Monday, December 20, 2010

do video games kill imagination?

Miles was scheming this morning, desperate to get a Wii in our house.

I denied him yet again. Even told him that maybe we should cancel Christmas gifts altogether because his disappointment at not getting a Wii would be very depressing for his parents. (Avery very quickly made it clear that he would NOT be disappointed in anything!)

I told him that he need to be using his imagination. "What would you be doing or thinking if you weren't obsessing about a Wii," I asked him.

"I don't have an imagination anymore," he said.

"Why don't you go write a story about your imagination. Where did it go? How did you lose it? Your quest to find it...What has it been up to?"


He returned with this limerick:

I lost my imagination
I think it went on vacation
It didn't like me

I played too much Wii

And it's learning multiplication

He explained to me that if he still had his imagination, it would be learning plutification which requires imagination, but instead it's just learning math facts.

I think he's brilliant. But, of course, I'm his mom.

why we don't have a video game system in our house (yet?)

It's Christmas time. The time when those of us in the No Video Game Camp start to question how dedicated we are to saying NO to Wii, XBox, PS3 and a DS. I really don't mind if my kids play these at your house. I just don't want them in mine. I often run through this list mentally to remind myself why I fight the temptation to upgrade my coolness status with my boys.

1. Video games take over your thoughts. I know what it's like to be sitting in class and wishing I could just stop thinking about fitting Tetris pieces together.

2. Video games give you a false sense of accomplishment. I could place Sonic the Hedgehog with my eyes closed in high school. I'm not even exaggerating. Also, hearing my boys regale eachother with stories of conquering levels at the dinner table drives me nuts. I have no context to even feign interest. It's isolating.

3. Video games take away time that you could be making a real memory that's worth sharing or writing about some day. (I'm feeling the irony here, but this is cautionary, not inspiring!)

4. Video games kill imagination (because of their thought domination!). Now, I have to say the lack of video games has inspired video-game-like imaginations. My boys used to pretend to be in a video game while we drove around town.

5. Video games would be the FIRST thing I would take away if I were going to discipline my kids. I don't want to give my kids a gift that I KNOW I would take away almost daily. (I feel the same way even if they were to invest in it themselves. So I've squashed the idea of saving for it.)

To be perfectly clear, my kids have played plenty of Webkinz and computer-based video games. But, because it's on my computer, it's very limited compared to what it would be if they had their own system.

Which brings me to number...

6. If they DID have their own system, I wouldn't regulate it enough. I would SOOOO enjoy the peace and quiet it would bring that they'd play it forever (when they weren't grounded from it, of course).

related post to follow shortly...

Friday, November 19, 2010

what DO you give the little boy who donates a dollar?

So, Miles and I were at the grocery store the other day. As we exited, there was a table we passed accepting donations for disabled veterans. Almost too late, I realized that I actually had a tiny bit of cash on me (very rare!), and sent Miles back to donate a dollar as I waited on the sidewalk.

The last thing I expected was to be given anything in return for our meager donation.

But, no, they were ready to thank my eight-year-old with a small gift:

From the back cover...
"After Hudson Savage betrayed her, Dana Cardwell hoped never again to lay eyes on the seductive cowboy..."


Sunday, November 14, 2010

last of the (super long overdue) chicago pictures

Over a month ago, I wrote, "More on the trip soon." Fail. If I've learned anything about myself, it's that if I commit to doing anything on my blog, I don't do it. So, with that in mind, I will never post all our stops we made on our summer vacation.

A few thoughts on Chicago. I'm SO glad we had to travel through it twice (on the way out and on the way back to Minneapolis). I love this hub of the midwest for the people, the memories we've made there over the years and for all that it offers in terms of food and entertainment. At this stage in life, it's more about the people and the food.

We stayed with the Vander Griends. I met Kim in college and have already written a bit about her here and there. She's hilarious and intense. Her husband is also hilarious and intense, but in complimentary ways. They are so comfortable to be around. Even before they had children, they were really cool with ours. Kim has a very enchanting way with kiddos.

Our girls are very close in age. Lucy and Jillian are a few days apart. Lila and Phoebe are three months apart. I was a little obsessed with matching them. But getting a picture was tricky! It's hard enough to get ONE kid to look at a camera, let alone FOUR!!!

Kim reading to the girls.

The Dads took out the kids to Millennium Park (as I wrote SO long ago).

And we took out the babies. I have one request when I visit Chicago: cupcakes. If you're ever in Lincoln Park (am I right, Kim?), Go to Sweet Mandy B's. Get yourself a vanilla cupcake. (And then get another for the road.) It's AH-mazing. I have become a bit of a cupcake connoisseur over the years. I have not found a cupcake that competes with Sweet Mandy B's. (Okay, now I'm salivating. Cannot write about this anymore!!!)

next stop, OHIO. (but i will NOT post about it...reverse psychology works, right??!!)

Friday, November 12, 2010

I is for Isaac. J is for Jillian.

My little preschooler is learning a lot this year. This is her buddy, Isaac. She talks about him all the time. And according to her, I is always for Isaac. (By the way, Isaac's mommy took this super great picture!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

one of my favorite parenting tips

The further into this journey of parenting I go, the more grace I need. I need it from the Lord obviously. And I need it from my friends. Here's a quote from a friend that I've been noodling on for awhile.

"Someone recently asked me for parenting advice and I told them, 'Surround yourself with friends who don't judge you or your parenting.'" (That was Sarah T, for the locals.)

Sure, I was as guilty as any other person pre-children. Even when the boys were still kinda little, I said things like "My kid will never ____."

One way God humbled me was to bless me with four children. I don't know an honest Christian mother who doesn't think that God is using motherhood to sanctify her. Holy Moly. I am constantly being humbled by saying things I never thought I'd say. I've turned a blind eye to behavior I never thought I'd permit. I struggle with anger more than I ever could have imagined. And, strangely, my children are not the perfect robot angels that I once knew they'd be. (But, they are pretty great!!!)

With all my failures in mind, it makes a WORLD of difference when I know I'm in the company of those who have grace for me. They have love and grace for me despite my flawed parenting. They have love and grace for my sinful children. Quite honestly, a friend's judgment on top of the failure does nothing if it doesn't make me a worse parent. It's burdensome.

What I need is understanding. I need encouragement. I need patience.

(And friends who are being judgmental need understanding and patience too! Bear with them and love them! And trust that God will humble them in His time! :D)

No need to affirm my stupid parenting moments. I don't need someone to tell me that my anger or my inconsistent parenting is inspiring. I need to know they love me anyway and that they'll be praying for me. I need to know they'll pray for my kids.

And, by God's grace, that's what I have. I am so blessed to be surrounded by friends who aren't judging me. I feel safe to confess my shortcomings and walk in the light and come away refreshed and ready to be a better mom.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

the problem with juice boxes and other thoughts

1. The problem with juice boxes is that they are 6.75 ounces. I need a good 12 or more ounces to quench my thirst. Alas!! The only non-water beverages we have currently are juice boxes. I guess I could drink three.

update: I had a dream last night in which I enjoyed a juice box the size of a cereal box. if only...

2. Did I ever mention here that my parents moved to Romania? Yes? Okay. Well, I miss them. Christmas decorations are out and that makes me all nostalgic for the Christmases of yore with my Mom and Dad, aka Mommala and DaddyO.

3. Speaking of Christmas, when do you get a tree (if you get a live one). We've cut one down for the last three years, and I'm getting super excited to do this again. I'm thinking we might have to get one kinda early this year. Do you think it will last? Do you have any great tricks to keep your tree alive??

4. Let this be a warning to you.

Never loan me a book. This stack here is OPERATION BOOK RETURN. seriously. (But, Meg, I'm keeping Future Grace for a bit because I'm actually reading that one right now. Oh...and Jenny, this reminds me! I keep meaning to bring you Planet Earth!!) Of all these books, I've read only THREE from cover to cover. Can you guess which ones??

5. Jillian saw this picture in a Target ad.

The one on the left? "This one is my DADDY!!!" The one on the right? "This one is like MOMMY!" wha?? Okay, I'll take it. At least she thought of me at all!

6. What's up with all the Mormon propaganda? Have you noticed this? What's particularly noteable in my opinion is that there is no message of hope. It's totally like, "Hey, all KINDS of people is Mormons, yo. Artists, surfers, businessmen. So like, you could be one too if you wanted. I'm sure you were just hung up on the fact that you thought we were weird. So, yeah. Be cool. Be Mormon." psh.

