Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Please help spread the word that precious baby Stellan needs our prayers as he fights for his life.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A no good, very bad, horrible day

You get the idea.

It started out fine with the kids sleeping until 7:00 and them letting me snooze until 8ish.
We had breakfast and then got busy picking up the house before the Teddy Bear Picnic program at our local library. I fired up my computer to get some work done while the kids listened to a book on tape and was surprised to see that my desktop background picture was missing. That's when my heart sank. It felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. My computer had reset itself. Everything is gone. Everything. I refuse to dwell on it until I know for sure whether the tech guys can recover my data, but for the rest of the week I will be without my computer. One of the perks of living across the street from my place of employment is the opportunity to come over here to check my email, check in with Mck Mama, and blog if there's anything to blog about after the kids are asleep.

So here I sit in the cold, eerily quiet office recounting a day I'd much rather forget, but isn't always easy. It isn't always pretty, but it's our life and if I don't record the bad days and remember the lessons I learned - what good would that be?

After dropping my computer off at the tech shop I took the kids for their last dip in the community center pool. Our membership expires at the end of the month so we made sure we went out with a bang. Four hours we spent splashing, lounging, napping (only Julia), eating, bribing (to get Sam to put his face in the water), falling (a mean little girl chased Sam until he fell and skinned his knees), and dumping water on Mommy's head.

Back at home we hustled to get cleaned up before Julia and I had to leave for a baby shower. The kids took baths and while I showered they played in the playroom so Brian could run over to the office to tend to a camper. We've been letting them play unsupervised in the playroom for over a month now without anything bad happening. That streak ended today when I opened the door to find Julia covered in p**p. It was on her entire body (except her face and hair). The five minutes I had left to get ready for the shower was spent scrubbing Julia and our brand new carpet. She had taken off her diaper and p**ped on the floor.
I don't want to know how it got all over her body.
I just don't.
The diaper was on the floor, clean as a whistle.

Brian came home in time to clean the carpet some more and I ran to the basement to get a gift bag. I got the gift ready, looked for a bow for Julia's hair, and was in the process of brushing my teeth when I called up to Brian to see if he was going to bring Julia down like I had asked. (big house - we don't always hear each other)
"I did" he replied.
"THEN WHERE IS SHE????" I screamed as I ran through the house and out the front door.
The image of Julia standing 100 yards away from me on one of the park roads, barefoot and crying will remain with me for a looooong time.
I spit my toothpaste in the grass and scooped up my baby girl.
Could this day get any worse?
Thankfully no.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

gone with the wind

Our 2nd annual family reunion may be over for this year, but we'll be telling tales of boat rides, fishing adventures, swimming in cold water, eating "sticky stuff", being afraid of the dogs, the night Thor started his face on fire, sleeping in a tent, and watching the next generation learn how to water ski for years to come.

It was a long ride home with two very tired kids who went to bed 3 hours past their bedtime each night so the rest of the pictures will need to wait for another time. I plan to spend some time in prayer for Mck Mama, who's in the hospital because of Mck Muffin's heart condition and for my baby sister, Kara, who's water broke earlier today.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Here we go again

My family will be gathering at The Lake this weekend. The bar has been set high after last year's picture perfect weather and high attendance. The kids and I will be leaving the metro for the first time in.....Gosh. I don't know that we've left since Thanksgiving last year. I'm a bit nervous after the long drive to the Mall of America the other night was so difficult for Julia. We're leaving after traffic and timing it so the kids will sleep in the car. Sam has a giant bag of books to read and some small toys to keep him occupied. As each kid packed a backpack of things to play with at the cabin I realized that Julia doesn't have anything that she loves right now (unless you count whatever Sam is playing with). Doesn't that seem wrong? I feel bad that her bags are so empty. She has her 4 pacifiers, a flashlight, and six board books. Sam, on the other hand has a set of Thomas trains, an airplane, a horse, and 12 books. What are little girls her age suppose to play with? I don't want character type toys in my house (We made an exception for Thomas). Maybe I'll throw a baby doll in for her to care for. She'll love having her blankets and stuffed animals with - until she drops them to the floor.

