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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

After School.

A very ordinary part of our day to day life. This is what our kitchen table looks like from 2:30pm until 3pm on school days.

T, M (in a cheerleading outfit since it was sports day at school) and H.

T works on math homework and the occasional vocabulary sheet. He is so good at just sitting down and getting it done so he can go out and play.

M, sometimes makes up homework assignments for herself , like last week when she came home with a 6-page packet that was 'supposedly' due the next day. I found out later it was a review/fun packet to keep at home. Today, she drew pictures showing the difference between cities, suburbs and rural areas.

And H, has to be a part of it all. He colors and requests help with his "homework" too.

This is the routine they know. They don't even ask to go outside this norm. They know, homework first and if no homework, we read and rest until 3pm. Then we play.

And of course, snack. Today's choice, banana chocolate chip coffee cake, what else?

Monday, September 29, 2008

This Is Not A Cooking Blog...

But I can't resist sharing a new recipe I tried last night.

Yes, it's apple season, and we have had more than our share of apples and apple pie lately. But last night with several ripe bananas on my hands I decided to try my hand at this yummy snack and dessert.

Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup margarine, softened
4 eggs
4 medium, ripe bananas
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 11 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Beat sugar, sour cream, margarine, and eggs in large bowl on low speed for 1 min.
Beat in flour, salt, and baking soda on medium speed 1 min.
Beat in bananas and vanilla on low speed for 30 seconds. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread in pan. Bake 35-40 minutes or until light brown on top. Cool in pan. Cut into two-inch bars.

(I just now noticed as I was typing the recipe that it only calls for 1 cup of chocolate chips. I used the whole bag.)

One of my favorite parts of fall is all the delicious baked goods and smells that begin again.

Apple pie. Biscotti. Coffee Cakes and Breads.

Do you have a special treat that reminds you of fall?

Share your favorite one (and it's recipe if you're so inclined) in the comments.

Friday, September 26, 2008

He Knows.

She had golden, aged skin. And big brown eyes. Shoulder length, thick, dark hair. With specks of grey you'd barely notice unless you stared.

But stare, he did.

"Grandma!" H yelled in the middle of the restaurant towards the woman I described.

"Shhhh." J quickly said, but I was so taken aback that I looked up.

And there sat a woman who could have very well been my mother's twin.

Not identical, not even exact. But enough for me to see the resemblance and enough for H, nine months after her death, to see her too.

He kept on staring. "Hi Grandma." He said.

Over and over.

Smiling at her, waiting for her to smile back.

Finally, when my heart had had enough, I told him, "That's not grandma, but you're right that she looks like grandma."

This woman looked like my mom before she was sick, before she lost her hair and before her body was weakened by the cancer, yet H, picked her out of a crowd. He remembered her as if no time had passed at all.

If there was ever any question if my son would know his grandma Nan, it's been answered now.

He does.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Politically Incorrect.

If you ever happened to be a fly on the wall during our dinners you would not be able to contain your laughter. Between three very vocal children and an entire day full of stories, we had to implement something to keep it all together. Each night each person gets a set number of either M&M's or candy corn or some other seasonal little treat and we go around and share things for each of our candies. This keeps the rotation going and also helps the kids thing of their most important/favorite things to share during dinner.

The kids pretty much always make us laugh about miscellaneous things but what M said last night just about topped them all:

"Today I learned Spanish since we had a Japanese substitute teacher. She's Japanese but she speaks normal human being too."

Before you start thinking we're raising ethnocentric little people, I want you to know we did let her know that the correct term is English, not "normal human being".

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In The News.

Can a zero tolerance policy go too far?

Today, in the Minneapolis paper, high school senior Tony Richards is allowed to return to school. He was originally expelled due to having a box cutter for his after school job in his car in the school parking lot. You can read the whole story here.

This is one of those times I'm thankful common sense seemed to kick in for most. However, I'd love to have a word with the one school board member who still recommended expelling this upstanding, quality student.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Truly Living.

Saturday night BBQ at Boppa's house.

Staying up past bedtime.

Watching Boppa make a fire.

Running around the yard in the dark and looking at the stars.

And like most visits to Boppa's, no visit is complete without a yummy, typically messy, dessert.

Enjoying the treat with reckless abandon.
Immune to the fact that there is more on him than in him.
That, my friends, is truly living.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Oh, Henry.

Friday already. My mind has been a buzz with lots of thoughts and stories and ideas to post here, yet the timing has been off. I can usually get to the computer at naptime or in the evenings but this week it's been nearly impossible to do more than just a quick email reply here or there. I ended up subbing two days this week at school. The days we were home found me trying to stay on top of things, appointments, a photo shoot and even some napping. I'm hoping that next week I get a big, huge energy burst because I have a list about two feet long I'd like to start getting checked off before baby beep beep arrives on the scene.