7. I'm in one of the biggest cooking slumps of my life. It started in the summer when I had no time to cook between having all the kids home and carting them to baseball and soccer pretty much during the dinner hour. And then when I tried to cook, it was fail-time. I totally lost my touch. The kids would say things like, "This doesn't taste like your cooking" or "This is yucky." Brent would say, "It's alright" or "Not your best." And I could hardly disagree with them. I stopped improvising any recipes because I just couldn't trust my instincts. That helped. But now I just dread menu planning and cooking. Please tell me this slump will end soon.

8. If you can't promise me that the cooking slump will end soon, can you please send gift cards for restaurants? I'm kidding. I'm done. WAIT. No. Speaking of restaurants, I recently left my credit card at a Chili's. I got it back and all seemed fine until we got a little call-e-o from the fraud department of Visa. And do you want to know what some pork-knucker ordered with our stolen credit card information? A subscription to World of Warcraft magazine. People are dumb.

9. Uh-oh. I think this calls for a little Antoine Dodson! Fuh ree-ahl.

Monday, November 1, 2010

trick or treat

i LLLLLOVE making costumes. i welcome the challenge of creativity under pressure with limited resources. so, despite all the reasons to ignore Halloween, i welcome it with open arms, a box cutter, and a needle and thread (and, to be totally honest, one store-bought costume)

First of all, our Avery said that he thinks at the ripe old age of 10, he's getting to old for Halloween. Really? He didn't linger here as he realized that not dressing up and not trick-or-treating would result in not having candy. So, he decided to be a baseball player. Again. (He's been a baseball player at least three times.) But that's cool. I encourage kids to come up with their own costumes. Here he is with his little buddy, Sam Rigney.

When I asked Miles a few weeks ago what he wanted to be, he answered, "A box." I just checked that off my list immediately knowing that we could postpone it for awhile. Then about two hours before go time, we stacked a few boxes together and voila! It was quite brilliant, actually. Watching him glide from house to house was so entertaining. He was quite the crowd pleaser.

Next to "Miles the Moving Boxes" is our Flower Princess, Jillian. Now, to be quite honest, I made her a Little Red Riding Hood costume. I followed the pattern best I could, but I chose a fabric that was just not right. In my opinion, the LRRH costume looked more like Little Red Riding Druid. Not what I was going for. So, we opted for this. She was happy. So was Old Navy. They like the business.

I had to save the best for last (for the few of you left who have yet to see!). A few days ago, my friend Jenny made me promise that I'd make a costume to go along with her little Sam's costume. Jenny hand-made an awesome Nacho Libre costume and I likewise made an Encarnacion costume. The awesome results:

Jenny and I with our Nacho and Encarnacion! Go to Jenny's blog for a very entertaining post and way more pictures.

Me with the cutest little nun I ever did see!

Friday, October 22, 2010

She's One

She says, "Hazah?" Translated: "What's that??"

Like her sister was, she is pretty adventurous for her age.

Like her brother Miles, she has beautiful blue eyes that get lost in thought.

Like Avery, she looks like me. (Okay. waaaay self-centered.) Trying again. Likes Avery. She REALLY likes Avery. But, Avery likes her more. Loves her to pieces, he does.

Like her Mommy, she secretly likes dress-up. (Here's hoping...)

She likes to wave "Hello" and "Good-bye".

Watch out. She puts everything in her mouth. She's been affectionately referred to as Lint Trap.

Thanks to my photographer and friend, Jenny Rigney, who knows her way around a camera!

Thursday, September 30, 2010


I wish I wasn't so incredibly reliant on pop culture references, but the truth is while you might have been reading, say, Little Women I was watching Facts of Life. (FYI, I did eventually read Little Women two years ago and it was kinda boring after the first 200 pages.)

One result of this is that while you can relate to some character of Jane Austen's or Fyodor Dostoevsky's, I can relate to...Chris Farley.

I think this scene in Tommy Boy pretty much sums up how I feel about my ability to screw up at least 50% of my first impressions. I reference it often. You see, I love getting to know people. I'm mostly an extrovert. But, I have no go-to way to handle a first meeting. My nerves get the best of me and I say totally awkward things and then I go into disclaimer-overload and then I make a drug reference or something, I start sweating and then it ends somehow. I feel like this:

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at
How much do you rely on pop culture references?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

quick confession

The first few times I saw someone do this on Facebook, I thought it was a bikini top and I just couldn't figure out WHY someone would type it.


