Thursday, January 31, 2008

My dream job

Growing up I thought it would be so cool to be a photographer for National Geographic. I looked at a couple of art schools when I was a junior in high school, but settled on a liberal arts collage instead. I didn't have the confidence to pursue my passion, professionally. The ironic thing is that while working my other dream job as a park ranger, I was asked to participate in a photo shoot for a National Geographic article on kayaking in Voyageurs National Park. That day was the best and worst of my life. I'd only been in a kayak once before so by the end of the day I had to be towed behind another kayak because my muscles weren't conditioned. I was a limp, frozen noodle when I was returned to the dock twelve hours later . My sweet husband had my robe heating in the dryer for me and a bubble bath waiting. While I soaked my aching body I replayed the day in my head: Eight hours of paddling, being photographed in one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, watching a double rainbow arc above our kayaks, sharing the history of the park with the writer, being paid to "help" with this once in a lifetime adventure, looking up in awe at the autumn colors way up high on the sheer cliffs..... So what that for a week I couldn't lift a pencil or push open a door without excruciating pain. This was National Geographic!!!!

It would take months for my excitement to be crushed to a pulp as the article got bumped month after month. I never did get to see any of the 45 rolls of film in all their glossy glory, perfectly place amongst the pages of National Geographic Traveler, but I don't need them to remember that glorious day. They're tucked safely away in my heart.

I wouldn't change a thing about the path my career has taken. If I hadn't gone to that small liberal arts college I never would have gone to Voyageurs National Park for an internship. I wouldn't have met the love of my life and I wouldn't have my precious children. Who knows what I'd be doing right now. I do know that I couldn't ask for a better job. To stay home with my kids and get paid to create keepsakes for other people? Not too bad for a geography major.

What was YOUR dream job?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

All in the family

Imagine my surprise as I was paging through my new subscription to MotheringMagazine (thanks Sharon!) and there, staring back at me on page 25, was my baby girl. I knew about the Nov/Dec issue but I didn't know Kissaluvs was going to run Julia's ad again in the Jan/Feb edition.

Random thought: Anyone else have a husband that stands over their shoulder while they blog? Mine does, but I kinda like it. He's way better at grammar and since he wouldn't have a clue how to get to our blog without me bringing it up on the screen for him, he might as well read it "live". He wanted me to share that Julia's cloth diaper ad was also featured in this month's issue of Baseball Monthly. I guess I'm not the only random one in the family.

Back to the point of this post - I also experienced my 15 minutes 45 seconds of fame today when I talked to a local radio host LIVE this morning. The topic was lies we told as children. The woman before me had forged checks at age 8 so I had a tough act to follow. This is the gist of what I shared:
When I was in preschool I told my teacher that my mom had a baby. Each day they'd ask me what my parents named the baby. Somehow I managed to concoct this monster lie, but couldn't make up a name for my new sibling. I couldn't even decide if it was a girl or a boy. I was mortified when the teacher had the class make cards for my family welcoming the new baby. I thought I had a way out though. I would simply drop the huge manila envelope in the trash as I stepped off the bus later that day. Of course that isn't what happened. My mom picked me up from school that day and in the parking lot of Wale's Pet Store in Fort Atkinson, WI I had to show her the stack of cards. I'll never forget having to sit in a circle with my classmates and apologize for lying.

Feel like getting any childhood fibs off your chest?

