way for days and days...a lot of the time, I find myself turning away from the computer, which gets boring after a while, stopping all frantic cleaning activities, and grabbing some books to read with the kids in the rocking chair...

"Cleaning and scrubbing can wait 'til tomorrow..."

It was a "crosstitch poem" on a plaque at my neighbor's house from when I was a teenager. I pretty much LIVED at that house because they had four little girls that I and my sister babysat a LOT. Someday, I'll talk about the adventures we got up at that house but today, I am just reminded of that plaque. I know the whole thing by heart, even after all these years because I'd read it every time I went over there. I never really understood it until I had children of my own:

"Cleaning and scrubbing can wait 'till tomorrow.
For babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and
babies don't keep!"

It's the "Quiet down cobwebs" part that always confused me. I never realized that the poet was TELLING the cobwebs and the dust to be quiet and go to sleep...I wondered "what the heck are 'down cobwebs' and how can dust 'go to sleep'?" Heehee!

So, I looked it up and found that no one knows where the poem came from but the best guess is it might have been part of a longer poem that I've found and absolutely LOVE:

Babies Don’t Keep
By Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due,
Lullabye, rockaby, lullabye loo.
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo,
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo,
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs;
Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

I especially identify with the line:
"And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Funny Valentines

I thought it would be special to get some pretty pictures of just the girls for St. Valentine's Day. A friend of mine, Jo Girtz took these at her home studio. She just used the natural light coming through her walk-out sliding door. I thought they turned out so pretty. I got some of all of the girls together, but I have to figure out which one they want posted (and maybe do some edits!), first.

I'll have to get the boys together for an outdoor shot or something. They're WAY to active and impatient to sit pretty like the girls!