H, is at such a fun age. Oh yes, he is busy and at times crazy and at other times I just want to scream, but he is talking more and more every day and surprising me with his memory and the other things he seems to be learning and wanting to share.

Twenty-nine months old this last Wednesday. Here he is these days....I always said that there would be no Disney character Halloween costumes.

Yet, yesterday, not only did I buy him Lightning McQueen but I let him wear it out of the store and all the way home.

I was very aware of the dirty looks two other moms with kids gave me in the Halloween aisle at Target. I know they think I'm spoiling him, and maybe I am. But really? Is is so horrible to let him wear it home?

I had a million and one things I needed to get done before a photographer was to arrive at our house. And H, just played. He was so good and content playing with stacking dolls I got in Russia twelve years ago. I think of all the times I have complained about him being so busy and into everything and yet here, when I needed him to be occupied the most, he was.

Finally, yes, we are still potty training. And some mornings, like this morning, H really wants to wear his big boy underwear. I've explained over and over and over that once he goes potty in the potty all the time he can wear his underwear. Today, he decided that he would rather just wear them over his diaper.

Why is he stripped down to his diaper and underwear for nap? Let's just say his lunch made a mess of him and I didn't want the mess on my bed.

And why is he napping on my bed instead of his beep beep bed?

Because it is much easier for me to climb in and take a snooze with him in my bed, than his bed. Something else I swore I'd never do, take naps with my 2 year old. But not only do I need it these days, I also love it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Teachable Moments.

We had quite the night with M on Sunday.

Just about every night before bed she has had some sort of issue, question or concern whether it is an ache or pain or a question on the meaning of life. You know, normal delay tactics.

But Sunday, was a low point. Miss M "thought" she was sick. All. Night. Long.

Her throat hurt. Her head hurt. Her finger even hurt at one point.

At 4am, after getting maybe 4 hours of sleep, J decided he was going to work early.

"Why bother going back to sleep now?"

Finally, M fell asleep, without any current ailments. Except I still had to get up to get T out the door.

When M woke up at 7:30am and waltzed into the kitchen as if there was nothing wrong, I was in major disbelief.

"How's your throat?" I asked.

"It feels good when I eat, but otherwise it still hurts."

Along with her head and other various body parts.

We'd already discussed in the middle of the night that M would be staying home and we'd be making a trip to the doctor. She'd also have to miss out on an after school birthday party and her evening gymnastics class.

She didn't care. At the time, at least.

We went to the doctor, where she checked out 100% healthy. "Not even a cold." The doctor said.

But, it was time for her chicken pox booster and it's flu shot season. So the trip at least was worthwhile.

When we got home, M wanted to play on the computer. Or outside. Or with H.

Nope. Nope. And nope.

"What can I do?" She whined.

"You can rest or you can read. In your bedroom. That's what we do when we stay home from school."

That lasted a little bit and she came upstairs.

"I'm bored."

"I'm sorry to hear that. You're also home from school."

This went on for much of the afternoon. Needless to say, I was not high on Miss M's list of favorite people on Monday.

By the time J got home, M was ready to jump out of her skin.

"How are you feeling?" He asked when he got home.

"Much, much better." She told him, before she started complaining about the shot I made her get.

By the time bedtime rolled around, she was out like a light in moments and bounced up the stairs for school the next morning.

Monday was a teachable moment in M's life. While it was definitely not fun to have a sleepless night around here, it was something she had to learn. The hard way.

Yeah I could have brought M to school after the doctor checked her out and said she was fine. But then all she would have only learned that it's ok to stay up all night, keep everyone else up all night, sleep in the next day and go to school late. And it's definitely not ok.

It was a teachable moment. When you're home "sick" you miss out. It's boring. You rest. She needed to be bored and miss out a little bit, and while it was sad to not let her go to a birthday party or to gymnastics, I think the lesson was well received.
Unless you're really sick, you don't want to stay home from school.

Miss M. Hamming it up, as usual. Summer 2008.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Breath Of Hope.

This past Saturday was the Twin Cities Lung Cancer 5K and we had thirty (30!!) friends and family either walking or running as part of our team, Remembering Nan's Battle. It was an absolute blast, and even though the weather was less than desirable, we all made it through with smiles on our faces.

A failed attempt at a group photo. (We're missing four runners and four walkers.)
M and H getting ready to go. T is missing in action at this point because he had discovered the goody bags and the other miscellaneous free items that were donated by different clinics, companies and pharmaceutical companies.
I didn't really know what to expect this summer when I learned about this organization and this event. I knew that it was important to me to participate and I am so thankful that we had several friends and family members join us as well.
Friends and family members who are busy and have so many things in their own lives going on but yet were willing to give up one morning to do this.
Together, with over thirty registered participants (there were a couple that were sick), our team raised more than my original goal of $1000.
I'm not sure how much money was raised total for the organization but I do know that over 800 people participated and that was double the amount that participated last year. WOW!
It felt good doing something together for a cause that means a lot to me and my family.
THANK YOU for joining us. THANK YOU for donating money. THANK YOU for all your thoughts and prayers and support.
We'll be doing it again next year and my hope would be to have even more friends and family walking and running with us and to raise even more money for the research and treatment of lung cancer.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Quality Friday: Then & Now.