I'll leave you with the slide shows I made from last year's reunion. Have a wonderful and safe weekend!

the view from here

If you've been online as late at night as I have lately you might have watched my blog template go through quite a few changes in a short amount of time. I learned a few things about HTML this week and tested out that ounce of knowledge on the template I chose. I was really hoping to be able to use the stretch template so I could display extra large images, but had to give up that idea when it was causing my columns to get wacky. I think I've got things back to 'normal' but have gotten some feedback saying that the text still bleeds onto the green. Anybody else notice anything out of whack?

Thanks for your input!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More With Less - Refrigerator Bran Muffins

A few weeks ago I did a post about how my family has made some significant changes to our diet, to what food we choose to buy, and how to get/do more with less. Other than my persistent sweet tooth (see yesterday's post), I'm happy with our new lifestyle. Sam is eating veggies like he hasn't since I made homemade baby food for the first year of his life, nobody is eating processed crackers or snacks anymore, and the kids are learning how to bake. (I think they are learning more from the process but that's different post.)
Besides our weekly bread making ritual we've made Refrigerated Bran Muffins from my More with Less Cookbook.

Place in bowl:
2 c. ready-to-eat bran cereal
Pour over:
2 c. boiling water
Set aside to cool

Cream together in large mixing bowl:
1 c shortening 1 1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs
Add and beat in:
1 qt buttermilk* soaked bran mixture

*If you're like me and don't keep buttermilk on hand you can make your own

For each 1 cup buttermilk called for in a recipe, use 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream;


1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup;


1 cup milk plus 1 3/4 tablespoons cream of tartar;


1/4 cup buttermilk powder and 1 cup water.

Sift together:
5 c. flour I use at least 50% whole wheat flour in all my baking.
5 t. baking soda
1 t. salt

Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and fold until flour is moistened

Fold in:
4 c. additional dry bran cereal

I told you it was a giant batch!

Store batter in covered containers in refrigerator.
Keeps 3-4 weeks.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees and fill well-greased muffin tins 2/3 full.

I like to use the paper cups especially since my muffin tins have toxic non-stick coating on it. If you don't know this already, Teflon is terrible for you.

Bake 20 minutes.


Bonus Material -

* You could always use powered milk to save even more money.
* Until we ran out of mix (took two and half weeks) we made six muffins every morning for breakfast

* It was nice to know that the mix wasn't going to go bad if we didn't eat any muffins one day.

* My oven must run hot - it only took 14 minutes to bake a batch every time
* You could mix in raisins and/or nuts just prior to baking if your family would eat them (mine wouldn't).

* To add a touch of sweetness - add a sprinkling of brown sugar and nuts or granola before putting them in the oven.

I'd love to hear from you if you try these. :)

things that make me smile - the Julia edition

* This morning she scooched past me in the upstairs bathroom and said "E E Mommy"
My heart melted as I listened to my daughter say "Excuse me Mommy"

* The other day I watched her play with a group of FisherPriceLittlePeople from the doorway of the playroom . Like her big brother did at this age, she had a group of cars all lined up. What made me smile was that one by one she was turning the people so they were all facing forward in their vehicles.

* Her hair was especially frizzy today - creating a 'fro like I've never seen. I giggled when I realized it was more than five inches tall.

* She p**ped on the p*tty this morning. "JoJo p**p," she's been saying ever since (and then squats and grunts).

* She still has rubber-band wrists which have white creases in them where the sun is unable to tan her skin.

Wordless Wednesday - Say Cheeeeeeese!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Will Power and I are not on good terms

I've managed to maintain my "cold turkey" approach to eliminating coffee and soda from my life, but when it comes to junk food.... lets just say I'm not doing so well. We are also on an a very tight budget since Brian switched jobs back in May so every single dollar needs to be spent wisely. Tonight I was tested when the kids and I spent a couple hours at the Mall of America. I met a woman there to sell her the shelf that used to hang in Julia's room (loved that shelf, but didn't have any blank wall space to hang it because of the radiator). Since we were there we took advantage of our connections and went to Underwater Adventures for free and snacked on a smoothie and muffin from Starbucks (from a gift card from Brian's parents I got for Christmas). That's right. I spent 2 hours at The Mall and didn't spend a penny. Here's where I tripped up....I ate 1/2 a bag of M&M's during the drive there and back.

I wish I could honestly say it was the small gas station sized bag.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Curls gone wild II

I'm sorry if you are getting sick of seeing pictures of Julia's curls, but I can't help myself.
I also can't help but gently pick them apart when she's sitting near me. There are about 6-8 ringlets on the crown of her head that are long, but the rest is wound so tight the ends are still touching her scalp in most places. I'm going to have to take Brittany's suggestion of leave-in conditioner and see where that takes us.

