Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shock and Awe

I'm feeling sick tonight - bronchitis and no voice.  Just a few minutes ago, I was huddled in a big chair with a blanket.  I looked over to the kitchen and this is what I saw.



My little elf unloading the dishwasher!  Christian just up and started unloading the dishwasher!  His sis joined him, and right now, as I write this, it is done, and they are loading the dirty dishes.  Whose children are these?  This truly feels like a miracle.  He has never unloaded the whole dishwasher before.  I wish something this wonderful for you tonight.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cajun Christmas

The Cajun bloodlines on my husband's side of the family mandate certain Christmas traditions.




Yes, those are my kids eating raw oysters.  Dad convinced them oysters might taste better if they closed their eyes.  Oyster Tally:  Anna - 3, Ehren - 1, Christian - 0.  What are your unique Christmas traditions?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's a Pillow

...It's a pet.  It's a Pillow Pet! 


The music from the Pillow Pet commercial is stuck on replay in my mind.  I wonder how many Pillow Pets are in the arms of American kids today.  Is there a Pillow Pet in your house?  I don't know the national stats, but I now count three in our house.

In other Christmas gift news...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Still, Still, Still

I received many wonderful gifts tonight, but my favorite may have been singing the song, "Still, Still, Still" in church.  I knew this song in German from my grandma and have always loved it, but I've never sung it or heard an English version.  I give you the beautiful lyrics:

Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.

Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.
 
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.

Hear the tune here.  I learned that it is a traditional Austrian carol, not German, as I had always thought.  And now, as my children have gone to bed, I wish for you and for me only still, still, still. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Cold

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Friendly Germs?

Bara gave the kids their Christmas gifts early this year since she's travelling over the holidays.  Ehren loves science, so Bara and I thought he would love his present, "Disgusting Science."  When he first opened it, he said, "What is this?"  Bara explained that with it, you could grow germs from your own body.  Ehren said, "germs?"  He looked puzzled.  She went on to say, "germs from your skin, friendly germs, all kinds of germs."  He put the kit down.  She continued on about how exciting it would be.  He carefully backed away from it.  With every word, he looked more horrified.  "Mom, do I have to touch it?"  I thought he might cry.  Christian chimed in, "I want to try it."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Stock Up Sunday

On Sundays, I try to make a few things for the week, so I don't have to cook each night after work.  My little helper and I made this Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup



Later, I also made Friendship Soup and cut up snacking vegetables for the week.  Finally, to balance out all that healthy stuff, we made the super easy Fudge recipe you find on the back of the marshmallow creme jar.  To economize, we substituted 32 large marshmallows instead of the marshmallow creme.  Yes, it has 3 cups of sugar.  Here's wishing you a sweet Christmas.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Shepherds were TERRIFIED!

I didn't even know Ehren and Christian's class had a recitation until we got to their Christmas program today.  Here is a post-performance run for the camera.  I love how Christian looks up into the air to his imaginary cue card.  He has kind of a photographic memory, so I know he's visualizing a mental snapshot of the words as he's talking.  He can't remember things he hears, but he can remember things he sees.  Ehren is the opposite.  It seems like they each got a different half of the brain in utero.

video

Oh Brother!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Preschool Christmas Program

First of all, hats off to my manager, who let me telecommute two days in a row so that I could participate in my children's lives.  Yesterday, Anna had her last day of her first session of gymnastics.  I'd like to post photos from this event, but the battery in my camera died right after I arrived at the gym.  To sum it up, preschool gymnastics is fun, but not amazing. 

Today, Anna had her preschool Christmas program at school (I arrived with camera battery fully-charged).  It's amazing what a difference a year can make.  As her teacher reminded me, "one year is a quarter of their life." She knew (loved) all her songs and was a joy to watch.  The funniest part was seeing her re-tucking her shirt into her skirt throughout the program.  Only a girl.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's Going To Be a White Christmas

Remember those years when we felt sorry for the ski areas and we read headlines like, "Snowmobile Sales Stagnant, Polaris to Increase ATV Production"?  Maybe you know someone who was a kid in the late 90's or maybe you were one.  There were definitely a lot of years where we wondered if we were going to have a white Christmas.  Some of those kids may be thinking about moving south now that the real Minnesota has come roaring back.



Friday, December 10, 2010

It's that time of the year again...