Some of the old baby equipment has been finding a home again inside our house. H really took a liking to the bassinet but after watching him fill it with cars and start pushing it down the hallway I decided we needed to nip that in the bud or our newborn will be treading on dangerous territory this winter.

We have cracked up more than once when we've turned our attention away and then find H sitting inside his old swing or exersaucer. What's amazing is to remember back how tiny he was at one time and just how much he has changed and grown since then.

Of course we know he has grown and changed but after looking through some old photos and actually seeing the changes, I almost couldn't believe he was the same babe. Sometimes I think it was so long ago that he was so small, other days it seems like just yesterday.

Here's some up close examples of then and now...


September 2006.
December 2006.

Now: September 2008.

Then:October 2006.


September 2008.


September 2006.


March 2008.

October 2006.


September 2008.


January 2007.


September 2008.


May 2006.


September 2008.

And T and M have changed and grown too....

July 2004.

September 2005.


September 2008.


September 2005.

September 2005.


September 2008.

Happy Quality Friday!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


There isn't much to be said today that hasn't already been said at some point in the last seven years.

This video expresses what my words could never possibly express.

"Give Me Your Eyes" Brandon Heath

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Beep Beep Bedroom.

No, H wasn't left out of all the basement excitement with new rooms and such. He moved into M's old room but not before J did some painting and I did some decorating, rearranging and turned it into a beep-beep paradise.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fall Mornings.

It doesn't appear that our morning routine will be getting old anytime soon. Well, at least for H, that is. Every morning the first words out of his mouth; "Bus Stop?" Out of my mouth; "Is it really already morning?"

Thankfully, T and M still have that beginning of school enthusiasm and they also love that their brother enjoys walking them to the bus stop.

A Breath Of Hope is now leaving registration open until Wednesday for this Saturday's 5K. Please let me know if you plan on walking or running with us and know that we'd love to have you as part of our team. (21 participants and counting! Not bad for our first year!)

Donations can still be made through Friday night at our team page. My dad has already agreed to match up to $500 of donations made since August 25th. He's at $225 so far. Please consider leaving a tax deductible donation towards the research and funding for lung cancer.

If you're new here you can read about how lung cancer has affected me and those closest to me, here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Chunk of my Heart.

"I don't want to alarm you." The voice on the phone said. It was my neighbor, Tom. "But H, is outside on the playset."

"What?!?" I said and then noticing that sure enough my little boy was not in the house.

I wasn't being negligent, I wasn't off in my own world. H even had two little playmates over and while I chatted with their mom, I assumed that the three were playing happily.

He came in, got dry, clean clothes on and I told him how dangerous going outside alone can be. And then we went about our playdate and then lunch at school with M.

It didn't quite hit me until I laid H down at naptime several hours later how scary that was.

Had I noticed that H was gone, my mind would have gone to far away and bad places. I would have unknowingly wasted time searching the house and then every possible scenario would have gone through my mind.

He could have run out into the road. A car could have been coming...

There could have been a stranger going by...

He could have wandered a few houses away to a marshy backyard...

Instead he was dirty from the playset, wet from the dew on the grass and shoe-less.

My heart has seemed to calm down since then. I realize I will do what I can not to let that happen again. I knew he knew how to unlock and open the screen door as he did it last week while I watched. I just didn't think he'd ever go out on his own or maybe that I'd hear him.

As I sat on H's bed after books and a song and prayer this afternoon, I realized this icky, yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach and how I couldn't possibly even grasp the loss of this little boy. I was mad that he went out the door, but more than that I was scared, I was sad that it had happened in the first place and I was mad at myself for letting such a thing happen.

Making the decision to have a child is momentous.
It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
-Elizabeth Stone

There is much truth to that old quote, because today I know that a chunk of my heart was walking outside (even if it was just the backyard playset) without me.

H. July 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008



I have no idea how we lived without this space before. While we're definitely still getting things situated (hanging pictures, taking care of window treatments, decorating, you know, the little stuff), we are taking advantage of our newest spaces and loving it.

Playroom/Living area:

The door on the left is the laundry room and the door on the right is the bathroom. You'll notice that all the door knobs already have child safety knobs on them.
Three doors here. One to a storage closet, next to M's room and next to T's room.
M's new room:
Yes, that's a chalkboard wall. T and M each have one chalkboard wall in their rooms. I love it. (And in case you're wondering, they do too.)
T's new room: