My online journal.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Uh-oh, two 4-year-old girls are ganging up on Eddo...

Just a quick Monday-afternoon (hah! That's when I started writing this. But it's Wednesday now and the following still applies:) check-in before I have to go tackle some laundry and dishes and prep for my dance class...

The Kalahari waterpark was SUPER FUN, as long as you remembered to bring all your own food and snacks, as prices at the resort are insaaaaane. We arrived around 2pm Saturday, checked in and swam until 5pm when the kids totally melted from all the excitement. (We did not actually remember to bring our own snacks, but Joel's parents brought some stuff and now we know the story for next time.)

Part of said excitement came as we started to explore the waterslides. There are, bafflingly, very few height/weight restrictions for waterslides, so when I saw that one was OK for people above 42" tall, I thought, heck, Lucy can go on that! So she and I walked up to the top, and I told her how to lay (legs crossed, hands behind head) and I told her I would meet her at the bottom. I went first, knowing she'd need help getting herself out of the pool at the end.

I then spent MY whole ride (maybe 20 seconds?) and HER whole ride (another 20?) completely convinced that I had killed her. The slide was SCARY. It's pitch-black, it's FAST, it's SPLASHY, and it's super twisty-turny. It way surpassed my appetite for thrilling, and when I got to the bottom I realized the guy at the top would send Lucy right away, and there was nothing I could do to stop her from having the same terrifying experience. When I saw her little body coming out the chute, laying back (as I told her to do) but looking limp and lifeless, I thought for sure she had perished from shock. I pulled her from the water and she opened those big blues and to my total amazement, she didn't cough or spit water or even cry. She mentioned it was scary and didn't want to go again. Her heart wasn't even really pounding. She was happy to go back in the water but we didn't do any more slides that day. The next day, however, to my total shock and amazement, she went back on a whole bunch of (other, brighter, slower, MUCH less-scary) waterslides all by herself, or with Joel or Donna or me on a tube. What a trouper. On the other hand, it took three or four whole days for me to completely recover. It was an awful feeling.

In other learning-to-let-go news, yesterday we visited a preschool for Lucy for next year. It's the Community of Peace Academy charter school, so it's free, and it would be 3 or 5 full days a week next year. We liked it, and Lucy and Ed LOVED it, but we have several other visits yet to make. It's so weird to think that in 8 short months, we'll be kissing her goodbye several days a week. And Ed will follow the next year. Sob!

OK so just a couple around-the-house sort of things. We've been composting since the summer. We take all our fruit and vegetable peels/seeds/leftovers, bread crusts/crumbs, small bits of paper, egg shells, coffee grounds and filters, and basically anything that's not plastic, meat, or dairy, and we toss it in a big pile in the yard. I *think* the plan is to use some of the year-old compost in the garden, as mulch or fertilizer or whatever. Composting is important because it keeps food items out of landfills. Organic material, when crammed into a landfill and left unexposed to air, contributes to toxic gas output. It also decreases the amount of garbage our household produces. Now that we're composting, I swear ALL we throw out are plastic bags. Literally -- our trash is FULL of the plastic bags that come with lunch meats, cheeses, bread, produce, etc. Plus the yogurt/cottage cheese tubs that we, inexplicably, can't recycle here. It is so gross.

I'm also particularly proud of some of the food choices we're making around here, so I'm sharing just in case anybody else cares to talk about healthy eating for families. I just made a $69 shopping trip where, as I looked over my receipt, I found I'd bought almost exclusively whole foods -- fresh and frozen fruits and veggies, no-sugar peanut butter, plus cheeses, eggs, milk and butter. Stuff that "remembers where it came from" and still shares characteristics of its original food or animal source. I did get some jarred preserves, but even those were reduced-sugar kind.