This morning, as I flipped through the radio stations, I heard Katy Perry’s new song, Firework (yes, I’m 41 and I like Katy Perry).  I stopped and cranked it up.  I'm rockin' out to the song, "Baby you're a firework. Come on let your colors burst..." when all of a sudden the music fades, and a mother’s voice is saying, “She can’t do things the way other kids can, so it really made me proud when…”     



Ten minutes later on another station, “This kid … who has Aspergers and has trouble making friends…we're going to give him a new smile so he's not self conscious about it…” Another Christmas wish granted.

Arrived at work and went to get some coffee.  Yesterday’s newpaper is sitting out on the counter with a huge photo of a smiling down syndrome student from a local high school highlighting a story about a student mentoring program for special needs students.

At Christmas, it makes people feel good to take time out to talk about kids with special needs.  Grand and generous unless you're a mom of two kids on the spectrum who likes her 9 hours of denial time at work.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Recess!

When I awoke this morning, the thermometer read 0 degrees.  I thought to myself, "You picked a great one for your first day as parent recess volunteer at school."  By the time noon rolled around, the temperature was up to 15 degrees, and it was one of those bright, sunny, blue sky winter days that make me love winter in Minnesota.  Recess is glorious!  I forgot just how fun it used to be.  What could be better than sledding on a sunny winter day with 50 of your friends?

Earlier in the month, when I told the boys I was going to be a recess volunteer, they were so excited.  But when I got there, it was all about recess, not mom.  They said "hi" while running past me.  However, at the end of recess, I did get two funny tidbits to share. 

Earlier in the week, Christian and I filled out his "Star of the Week" questionaire.  One of the questions asked, "What is your favorite color?"  When he answered, "Pink," I said, "That's kind of a girly color.  I think the kids will laugh at you.  Do you really want to say 'pink'?"  He answered, "Mom, I'll tell you if anyone laughs."  Today, on the way in from recess, he stopped and said, "Mom, a few kids laughed."  It took me a few seconds to realize what he was talking about.  He was totally cool about it, and said the kids weren't really laughing at him, they just thought it was funny.  He definitely has a mind of his own.

My other funny moment was observing Christian and his good friend, who happens to be a girl, as they stood in line waiting to go back inside school.  They were quietly talking to one another, when I saw her reach out and start smoothing Christian's hair.  Christian has poor personal space boundaries, and much earlier in the year, the situation was reversed during the children's sermon at church.  Christian was sitting by the same friend (crowding her) and then he reached up to touch her shiny blond hair.  She looked so irritated, I thought flames might start shooting out of her eyes (not that I could blame her because I would have felt the same way).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Their Mouths are Identical


All the kids had dental checkups tonight.  After Christian and Ehren had finished, the dental hygenist came out to say, "Their mouths are so much alike, it's like looking at the same mouth twice.  They have the same cavity on the same side, and their baby teeth and emerging adult teeth are all exactly the same."  It's true.  So far they have lost the same baby teeth at almost the same time.  I never thought about it too much before the hygenist's comment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Feast

Today, the kids had an all-school Thanksgiving feast that was organized, supplied and served by parents. This was my first time at the feast. It was amazing! The first graders, paraded out in their paper grocery-bag Pilgrim and Indian costumes and lined up first at the buffet. They were the only ones dressed for the occasion. Feasting together with parents, teachers, and kids was a rich experience.



My contribution:



That's 10 lbs of peeled potatoes in case you wondered.



Can't wait until next year!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Homework

First grade means Math homework Monday through Thursday.





In an ideal world, there is "unwind" time from 4-4:30 pm, then homework, then dinner, then freedom. However, Mondays have been interupted by LTS (Learn to Skate), so eating dinner, getting changed and getting out the door pre-empts homework. Tuesday is the marathon day because the boys miss religion and spelling while they're receiving speech and social skills group at the nearby public school. This work needs to be made up at home.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 15/16 - Marathon Drive

Saturday, August 28
Hit the road early and drove. And drove. And drove. No pics for this post. Just the Stats:

1280 miles
20.4 mpg
Drivers: 3

Dan and Bara did all the driving up until Jamestown, ND. Once we hit Jamestown, I fueled up first the car and then myself with a drive-thru Mocha Frappe from McDonalds. After a cool rainy day in Montana, the temperature only warmed to the low 70's as we crossed the North Dakota and western Minnesota.

