My online journal.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas with children

Hi gang! I'm going to try to post this today... I really want to recap our Christmas break but I just don't know if I'll be able to get it all written down today.

Life was starting to get REAL hectic the last couple weeks before Christmas. The Christmas musical I was performing in (and choreographing) was supposedly in rehearsals, but those rehearsals were few and far-between... and not always well-attended. I went into our tech week with my undies in a serious bunch, but I think the show actually came together really well. The dances I made up were all rehashes from last year, but I always like the opportunity to fix things that didn't work well the first time. The dances I performed in were also rehashes from last year, with again only minor changes (not that I ever felt totally confident doing them last year, either!)

And I spent a bit of time worrying about AYP, the youth performance group who, Lord love 'em, are a bit of a ragtag bunch. They're kids grade 1-8 (so you can imagine the range of sizes and experience represented) and they performed the "pre-show" before the Christmas show began each night, and I'd been the one running most of their rehearsals. So they were at every performance, mostly being their adorable and clueless selves.

I also got to sing in this show, so I had to learn alto harmonies for nine songs, plus I had to mentally prepare myself to sing a couple lines of "Winter Wonderland" all by myself. It was a frightening and exhilarating and, ultimately, incredibly rewarding experience -- many of the other adult singers were names I'd heard in theatre circles, but had never met, and they were all just LOVELY people. And some old friends turned up, too. All very talented.

The biggest challenge for me, though, was that I got to do a lyrical/liturgical/contemporary/modern (I don't know WHAT you call it!) dance solo to "Breath of Heaven." Joan played piano and Paige sang, both beautifully. It's rare for me to get to perform with live music, and I don't think I've ever done a whole solo routine before! I got some really lovely compliments on it afterward, and I was proud of how it came together, especially with such limited rehearsals.

So the 2 weeks before Dec 19 were hairy ones -- also because my sisters and our menfolk and I went skiing at Lutsen, and I just seemed to have several assorted meetings to get to... OH, and I'm co-directing/choreographing three different productions of Pirates! The Musical for Ashland's in-school program. Phew! So I kind of thought I was going to perish from anxiety before Christmas.

But once the show was over, golly did I get to enjoy it! The kids had a little Christmas program at HopeSpring church the Sunday before Christmas, and Joel's folks came out to got to church with us and watch the kids. They sang "Away in A Manger" and "Angels We Have Heard On High" and "Joy To the World" and it was super cute. They also recited some Bible verses that my kids wanted no part of practicing (they don't rhyme!). The Gronaus, along with Jamie and Julie and her new fiance Jeff, also came to watch the show, and John was actually inspired enough to tell me that I didn't stink! That is a gigantic compliment, coming from him.

Lu and Ed had their final dance class of the session, so Joel and I went to watch. They were hilarious and I am sad to see our time with Miss Amy Lee end. I'll be teaching a kids' dance class starting Jan 5 at the Dayton's Bluff Rec Center -- I'm excited for it, but I know the kids and Amy will miss each other. Her classes are wonderful.

I took the kids to see a morning performance of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" at Youth Performance Company in Minneapolis. The kids LOVED it and were absolute darlings. And the show was very good, as an added bonus.

We enjoyed a couple quiet days at home, all activities on a blessed and much-welcomed break, before we headed to Monticello on Christmas Eve Eve. Donna was "producing/directing" our first-annual Gronau Talent Show and Pageant, which was surprisingly jam-packed with volunteers. Donna played "Rudolph" on piano with Lucy singing merrily along. Joel read the Nativity story from the Bible while Ed and I did an impromptu interpretive dance. Lucy did her own impromptu interpretive dance to some taped music, and Eddie and I did some Feats of Strength. For the grand finale Julie and Jamie did a tap dance to "All I Want For Christmas is You" and we all (J and J included) had one of those laughs where you feel like you've just run up a flight of stairs.

Christmas Eve night, we looked out in the yard and saw actual deer (including one at-least-10-point buck!) grazing in the neighbors' backyard. We all got a giant kick out of that.

OK so I want to write down what the kids got for Christmas, but here's the caveat: I don't want this to seem like some kind of comparative list by which you can judge our family. I also don't want to hurt any of the givers' feelings by omitting anything, but that is inevitable as my memory is imperfect. But so many of the gifts were SO thoughtful, so perfect for our kids -- I wanted to write them down so I can remember them and express my gratitude. And I'm doing it here.

Chalkboards with chalk and erasers -- 2 complete sets, for no fighting
A Barbie computer for Lucy -- the games are the perfect degree of challenge for her
An assemble-it-yourself gingerbread house for the kids
A train set and a set of wooden blocks
Three goldfish! Who have already lived three whole days!
Kid tents -- Princesses for Lucy and camouflage for Ed
Wind-up rechargeable flashlights
A tennis racket for Lulu. Pink, of course.
A bird feeder -- can anyone explain to me why we don't have a single bird visiting yet?? HELP!

Christmas day, we drove back from Monti and went over to Jean's house for turkey dinner and Ryan family gift-exchange. The next day, we took the kids sledding in Jean's backyard -- what a hoot!

Last night Joel and Jean and I took Lu and Ed ice skating for the first time ever at the Wells Fargo rink in Rice Park in downtown St. Paul. Lucy was AMAZING -- falling down dozens and dozens of times, but getting back up, learning that "dust yourself off" was more metaphorical than literal, and plowing ahead. By the end of our time there, she was moving along all by herself. It was wonderful watching her start off, check her balance, shuffle her skates along, and grin ridiculously when she made it from Jean to me, or back again. Ed, on the other hand, was a 35-pound wet noodle. He LOVED getting dragged around, but all of our backs were a little sore by the end. Might have to get that kid one of those empty goals to use like a walker on the ice.

OK my next task here (in addition to getting dressed and trying to finish some laundry) is to add some photos and video, so check back a little later. May the love of Christ shine on you and your loved ones as 2008 draws to a close. Merry belated Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"Say 'Go, Lucy!'" ... "GO LUCY! I'M SUPER-COW!"

Worlds Fastest Update:

I'm in a Christmas show this weekend (Dec. 20-21) -- for details.

Ed is 100% toilet-learned (I understand that's the preferred term, over "potty trained"). Including overnights. Anyone want to buy some well-loved large cloth diapers??

It's snowing and it's so gorgeous and I am totally in the holiday mood.

The kids say hilarious stuff all the time and sometime I'll record some more of it.

The biggest news probably is: JOEL'S SISTER JULIE GOT ENGAGED!!! Congrats, Julie and Jeff -- we are SO HAPPY for you!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

It's "Gronau" with an "uno"

I KNEW I would forget something.

I forgot, that was going to be my new Lastname Pronunciation Guide. In this ever-shrinking world in which we live in (as Paul McCartney didn't exactly say), most people know how to pronounce "one" in Spanish, right? Well if they do, they can also say Gronau. OK, it's way funner to say it out loud. Go ahead and try it, I won't tell anybody.

Also, Lucy eschewed the Maplewood Community Center day care services (saving me $3!) this afternoon to hang out with me and Joan and the kids in the Ashland Youth Performers. It was really fun to share that time with her. She mostly sat and drew her wonderfully weird little shapes (she's into roads and purses, this week) but then she was singing the songs the whole way home.

24, minus Kiefer Sutherland and anything sexy or dangerous whatsoever, unless you count bunk beds.

I have so many good excuses for not keeping up on here. Here's a sampling of things on my mind. If you want elaboration on any topic, please leave a comment or drop me an email. I'm sort of having trouble narrowing my focus.

1. Thanksgiving! Awesome holiday. Happy times.

2. My right tonsil hurts real bad.

3. We picked up a bunkbed for the kids, via Craigslist. It is not set up yet, as we do not own twin sheets.

4. I'm singing AND dancing in the Christmas show. It's in 2 weeks and I've had 2 rehearsals.

5. Ed has, according to our very scientific pencil-marked wall-chart, grown 2 full inches since September.

6. I'm reading Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. Amazing book.

7. My book club's cookie bake is this Friday! I totally can't wait.

8. Lucy might start Kindergarten next year. Or not. And St. Paul has about 7,500 public schools to choose from.

9. I'm also working on at least 3 different productions of Pirates! The Musical. It's hard to keep them straight. Yaaarrrrrr.

10. I HATE driving on icy roads. Especially when I'm running late which is always.

11. I have to go collect money from my neighbors, to pay the alley-snowplow people.

12. My body is crazy-sore from taking 2 dance classes last night. A really good sore.

13. I beat my Amazing Athlete-Sister Ellen in a sprint last week. THAT was a really good sore, too.

14. Golly, do I love those kids of mine.

15. Lucy's face is sharpening -- her nose and cheeks are much more angular than just a few months ago. Her latest quirk is threatening not to be a part of our family anymore, if we don't do something she says (like give her a cheese stick, or pick up her shoes for her). She's testing us and it's fascinating and wonderful.