Monday, January 28, 2008

One step forward, two steps back

You probably haven't noticed because I try my hardest to focus on the positive side of things, but I've been in a major rut lately -so deep that backwards steps are not an option. I must move forward. I think it stems from the fact that selling our home has left our house in disarray and I've let that spill over into our lifestyle. I've gotten lazy in many areas of my life and it's all catching up with me. The littlest things stress me out. When the house is a mess it literally feels like the joy is being sucked out of me. I cringe when I hear Sam calling for me in the morning because, like a broken record player, I've been repeating the same, unfulfilling days over and over again.
Then yesterday morning as I got ready for church without anyone pulling on my sleeve to make them breakfast or whining for me to read them a story, I realized that a little less sleep was way worth the peace and quiet I was enjoying as I did my hair, put on my makeup and got dressed. I decided right there in the bathroom that starting Monday morning I was going to get up when Brian does (6am) in order to have ME time right away. No more running on empty all the time. No more stealing a few minutes here and there throughout the day because that's what it felt like - stealing. I felt guilty.
Julia was up late last night because of her cold, but I was determined to make a change. Six o'clock rolled around and I came downstairs with a basket of laundry on my hip and the resolve in my heart to get back on track.
I've always been a list maker. There's something about being able to let the tasks and thoughts I'm trying not to forget go "poof" once they're down on paper. My brain isn't so cluttered and my outlook is better when I can put a slash through a project (even small ones like remembering to feed the fish or drink 6 glasses of water). I knew something was wrong when I hadn't made a list in months - probably not since we had tons to do in order to get the house on the market.
Funny thing is that I didn't make any New Year's resolutions. I guess I usually don't, but this was one year I could definitely have benefited from a little motivation. Instead I found it here, after I'd already decided I was ready to make changes. I'm not striving to be supermom or even to be just like MCK Mama, but I do want to be content. Specifically, I want to be closer to the Lord. I want to feel less stressed when my attention is suppose to be focused on my kids. I want to eat healthier and take better care of my body. I want to be the wife of my husband's dreams.
Lest I forget why "my plan" is here are a few changes I'm working on:
* Wake up at 6am most days to pray, do yoga, eat breakfast, check email, and do a little blog cruising.
* Play with my kids and not worry about the housework while they are awake.
* Get as much accomplished during nap-time as possible
* Do devotional with Brian right after the kids are in bed
* Write my husband a love letter ever day
* Relax in the evenings (something I already do, but now it's not because I'm ignoring the work- the work got done during naps)

It's after 8pm as I finished typing this. I considered not even posting about this and keeping this new path to myself, but then where would the accountability be? I'd like to be able to look back at this during the summer months and see how far I've come. Ahhh Summer... I don't suppose the fact that we've only had about five days above freezing all winter long has anything to do with my slump. Anyway....I'm happy to be able to write that today I put my plan into action word for word. Now I'm going to go enjoy a movie in my clean living room.

and that load of laundry? FOLDED and upstairs all in the same day! Now that's what I call a positive change!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Plan B

But first here's a rundown of Plan A:
My 31st birthday fell on a school day so any plans would have to wait until after Sam and I played at the sand table, other moms and I discussed the the topic of responsibility vs. obedience, and a rousing circle time. The best part was that Brian didn't have to work so he joined in the fun. Secretly he and I packed a big lunch so we could leave school and head right to the Children's Museum for the rest of the day. School went off without a hitch until I went to pick up Julia from sibling care. That's when I put two and two together. The tears I thought were from crying in the van on the way to school and the color of her eye the night before that I attributed to having a cold were in fact pink eye. So much for the Children's Museum. I managed to get in to see a doctor within 15 minutes of calling (I'd call that a nice birthday present!) and sure enough it's pink eye. I was also able to confirm my suspicions that Julia has eczema, but she doesn't have and junk in her lungs or an infection in her ears. She and I ate lunch at Target while waiting for our prescription and then headed home for naps. We had planned to be gone all day so I was left with nothing special to do for my birthday.

This is where Plan B takes off:
On our unexpected trip to Target I picked up a cake mix so Sam could do his favorite birthday activity - making a cake eating cake. MCK Mama and I emailed a few times and came up with a plan to slip away after our babies were asleep. Knowing I had something special to do that night kept me in good spirits while we went about our normal evening routine. After tucking my kids into their cribs and kissing my husband goodbye, I realized that things might have not turned out as we planned, but being able to spend the entire day with my favorite people is what's important.