Am I alone on this one?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

yup, it was millenium park

What I really wanted to do, was follow up the last post with a "That's-RIGHT-it's-Chicago!" post, but then I got sick. Whenever I'm sick, I totally forget what it's like to be healthy. I can't possibly fathom being productive or cooking for my family ever again. And then when I start feeling better, I'm AMAZED at my new super powers. After I emerged from the rubble of illness this past week, I completely cleaned my hoarder-looking basement. It was simply amazing. For two days, my life was all about decluttering my basement.

And then I remembered the internet. And my blog and stuff.

I'm back. More on the trip soon.

In the meantime, I'll give you this menu item to noodle on. Seriously? I'm an adventurous eater, but this just does not sound appealing to me. You?

Friday, September 17, 2010

three pictures from day two of the east coast tour

Can you guess where we were for the first two nights? No guesses from the natives! That would be cheating!

Clue #1
This doesn't help you much, unless you can recognize those legs pushing the stroller! There are at least two cool things about this picture. One, we were walking to church. I wish I could walk to church from our home. Two, the pastor of this particular church went to our church here in Minneapolis for a short while! Oh, duh! Three cool things: look at the sweet stroller!

Clue #2
Look familiar? Been here? Or, should I say BEAN here?

Clue #3
Total giveaway for many of you, I'm sure!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

three reasons i shouldn't make coffee cake at noon

I had no idea that I doomed myself to many failures when I made this delicious Cranberry Upside Down Coffee Cake.

1. I hadn't eaten lunch, so the coffee cake said, "Hey, why don't you just enjoy me for lunch and forget fruits and veggies." So, I totally obeyed the coffee cake.

2. With no boys or Brent around, it was just sitting there on the counter taunting me with its crooked edges. No matter how much I tried to cut straight lines, it would crumble here (with help) or have a jagged pecan there (darn). It said, "please, could you do me a solid and straighten out my edges? thanks, babe."

3. After consuming a revolting amount of coffee cake (nearly a fourth), I lost any motivation to make dinner. Although the coffee cake serenaded me and whispered sweet nothings in my ear, I refused to serve it for dinner. Also, I wanted to take a nap. At 6pm.

three pictures from day one of the east coast tour

First stop: Ella's Deli in Madison, WI

This is Miles in front of some miniature carnival looking thing. The entire restaurant is packed with antique animated toy decor. It feels like the catch-all for all the retired toys from Santa's workshop.

Jillian had just ridden on the carousel they have out front. Ice cream + carousel = pre-meltdown joy!

See that milkshake? It was good, but it wasn't served with extra milkshake in a stainless steel cup. And it was almost $6, if I remember correctly. So, that was a disappointment, but nothing could really bring us down this early on in the trip.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

three (more or less) trips

Okay, so it's quite ridiculous that I haven't written about the summer at all. Well, it would be except for the fact that the summer was so incredibly insane that there was no spare minute to just sit and reflect or share or anything. So, I'll have to backtrack...

1. [attempted] Trip to St. Louis #1. We were all going to drive down together to pillage my parents' home because they were moving (and now have moved) to Romania. But, the day before we were to leave, Jillian started ralphing all over the place. Within the first two hours of spewing, we changed plans and the next day Brent flew there with our brother-in-law, Steve. They had a great albeit short visit with my folks and brought back a big honkin' truckload of furniture. Neely and I were especially interested in furniture that our Dad made so it was pretty sweet that our husbands made the haul!

2. East Coast Whirlwind Tour!! We roadtripped it hard in August. All I'm going to say right now is that we drove over 3500 miles in two weeks. We covered 15 states (I think) in 15 days. And we saw LOTS of friends and family. I told Brent last night that I wish we could do the whole trip again, but with double the time. I simply LOVED it. I'll write more about it soon!

3. We arrived home from the East coast trip late on a Saturday night. The following Friday, my parents had a Bon Voyage party in St. Louis. Having just missed two weeks, Brent could not go. And I did not trust myself to drive all four kids to St. Louis. With Miles and Jillian farmed out to loving friends, Phoebe, Avery and I piled back in the van (which had not been de-vacationed) to bring love and well wishes from the north. We will miss my folks immensely, but we trust the Lord is in charge and knows best.

