Thursday, July 28, 2011


I may or may not have shared that our family does not have cable, and because of our location, unless we have the crystalest of clear days, we only get one or two that come in. The kids are still little and the days are still long, so Netflix instant streaming is something we're very thankful for.

This summer a mini-series caught our eye on Netflix. The Kennedys was apparently given horrible reviews, but then went on to receive many Emmy nominations. The Kennedys are way before my time, indeed, even before my parents' time, as much of the drama happened when their generation was still very young. Still. the allure exists today, and I have been captivated.

It's obvious that the production of this mini-series is a bit low-budget, and the acting isn't anything to marvel at. However, the history and drama is interesting, especially for those (like me) who didn't live through or quite understand the times.

If you can instant stream through Netflix, watch The Kennedys and let me know what you think! My $0.02 is that Bobby Kennedy is the most fascinating and complex of characters. After watching all six episodes, it was him that I wanted to learn more about more than any other. Oftentimes, after watching an episode, Mark and I would be waiting to Google all of the questions we had about the events portrayed (we're cool like that).

Monday, July 25, 2011


If we're not listening to music, I'm a big fan of Podcasts. I listen to them while I'm ironing or doing dishes and the kids are occupied enough for me actually pay attention to the topic. There are various podcasts that I listen to, mostly on the lines of family, parenting, and faith.

I like Dave Ramsey, too. Today my two year old was playing with two cars. One car was talking to the other car. The conversation got a little heated when one of the cars yelled at the other,

Friday, July 22, 2011

You're Killing Me, Smalls!

Alright, you guys, I have to 'fess up.

So, yes, we had a mini-disaster this week when I flooded the house. I'm still trying to suck up water from the carpet among other things.

What I forgot to mention, or more accurately, what I left out intentionally was that I also did something like really, really dumb.

Okay, so I soaked up a few dozen towels, right? Well, after ringing them out I threw them in the dryer. Not all of them, but a lot. I guess it was too heavy or something because after a minute I smelled burning rubber.


Yup, I snapped the belt on the dryer. Thus, the dryer is not working. Which means that in addition to a house flood, I also have pee-water saturated towels trying to dry in 90 degree humidity.

You couldn't make this stuff up.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yellow Car.

If you read the strawberry picking post from Sunday, you'll see my little Paul carrying around his Yellow Car.

Yellow Car was an "un-birthday" gift from Luke's 5th birthday. My parents thoughtfully gave Paul a present, and he loved it. Yellow Car hasn't left Paul's hand for the last month, and follows him in the car, to bed, in the bath, the grocery store and library, and even traveling on the weekends.

Yesterday was 90 degrees outside; too hot to do anything. I called Mark and we agreed to meet at a local beach after he was off from work.

In central/northern Minnesota the lakes are plentiful, and with the rare exception we don't go to beaches. Many family and friends live on the lakes surrounding us and we've always enjoyed the water with them. Here, in the Great White North we don't know many people, and so, to the beach we went.

I was a sight to behold as I unloaded a car of three kids, a stroller, cooler, towels, sand shovels, beach blanket and a thermos of juice. "Wow, this is hard," I thought as I tried to keep the sun out of the baby's eyes  as I slathered sunscreen on the big boys and clipped life jackets into place. Mark hadn't arrived yet, but the kids were anxious to get into the water. Each boy grabbed a bucket, shovel, and a few toys and headed to the sand.

Intent on watching the boys closely at a public beach, I took off my shoes and rummaged through my bag looking for baby's hat. No sooner had I put on baby's hat and stood up to closely supervise the sand activities did Paul start screaming.

A little boy of about four had snatched Yellow Car right from Paul's hands. I was only a few feet away, but it was already too late. The little boy threw Yellow Car as far as he could into the water. Then, he bent down and picked up another car and brought his hand back to throw when I raced and caught his hand just in time. The boy argued with me about playing with the toys, while I, as a "bully mom" (or as Sarah Palin would say, Mama Grizzly), had to explain to the boy that he wasn't allowed to throw our toys.

Rolling my shorts up with a baby in hand and screaming two year old on the beach, I braved the waters and searched for Yellow Car. Mark came a few minutes later and continued the search unsuccessfully.

We left the beach without Yellow Car. If it were any other toy it wouldn't have been a big deal. The beach toys were expendable, and we happily shared our shovels and buckets with the other children at the beach. But the loss of the Yellow Car broke my heart, because to Paul it was like a beloved blanket or stuffed animal, not just a car.

I realize that we shouldn't bring things to the beach that we can't afford losing or being damaged, but I had long since given up the battle of trying to pry Yellow Car out of Paul's hands. And for the boy, I can't really blame him. He had done numerous other irritating things during our trip to the beach, and we honestly couldn't figure out who his caretakers were. He didn't leave Mark's side when he was playing with our boys in the water, and he argued with me again as I collected our belongings to go, wanting to take them for himself. I prayed for this little one, knowing that while he might have wanted our things, his needs were much deeper.

Today we're hoping that Paul can soon attach himself to a new car, although making an emergency trip to Target isn't out of the question.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


We went out last night to get out of the house for a bit after a rainy day inside. As we scurried to get out the door, diapers were changed, clothes were changed, and I started a load of laundry.

Two and a half hours later we walked into the sound of running water and a total flood in our house.Water was everywhere--at least an inch thick, all through the entryway, kitchen, dining room, nursery, and laundry room. Gulp. The laundry room. Water was pouring through the top of the washing machine tub. It never stopped filling and had been filling for two and a half hours! 

Oh! I can't believe I left out the fun part! The washing machine was full of dirty cloth diapers! So, the entire downstairs of our house was flooded with poopy and pee water!


It was already past bedtime and the kids were all crying before we even got in the house. Mark took the kids while I developed a game plan. I grabbed our humble little Shop-Vac and got to work, filling it every 30 seconds. Over and over and over again I stayed in the same spot and the water kept coming,

Mark put a movie on for the kids and started carrying all the furniture outside. It's Minnesota, mind you, and at night if you open a door for even a second, there will be mosquitos, and here we were with the door wide open emptying out the house. There were bugs everywhere. 

We've been married for six years now, and because of the conservative use of our bath towels,  we don't have any of what I would call "icky old towels." When we had our homebirth I had to ask around, and my dear mother gave me a humongous stack of icky old towels. I had since packaged them up for safe keeping in the garage, but they came out again last night. With water pouring into the floor vents (is that dangerous?) we created a barricade with towels. Mark and I went back and forth between ringing out the towels and managing the shop-vac. Mark took a break to put the big boys to bed, I took a break to nurse and change the baby.

After a few hours we were finally done. Bug-bitten, dirty, sweaty, wet with wrinkling feet, the floor was as dry as it could have gotten. We threw the towels in a heap on the floor to deal with later and fell on the couch.

I thanked Mark for getting the kids taken care of, and checked on them for the night. They were sleeping soundly...with snowman fleeced July.

:-) .

Sunday, July 17, 2011

In the Field

We went strawberry picking today! 
 It was FUN. It was SO, SO HOT. Literally, it was like being in a steam shower. Literally. Yes, our glasses fogged when we went outside. 
 The boys were old pros at gathering the plentiful berries. In no time we had about 15 quarts.
 Michael slept for a good portion of our picking, although I had to take him out to nurse in the middle of the field. With a french braid and skirt; nursing a baby among the crops, I did feel a bit like Ma Ingalls.
 Luke brought his own special pail (an old Easter basket) to fill. He was quite proud and enjoyed eating them all the way home.
 Squatting extraordinaire! Paul is my right (or in this case, left) hand man. 
 They like to watch me work. 
Mark loves this kind of stuff ;-) ;-) . 
Paul ate more than he picked. The owners encouraged it. I thought it was cute. Notice "Yellow Car." It never leaves his hands. Ever.

Today we're thankful for red-stained fingers, a fun family first, midday thunderstorms, and air conditioning.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Today during naptime I laid our 3-month old on the bed while I set up the ironing board next to him. My thinking was that he would kick around and play while I ironed and made baby faces at him. I can usually get about ten minutes out of this maneuver before my babies want to be held, or more directly entertained. 

No sooner had I started my podcast and pressed the first shirt had little baby started sucking his thumb. 
 A few minutes later the little guy had sucked himself to sleep. 
 In my five years of babies, never has anything so absolutely magical occurred. Miraculous, Precious, Wonderful beyond description. My 3-month old put himself to sleep. 
I love this boy. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Things I Love.

I love coffee, tea, and red wine (who doesn't?). Unfortunately, these things stain your teeth. In my case, my teeth get particularly stained in quite an unsightly way. Despite frequent brushing and flossing, I always seem to have black spots all over my teeth from staining (apparently this is a hereditary condition, as my husband and others who drink even more coffee than I do don't have this problem as severely).

I've been known to coupon a time or two, and one thing that I can get for free or close to free is Colgate toothpaste. If Wal-Mart has it on sale for $1.00, I often have coupons for -$0.75 or -$1.00 off. We often have four or five tubes of Colgate on hand for this reason.

The problem is that while I'm cavity-free, Colgate does nothing for the staining.

Enter Crest 3D White Vivid
We received a free sample of this new Crest product in the mail a few weeks ago. I'm not one for gimmicks, but it actually did wonders for the stains on my teeth. It worked so well that we actually forgoed our Colgate and forked over the nearly $4 a tube for this stuff. It worked that well. Perhaps we'll strike a compromise: Crest after coffee, Colgate before bed. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Commercial Exploitation.

I might really lose some people on this one, so my apologies in advance. I'm big on big issues, and I have good points to back up my positions. For this one, I just have a feeling, without huge convictions, because it's not that big of a deal. Take it or leave it, it's just my $0.02.