MCK Mama and I dined at the nicest restaurant I've been to in ages and talked, uninterrupted for three hours. The chance to do that comes as often as the chance to eat the things on this menu. We were brave enough to try the smoked wild boar spare ribs.
The warm pheasant and wheat berry salad was right up MCK Mama's alley. I prefer the house salad and savored every bite of the wild rice soup that we both ordered. Crème brûlée for dessert topped off what turned out to be the perfect birthday.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

One month and counting

Mary and Joseph (the one on the right) are still with us. I wasn't even sure they'd survive the drive home from my in-laws house, but here they are a month later. Sam helps change the water every Wednesday and the kids take turns feeding them once a day. Yesterday they showed their appreciating for fresh water by racing around their bowl. I'll be honest, the first week I was petrified to walk into our living room for fear of being the one to discover a floater or two. Ava's experience had me a bit spooked.
Have any fish tales of your own? Do share!
And please take a second to take my fishy poll in the upper right hand corner.

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One year ago today

I published my very first blog post. The topic? You can read about it for yourself at the end of this post. First I have to give a shout out to MCK Mama, who was my blogging teacher and mentor (still is) and has become my dearest friend. I couldn't imagine not having all the memories that I've recorded at my old blogspot and though the 50 posts from this year are still fresh in my memory, those too will fade with time. In my free time I play around with the layout of my blurb book that puts my posts (including pictures) in print. My goal is to have a stack of personalized books that record my family's history, our quirks, our struggles, our triumphs, and most of all our love.
The icing on the cake for my first blogg-iversary would be to hear from you, the friends and strangers out there who have offered encouragement, ideas, and prayers for me and my family.
I would be forever grateful and for fun - when you leave a comment would you mention how our paths first crossed? It would make my day and my 31st birthday.

As promised, here is my very first post:

I turn thirty tomorrow. No big deal. Or is it? I haven't had time to think about it. In fact I haven't had much time to think at all lately. My days are filled with diaper changes, feedings, naps, hugs, kisses, stories, drool, and laughter. I am hopeful that this blog will give me a chance to collect my thoughts and reflect on my life as a mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, and in-home daycare provider.

Honestly the three new gray hairs I found (that makes a grand total of four) are more tramatizing than the date on the calendar.

There is a picture of me taken in college hanging by my commuter. I don't even know who that girl is anymore. I'm all dressed up. My hair is done. I had make up on and I was ready for an evening at the ballet in Buenas Aires. I look at that girl and think, I didn't even have a clue! My life is so much richer ten years later. At that point I was 1 1/2 years away from meeting the man of my dreams, 7 years from bringing my son into the world, and it would be 9 years before I looked into the eyes of my precious baby girl.

So here I am - about to turn 30. Forget the gray hairs. I'm too busy enjoying my children and husband to care.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

That's a Good Question

Through the blogging grapevine I've gotten to know some creative, funny, honest, inspiring, and downright great ladies. One of those ladies, Merranda, has started posting questions on her blog for fellow bloggers that are so fun to answer. The dialog that it has started is great. It's helped me stop and think about things like, how many loads of laundry do I really do in a week or what toys do my kids play with every single day. After checking with Merranda, I decided to post her questions and my answer here rather than in her comments so I can continue to archive my family's lives. You're welcome to join in the fun - let us all know if you do. Can you tell I miss the days of Mommy Talk Mondays?

Today's Question*: What pet names/nicknames do you have for your child/children?

Samuel: We both call him Sam or Sammy Sam. Brian has never ever called him Samuel (Isn't that odd?) You'd think I'd save Samuel for when gets in trouble, but I save Samuel James for that. I call him Samuel on average once a day. For the first two years of his life Brian occasionally called him Grumpalumpalstein but I think I've finally talked him out of that one. My pet name for him is Baby Boy.

Julia: Sam called her JoJo when she was born (now he never does), but the nickname stuck for Brian and I. I have to be careful that I don't go a whole day without calling her by her given name. Brian strange thing he does where he referred to the kids as "the infant" in conversations with me. After two years of infant, he referred to Julia as "the toddler" last night. My pet name for her is Baby Girl (big surprise right?).