The menu that spurred that trip looks like this:

1. Lucy likes "egg in a hole" where I cut out the center of a piece of whole-wheat bread, then fry the bread in a skillet and break an egg into the center. She'll sometimes eat 2 of these if she's hungry.
2. Ed eats oatmeal -- I buy the quick-cook kind, and toss it in a bowl with raisins, cut-up dates (NOT the pre-cut sugared kind, but the date-shaped, unsweetened whole dates. They're not super-easy to find, but worth it!) and very-finely-chopped walnuts (I make it almost like walnut-dust, and he doesn't even notice it, but it adds good fat to the bowl). It took a while, but I weaned him off any sort of added sugar.

Listen, my kids LOVE PBJ. I don't fight it; I buy no-sugar peanut butter and low-sugar preserves, and whole-wheat bread. I serve it with milk and some kind of fruit on the side.

This week I made my mom's spaghetti sauce with tons of extra veggies, because I only had half a pound of italian sausage. I used carrots, green peppers, mushrooms, onion, spinach, and some frozen tomatoes from my garden last summer. I served it with whole-wheat spaghetti noodles and some super-treaty french bread (white! argh!) with real garlic and butter and some mozzarella cheese on top. I also made a spinach-zucchini-mushroom-green pepper salad for the side.

Tomorrow I think we're doing some pork stir-fry with more veggies and some fried rice on the side. Friday night is my mom's Nothing-For-Dinner recipe, which is just brown rice under a heated can of black-bean soup under some veggies (green peppers and mushrooms, probably) under some melted cheese.

2 funny kid phrases I need to write down: Lucy comes at me with an inside-out shirt and says "Mom, can you unside this out for me?" And she also pronounces upside-down "up-spy-down". And Ed says "airplane" like "urplane". And about a million others.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Eddie says "I want foot-jamas! Mama where's my SWORD?"

Joel's parents rented a room at the Kalahari resort in the Wisc Dells for tonight (they are going to a wedding for a friend of Julie and Jamie), so we are slowly getting woken up and packed for a day at the water park... and whatever else this place has to offer. Joel said something about go-karts and an indoor driving range. We'll see! It's exciting to get a bit of a getaway in this season.

March 4 (the Wednesday before he turns 3) has been set for Ed's teeth-extraction surgery. Any prayers or power available, please send 'em our way (and the doc's and anesthetist's way as well). I'm not really sure what I can do to prep Ed for the experience -- apparently Children's Hospital has pre-op videos for kids to watch online, but the links are broken at the moment.

This was our Dec. 29 attempt at building a gingerbread house. The homemade sugar-glue worked like a charm -- but much of the house was broken at the start, so we ended up making gingerbread boards. They still tasted great.

The next 3 pix are from last Monday. Temps in the 20s felt like a tropical paradise! I shoveled with no coat and no gloves on and I actually considered eating lunch outside, for about four seconds. There was much happiness in Gronauland.

We wished our friend Josie a very happy 4th birthday! Lu and Jo put on quite a show for us, modeling some of Jo's new dancewear.

Monday, January 19, 2009

...And I've never been to Boston in the fall

MPR cancelled my favorite program, the 89.3 Morning Show with Dale Connelly and Jim-Ed Poole, but you can get it streaming online, which has actually been better for me, since I used to miss all but the final hour of the show since I'm not typically awake enough to turn on the radio before 8am. So NOW I can start listening whenever I want, and I'm guaranteed up to 3-4 hours of folk music every day! It's seriously my favorite thing.

The kids are suffering a bit of post-Christmas letdown. If Christmas is over, they question, why do we still have the Christmas cards hanging up? Why do we still see Santa statues in peoples' lawns? How come we never made a wreath out of branches from the tree in our yard, like you once accidentally thought out loud, Mom? When is it Christmas again? If Christmas is over why is there still snow outside? Why is it still so dark at dinnertime? Why didn't Santa bring us a cat? Why is our Christmas tree out in the yard in a snowbank? WHEN IS IT CHRISTMAS AGAIN!??!?

We had a lovely relaxing weekend, though staying in snowy Minnesota meant we had to miss my cousin Amy's wedding to Dan. It sounds (and looks from the pix sent by my cousin Kate) like it was a blast! Congratulations, you two.