16. She also is way into letters, asking how to draw them and what words start with which letters. And the difference between rhymes and opposites. It's so cool.

17. Ed joined Lucy's dance class this last month and Miss Lee says he's doing just great, despite his standing at the threshold of the studio before each class, crossing his arms, and growling "I'm not dancing. Hmpf." He just loves being with Lucy and doing the things she does.

17a. I'm afraid Lucy's ECFE class (to which she goes solo on Monday afternoons) is messing with Eddie's psyche. EVERY time we go to ECFE, he asks in this pitiful voice "Can I come too?" even though he does, indeed, "come too" at least 80% of the time, if you include all the extra ECFE meetings we hit.

18. On Monday, Ed put on a costume warrior helmet and shield we had laying around, and announced "I'm a BAD GUY!"

19. Today he wrapped his special blanket around his shoulders and hollered "I'm a SUPER COW!"

20. I forgot to mention this, but we started doing a bedtime prayer with the kids, maybe a month or two ago? I had the thing written out ahead of time and I asked the kids to repeat after me. Ed typically conscientiously objects every night (that kid's going to wind up a priest, mark my words) though tonight for the first time he actually agreed to join in. Lucy surprised me the very first night we did the prayer. I'd written a line that went "Thank you for our food and toys" and she stopped me right there and said she didn't want to thank God for her toys. I thought quick and said "our house?" and she agreed to that. I'm intrigued as to why she insisted on the change -- but she's totally right, of course. Our house is a much larger and more-important blessing than the toys; not that the toys aren't lovely.

21. Thank you, Lord, for our food and toys and clothes and house, and for our general health and our loving families and for the opportunities you've given us to serve others. Thank you for your Love and Grace and Peace. Jesus loves me, this I know.
22. Oh golly, I have to do Christmas cards yet. Hey Jesus, sometimes your birthday parties get blown a little out of proportion.
23. Oh boy, and I bet there's wet laundry in the machine.

24. I ought to have a #24 but I'm real tired. Oh! Jean the Wonder Aunt is coming over tomorrow afternoon so I can get a haircut and *maybe* even those elusive twin sheets.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

the schnozzberries taste like schnozzberries!

I'm sorry for no updates in, like, forever. I loathe the excuse "I'm too busy!" -- everyone is busy. For some reason, this week has been exceptionally trying around here. So you get one quick kid story per kid and then I'm out.

Oh I should warn you that neither story is funny at all -- they're more for character development.

Lucy: What's a Bamo?

Me: A bamo?

Lucy: A bama?

Me: Oh, what's Obama?

Lucy: Yeah! (duh, Mom, that's what I was saying)

Me: He's going to be the president of our country.

Lucy: What's a president?

Me: The president is who the people of our country choose to be our leader.

Lucy: Are YOU going to be president?

Me: Oh, no. No. I won't be president.

Lucy: But you go to that Leadership Program!

Well, I about fell on the floor. Her grasp of the language really astounds me. And, I mean, she's totally right. What a kid.

On Monday we were at an open gym with the Watsons, and Ed all of a sudden started crying and ran out into the hallway. I followed him and found him leaning his forehead against the vending machine.

Me: What's wrong, Eddie? What's going on?

Ed: I'm sad. I'm sad because my friends do not play to me. I want them to play with me.

I assured him that the Watson boys would LOVE to play with him, but that he was going to have to just jump in and get involved in whatever they were working on. He cheered up right away, went back in the gym, and joined the boys. It's just amazing to me how we can all communicate so well. It's so fun hanging out with these little people!

OK really, have to run. I'm so sorry.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

My funny fambly

OK just some quick funnies from our day:

We're getting ready to go to church, and Joel comes downstairs, with that "I dressed myself" look on his face. I blanch when I see the pants he's chosen: stonewashed high-waisted taper-leg jeans. Our church is NOT a jeans church, but regardless, these things would be frowned upon in any polite company:

So we sit down in church today and I'm holding Ed, who is super cuddly and adorable. He presses his face real close to mine and says "I love you mama."

I whisper back: "I love you too Eddie."

He whispers back: "I like you?"

Me: "Oh! Yes! Thank you! I like you too!"

He repeats: "I LIKE you?"

Me: "I'm happy you like me. I hope you like me!"

At which he opens his mouth real wide and proceeds to LICK the entire length of my face.


So a little later, Lucy has to go potty so I take her in there, and as she's sitting in the stall (with the door open, of course), she peers at me and asks about my skirt.

"What's that on your skirt?"

"Oh, it's a sash. Like a belt. It's just for decoration."

"When I get bigger I'm going to wear that skirt."

"Well, thanks. You have good taste in clothes."

(Pause; Lucy tilts her head)

"Except mommy, I think I'd wear a different shirt."

*Sigh* Shot down again.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


I forgot to mention a couple things:

YES, Carol took all the photos. She rocks; I suck. She's smart, I'm stupid. She's good-looking, I'm... not attractive.

It didn't really hit me until Just Now that Lu and Ed dressed as the exact same things, respectively, two Halloweens in a row.
Last year, Ed let me draw whiskers on him. Not so this time!

I guess Lucy technically added the "fairy" to her princess costume this year. Details.
Yikes! Our old kitchen. Now there's something scary. :)
ALSO, when I was busy crabbing about being cold last Tuesday, I TOTALLY MISSED FREE WORLD SERIES TACOS!!!! DANG IT ALL!!!!
Also, I am kind of really excited to watch the election coverage on Tuesday.
Also, I do not understand how some people make a living as writers when they are obviously lazy, uncreative doofuses. I made a favorite recipe for dinner tonight, clipped out of a newspaper several years ago by my mama. The recipe is to die for, but the "article" was this gal's column about "how to make a favorite recipe more healthful!" And literally, she changed the Italian dressing to fat-free, and she changed the peanut-butter to reduced-fat, and she used low-sodium soy sauce. AND CALLED IT A COLUMN AND GOT PAID FOR IT. Give me a stinkin' break!!
And in the At Home section of the St Paul Pioneer Press, this Marcia or Martha Lyons does this "home makeover" thing that they publish almost every Saturday. I get sucked into reading it every week because it shows home floor plans that they change to make more updated and beautiful and user-friendly. But, like, seriously? Marcia apparently has an unlimited budget because they basically gut the entire joint every single week, adding on gigantic additions on every-which-side of every house. Um, yeah -- pretty sure I could also build a dream home out of a 1980s split-level, given $300,000 and no building constraints.
Joel made popcorn and dug a cream soda out of the basement for me, so I gots to go watch Iron Man! Toodles!

Halloween fun

Oh, did we ever have a great Halloween with the kids!
The night before All Hallows Eve, Ed was making worried faces and saying things like "I wake up, a be scary of pumpkins!" I think he was extra-stressed from spending his First Full Dry Day in Underpants (ROCK ON!). We managed to convince him that the pumpkins wouldn't hurt him. We carved pumpkins Thursday night -- Lucy drew her very own face, and I wielded the knife. No pix of that -- sorry.
Friday morning, I had my first rehearsal for Pirates! The Musical at Oakdale Elementary, so I hustled both kids through breakfast, into clothing (Lucy in a sheep costume, complete with black Mary Jane shoes she remembered to call "hooves" all day) and out the door and over to the Dalys' by 8:30 AM. As someone who typically doesn't roll out of bed until near 8 and can barely get herself contact-lensed and dressed by 10:00, I assure you this was quite an accomplishment.

Carol says the kids played marvellously together, hooray! and after a seriously delicious (maybe because I didn't have to cook it, though I maintain it was also Independently Delicious) taco lunch, we headed home for "quiet time" (WAY too excited for trick-or-treating to take naps). Joel's 'rents and Jean came over for our Second Annual Eat-Like-A-Pirate Halloween Turkey Drumstick Feast, during which Lucy made her final costume decision: fairy princess (whew!). Ed eschewed Spiderman/Superman and stuck with the lion costume he wore last year.

John and Donna and Joel and I took the kiddos outside where it was a balmy 50 degrees. We trucked up our block until we met up with the Daly and Mathews families, where much adorableness and kid-wrangling teamwork ensued.

Lucy and Josie immediately palled up... Will was less about the "trick-or-treat" and more about the "climbing-stairs!-and-sprinting-down-the-block!", Will and Eve had some adorable hand-holding moments, 3-month-old Keaton passed out, adorably, in his stroller, and Ed charmed the homeowners we visited by chirping things like "Trick or treat! Can I come in?" and "Merry Christmas!"
Everybody loves a sleeping dragon baby:

And I have to say, a grownup:kid ratio of 4:3 was about perfect for keeping a fairy princess, a black cat, a lion, a doggie, a bear, and a dragon in check. Now, one final pic of me repairing some damage one of the munchkins did. Blasted Republican toddlers.
Strangely enough, I am not even wearing a costume in this photo.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cold and unmotivated

It looks so pretty outside today, the sky a lovely baby-blanket blue and the leaves still so gold. But I can't seem to drag the kids out when it's barely 40 degrees.
I need to rake the amassing glory of leaves on the lawn, but I doubt the kids will actually sleep deeply and long enough to let me get outside and do that.