I think it's so interesting that we had such trouble deciding (read: agreeing) on names for the kids and now I am completely, head over heals in love with their names.

There's no set day or frequency that Merranda will be posting her questions. It's all for fun anyway, right?

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The highs and lows of our day

No eloquent prose (not that you'd expect that from me anyway), no photographs, just me putting my thoughts on "paper".
We've kept so busy these past couple days that even Sam was getting confused about what we did when. Lest I forget the craziness that is life with two small children I'm gonna ramble on about what we've been up to. Then I'm going to collapse in bed to rest up before Brianna arrives bright and early tomorrow at 7am.

Yesterday it was early naps, LONG snuggle on the couch (I'm talking 2 hours of pure bliss with my still, quiet, warm three year old.), errands at the mall including 10 minutes of play at the VonMaur train table, a long drive to the chiropractor in terrible traffic due to an inch of snow, and then a detour to my mom's house, and an even bigger detour to pick Brian up from work.
Today we were out and about even longer. Tuesday Tot-Time at the gym for two hours. I remember weeks when we'd only last 45 minutes there before we had to bail. I suppose not having 4 children to tend to helps in that department. Then it was off to the library to score another free pass to the zoo before retrieving my milk order. I had arranged to pick up a free dehumidifier in a southeastern suburb which happened to be 10 minutes from the zoo. I'm trying really, really hard to make each trip out of our town worth every drop of gas - hence all the stops along the way. So, we picked up the heavy dehumidifier and ventured on to the zoo. One point for Mapquest (which unfortunately fails me more often than not) because we made it to the zoo without any trouble.
Once inside Sam ran ahead to the dolphin tank. "LOOK! THERE'S SEMO. HE'S THE ONE WITH ALL THE SCRATCHES!" That boy doesn't miss a thing! He learned that at the dolphin show the last time we were there. It also probably helps that we were there twice in December. (Once with the library pass before we knew that my cousin would be celebrating her birthday there at the end of the month.) No dolphin show today though. Instead we took our time in Discovery Bay. Sam enjoys learning the names of the fish. (Today we learned the spadefish, porcupine puffer, and grouper.) His favorite was seeing the Mora eel sticking his head out of the coral. We ate lunch by the Snow Monkey exhibit and then Sam pretended to be a veterinarian in the play room. It was really cute to see him with the stethoscope around his neck, a pager attached to his doctor's coat, and him working so carefully on the sick (stuffed) animals.

The Sun bear exhibit was open today, the Kamodo Dragon was on top of a log (I didn't know those things climbed stuff!), and the adorable otters were playing in the water. slight tangent: If I could be an animal, I'd be an otter. They are so happy and cute.
The kids do pretty well staying close to me and not going in different directions. It helped that the zoo is practically empty in the afternoons. We spent some time in the tunnel looking at more fish and sharks until I put my hand in some water...water seeping from the seal of the tank. Yikes! We braved the Minnesota Trail for a few minutes. Man it's cold out there! I touched an armadillo a volunteer was showing to visitors. God sure created some unique creatures!
The we made a mad dash for the car. The kids fell asleep 10 minutes before we got home so I drove around a little bit, but not too much to defeat the purpose of cramming so much into one trip. The night was more of a low point in the day because Sam was so tired and refused to eat dinner. I feel like I can't win this mealtime battle or at least I suffer no matter what. I only make one thing for everyone to eat for dinner. If Sam doesn't eat it, that's his prerogative. I set the timer after a while so I can use a L&L principle called "enforceable statements". I feel like I've talked about those before. If not, the gist is that you don't want to keep telling your kids to "eat your dinner! There are starving children in bla bla bla...." You want to say something that you can enforce like, "Dinner is served until 5:30" or what I say is that I'm setting the timer for 15 minutes. If you haven't eaten by then there are no treats or tv the rest of the night." That I can enforce. Where it comes back to bite me (other than a ton of whining during dinner) is that in the morning he's so gosh darn hungry that he doesn't sleep in. He's up and wanting breakfast before 7am.
Sam and Brian played downstairs while I took Julia up for a soak in the tub. I think she's getting eczema like Sam so she's taking soaking baths each night before I smear lotion on. (Thanks for the tip on Burt'sBee's, Brittany. I already had some, but will stick to only that kind from now on.) I put Julia on the potty before getting into the tub. It's simple, convenient, and the chance to praise her if she happens to go is why I do this. No, I'm not potty training her yet. Two minutes after I put her in the tub.....I don't have to finish this story because every mom already knows that this bath didn't end well. ish..
Both kids are sound asleep and after two nights of coughing bursts, Julia is sleeping peacefully. Sleeping peacefully....that sounds nice and is probably what YOU are wanting to do after reading my ramblings.
goodnight everyone.