Lots of exciting things going on around here -- we made the decision to wait another year before sending Lucy to kindergarten (her birthday is Sept 2 and the cutoff is Sept 1) so we've applied her to attend the St. Paul Public Schools' pre-K program in the fall. Acceptance is on a lottery system, so now we wait. And, in the meanwhile, visit the schools we'll have to consider if she doesn't get into the SPPS program.

Ed is (without his knowledge) soon having surgery to remove his badly-mangled 2 front teeth. You might remember that he bonked them in November '07, which chipped one tooth (and also cracked it up into his gum) and greyed the other front tooth. Since then I can think of at least 2 other times he's whacked them. The teeth were stable for a while, but right before Christmas he got an infection way up in his gum from the cracked tooth. Antibiotics took care of it until the doc could look at it -- and he suggested either a baby-root-canal or just pulling the teeth. Since Ed's only 2 and therefore A. highly likely to keep falling on his face, and B. not getting his permanent teeth for at least 3-4 more years (thereby increasing the window in which an infection could recur), we decided to go with the extraction. Now we're just waiting to hear when the doc can meet us at the hospital -- probably in February. Ed will have to have general anesthesia, which makes me VERY nervous. All we can really do is trust the doctor and God's plan for us. More updates will come as we find out the date.

In other news, I am now my kids' dance teacher! We adore Miss Lee at Linwood, but my teaching my own kids saves us $40 a month... and I was getting tons of requests from ECFE parents to teach a class in the studio at the Dayton's Bluff Rec center. There was so much interest, I'm teaching 2 sections, and it is SO much fun to be working with the younger age group again! I have a couple older kids (age 6-10) in the Wednesday group, but several 3-4-year-olds as well. We have an absolute blast.

I'm also co-directing three-ish productions of Pirates! The Musical, opening this week at the Maplewood Community Center. This is for kids grades 1-6, and I'm working with an Ashland group (kids from the community), a group from Oakdale Elementary, and a group from South St. Paul. I even co-wrote one of the scenes -- maybe I have a future as a playwright! If you have kids, you might want to bring them to see the show -- it runs this weekend through the first weekend in March. See The show is only about an hour long, and not scary-piratey at all. Just VERY silly-piratey.

I mentioned before that I was auditioning for Seussical, but it turns out I am not actually going to be involved in the show. I went to an audition at the Ordway (it's a professional theatre in St. Paul that often hosts touring shows) on Saturday for Singin' in the Rain, and I was immediately cut. So my ego's been taking a couple hits here and there. *shrug* Such is life.

Oh but here's a wild story! So a couple weeks ago I was watching "Superstars of Dance" which is TOTALLY a guilty pleasure because it's a ridiculous show, and they had a Bollywood number on, and I got all up in arms because I SWEAR I don't understand Bollywood dancing at all. Joel and I had a lengthy discussion about it (meaning I kind of went off for a few minutes, and he patiently nodded while keeping one eye on Michael Flatley), which ended with me saying I really didn't think I would dance any worse than these supposedly-highly-trained Bollywood dancers.

The very next day I got an email from a gal who's taken ballroom dance lessons from me in the past -- she and her boyfriend are getting married and REALLY want to do a Bollywood number for their first dance. I could just about hear God laughing: You think you're so talented? Let's just see about that. Anyway, I'm not sure it's still happening (I mean, I'm sure they're getting married but not certain I'll be involved), but the timing was really impeccable.

OK I've got more but I need to go shovel. Happy Monday and Happy Inauguration Week!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Spectacular! Spectacular!

This is NOT, and I stress NOT, the "Christmas Show" I was in.

This, however, IS the First Annual Gronau Christmas Talent Show/Pageant, held Christmas Eve in Monticello, Minn., directed and produced by my dearest darlingest mother-in-law, Donna Gronau.


The kids singing Seussical

I think Joel must've taken this. Hope you get a kick out of it!

Seussical auditions on Monday. Wish me luck!

Someone please let me know if this works!

Trying to add a video. Let me know whether it works -- there's lots more to come!