It's chilly in here, since Lucy dropped an entire apple down a furnace vent that doesn't have a vent cover on it, and I'm afraid the whole house will smell of burnt apple if I let the furnace turn on. When it gets cold like this, nothing can warm me up except some physical activity -- but of course I'm way too chilly to tackle any ironing or cooking or cleaning. I mostly just want to tuck into the couch next to Lucy, where I know I will shiver until I decide to get up again.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The skinny on the hooey

Quick Saturday update:
It's a gorgeous fall day here in St Paul. Yesterday I dropped Eddie on his face onto the hardwood floor and gave him a goose egg between his eyebrows and he bit through his lip and got a bloody nose and I bet that's the last time he asks ME for a piggyback ride while he's carrying his Diego backpack plus his magic blanket.
After the face-smashing incident, we decided to skip Lucy's "Blast Off to Kindergarten" event at the Children's Museum and I hope my ECFE parent educator will be able to forgive me, again, for having to choose to stay with my own children rather than try to reach out to others'.

Once Joel got home and we established that Ed was neither concussed nor in a coma (as I was holding him while he was still sobbing, I started to cry too, and Eddie goes "Don't cry Mama! I'M sad!!!") Carol and I caught "Mamma Mia" at the Riverview $3 show instead. The popcorn was a little stale but the show was absolutely ridiculous in all the right ways. JUST what I needed. How much fun must it have been to make that movie!?! Singing and dancing always makes me weep with joy. Even though I totally missed the "Aphrodite's fountain" thinghy at the end; I just thought they were all going to fall off the cliff and die.

Nikki met us out afterward at the wine bar across the street. We had some MUCH-needed Girl Talk and some really lovely red wine and we stayed until they started mopping around our shoes. It was wonderful and I'd had no idea how much I needed a night like that.

This morning I took Lucy to Target to buy a couple gifts, and then we went up to the Maplewood Community Center for... Lucy's first audition! She tried out for Ashland's Christmas show. I am not at all certain she's ready to actually be IN the show -- fortunately they're very easygoing over there. She went onstage and sang "Line. Line. Circle, circle, square square square square, triangle triangle line." Right on key and nice and strong. I am incredibly proud of her. She didn't care to learn the dance portion of the audition (ah, sweet irony!) but she was SO BRAVE. She came home, ate a PBJ, took a 40-minute power nap, and dressed in her best gown with fairy wings just in time to be picked up and chauffeured to Annika's 5th birthday party.

Ed and Joel took the morning to hit Menards and pick up some much needed around-the-house-fixit stuff. Not sure what got into Joel, but he is in Project Mode and I am not complaining. I might go iron him some shirts to show my appreciation. Errr, maybe.

Tonight we're headed to Jon Englert's baby shower (now there's a phrase I never thought I'd type) -- do you think a party starting at 4pm on a Saturday will be serving dinner? I'm kinda hoping so.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills

A couple steps back in Ed's toilet-training: I'm mostly writing this so when I go to look back to see what toilet-training him was like, I don't say, WOW! What a snap!

So the problem is that neither his ECFE teachers, bless their hearts, nor the Maplewood Community Center "teachers" (more like tree stumps, if you ask me) know Ed's toileting signals, nor do they have the time or inclination to help get him to the bathroom, undo his pants and diaper, sit him down and make sure his junk is pointing the correct direction, and then help him back into his diaper and pants.

So when I go to retrieve him from either place, he is invariably wet and totally over going on the toilet for the day. Alas.

Joel's mom insists on calling a wallet a "billfold." I don't know why but it's super cute.

Joel went to a lunch-seminar at his work given by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, about protecting the kids' sleep. So we've been working toward a 7:30 bedtime, rather than the technically-8:00-but-usually-more-like-8:30-oh-what-the-heck-9:30-and-they're-not-asleep-until-10 thing we haven been sliding into.

We had one night of awesome success: kids were in at 7:30 without a peep. Then the last 2 nights have been kinda murder, with Lucy ready to go down but Ed squawking for an hour or more later.

Hmmm... 15 minutes and it's still quiet. Could it be?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

There's too many kids in this tub.

So Lu and Ed have this little comedy routine they do. I'm serious. Joel says the whole thing is mocking me... but the way it comes out makes it sound like maybe it's from a movie? I have no idea. But they BOTH say it, over and over again, all the time. It's probably a dialogue but they each say the whole thing, often all in one breath:

"Mama mama mama. What? I'm making dinner. I want... OK get that. Here you go. Poof! Haha That's from Ice Age."

Now just in the last day or so Lucy has started to insist that this be tagged onto the end: "Honey it's dinnertime."

Ed has a toddler-crush on Lily, who's about 8 months older than Lucy. When we go pick up Lucy from a playdate at Lily's, Ed always wants to come inside. However, he often disappears into their home and I can't drag him and Lu out of there for an extra 1/2 hour. Which I wouldn't mind, but I fear the Hobdays are, like, "GET THESE GRONAUS OUT OF HERE." Anyway. Twice when we went ot pick up Lucy, we stayed for a bit and had some soup. So now Ed is obsessed with Lily's house and soup. Even though he detests soup at home.

"We go inna Lily's house?" he says.

"Well, I'M going to go in; you're going to stay here in the car."

"But they have-a soup."

Also Ed was admiring one of his creations in the toilet just now, and he said "It's FLOATING! Like a FISH!"

It's a miserable rainy day here -- but Jean is joining us tonight to watch the opening game of the World Series. So that ought to be fun! OK gots to start cooking up some dinner.

Tuesday afternoon

So I totally scheduled out my entire afternoon to give me just the right amount of time to clean up the kitchen, put away laundry, and figure out how to set my oven to cook some baked potatoes while I'm at rehearsal, because I think it can be programmed to do it that way...

And instead I decided to write a little update.

Life is grand. I can't get over these gorgeous fall days... even though I feel terribly guilty for not getting outside and enjoying them. Dear gorgeous fall days: I promise to enjoy you when the kids are in school, in like three years.

I actually put Halloween decorations in front of the house. AND we have a lovely little crop of smallish pumpkins that I've been able to kind of scatter about the yard, to autumnal effect. Halloween is not exactly my favorite holiday, but three years ago I acquired a big box of decorations at the same garage sale where I picked up my double stroller. I wasn't even going to drive by the garage sale; I'd just picked up Lucy from day care and I was TIRED. But I did, and as I drove by I saw the mother lode: a double stroller. For $20. This being an exceptionally good deal for a double-stroller, I felt somewhat obliged to buy more stuff. So I picked up a shelving unit and a giant box of Halloween decorations/costumes for an extra $20. So this is how I wind up with some random werewolves and ghoulie-things on my front steps.

Where was I?

OK, so big news: Ed is using the toilet. He had a horrid, blistery diaper rash a couple weeks ago, so I let him run around bare-bottomed to try to dry the sucker out. In my fear of pee on wool rugs and hardwood floors and silk throw-pillows (I know what you're thinking: "You own silk throw pillows? You are a moron"), I was real good about ushering him to the bathroom with some regularity. Well guess what? NO ACCIDENTS. I even heard his trademark barefoot-pitter-patter running into the bathroom once, and he totally went ALL ON HIS OWN. Hallelujah! So now I try to keep him bare-butt all the time at home and so far no spills or stray nuggets. I took him out on the town, diapered, yesterday and he was dry all day. And this morning when he woke up, his diaper was only slightly damp. So I am really hoping we're rounding a very happy corner here. The kinda-really-nice thing about cloth diapers is that when they're wet, they feel WET. And also, I don't have to stress about getting stuck with a giant box of unused diapers/pull-ups when he decides it's time for real undies. The bummer about cloth diapers is that when we're only going through one or two diapers a day, the stinky dipes can sit for up to a week or more between washings. And they get reeeeeeaaaaaal stinky.

Ed is also getting into narrating little stories. He talks about cereal and eating it with strawberries and raisins in the bowl, and he talks about being a mouse and climbing the stairs and Lucifer the cat getting banged in the nose by a door (OK that one's straight from Cinderella). I love hearing his little voice just ramble on and on.

Lucy's also developing her very own theory of mind, which probably means nothing to most of you -- basically she is getting to the developmental stage where she realizes that other people can think different thoughts from her. And she can see how her actions can change others' feelings. She's been an angel about sharing her treats with Ed or with other littler kids when they run out and she still has some. The other day we were driving in the car and the kids were watching a movie. Ed's screen stopped working, and I couldn't see but I could tell something was amiss because this kids were whining. So I asked Lucy if Ed's screen was broken. I expected her to say "Yes, it's not working" but instead she said "I can't see anything." Joel thought this was super-mundane but I thought it was fascinating that she didn't just say "it's broken" but rather relayed her own experience which was that she, personally, couldn't see anything on the screen. OK maybe I'm an idiot.

I thought I had one more thing to report but... it's gone. Hasta luego...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rainy days and Mondays...

Just a quick update to let you know that Ed fell asleep on the toilet this afternoon. I was sitting on the edge of the tub and he put his head between my knees, as he likes to when he poops, and the next thing you know he was completely passed out.

Also we had a wonderful visit from Gma and Gpa Books and now it's waaaay too quiet in the house. And it's rainy and gloomy and I guess I'd better wake up Eddo and pick up Lulu from ECFE. Toodle-oo!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday stuff

Just taking a quick breather between loads of laundry.

Both kids have little colds. Ed hasn't been eating much, lately, except quick bursts of apple and cold cereal. I tried to whip up a little ginger-honey-lemon-garlic-zinc "tea" this morning for them, but they were having absolutely none of it. Too spicy, I guess, even when laced with OJ. I'm drinking the leftovers now and it does clear out those sinuses! Whoo!

We had Roto-Rooter out to the house this morning, for our biannual (does that mean once every 2 years? Because I want it to) drain-clean. They roto-ed out our basement drain and CHECK IT OUT I am doing WHOLE LOADS OF LAUNDRY again!! And my kitchen sink is draining better, too. And it only cost $229, which really, considering there's a 6 month guarantee that *ought* to get us through the worst part of winter (for those of you who've never had the effusive luxury of living in an older home, winter here means sllllow drainage), seems like a purty good deal. Thank you Roto-Rooter!

Tonight I'm making Nicole Watson's easy meatball-minestrone soup (with slight modifications) and I think we MIGHT actually get to open Joel's birthday presents. We have not spent a full evening together in the last ... hmmm... couple months. It stinks.

Well anyway. The kids are cute -- Ed seems, overnight, to have made another jump in his language skills. And talking with Lucy I SWEAR is sometimes almost as helpful as talking with Jean or Joel about things. I may regret saying this (and/or NEVER say it again), but I feel like she understands me. She manages to sum things up and capture the true, distilled essence of truth, and it blows my mind.

Also, the kids are having trouble falling asleep. They get in their bedroom after our carefully-orchestrated Bedtime Routine, and every night they whip themselves into a frenzy and won't fall asleep. It seems to make no difference whether or not they nap. It's SO WEIRD. And excruciating for us parents. Joel and I don't typically retire until after 10 and a couple times, now, we've had to tell the kids to GO TO SLEEP one last time before we head up. So any advice you have, would be appreciated.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Quick rant to guilt you into getting your family portrait done at ECFE

If you're reading this because you got an email from me, thanks for reading! If not, you may still be interested. So here goes:

(This part was in the email:)

My ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) program is doing a fund-raiser that is actually kind of a really good deal, so I'm just letting you know about it. If you are at all interested in taking a "family photo" (maybe for a Christmas card? Or something?), read on.

Heather Matson ( is a mom in our program and she is volunteering her amazing photographic talent for a couple evenings this week, to help ECFE (which is otherwise funded by the St. Paul Public Schools). There is no sitting fee, and no cost whatsoever unless you want to order pictures -- and you can decide whether or not to order AFTER THE FACT so it's totally NOT one of those "choose your package before you even see the proofs" sort of deal. You'll get to look at your proofs online after the shoot. And then order -- if you want.

So here's the 411:

1. Sessions are 20 minutes long, this Thursday (Oct 2) and Friday (Oct 3) at the Dayton's Bluff rec center in St Paul. Times are available throughout the evening. Advance sign-up is required (so email me).

2. Please specify whether you prefer a black or brown backdrop.

3. Also please let me know how many people you'll bring.

4. You show up, Heather (or her lovely assistant) takes pix for 20 minutes, you go home.

5. Your proofs will be available online on October 10. You may then place orders for prints/holiday cards/whatever. Print prices are what I would call "a little steep." That said, I think they are reasonable for a professional photographer of Heather's ability. Also, a portion of the monies (I love the word "monies!") goes straight to our Dayton's Bluff ECFE program. I have a copy of the print price list right next to me here -- let me know if you want a copy/fax of it. I'll also try to get it electronically for anyone who shows interest.

I also want to say that in no way do I want to take business away from any of my very good friends who also take beautiful pictures. So if you know who I'm talking about and were considering using them instead-- please feel free to do so!

So while this is a decent deal, I also want to say that the ECFE program is INCREDIBLE and has totally changed our lives as a family. It's essentially preschool at public-school prices (and if you have kids that age, you know that pretty much doesn't hardly exist) -- with a parent-education component that is immensely informative and nurturing. This year our ECFE Advisory Council had to kick in almost $10,000 of its own money to completely fund the 4-year-old program that Lucy is in this year, because the city budget is so tight. And this is the only ECFE 4-year-old program of its kind in the city.

The St Paul Public Schools' 4yo program is so full that there is a waiting list this year that is hundreds of students long, and yet there isn't enough money to fund the 4yo program at our site. If you've talked with me at all in the past year, you know how madly in love with ECFE I am. I feel like it builds communities and neighborhoods, and is helping us to raise our children in a gentle, loving, nurturing way and teaching us all to be better citizens of this planet.

The teachers are excellent and I am a MUCH more confident, informed, and happy mother than I was before I started ECFE. The kids and I have made friends who I hope we keep for a very long time.

Anyway, let me know if you want some pix taken. Thank you!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Summer, I hardly knew ye

"They" say that today is to be the final gorgeous summer day, for a while. To celebrate, we met the Dalys at the park and picnicked. Except I ran out of time to find food for myself, so I subsisted on an apple and the peanut butter-honey drippings from the kids' sammies until I could get home and make myself what I am NOW eating, which is:

homegrown tomatoes, chopped
homegrown basil, shredded
fresh mozzarella balls, halved
kosher salt
balsamic vinegar

...and it is the bestest summer treat. And it's 80 degrees and sunny and I'm wondering if maybe I ought to start harvesting some of our 20-ish pumpkins in our patch? The vines aren't totally dead and I think they could still get a little deeper-colored orange, so I think I'm going to wait. But if anybody has any better expertise in this matter, I am listening.

And, did'ja catch that Twins game last night!? Hooo-eee, what a barn-burner! And it came on top of my coed team winning our two games, as well -- short-staffed though we were. Jean hit two triples (or a home run and a half, as she likes to say), Joel hit 2 home runs and I hit a single-with-a-three-base-error AND Larry The Homeless Man did not have to babysit the kids. It was a good night!

Tonight is opening night for High School Musical, and tomorrow Joel and I compete in the Great Urban Race in Minneapolis. We are still taking submissions for costume ideas -- so feel free to jump in with your thoughts. We have at our disposal several wigs (1 black afro and 2 blonde ladies' wigs), 2 1993 Monticello football jerseys, 1 1994 purple WSU dance team costume, an unlimited supply of Meg-sized fancy dresses, 2 pairs of ski goggles, and 2 adult-sized bell-bottomed 1970s spandex unitards, complete with sequins and maybe some fringe.

Well, I'll let you know how that all shakes out. Ciao for now...

Monday, September 22, 2008

See my show ON TV! KARE 11! Tuesday at 10pm!

Hey gang! Well, after a very emotional morning (the kids miss Joel. Big time. And I do too, stupid mustache and all) we finally made it (only an hour late!) to our playdate with the Watsons, where Mama Nicole let me cry and whine, and managed to tell me with a straight face that I was neither crazy nor a bad mama. For which I would like to now crown her Supreme Goddess of the Universe.

Now for the really random:

I rented Baby Mama (starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, etc) for myself last night and MAN that is a funny movie! And very sweet and touching. And the commentary is excellent, so much so that I am going to watch the rest of it into the wee hours of tonight, if only I can ever pry myself away from this computer.

Dooce is right about edamame: it is the Vegetable of the Gods and now ranks in my Top 5... OK, Top 8 foods of All Time. Jean and I got some edamame from Pei Wei a couple weekends ago, and I'm SO glad for A. Dooce's informative tutorial video and B. the Pei Wei experience, so I knew exactly the preparation steps AND how the stuff ought to look and taste. The kosher salt is an absolute necessity during cooking, and don't forget to sprinkle it with more as you serve it. I also tossed it with a bit of olive oil, which gave it that ultimate salt-fat combo that makes my lips go all numb. Anyway, it was a total hit; even Joel and Lucy liked it, and I'm going to make it all the time.

When am I going to learn that when I'm real crabby, all I need is some exercise? I took my first en pointe ballet class last night (well... kinda. I have to go acquire some pointe shoes, now) and I broke a sweat for the first time in weeks (doing something other than brushing Ed's teeth, that is) and it felt wonderful. It's a great small group of gals and I am really excited to keep working.

Bummer is, I had to miss the filming of an Eric Perkins "Perk at Play" episode at High School Musical rehearsal tonight! Sounds like the kids will be on the 10:00 news tomorrow night (Tuesday, Sept 23) on Channel 11 (NBC) here. I can't wait to see how they all look! I heard they were working on the "Head in the Game" number so that would be so cool to see some of my choreography on TV. Mia Michaels, watch out -- har-dee-har-har. And I'm hoping it will be some great publicity for the show -- meaning, I hope they get the show info right and I hope lots of people buy tickets!

When I got home from ballet, Papa G and Ed were watching Ice Age (again) and Lucy had passed out on the couch. That is one tired little girl -- busy day for her, with playdate-ECFE-dance class all back to back. Tomorrow is our day of rest, I think. Uh, is it raining out?

OK I gots a date with Baby Mama.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Way to step up, people.

So I'm currently in a five-way tie for 48th place in the "favorite parenting blog" contest at Divine Caroline. I'm not going to lie to you, though: having to register there is a giant deterrent and I'm impressed I have even the 9 votes I do.

I haven't even voted for myself. :(

See, what I think needs to happen is, I need to get out of the "mommy blog" label and into the "Neighborhood/World" category, which has 1/3 of the number of nominees. MOST OF WHICH ARE MOMS! Cheating whores!! I'd be in the top 10 with my nine votes, there!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Random convos around the house

Joel: "Eddie eats dirt."
Ed: "Eddie eats skirt?"
Lucy: "I've seen THAT movie!"

Lucy (singing a Veggie Tales song): "Pizza Angel, I'm on my knees... Hey, pickles don't have knees, am I right?"

Lucy (as I finish reading her a story from her new Jesus Storybook Bible): "Who's this story for?"
Me: "It's for you!"
Lucy: "Story for ME?!? Well, I LOVE it."

Me (after Ed had asked for something he couldn't have, like a cookie): "I'm sorry, no."
Ed: "I'm sorry YES."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Typing with a clubfinger

Or whatever... I have my right "tall man" (the doc said "I can tell you're a mom of little ones") taped to my right ring finger, in an attempt to heal said "tall man" from the mysterious injury I sustained trying to do a backflip back in June (the doc also said "Kinda old to be doing backflips, aren't we?" to which I took great offense). Tall man is not broken, which I kinda knew, but I bet there's something wrong with a tendon in there, or something, so I'm trying to immobilize it a bit to see whether it improves. So any grevious typos can be attributed to me typing with this strange clubfinger.

I'm going to make neither attempt nor promise to blog more regularly. The spirit moves me today, as Ed is taking a very late nap and Lucy is happily cutting-and-gluing away at her "desk" (read: whichever countertop or table surface she has currently appropriated). Also because it is such a unbelievably gorgeous late-summer day. Jean came over this morning to babysit while I went in for x-rays; we then played some tennis (thank you Lu and Ed for entertaining yourselves for a while!) and enjoyed a picnic lunch (thank you Lu and Jean for packing it!) and some playground time before hustling back home to head to ECFE for our first Thursday session.

Our ECFE schedule is bizarro this year, so I won't attempt to go into detail. But Thursdays are the days I get my "parent class" which is something I really look forward to. Since the class is a Kindergarten-prep class, today we started talking about school readiness and what it means. The teacher and my fellow parent-students reiterated how "readiness" cannot be measured by how well a child writes his/her letters, or by how high he/she can count, or other "academic standards" that modern preschools often, unfortunately, try to push upon families. (Modern families, so terribly busy as we all are, are susceptible to fall for these "easy measures" of how a child is developing. It's an easy way to compare kids: Darla writes all her letters, upper and lower case! Buford can add and subtract!) But rather, we need to take the time to consider the whole child: social, verbal, and emotional levels as well as an eagerness and excitement about learning.

Anyway, I'm gonna totally dig this class. Hurray!

So Lucy is painting on her easel out in the gazebo. She just hollered in "I made brown! I made it with red and orange and green!" And I looked out and, well, she sure did.

She was taking her "quiet time" today (which is often a struggle) in the living room, and I was trying to just get a little QT of my own, upstairs in my heavily-pillowed bed. She hollers, much to my dismay (as I am loving having my feet up and my eyes closed): "MOOOOOOM!" And when I holler "WHAT!?" back she hollers, "I LOVE YOU!" What a peach.

OK painting time is done and Ed needs to wake up. Did I mention it's a gorgeous day, and I am about as happy as it's possible for a human to be?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Uhh... some kind of nomination?

Well, I'll be honest: I don't really know what to think of this at all. Apparently I've been nominated for a "Love! This Site Award" through

I have never heard of Divine Caroline, and the "nomination notification" was delivered to my Spam file, but I did find it and it looks legitimate... in that it doesn't appear to be a bunch of criminals trying to scam any of us out of our hard-earned money.

Also I think they're giving away ACTUAL MONEY as a prize! And I pledge to you that, if I win anything, I WILL SPLIT IT WITH YOU in a completely arbitrary pro-rata system. I promise!! So vote for me!

EDIT: OK, while it's super-nice to be nominated, I'm already like 698 votes behind "Bring the Rain" and a couple other tearjerking blogs that are probably much more worthy. In addition, I can't for the life of me figure out how to post the "voting button" on my site. I stink at HTML and unfortunately so does everybody else I know. So I'll just say it's an honor to be nominated, thank you to whomever did it, and have a nice day!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pix from Lu's bday

The infamous Doll Cake.

I made homemade spaghetti sauce and it was a FEAST.

Real short update: I have been thinking about Lucy and school, and Ed too, for one because it's back-to-school time, and second because our options just keep expanding. While I really don't see myself as homeschooling material, some mamas I really respect are going that route. And it's only been in the last year that I've realized that the St. Paul Public Schools are a very good option. I had totally ruled out private schools, but then I think thoughts that might make that possible. And Minnesota's open enrollment really throws the floodgates open.

So I came across this wonderful essay that I now paste here for your enjoyment.

Also! I bought a book, totally on a whim, for a friend's child's birthday. It's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by local author Kate DiCamillo. I picked it up because of Ed's name in the title, and because I'd heard good things about DiCamillo, and because I thought a 5-year-old girl would like being read a chapter book about a bunny.

So I was flipping through it, because I love books, and of course there is a little dog in it named... Lucy. Sweet! And all this happened several weeks ago, but I just happened to plug "Kate DiCamillo Secret Edward" into Google (because I forgot the title and replaced "miraculous" with "secret") and I came up with some notes on how the story is an allegory of Christian faith and resurrection.

Who knew!? How cool is that? Say, do any of you know anything else about this book? Because now I totally want to get a copy and read it to my kids. Except apparently Ed the bunny actually gets nailed to a cross. Yikes.

And as though I didn't already get questions about my kids' names relating to the Lucy and Edmund in (Christian author) C.S. Lewis's Narnia series. Sooooo interesting.

Oh!! And the MOST FUNNEST news for you all!

Remember a couple months ago, I wrote a post entitled "Shed no tears for me..." ?? No? Well you can go look it up if you wish, but I'm warning you, it's no Shakespeare. Or even Margaret Mitchell. Anyhoo, the gal who inspired it found the post when she Googled herself, and she wrote a response! It turns out she's a fellow theatre geek (or she used to be)... a fellow mama... a fellow writer... a fellow skeptic of he WSU dance department. Anyway, you may read her very eloquent post here ( I totally want to be her new very best friend in the whole world, but I may have made that a little too obvious as she hasn't replied to my invitation for coffee. Nor the dozen roses I sent. Nor the singing telegram, nor the dead fish I left on her doorstep, nor the urine-bombs thrown by the now-unemployed RNC anarchists. *sigh*

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Lucy turns 4

Hey Lu! You turned four years old at 3:34 this morning. You were sleeping at the time, thank goodness, because you were suffering from a giant Grandparent Hangover after a very long and very wonderful Labor Day weekend. You woke up this morning at 7ish and hollered from the bottom of the stairs: "Mom, I'm FOUR!" It made me smile, and as you know I don't typically smile before I've had coffee. Good work. As I dismounted the stairs and congratulated you on 48 months of life, you told me you didn't really feel much bigger. I hope you're saying the same thing when you're 44.

Lucy, you are FUNNY. I wish I had tape-recorded our conversations in the grocery store today. You'd brought your own list, of course, which magically had lots of the same stuff that my list did, which is amazing considering the only letters you write really well now are O and L. And Y and C. I want you to know that our comedic dialogue regarding our competing grocery lists garnered LOTS of chuckles from passing shoppers and store employees. Lucy, lots of grownups don't laugh very often. You brought some joy to some people today.

Lu, this is the first birthday of yours that you've been truly aware of. You had a perma-grin on your face all day, and I was so proud and happy that we could make it a special day for you. I'm proud of the conversations you carried on with all your callers today: Grammy and Papa, the Bookses, and Ellen. You loved listening to Jamie's voice mail. You must have replayed over 100 times that e-card that Joel's Aunt Denise sent. I can't believe you figured out in, like, 10 seconds how to use the mouse pad on my computer. I seriously showed you once. (Tip to anyone wanting to delight a 4-year-old: send an e-card that they can click on for animation and music. Best Free Gift Ever.)

Lucy, I have so many dreams for you. I hope you stay kind and caring (it melts my heart when you bring Ed his magic blanket when he's sad). People notice kindness, and it is far too rare in our world. People notice when you're interested in them, too, and I know you'll learn different ways of asking about people besides "So, how was your day?" Which is actually not a bad start at all.

I hope you keep asking All Those Questions ("Mommy does Jesus love lions? Trees? Those wires running across the yard?"). As much as it infuriates me when you repeat my phrases back to me ("It's really not a good time for me." "I will do what you ask, as soon as I am able." "Mommy I'm just very frustrated with you right now."), I adore that you keep asking about the nuances of language and context. If you choose not to be any kind of performer (which will be a GIANT mistake, but who's asking me? I'm just the mother), you should know that your confidence, and your ability to talk to anyone about anything, will serve you well no matter where your life takes you. So will your creativity.

Lucy, I know we're going to butt heads for probably ever. We will be so lucky if we get to butt heads forever. Both your dad and I are stubborn... so you got a double-dose. Know that I think you and your brother are two of the most beautiful creatures on the planet. Know that I am hugely proud of the person you are becoming. When you do that Lion King show, complete with "welcome-to-the-show" curtain speech plus your very own singing, dancing, and stage-managing (whick mostly consists of you bossing Ed about where to carry Sad Puppy who's playing the part of Baby Simba), I just fall to pieces. I watch you lose yourself entirely in interpreting the music, and I admire your utter lack of fear or self-consciousness. I am amazed at the information you retain in that brain of yours -- trivia about the whereabouts of every single one of your toys, and the various dramatic plots you've got them involved in. I can always count on you to find things that go missing in the house -- well, except the keys that one time, and I kinda blame your dad for that.

Keep listening, Lucy, and keep learning. Watch closely to see how your words and actions affect people. Use your gifts for good, not for evil. Keep reminding me to be patient with you and Ed. And keep talking to me -- except not after 8:30 PM nor while I am cooking. I love you to pieces. Happy fourth birthday.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

In fact I would despair, would you not take me to the fair

I just don't want to look back on my life and have regrets about NOT doing things. But I don't think that's going to be a problem.

Tuesday night we went back to the MN History Center for the ninth of their "Nine Nights of Music." They had an American Folk band playing and they had contra-dancing going, which is just a fancy word for what I would call square-dancing. It was easy enough to jam along to with the kids. They weren't much for the waltzing, but their do-si-do was a force to be reckoned with.

Joel took off work today so we could all go to the Minnesota State Fair. We saw mama pigs and cows in labor, and we got to pet an 18-hour-old calf named Belle. After several corndogs and an early total-meltdown by Ed (I think his two-ness is finally catching up with him -- he has these inconsolable fits of bawling a couple times a day. It's not a tantrum, it's just... sobbing. It's heartbreaking while remaining super-annoying.), the kids both rallied in time to ride the giant slide. We also rode the sky-ride, almost asked a question about "winterburn" on MPR, spied Al Franken, made some hats in the shape of the state of Minnesota, and saw some giant fish. It was REALLY fun and I suspect the kids' favorite part was riding the park-n-ride bus.

Oh, and bouncing in the Twins bouncy... until it started raining and they nearly deflated the thing right on top of Ed!
This is Belle:
Sharing a lemonade...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Come see my shows! Again!

I still want to encourage you to come see Guys and Dolls this coming weekend, if you are able. I'm insanely proud of this show and it's a fun, affordable evening of entertainment.

I also want to let you know that High School Musical is coming back to the Maplewood Commuinty Center! Ashland is restaging the show with some of the same cast and much (but not all) of the same choreography and staging as when we did it in March. We sold out every show in March. This time the cast is quite a bit smaller so the show will be tighter -- we've only had a few rehearsals but I'm super-excited about how things are pulling together. We've got some bright shiny new talent and I've had the chance to fix some of the dances I wasn't delighted with last time.

Anyway, so advance tickets are on sale now. Please let me know when you want to come, and how many seats you need, and I can get them for you for $3 off the regular ticket prices. Of course, now I can't find the ticket prices on the Ashland website... well, they're like $10-ish in advance and $13-ish at the door.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Guys and Dolls

Well thanks for checking back!

Guys and Dolls opens at the Maplewood Community Center (2100 White Bear Ave N) on Friday, Aug. 15 and runs through Aug 24 (next Sunday). You should come see it!

The kids (and all us grownups) have worked VERY hard on this show and it is really great. It's fun and funny with loads of good singing and dancing. You can buy tickets at the door -- they're only like $10. Some pix!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Fluffy's Master Plan For World Domination

...Soon there will be cats in charge of the nation

Whiskers will be used to transmit information

Meowing as a means of mass communication

So I'm sure nobody's reading this anymore, mostly because I told you not to. *shrug* I just wanted to let y'all know, because I have been getting concerned-sounding phone calls and emails, that everything is totally fine and wonderful here.

My internet connection has been really spotty -- similar to Delmon Young's leftfielding. So that's one excuse. Also, I just wanted a break, at least for the summer. Also, I feel like I'm spending too much time staring at the computer and not enough time cooking, cleaning, laundering and hanging out with the kids. Also I was feeling a kind of pull to journal, by hand, on a more personal level. Also I was feeling (self-imposed) pressure to turn out "finished pieces" here, and I just didn't want to do that regularly anymore.

But life is really great. The kids are HILARIOUS (they like to stand atop the retaining wall in our yard and shout in rhythm: "JOSEPH! I'll see you ROT in JAIL. The FINGS you have DONE are beyond the pale!" and then throw a rock or a stick over the wall, watching disdainfully as the offending piece of nature plummets into the prison of the lower yard. Oh, except Ed pronounces it "JOPHESS!"). Joel bought me a canoe for my birthday last week (and a big thank-you to everyone who thought to call/email). Jean ran Grandma's Marathon on June 21.

Happy summer everyone!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Permanent hiatus

Hey there; I'm hangin' it up for a while.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Polar Express Cookie

This recipe has been on the back of the last three boxes of raisins we've bought. Ed freaks out ever time he sees the logo, and Lucy finally convinced me to make the cookies.

I have to admit, raisins and chocolate sounded grody to me. I made a couple changes which I'll explain. The results were SUPER tasty and I will definitely make them again!

The Polar Express Cookie
adapted from the Sun-Maid Raisins box

1/2 cup butter or margarine (I used 1/4 c butter and 1/4 c applesauce)
1 & 2/3 c sugar (I used 1 cup white sugar and 1/3 cup "natural" sugar, thereby reducing the sugar by 20% and adding a really nice texture)
1 Tablespoon (no, really!) vanilla
2 oz (2 squares) unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 c. all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole-wheat)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. milk
1 cup raisins
powdered sugar

Combine butter, sugar, and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy. Blend in chocolate. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to chocolate mixture alternately with milk. Stir in raisins.

Cover and refrigerate 1 hour until firm. Heat oven to 350. Grease cookie sheets. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in powdered sugar. Bake in upper third of oven, 10-12 minutes; do not overbake!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Shed no tears for me; there'll be rain enough today

Ed likes to throw things, just to hear what kind of sound they make when they land. And the other evening he actually asked for his "cowboy pajamas" and when I told him they were dirty, and could he please wear his dinosaur 'jamas instead, he agreed. A couple minutes later I found him rifling through Lucy's pajama drawer, throwing things everywhere. And I said, "Ed, what on EARTH are you doing?"

Through his little tears he sobbed, "A dinosaur 'jamas instead!!"
He was looking for them.

And he LOVES to say who he is. Now that he's figured out that HE'S Eddie, and nobody else is. "I'm Eddie!" all day.

He also came up to me one morning, fully clothed, and said "A take off a shirt. A be nay-kay. A take off a biaper. I'm a naked data." I don't really know what that was all about.

I got my Winona Currents alumni magazine in the mail yesterday and there was an article on A Prairie Home Companion's broadcast from Winona State this February. Featured in the article is Kathryn Hauser Slusher, whose name and very-fuzzy-and-barely-visible profile I recognized from my days at WSU. When I read she'd been a dance minor, I realized I DID remember her -- she was in Dreamscape, the spring-of-1995 modern-dance show that I was cruelly coerced into doing... that I did not enjoy at all... that included Chris Badger rolling around on the floor with a 15-foot tree root to the song of the humpback whales... that drove a knife into my burgeoning love of dance and theatre.

Anyway, Ms. Slusher was in that show. I found her picture in my scrapbook this afternoon, along with the program with our names in it. I only barely remember her. But in this article, she spoke of WSU in glowing terms.

Note that this gal has something akin to my dream job: working at APHC.