These are my kids

these are my kids on photo overload
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Monday, January 21, 2008


A spoonful of sugar applesauce helps the medicine go down

Year round my kids get a squirt of flax oil, a multivitamin* and a liquid DHA supplement (Omega-3's) in whatever they happen to be eating for breakfast. If I can't sneak it in there, I put it in their water/milk/juice cup. All winter my kids get a dose of Echinacea Goldenseal daily. When they are fighting a cold (like Julia is now), I bring out my arsenal of remedies to boost further boost her immune system.
* The Echinacea Goldenseal is upped to 3x a day
* One KidZinc Lozenges w/ echinacea, olive leaf and
slippery elm is crushed and sprinkled on her
* 1/2 cup of Cold Care tea is added to her juice.

* I cut out dairy products and pump as much water into her as I can. Since I'm still nursing I up my intake of Mother's Milk tea and Fenugreek to increase my milk supply.
* I also take a great pre-natal vitamin with whole green foods in it.
* At night I use the vapor plugs from PediaCare and run a humidifier in her room.
* We use that awful blue bulb to suck out her nose as needed. Did you know if you cover one nostril with your finger while you suck out the other one, you get way more stuff out? Now this is going to sound cruel - even more cruel than sticking that thing up your baby's nose, but it works and it makes the whole process faster.
With her arms at her side, I straddle her and keep her arms down with my thighs (I told you it sounds cruel) and then with one hand I hold her head to one side and cover a nostril. My free hand does the sucking as fast as possible. Thankfully a snuggle is all it takes for her to forget the torture she just endured.
* I also feel very strongly that chiropractic care helps. If your spine is out of line your body isn't equipped to heal itself as well. I'll be taking Julia in to see her doctor, the same one who adjusted her at 5 days old, this afternoon. Will we see instant results? No, but I know that her little body will be fighting this virus to the best of it's ability.

What do you do to help your kids stay healthy in the winter and what do you do when they get that inevitable cold?

* All vitamins are not created equal. I highly recommend checking out the health food store for a whole food concentrate variety. We use Nature's Plus-Source of Life-Animal Parade

Sorry I couldn't include links to these products. It's too time consuming with a little who needs extra attention today. Give Google a try if you're interested. Of course you can always leave me a comment and I can get back to you later.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Give me a L.......Give me an O........Give me a Q

What's that spell?
Not a thing.
But those were the very first letters my blue-eyed boy wrote all by himself tonight.

I witnessed the writing of the brown "L" and 30 minutes later when I came downstairs after putting Julia to bed, Brian showed me an "O" and a "Q" he had done all by himself. I almost started to cry. My baby is growing up.
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the more the merrier

On Julia's 6 month birthday I discovered her first curls.

A month later her locks were long enough to hold a bow in place.

and here we are today....
two bows, and countless curls.

I get asked all the time where she got the curls from.
My hair is only wavy, but my dad had curly hair, both my mom's brothers have curly hair, and Brian would have curls if I didn't keep his hair cut so short. Brian's brother had curly hair as a baby until after his first hair cut and it went straight.

With that many curly heads in the family you'd think I would have wondered if one of our children would have curly hair too, but the thought never crossed my mind. It's strange to go back and look at Julia's pictures prior to April '07 because you'd never ever guess that one day like magic the curls would appear.
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a Saturday matinee

Now Showing: A Charlie Brown Christmas

ticket price: a bath and pj's.

