Wednesday, May 30, 2007

No rest for the weary

Why is it that one kid will cry just long enough at nap time to wake up the other kid?

On the menu for today

What I feed my kids might not be all that exciting for others to read, but in a year when Julia won't eat veggies I want to be able to look back and see that I gave it my best effort. (Sam boycotted the spoon at 11 months and he wasn't used to eating veggies as finger food yet. This led to our downward spiral into Sam-not-eating-veggies world.) Obviously Julia loves eating everything with her fingers so maybe there's hope for her.

Today's lunch menu:
zucchini chunks (I swear I didn't put that seed on her nose! It got there all by itself.)
grated raw milk cheddar cheese
pieces of nectarine
brown rice cake covered in tahini
chunks of rutabaga

I'm making less and less purees and letting her eat pieces of fruits and veggies by herself. It's messy eating, but she's happy.
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Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Success......for now

We are trying our hand at container gardening on our deck this year. I'm not very good at growing things. Mostly I just kill things really slowly. Sam has been faithfully watering his garden and we are excited to report that things are actually growing! There are two tiny green strawberries already! I worry that our containers aren't big enough, but we don't have a sunny corner of the yard and the bunnies would eat everything anyway. An added bonus of container gardening is skipping the weeding chore.

This is what we planted:
1 tomato
1 green pepper
4 broccoli
4 cauliflower
1 zucchini
3 strawberry
4 lettuce
1 pumpkin
1 onion

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Monday, May 28, 2007

To honor our troops

We have made it a tradition since Sam was born to attend the Memorial Day service downtown. We wanted to honor those who are so bravely serving our country and those who have given their lives so we can be free.

The kids are too young to understand the significance, but they still had a fun time.

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To honor our troops

We have made it a tradition since Sam was born to attend the Memorial Day service downtown. We wanted to honor those who are so bravely serving our country and those who have given their lives so we can be free.

The kids are too young to understand the significance, but they still had a fun time.

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Happy Memorial Day!!

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

I do

It's been six wonderful years since we stood before God, our family, and our friends to recite our wedding vows to each other. When I think about how much I love Brian today, and then think back to our wedding day, I can't believe how much we've grown in our love for one another. I have always wanted to put our love story in writing so our children can read about how much their mom and dad trusted in the Lord to work things out for His glory. So read along if you'd like.....
Most stories begin with how a couple meet. Ours begins two months earlier in two different countries. Studying in Vienna, I was two hours away from leaving on a train for Paris when I got a phone call from the States. It was a woman named Carol Maass from Voyageurs National Park. It turns out that an application I'd filled out for an internship had been accepted. This was an unpaid position so I couldn't say yes without first talking to my mom about the financial aspect of it. I told Carol I was very interested, but would need to call her back. I quickly gathered up enough change to call home and explained the situation to my mom. I really needed to get to the train station so rather than put my mom on the spot I told her to think about it, call Carol when she'd made up her mind, and that I'd call home when I returned from my trip in 10 days. Who knew my entire future was tied to that decision. God knew and that is what is so amazing about it. He knew that by my mom accepting the internship on my behalf I was destined to meet my future husband. Meanwhile, Brian and his friend, Troy, were backpacking across Europe. They visited many of the same places I did and even rode on a train with classmates of mine. (They were talking loud enough that Brian learned they were students studying in Vienna. After the fact, we put two and two together and it had to be my classmates traveling to Barcelona.

When Brian returned home to Minnesota he packed up his belongings and started his second season at Voyageurs National Park. He'd been offered a position At North Cascades, but he decided to take the position at Voyageurs instead. On June 1st, 1998 - the day we met - we both stood with the rest of the volunteers, rangers, and staff who had assembled for seasonal training in the Lake Kabetogama Visitor Center. I remember Brian as the guy wearing an ugly baseball cap and tattered flannel shirt. On the tour boat, seated kitty-corner behind me, he dined on muffins made by his girlfriend, Sara. It was a summer to remember. I made lifelong friends and learned a lot about myself. There is something about living in a cabin in the woods surrounded by God's beautiful creation that brings me close to my Savior. The way the schedule worked out - Brian and I often spent our workdays at the same visitor center. When you spend nine hours a day with someone, you really get to know them. It was Brian who shared the same days off as I did, and it was Brian who helped me with my new puppy, Conor. We talked about our faith and past relationships. That summer I read the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Years later Brian says he still remembers me telling him about the guy I was hung up on at the time. "He's worth waiting for." and "I'd move to Montana for him." What I remember from those conversations about dating was that I knew that until I had my life figured out, I wasn't going to be messing up someone else's. I was focusing on my relationship with the Lord and letting Him take care of the husband finding. God has quite the sense of humor! My future husband was right in front of me the whole time!