As we approached the Cities, I marveled at the fact that I was able to keep the cruise control on all the way through the metro area. Only at 4 am on Saturday morning!

Sunday, August 28, 5:00 am. Home! Our beds never felt so good.

Day 14 - Last Day in the West

Friday, August 27
Packed up and got ready to leave the coop. Did I mention that we camped inside the new house? Our tent was in the future great room. Bara's was in the future guest room.



River side of the house. Looking good!



In the evening, we celebrated summer and September birthdays. Notice the "cousins" t-shirts, courtesy of Grandma.





We enjoyed our last bonfire.





And rounded out the final evening with some fireworks.

Day 13 - Relaxing on the Water

Thursday, August 26
Are you ready Mom? I'm gonna do my twisty jump!









Meanwhile, near the shore, sea monsters lurked.



And further out, engines roared.





And mothers checked their diving form.

Day 12 - Window Wednesday

Wednesday, August 25
Wednesday was window day (one of several, actually). Dan and JB worked putting windows into the new house at the river.



The kids and I were slow to get moving, but just in time for the hot midday sun, we hiked out to see the view from the new high bridge on the island.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 11 - Glacier National Park

Tuesday, August 24
Woke up and hiked the Avalanche Lake trail, right from our campsite.  We left about 9:30 am.  This was one of the hikes that Dan and I did on the way home from our wedding in 2002.  Avalanche Gorge is so amazing!  When we reached Avalanche Lake, there were a lot of people, but the weather was sunny and spectacularly beautiful.  All the kids did a good job hiking except Anna, who was a little whiny and tired out.






After finishing our hike, we ate lunch and packed up the campsite.  We did some more sightseeing from the car while driving to Many Glacier.  There we did some grizzly bear watching on a grassy mountain slope directly across Swiftcurrent Lake from the lodge.  All together, we saw 6 grizzlies and one black bear on that slope.  There was a mother grizzly with two 2-year old cubs and another mother with two yearling cubs.  The black bear was alone.  A  little further down the same road, we saw the black bear again, even a little closer to the road.  That's definitely the most bears I've ever seen!  There was obviously something tasty eat on that slope.

Finally, after our big gawker slow-down at the bear slope, we got on the road home. I drastically underpacked in the food area, so with empty cooler and empty stomachs, we started searching the navigator for a pizza place on the way home. After a stop at the delicious Mackenzie River Pizza in Kalispell, we rolled on towards T Falls with full bellies. Since we had eight in the van (am I going to jail for posting this?), we buckled Elsie and Ethan together in one seat, and it was a long, tired trip home for them. To add to the fun, there was still road work near Hot Springs at 11 at night. We waited impatiently for the a pilot car (twice) to lead us through the construction zone. When we finally piled into our beds, it was well after midnight.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 10 - Glacier National Park

Monday, August 23
Dan, Bara, the kids and I got on the road to Glacier around 8:30 am.  Elsie and Ethan had to squish together into one seat for the ride since we had eight packed into the Caravan.  Unfortunately, just after Hot Springs, there was a lot of construction that slowed us down.



When we got into Glacier, we first drove to Avalanche Lake Campground to get our camping spot and setup camp.  Then we drove to Logan Pass, where we saw the visitor center and hiked the pass.  The sky was cloudy, and the hike was very cold and windy, but spectacular.  The alpine meadows were full of stunning wildflowers.  Along the way, the kids saw marmots, chipmunks, and squirrels.  At the end of the trail, there were mountain goats.  A cute mama and baby were directly under a big rock we were all standing on.  On the way back, Elsie and Ethan saw some far off big horn sheep courtesy of another hiker's telescope.  I was hiking far off the back the whole way because of all the wildflower pictures I took.











Next we did a short hike up Sunrift Gorge.  Due to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (Obama stimulus money), there was road construction all along the Going to the Sun road.  The construction wait time was a welcome photography break.  Can you imagine wishing for more road construction delays?  Only on vacation.

Back at the campground, we made a fire and grilled up some delicious Hebrew National hot dogs (my favorite!) and cut up a cantaloupe we brought, careful to remove any sticky sweet trace of the fruit from ourselves and our campsite, so we didn't attract any bears!  After dinner, we had a cozy night together in our huge tent.