Is anybody else still watching Christmas movies?
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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Party like it's 1999

It was nine years ago that I first saw Go Fish
in concert at my hometown middle school. It was fun to enjoy their unique sound again. Their set-up is flashier, but their message is the same. Their music is catchy, biblical, and fun for people of all ages. Moms, dads, grandmas, big kids, and little kids were jamming away.

Check out Hilary and MCK Mama's blogs for some cool shots from the concert.

I kept saying how much Julia would have enjoyed the singing, but it was nice to have special time with just Sam. The bonus was my mom was there to enjoy it with us and take a picture of me with my sweet baby boy.
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Let me assure you that Julia is wearing these goggles by choice. Just like she wears two backpacks by choice. This is new territory for me - understanding and communicating so easily with my 15 month old. Sam was a YEAR older before he talked as well as she does already. I'm loving every minute of it. There's never a dull moment with this goofy girl around.

Friday, January 18, 2008


The downside of having a new blog is that I can't link back to old posts. To recap for anyone who's new to our story - When Brian left his old employer in August and applied for a National Park Service job we put our house on the market. We tried for 6 weeks to sell it on our own before calling in a professional. We didn't want to waste any more time. Our old Realtor referred us to our current one who specializes in short sales (when you owe more than your house is worth). She is a genius in the field and worked her magic over the course of the past four months. We rarely went a week without a showing or two and in this market that's really, really good. When Brian didn't get the Park Service job we widened our job search. We were ready to move wherever God led, but the doors just weren't opening. In His perfect timing, a door opened for us and we have been given the opportunity to remain in our home. We won't be the owners of it (as of 4pm next Thursday), but we won't have to pack up in the middle of winter and relocate. The new owner is even going to send in a plumber to see if a second bathroom on the main floor is a possibility. What a long journey this has been, but we've made it. It wouldn't be right to spill the details of the transaction, but I can say for certain that with Christ, all things are possible. We can move forward without the burden of debt that continuing to own this house would have brought. We also appreciate this house so much more. It's easy to look at the things we don't like or wish we had money to change, but we are happy here and happy we will stay.

Here's a peek into what our house looked like during the first 2 months of showings. After that - not so much. We had more last minute showings than any family with two small children should have to endure, but we only turned down two of them. Any chance to get people in the front door was very important. I could write about the nightmarish circumstances we had to go through and even though I can laugh about them now, I'm afraid it would come off as whining and who wants to hear that? So without further ado: Welcome to our home.....

some firsts, some sledding, and a snowbear

At our house we make snow bears, not snowmen because of this book. (It also is easier when we don't have any carrots in the house.) Daddy helped the kids make the first snowbear of the season the other day, Julia took her first solo trip down a little hill, and Sam made his first ever snow angel. He just fell right over backwards and started moving his arms and legs. It was priceless. It is very handy with little kids to be able to go sledding right out our front door.
It's also very fun!

and I quote:

"I'm going to drill your eye. Hold still."
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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Do you think she's trying to tell me something?

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When the weather outside is frightful (-1)...'s a good day to go to the zoo.
Sam had a dream about bears last night - that's how excited he was to go today.

"Will the bears roar Mommy?"
"No, I don't think so."
"Well they won't say hello."
hmmm.. He's got me there.

I didn't take my good camera, but here are a few pictures from our 3 1/2 hour adventure. (I'm trying to be better about being in the moment with my kids rather than photographing every moment.)

A day at the zoo with some "stinky anmimals"
and a dolphin show and a bird show - $5 (the free library pass doesn't include parking)

A 25 minute train ride - $7

Lunch at Wendy's on the way home: $4.68

Kids so tired they eat with their eyes closed: Priceless.
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School Spirit Beanie Crochet Pattern

Beat those winter blues and cold winds with this a FLEECE lined brimmed hat! It seems like everyone is wearing a beanie these days - me in...