Soon, it was almost September and I returned to Illinois for my final year of college, but not before a tearful goodbye. He had stuck a card in my glove box and told me to read it when I got home. I, of course, only waited until I got 1/2 mile down the road and was so touched by his words that I turned my car around and raced back to give him the hug I should have given him the first time I said goodbye. We kept in touch while I was in college. He even drove 5 hours to visit me once. We exchanged letters for the next eight months until we both returned to Voyageurs the following spring. (I got paid this time) It was a perfect summer. The staff that year gelled and we all became friends. We enjoyed our jobs, hung out after work - all while living in a beautiful National Park. Others would probably say that it was obvious that Brian was interested in me, but I didn't notice. Sure, I noticed how great he was and often wrote my friends saying, "He'll make a wonderful husband for someone, but not me."
Even our boss noticed and changed the schedule so we wouldn't have the same days off anymore. His theory was that if it didn't work out we wouldn't have to work together as often. (We have a running joke that we got married just to spite that silly man.) We often sat up late after watching a movie, talking about anything and everything.
It was during a conversation after a movie on August 23rd that things changed forever. I don't remember the details, but I do remember hearing the words, "I love you." My reply was anything but romantic and we both ended up in tears because I didn't feel the same way about him. It was an awkward and horrible week until I could finally be honest with myself and admit I had feelings for him too. August 30th, 1999 we shared our first kiss (initiated by me - I mean I shot the poor guy down just a week earlier. ) My job at Voyageurs was suppose to wrap up that very day, but two weeks earlier, I had been asked to stay until the end of September. That extension gave us 4 wonderful weeks together. We studied the Bible by the fire in a 1930's cabin, we soaked up the beauty of the Northwoods in autumn, and we tried to forget that our idyllic lifestyle was about to end. I didn't have a job to go home to so I decided to tour as many state parks as I could before the weather turned cold. My original plan was to make it a solo journey, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to spend as much time with Brian as I could. So on October 1st we packed up my Chevy Malibu and made a whirlwind trip around the state to check out 16 parks. We spent two of the nights camping with Brian's family and their friends (a tradition we still continue 8 years later).

We had yet another tearful goodbye on October 14th before I returned home to Wisconsin. Brian made the 5 hour drive to visit a few times, but mostly we talked on the phone and sent letters. One of the many things I love about Brian is his sense of humor. He was always saying or writing things that made me laugh.
Brian's brother, Gary, was getting married December 3rd that year and I was invited to come along - to Alaska. Who would have thought Alaska in December could be so beautiful! Brian made a comment the night of Gary and Laura's wedding about how he would go about planning his own wedding, and without thinking I replied, "Not if I have anything to do with it." One week later, while visiting me at the Mall I worked in, Brian wandered into a jewelry store to price some engagement rings. The pushy sales lady managed to talk him into buying a ring on the spot. There are two very significant things about when and where he bought my ring. One - without knowing it, he bought the exact ring I wanted (I'd been admiring it on my way to my job at Eddie Bauer, 4 stores down from the jewelers). Two - I hadn't even told him I loved him yet. I was planning to that VERY NIGHT. Talk about a leap of faith! Just goes to show that God's timing is perfect.

We attended my church Christmas program that night (Dec. 10th) and later, while sitting by the wood stove I presented him with a tiny box that contained my gift - or at least a letter that explained my gift.

Dear Brian,
There are so many things I wanted to get you for Christmas, but you know I can't afford to spend very much. I wish I could spoil you like you spoiled me with my winter coat. So instead of something from your Christmas List, I'm giving you something else you wanted. My gift to you is all my love.
Merry Christmas!

Things were beginning to fall into place for us. I would be moving to Minnesota to live with my Aunt and Uncle who had a baby girl nine days before Christmas. (I would spend the next 5 years as Elsie's nanny.) At this point I was still in WI with my mom and sisters. To spend Christmas with the family we braved blizzard conditions to make it to Minnesota. We were suppose to arrive at my Grandparent's home by mid-day on the 23rd so I'd have enough time to have dinner with Brian , but that didn't work out. Instead Brian came over in the morning of the 24th and we went for a drive. The front seat of his, Chevy Lumina wasn't the ideal place to exchange Christmas gifts, but we didn't care. He opened my gift and then he brought out a photo album that he wanted to show me. Being a picture lover, I thought it was sweet of him to want to show me pictures of his childhood, his family, and one of us taken at a wedding reception in September. Then he asked me to close my eyes and I played along. When I opened them and saw a ring, I blurted out YES!! I didn't even give him a chance to pop the question first. :) If I'd have given him a chance to, he was planning to say, "The pictures in this album represent the first 27 years of my life. So while I can't give you the first 27 years, I'd like to give you the rest. Will you marry me?"
Pretty sweet don't ya think?
If anyone is doing the math, yes, we hadn't even been dating for 4 months when we got engaged. When you are going to marry your best friend time doesn't matter. We'd been friends for over a year and planned a long engagement. We waited 17 months before I walked down the aisle to meet the man of my dreams at the alter. Brian was going to make a great husband someday. Only the Lord could orchestrate a coming together of two people who are so right for each other. We don't have a perfect marriage by any means, but we work at it every day. It is my prayer that our children will find spouses someday that are as loving, generous, forgiving, and romantic as their father.
Happy Anniversary Brian! I love you!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Would you believe

that I took this photo myself?
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Our Fun Friday

We started out at the Barnes & Noble story time. It was Sam's first time there. He sat so well and listened to all four stories before all the kids made paper kites.