And it occurred to me that I've spent lots of brainpower recently maligning Winona State, or at least my experience there. I received a degree in a field I don't care ever to work in again, and I have a good friend and former classmate who had to learn the hard way that WSU wasn't prestigious enough to get him into the grad school of his choice. I spent way too much time having fun and way too little time appreciating the education I was receiving, at the price I was receiving it.

I felt mostly unmentored and uncounseled there. I have a passion for helping people, for teaching, for service... but I didn't discover any of those things until long after I graduated... after it was too late to take advantage of the scholarships I'd been receiving, and get a degree in a field in which I have true interest.

I have felt that some of my time there was wasted remaining uninvolved in theatre, in part because Winona is not a hotbed of musical theatre performance. Or at least I didn't seek it out. I regret missing out on some of my potential and I have been blaming, in part, Winona State.

But I read Kathryn Slusher's words, and I realized how ungrateful I'd been. I've long heard that it's not what happens to you in life, but how you react to it, that makes the difference. I understood the concept but just wasn't really applying it to myself. Well, I get it now. I was sort of feeling... well, "victimized" is WAY too strong a word, but I was feeling somehow wronged by my choice of college.

Now obviously that is ridiculous. I met Joel at Winona, as well as some of my very best friends in the entire universe. I DID get a degree, and while I don't care if I ever work in that field again, and while YES it makes me a little wistful when I realize I'm never going to be a paleontologist or a doctor or a licensed teacher or a Broadway dancer or a large-animal veterinarian or even a college professor... I can indeed choose to embrace the positives. The very big, weighty positives which make up my life right now -- not the least of which is this little life that Joel and Lu and Ned and I carve out daily.

The lead article in today's Pioneer Press Daily Life section is about "feeling slighted" and I feel that here is one thing I can do to make the world a more peaceful place.

I can choose how I feel and how I react.

I can sulk, or I can decide sulking is a waste of time.

I can allow things to offend me, or I can let it roll off my back. Better yet, I can try to figure out what was meant by the "offender" because most likely it had very little to do with me.

I can wallow in self-pity or I can forge my own path.

So that's that! Oh, the title of this post is the first line of "Stranger to the Rain," a beautiful song from Children of Eden by Stephen Schwartz. That song came to me in a couple weird ways last week, and I felt it was trying to tell me something. It's about not crumbling in the face of adversity.

In other news, the Hastings HS gig is going great -- except in true Meg form, I may have made the dances a *teeny* bit too complicated. I'm going to have to go back next week, which means securing a nanny for a couple hours on a couple mornings. *Shrug* Calling Grampa Books...

I acquired some plants at the ECFE plant sale last Friday. I know, I KNOW, I hate plants! I hate how they don't cry when they are hungry! I hate how they die just to spite me! But there were a couple "leftovers" after the pre-orders were filled: orphans in need of some love. I took 'em home with me. A couple coleus, some impatiens, some tomatoes and basil, and some "walking green onions." And something white I can't pronounce or spell. I don't have real pots to put them in, and I know I can't put them in the ground until Thursday and even then I might hesitate because it's only like 40 degrees out right now! And, like, I have sooooo much free time to spend repotting plants. Arrrgh, what was I thinking?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Introducing Ms. Sportiquette

I'm not *quite* ready to do this (though it's been in the pipeline for almost a year!), but I seriously can't wait another minute.

I've been hearing lots of sad news lately. I've been following lots of very sad stories, very eloquently told: miscarriages, sick babies, sick parents, untimely death, loss, and suffering.

It gets overwhelming. I've spent time weeping in front of my computer recently. And there's a time for that.

But I also believe there is a time for laughter and levity. And without taking anything away from the struggles of these families, I want to offer a place for some fun. Now, I don't know about all of you, but I equate "fun" with sports and games and athletic events and activity and fitness.

So... have you been in attendance at an athletic event, and questioned any of the protocol and/or proceedings? Do you play sports and have a pet peeve about others' behavior? Do you wonder what's with rally-scoring in volleyball? How female gymnasts keep from getting wedgies? Do you have an opinion about football pants?

Ask Ms. Sportiquette!

Your place to ask any and all sports-related questions. Email 'em in, or call me if you can dig up my number. No new questions = no new posts! Don't be shy!

Mr. Ryan Goes To Washington

I knew I'd forget something.

My uncle Jim (my dad's brother) is biking from Chicago to Washington, D.C. all by his lonesome (well, my dad and uncle Dan are keeping him company but not biking). Jim is raising money forthe tuition assistance program at his parish school, St. Robert Bellarmine. Follow his progress here  at

Horse heaven

I got a call on Friday morning from the choral director at Hastings High School -- it's a choreographic emergency!! The HHS choral program has, apparently, 600(!) kids... and a show in less than 4 weeks. So I spent much of my weekend inventing dances to six different choral medleys.

Jean and I went on a 4-mile run together on Saturday and I rollerbladed with her for a 12-miler on Sunday. Over the course of the weekend, we also caught two shows (Seussical at St. Jude's and Footloose at Hill Murray), tried out the new Jimmy Lee indoor water park in St Paul (I can still do a forward 1.5, and a back flip, off the diving board! I've regained my youth!), watched the Derby (and fielded dozens of questions from Lucy about poor Eight Belles), went to church, went to the Petersons' for lunch, prepped for a dance class that didn't end up happening, and made a flurry of phone calls lining up babysitters for the next couple weeks. Whew!

I've got to get Lucy to dance class -- she and Eddie are playing some weird pretend game in their room right now, and all I can hear are very insistent choruses of "Mommy!" to which I (of course) reply "What?" before getting back "No -- COW Mommy!" I guess I'm not expected to answer to that.

Then a few moments later I hear "My daddy is DEAD." Time to go talk about the horses again, I think.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Beautiful to banal in 2.2 seconds

If you ever need reassurance that maybe this world isn't such a bad place after all -- and who couldn't use such reassurance? -- I highly recommend holding a crying baby in your arms and soothing it to sleep.

I had the honor of doing that twice today (and it's just barely 2pm!) -- first to a beautiful almost-5-month-old named Rosemary (at ECFE), and just now to my own baby Ed.

Watching the peace and beauty of a little person surrendering to a much-needed nap -- it's a very powerful thing. Being able to take the time to be a part of that experience -- that's a very humbling blessing.

Lucy was eating breakfast this morning, and mentioned some little boy she saw yesterday.

"He can burp his ABC's," she reported, "and that's adorable."

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Forever in blue jeans

We borrowed "How Are You Peeling?" from ECFE -- a kids' book with pics of vegetables and fruits making all kinds of silly faces to show different feelings. We were talking about the faces on one page, where there was a green pepper scowling at an apple. Lucy scowled back at the page and said: "That's no way to treat an apple!"

Later on Lu was sitting on the pot and I was sitting on the tub facing her (because this is the only way she will go). She was staring into my eyes, and in my pupils she saw a reflection of... herself.

"Why do I see Lucy in your eyes?" she asked. I thought it was cool that she noticed that, and I explained about the reflection. She thought about it for a moment and then, still staring straight into me, asked "Do you see Meg?"

Well, that totally blew me away. I DID see myself in her eyes. Literally, I mean. It's amazing when kids develop the "theory of mind," I think that's what it's called, when they realize that other people have their own thoughts that might be different from their own. The human brain is absolutely incredible.

Ed was adorable today too. I had to awaken him from his nap at 5:00 and when I did that, he rolled over, yawned and said "Mommy, I'm TIRED." Later on he was refusing to go to bed and he was flipping all over, so I went to give him a FINAL goodnight kiss and he twisted over to see me, smiled and said "I'm upside down!"

Oh, and yesterday he was refusing to nap, and I could hear him bopping around in his room. I went in and found him sitting entirely under the little Ikea kids' table. Just staring at me with those giant brown eyes, waiting to see if he was in trouble. I went in a little later because I still heard banging, and he was sitting inside one of his wicker toy baskets, hammering the wall. Strange child.

See? He doesn't sound funny on paper. Er... screen. I assure you, he is. :)

Ed's cloth diapers are going great. I hesitate to type this next thing, because I know it doesn't make any sense, but: I somehow feel more invested in his diapering. I care more about what happens to his little body. I actually kind of look forward to changing his diapers -- the clothies are cute, and cute on him, and it matters more to me whether he is wet or dirty. I'm really, really happy with the used Thirsties All-In-Ones I got. And even the prefolds are folding a LOT better, and snugger.

Neil Diamond is performing on American Idol. I really love Neil Diamond. I also love that his backup singers are AT LEAST as old as he is. I appreciate his giving those old bags a job.

We had another speaker come in to ECFE today, to talk about nutrition. And now I'm trying to wrap my mind around eliminating breakfast cereal. I know, I KNOW! When will the madness cease? But the truth is, breakfast cereal is processed, and most of it doesn't have enough protein to sustain the kids until a 10AM snack. And all of it has sugar. So I'm going to have to work on getting eggs or more yogurt or some sausages into the munchkins. I'm also thinking about switching to raw milk... at least for the kids.