I don't like commercialism. I never have. Being different from the crowd by not wearing or doing what everyone else was wearing or doing didn't phase me, and in a way, I insisted on it. Maybe it's because I'm more of a right-brained, creativity-valued person, or more accurately, that I refuse to be something that I'm not.

This position has affected our household in different ways. We don't have cable, and the one channel we do get only works when there's a clear sky. This means that that the children don't see commercials, and their television is very limited. The two year old still loves Thomas the Train, and the five year old is crazy about Lightning McQueen, but their genuine interests still shine through the off-the-wall marketing of these products.

The biggest impact commercial exploitation has in our home is in the form of clothing. With the exception of underpants and pajamas, I do not purchase clothing with visible brand names, logos, commercial characters (Thomas, Spiderman), superfluous printing, or (this is the big one) sporting franchise logos.

Why? I don't have a great reason, maybe not even a good reason except that they bug me. My boys like dinosaurs and pythons and Komodo dragons, not watching the NFL  My five year old likes to wear the color red and a yellow tie everywhere. My two year old likes fire trucks and monster trucks and anything to do with animals--especially dogs. This is who they are right now. In the future, if they love the Minnesota Twins, or get really into comic strips and want to wear superhero-marketed clothing, I'll happily let them. But for now, as little boys, I want them to look like little boys.

I don't want the crowd to dictate what they wear, what they should like, and what their interests should be. God made them unique with different treasures and talents, and I want those to be fostered, not an over-riding obsession with fitting in.

It turns out that I'm not the only one who thinks this way. There is an organization especially designed to give children a commercial-free childhood. The tag-line for the CCFC is "Reclaiming Childhood from Corporate Marketers." I like it.

Even our old pal Raffi is on board. Do you know that Raffi has never allowed any of his music to be marketed, even refusing a Baby Beluga animated video? Until his death, Dr. Seuss was the same way, strictly limiting any kind of commercial marketing of his products.

Thoughts? Objections? Suggestions? How do you feel about the marketing geared at your children? Does it bug you, or do you tend to brush it off?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Just because...

Just because she asked, I've added one more link to the "Factoids" section of this blog.

Because Grace Under Fire is a favorite post of a devout reader, and because it really does sum up the basis of this blog, that behind the mask of smiling kids and a happy family, we're not perfect. If it's not a fiery frying pan thrown out on the snow bank, it's the five year old putting things in his mouth that a two year old would know better ;-) .

Really, there are myriad stories of our ridiculousness. I only choose to post the ones that are the least embarrassing.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


You know you're Catholic when the toddler mistakes your contact solution for Holy Water and walks around the house blessing himself and all the stuffed animals.

True story.

(Do you know how many "likes" this would have gotten if it were a facebook status? Ho hum).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I don't listen to Rush. Honestly. However, I think he makes a point that one should consider carefully.

Rush: If Anthony's Baby Was Killed In The Womb, Media Wouldn't Care

Blogger Update.

Since Change is cool these days, and life is dynamic, I've updated the "About Me" section of this blog, as well as added a "Factoid" section.

Not that the world doesn't know enough about us yet, but just in case...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Home away...away from Home.

Our simplistic life can become so complicated in a matter of minutes.

Another week, another weekend away from Home, and back Home again.

We're in a predicament here. Our "house" is far from what we consider our "home." We travel "home" frequently, and leave our "house" in shambles between our spurts back and forth. Home, for us, is where our families live. Parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, Aunts & Uncles, Great Aunts & Uncles, troves of cousins, second and third cousins, and friends are bound to surround to us to every visit "home."

This makes our life richly blessed. It also makes it complicated.

We arrived back at our house at 2am this morning. Mark had to be at work early, and yet we couldn't peel ourselves (or the kids) away from the fun we were having. The house is always the same, meaning, it's always the way we left it--in a rush to get out. There are towels to be washed, sheets to be changed, dishes to put away, and maintenance unending. Add a heaping pile of dirty clothes from the weekend and the largest Samsonite you've ever seen left to be emptied, and I've got my work cut out for me. In only a few days we'll start the cycle all over again.

"Home" is complicated, too. A sweep through my diaper bag revealed that I still have the sunscreen I borrowed from my sister, and I seemed to have left my most lightweight nursing blanket behind. Nuts! The big boy is upset because we can't find his parade candy, and the toddler is overtired and bug-bitten from head-to-toe.

Even after careful planning, there are still things amiss. Travel is tough, there is no doubt. We return to our house with an empty fridge that needs to be filled strategically so that nothing goes to waste by the time we're off again. At home, we try to bring as much food along with us as we can so we don't clear out the cupboards of our generous loved ones.

It's all worth it, though. Despite the travel and mess, and the chaos that greets us at our house door, we still find a good excuse to pack it all up week after week. It's probably not even a tough decision, because along with the fellowship of friends and family, we get to enjoy this all day long.

We're starting the little one young. Here is his napping in his Britax next to the Deere. A nap by the water never hurts, right?