It's not just Julia's curls that have gone wild lately either. The kid screeches at the top of her lungs when she doesn't get her way and has taken up a new favorite past time - picking on her brother. I have a feeling that the closer she gets to her second birthday the more I'll be applying the LoveAndLogic principals with her as well.

Friday, July 18, 2008

the new me part II

I was intrigued by Mck Mama's new blog look. Actually I was blown away by it. I clicked on the link to see what the site was all about and by the end of the night this is what I'd come up with for me.

Is it the full moon? First the hair, then the blog, and for the first time ever, Julia is spending a night away from me. (Brian, Sam, and Julia are sleeping over at Grandma and Grandpa's house tonight.)

the new me

A big thank you goes out to Sammy who took these portraits for me today. Believe me, it was easier to hand over my SLR to my 3 1/2 year old than to take a decent photo of myself. I've got long arms, but not THAT long. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A picture is worth a thousand words

Or in this case at least a couple dozen comments. I went out on a limb tonight and dyed my hair. Now I'm asking YOU to go out on a limb and take this opportunity to delurk. I know I don't have a huge readership but there are people all over the world that are consistently checking in to see what this family of four is up to. I'd like the opportunity to return the love and "meet" you as well. All you have to do is leave a comment (you could share a hair horror story if you'd like) and within the next day or two I'll magically change this black and white photo to color. Better yet, I'll post a picture of the new do I'm sporting.

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, July 11, 2008

In and Out

and this is only the first day of the weekend....

4pm: In the extra refrigerator across the street from our house there are 72 cans of pop, 48 cans of beer, and 48 bottles of water
Then I find out that someone rented the party room at the last minute and we have to move everything we were chilling for Brian's mom's retirement party.
4:05pm: Out of the refrigerator come 72 cans of pop, 48 cans of beer, and 48 bottles of water
4:10: Crammed in our refrigerator goes 72 cans of pop, 48 cans of beer, and 48 bottles of water amongst 15 pounds of sloppy-joes and our regular food. Did I mention the weather report says it feel like it's 99 degrees out? If there ever was a moment where I wanted to throw in the towel on my caffeine free life, this was it.
7pm: In the campground there are 35 campsites full of people
8pm: All huddled together in the campground office there are 35 campsites worth of people because of severe weather outside. (A fire truck came barreling in here at 7:45 wanting to know why our severe weather siren wasn't going off. The skies looked bad and the wind was whipping around like crazy but we weren't under any warnings according to the weather radio. In a matter of minutes our severe weather plan went from being something I've read a couple of times on paper to the real deal. One thing we hadn't taken into account in our planning was what to do if it was after bedtime. I didn't want to be huddled in our basement by myself with the kids so I grabbed them from their beds and went over to the office with all the campers and six dogs. Somehow Julia still managed to get her hands on THREE pacifiers before we left.)
9pm: Our two tired and wet children are back in their beds - out like a light.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The summer of [fill in the blank]

There are things that are unique about this summer that I don't want to fall between the cracks in my memory.

For the fun of it, what are some of your favorite memories of the summer so far?

Here are mine:

This is the summer of getting back on the water after 2 long years.

...watching Sam get the hang of tennis (and baseball)

the summer the kids became playmates instead of just siblings

The summer we went to the beach almost every day

The first summer we had friends over to frolic in "our" lake

The summer it was a real treat to go anywhere because of $4 a gallon gas
(Como Zoo)

The first summer that I was home with only my kids. Stay at home mom? Not even close. Photography or park work keeps me hopping.

The summer we had cool weather well into June

the summer Sam flew a kite all by himself

the summer we got extra time with Daddy now that he works 10 minutes from home

* The wedding anniversary we celebrated at a bar...with the kids

* The summer of two playgroups at local parks and hosting regular playdates at our house

* the summer I could let Sam be more independent

And while I don't have the pictures to prove it, this is also the summer we got back to basics. No more satellite TV, no more store bought bread or crackers, no more land line telephone, and no more high speed Internet.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July

May your holiday weekend be filled with firecrackers (or at least ones similar to these)


thankfulness for the freedoms we so often take for granted,

people you love,

and even if you never leave home (like us)

may you find around every bend,

something that makes you smile.

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...