A lot of what the speaker talked about, I already knew -- high fructose corn syrup is bad... shop around the perimeter of a grocery store for the most "real foods"... saturated fats like butter are way better for you than the super-processed "lite" fat-substitutes they sell. So it was good to get some confirmation that I'm headed in the right direction. She also really advocated having a garden so the kids can A) really see where food comes from, and 2) help with harvesting and food prep.

Oh, and I tried to do the Right Thing and wash my kids with Kirk's Castille Soap because supposably it doesn't have any of those nasty chemicals in it... and Lucy totally had a reaction to it. I forget how sensitive her skin is. We used it on her face (not my choice, actually -- but Lucy insisted) and she got these red patches and complained that her face hurt. Well, I said, Lu, I tried to use the gentler baby soap (which DOES have yucky chemicals but doesn't sting the eyes) on your face but you demanded the Castille soap, so maybe next time you'll let me use the soap that I know is gentler on your face, Lu, what do you think?

"Mommy you were right!" she wailed.

I took the cheat-sheet available at and underlined the "bad chemicals" in the ingredient lists on all our shampoos, soaps etc. I underlined them because, I'll be honest -- I'm too cheap to throw out full bottles of product. I also underlined them so that I could start to familiarize myself with the complicated non-English names. Because "DMDM Hydantoin" and "PEG-30" used to mean nothing to me, but if I remember to glance at them every time I use them, I can start to remember which ones "should be avoided" versus "will give you cancer tomorrow."

Jean and I had our first vball game last night -- mind you, I'm not actually on the team. I'm a sub but I'm really hoping I'll get to play a lot. I ruuuuv sand volleyball. Except, let me tell you, the sand was real chilly last night. I seriously thought I was getting toe-frostbite by the middle of the second game. It was fun to play with Aaron and Nellie again -- and of course Jean and Cortney. And we had a new guy, Phil, who was Iamnotkiddingyou seven feet tall. His head brushed the top of the net, which I can only BARELY reach when I jump as high as I possibly can with my monster-ups. It was totally different, playing with someone who could essentially cover the entire court if he so wished. He was a really nice guy and we won 2 out of 3.

Oh man I'd better get to bed. Talk later...

Monday, April 28, 2008

I believe that God has given me a new heart -- but I think maybe my body is rejecting the transplant.

I seriously didn't mean to go a whole week between postings. Oops.

Jean and I ran the Get in Gear 10k (6.2 miles) on Saturday morning, and YES it was 35 degrees and YES the wind was blowing 25 MPH and YES it was hailing in our faces for at least 1/3 of the run.

And no, I had not run for two weeks prior. But yes, we did manage to run the whole way! I really hate running but apparently I have to do a race once a year to remind myself. Yuck.

Ed's getting two of his 2-year molars, which I'm using as an excuse for his kinda cranky attitude and runny nose. I bought a bunch of used diapers on Friday night (Thirsties All-In-Ones, plus some extra wraps) which I am hoping will take the diaper-laundry down to every-other-day, or maybe even every-third-day. We had a really discouraging diapering day on Friday, but I think I need to just change my thinking... by changing Ed more frequently. Which is totally do-able, I just have to remember to DO it.

Last night I made a "Fresh Pork Ham Roast" which was a cut of meat with which I hadn't been familiar. Joel's sister Julie gave it to us, because she often gives us random food products, claiming she won't use them. Which is AWESOME for us! It was basically a very thick, large (2+ lb?) steak from the leg of the pig. It's not a ham because it came uncooked and uncured. I basically threw it in the oven for a couple hours with a bit of sage, salt and pepper -- then I made mashed potatoes and gravy and some green beans, and it was delicious! Plus there's tons leftover.

Tonight is lasagna (I haven't made it in YEARS but I'm just having a hankering). There will be sloppy joes at some point this week as well.

It may be 30 degrees out, but this week all our softball and volleyball begins!! Joel and Jean and I are all beside ourselves with excitement. Which reminds me, I haven't the foggiest notion where my cleats and glove are. Hmmm.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The family tinkle

Yesterday I was reading to both my kids out in the yard. The sun was bright and naptime was looming, so I picked up Ed and carried him into the house to lay him down in his room. And I can't remember what I asked Lucy to do, but I think it was just to follow me into the house. And she seemed to be taking her sweet time, and for some reason that was a problem so I spoke very sternly at her when she finally came in.

"But mommy..."

(I'm paraphrasing myself:) "I ASKED you to come in and you NEED to LISTEN to me when I talk to you!" Or somesuch. I believe I went on longer and with some vehemence. Lucy later referred to it as "screaming."

"But mommy... I went back to get your books."

And I looked and she had, indeed, gone back out to retrieve my two books that I'd left out on the swing. She thought of me, and thought I wouldn't want my books laying out in the yard. And I just crumpled... I felt so terrible.

So this morning, Joel got up and left early and the kids were still sleeping, and when I heard them start bopping around, I came down.

"I sat on the potty all by myself mommy!" Lucy said.

"Oh, that's GREAT Lu. Thank you," I said (because going by herself is not exactly one of her strong suits).

"You didn't hear me flush."

"No, I didn't."

"Yah, I didn't flush because I didn't want you to wake up!" Her pride was palpable.

"Thanks, Lu, that is really thoughtful of you! That was very nice. I think I'm going to go use the bathroom now."

"Do you want me to flush?"

"Oh, no, that's OK," I waved her off, "I'll just go and then flush when I'm done."

"Does Eddie want to go tinkle too?"

"No, I don't think he wants to."

"If he did it would be a FAMILY TINKLE!"

So Lucy has been extra adorable and thoughtful this week. Which is making up for her WANTING to help in the kitchen, but not really wanting to do any actual work except stick her fingers in the peanut-butter-cookie batter and then lick them.

I also gave her a sip of my tea the other day and she said "I LIKE it! Tea IS for children!" So when I was making tea today I made her her very own cup, which she hemmed and hawed at and then totally refused to drink. Grrrr.

And Ed has taken to sleeping anywhere except his own bed. I think he figures that if he's not in bed he can't actually be sleeping -- but then he crashes in Lucy's bed (as on Friday), or under his bookshelf (Monday), or under his rocking chair (later Monday), or right in the middle of the floor (tonight). Crazy panda.

Oh! The cloth diaper update! That's what I was forgetting. Well, we are nearing the 48-hour mark. He has gone #2 once each day and honestly, the biggest difficulty so far was trying to change him this afternoon at the Watsons' when he was caked in mud head-to-toe. It was the "outer" mud that was the trouble, not the "inner"... if you know what I'm sayin'.

Truly so far so good. Again still working on the technique. But other than that, it's not ANY more difficult than disposables. I did an extra wash-load of diapers-only this morning, so that was one extra thing I did, but really, turning a dial and scooping a teeny scoop of detergent is minimal extra labor. He soaks through his prefold pretty good in a couple hours but I haven't noticed any leaking. Both naps (yesterday and today) were just fine with one prefold, and last night was a breeze in the bumGenius. Tonight we're trying a prefold overnight and I'm a little nervous about him being soaked in the morning. I just don't have a fold that fits him just right, yet. We'll see.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Her is

Saw "The Pajama Game" at BCT on Saturday, with Jean (my constant theatre companion -- we decided it freaks out my theatre friends to see two of me sitting in the front row during a performance). It was EXCELLENT! Super-professional, not that I expected any less, and all the individual performances were nuanced, interesting, and funny. Not to mention I knew a batch of the cast (Ed Williams who was involved in every show I did at BCT, Heather Paulson from when I was in Joseph now-almost-5 years ago, Tom Danford who was Coach Bolton in HSM, and Ryan Halliday who was a beedle-dee-dee with me in Cabaret).

So I've had the song "Her Is" stuck in my head ever since. I don't actually know any of the words but it was a really cute number. Once I was able to CHOKE back my jealousy, that is.

Her is... the kinda girl who's trying to be more crunchy, isn't her?
Her is.
Her is... crazy to be trying out cloth diapers, isn't her?
Her is!

Ed is on cloth diaper #3 of the day (and of his life, if you don't count the towel we had to use one evening at Jean's house when we totally ran out and it was Easter so the stores were all closed) -- and so far, not terrible! Other than the fact that my technique sucks (so it takes me, like, 10 minutes to get the new one pinned in place), so far it hasn't really been much different from a 'sposies day. ('Sposies is short for "disposables" -- cloth diapering is so cool that it has lingo.)

I don't know a single other person cloth-diapering who might read this, but just FYI I'm going the cheapo route -- I bought a dozen unbleached Chinese Diaper-Service Quality Premium-size prefolds, two Prorap snap covers, and one BumGenius 3.0 set. I'd planned on using the BumGenius for overnights but the more I read, the more it sounds like the prefolds will actually be great overnight. I'm excited and there are to date TWO FEWER disposable diapers in the world's landfills.