So, there's a little of what we did. What did YOU do this summer? I want to know three things!

Monday, September 13, 2010

three things i'm doing

When it gets to be a month between blog posts, I forget how to gather my thoughts. I have no idea where to start. I can hardly type. I can't remember where we left off. And, quite honestly, I haven't written a blog post for MONTHS. The last month and a half of posts were all set up one night when I was feeling prolific or something.

So, in an effort to make posting less Mount Everestish to me, I'll limit myself to three things. I'm going to try this little exercise everyday for a week. (And announcing that I'm setting out to do this simple task will sufficiently cause me to fail. Commitment issues and what not.)

Here goes nothin'...

1. I'm getting ready for a garage sale. I could say so many things about how elusive this garage sale fantasy is (I've been talking about it for MONTHS) or how purging your house makes you realize wonder if you're a hoarder (seriously!) or how I have such admiration for people who can whip out a garage sale like it's a boxed cake or something (it's flippin' hard!), but I don't have much time (I have a GARAGE SALE TO PLAN, yo!). So, I'll just say this: throwing a garage sale makes me feel vulnerable because people can come by and look at the stuff that I've lived with for all these years or clothes that I've worn (or maybe I didn't...) and it's like WAY marked down and they can still just totally reject me it. (And already I'm thinking defensively, "But, this is the stuff that I DON'T want! It's like the OPPOSITE of me!!") I'm just saying that this is an exercise in humility. So, basically I'm doing it to humble myself. And get rid of stuff. And get some greenbacks. Or not. Can we call this $anctification?

2. Second thing I'm doing? I'm pretty much soaking in every minute that I can of having an infant. Phoebe turns one in a month and that depresses me. (Being pregnant with another would depress me more, so don't get any ideas!) She's changing FAST. She loves to say "da da" and "sss" and she points and stands and dances (avery taught her!) and spits on cue (avery taught her that too!) and sometimes says "ma ma" and crawls so fast and shakes her head "no" and nods to say "yes" and signs and screams (really, really loud.). Oh, and her hair has gone from black to light.


And look at her dancing!

3. This is cheap, but the third thing I'm doing is getting to bed earlier these days. Like, much earlier. So, with that said...Goodnight stars. Goodnight air. Goodnight noises everywhere.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

the good the bad and the ugly pavlova

the good. (i think i baked this one a little longer)

the bad (real ugly)

they both tasted fine with whipped cream and strawberries. mm-mm-mmmm.

if you've never made pavlova, do yourself a favor and get on it! goes very well with summer strawberries! and i've heard it's good with kiwi. (is there a season for kiwi?)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

avery's declaration of independence?

In late spring, Avery did a report on Thomas Jefferson. He and his class dressed in costume for a living museum. I was so proud of...myself. I'm kidding...kind of. But, he and his classmates really did do a great job!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

weathered (p)leather

I was grateful that Avery's belt lasted the entire school year. Kind of.

But, his shoes needed to be replaced before school let out.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

a theory on why i never sucked my thumb

I remember being read this book as a child.

It included the story of the Thumb-sucker.

"Konrad!" cried his mamma dear,
"I'll go out, but you stay here,
Try how pretty you can be
Till I come again," said she.
"Docile be, and good and mild,
Pray don't suck your thumb, my child,
For if you do, the tailor'll come
And bring his shears and snip your thumb
From off your hand as clear and clean
As if paper it had been."

Before she'd turned the south,
He'd got his thumbkin in his mouth!

Bang! here goes the door ker-slam!
Whoop! the tailor lands ker-blam!
Waves his shears, the heartless grub,
and calls for Dawmen-lutscher-bub.
Claps his weapon to the thumb,
Snips it square as head of grum,
While that lad his tongue unfurled
And fired a yell heard 'round the world.

Who can tell mother's sorrow
When she saw her boy the morrow!
There he stood all steeped in shame,
And not a thumbkin to his name.

note: before anyone should judge my parents, judge me! i liked this book and i believe it's pretty classic german fare. all of us have spoken german at some point. (i am the only one in my family that has not been to germany.) i have both a german and english version of this book floating around my bookshelves.