When Daddy got home from work we went to the pool. Nobody else was there! We had the whole place to ourselves. Sweet!

I had picked up a new swim suit after story time. I must have set a new shopping record: I was in and out of the store with a new suit (that I actually like) in only 15 minutes - with two kids in tow!

It was a nice treat to be able to swim around and splash with Sam while Brian held Julia some of the time.

After dinner at our favorite pizza joint we stopped at a new park.

This was an impromptu stop so we had to improvise sun protection for Julia. She wouldn't let me turn the hat around to effectively block the sun, but she looked too cute to fight her on it.

Sam didn't want to leave and neither did I. It was so nice out!

This is going to be fun!

Look what I can do now!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Sam: Daddy and Sam eat chock-lick
Me: Did you and Daddy have chocolate?
Sam: Yes. We sheard it. It's all gone.

Now wasn't that nice of Daddy to share the last granola bar with Sam while I was gone last night? Problem is, now I don't have any more chocolate in the house to bribe Sam with. I guess we'll be taking a break from potty training today. (Yes, I know probably isn't the best way to potty train a child, but it works for us.)

My little Houdini

Julia took a morning nap at 9:30. She slept about 2 hours. When she woke up she was content to play in her crib for what seemed like forever. Before I knew it an hour had passed. I could see her on the video monitor so I wasn't concerned. In fact, it's quite entertaining to watch her play with her paci and talk to herself. After another 20 minutes she fell back to sleep, or at least that's what I figured. She had slid out of the monitor's view. Her breathing was the only thing I could hear so I knew she was ok. (She had given me quite a scare the other night when I went up to readjust the monitor and I found her face down in the crib bumper. I don't know how it was possible for her to get any air, but she was.)

It's now almost 4 hours after I put her down for a nap. I went in to check on her after I laid Grant down and somehow she had untied the bumper in the corner. The tieback is nowhere to be found. It must be under her belly. I've got the monitor cranked as loud as it will go so the second she stirs I can get up there and take out that bumper. Forget how cute it is, it's just not worth it!

13 things on my "Getting Ready for Denver" list

*While this might not be the most entertaining TT, it will help me stay on task (we leave two weeks from today). I will be flying by myself with the kids(on the way there only) so being organized is very important. I figured this would also be a good time to ask for travel suggestions/tips/tricks etc.... that other moms had to offer. We depart from here at 7am (not excited about a 5am airport run) and our return trip departs at 7pm (both kids bedtimes)

1. Plan menu for kids
2. Research average temps for that time of year
3. Plan our clothes based on those temps
4. Decide on the essentials for traveling with two children
5. Check TSA regulations for carry-ons
6. Buy a new booster seat for Sam
7. Pick up the car seat we are going to borrow from some friends of ours
8. Ask someone to water the garden and pick up the newspaper while we are away
9. Lose 5 pounds
10. Pack the dog's food and supplies for his stay at my mom's house
11. Grocery shop and cook food we'll need for Julia's meals
12. Pack clothes for everyone
13. Deliver all luggage (including Brian) to in-law's house the day before our flight so they can begin their road trip to Denver

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Peas and Paint

My stress level didn't rise with our messy painting experience this morning

or when Sam brought Julia all of her toys when I specifically told him to only bring her two.

Then there were the peas that I spent over $4.00 for and only have this tiny handful to show for it.

At least Sam got to help shell them.

and Julia did enjoy eating them.

It was when both babies were crying for lunch, I was changing Julia's diaper, the buzzer on the stove chose that moment to go off, and Sam was whining about who-knows-what, that I reached my boiling point. It didn't help one bit that the kids song CD was playing La Bamba or that I drew blood with the sharp edge of the diaper snappi. Thank God for nap time! (and ice cream)

Look What Sam Did!

Despite my "no food/drink on the train table" rule, it had gotten kinda grimy. I decided to disassemble all the track and give it a good vacuuming. While I was putting the vacuum away Sam began constructing a new track. He was off to a great start before I even returned to the living room. He built this almost entirely by himself. I only helped turn the pieces around when he got frustrated a couple of times . The design is completely his own. Not to shabby for a 2 1/2 year old!
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Beginner Knit Hat Pattern

I've been asked so many times if there is a pattern for the hats I make,  but I was too busy filling Christmas orders...