Friday, November 28, 2008

O Christmas Trees.....

Bob went back to work this morning after dropping Michael off at the hockey arena at 5:45 AM. Bob is feeling just weak and tired. He had patients to see, and tonight was the unveiling of the Glencoe Christmas tree light show that has occupied most of his November. He couldn't afford to miss today.
The kids and I spent the day working on our own Christmas lights projects that Daddy had left us a list for. He is very behind on our lights because of the time involved on the Glencoe project. It seemed like things kept going wrong at every turn, and the entire project took nearly 10 times longer than expected. We were doing our best to pitch in today.

Alex and I worked on setting up the mini mega trees. Each one took about an hour, but with two of us and eight trees, we were able to finish by early afternoon. They look pretty neat, with 32 strings perfectly positioned on each one, and it will be fun to see them all plugged in at one time to see how they work together.

While we worked on that, the other kids decorated our regular indoor Christmas tree. Daddy had put beautiful new lights on it last night while we were at Grandma's, so it was all ready for ornaments today. Ususally, I am stuck with this task every year. But this year, the kids were all excited to help out. Even little Tubby was doing his part. This was my first year pretty much unsupervising them after a list of general instructions regarding ornament placement. They did a pretty nice job spreading them out amongst the various branches. The pile of ornaments requiring surgery however, seemed to be a bit larger than normal. Oh well, thank goodness for super glue.
At 4;15, we needed to leave to get to Glencoe on time for the big light show reveal. Alex had wanted to drive us out there, but to his disappointment, it was really important that we get there on time, so he had to wait for the drive home. The kids, on the other hand, were relieved by this turn of events (as they had not yet recovered from our drive home last night)...especially the neighbor girl who was with us. The parking lot was packed by the time we arrived, and a few hundred people were standing out in the lot, waiting for the show to begin. The donation box was frequented by many who were able to purchase a light, string of lights, a tree, a song, or a whole day dedicated in their loved one's memory. As we waited in the cold, we saw Daddy Elf skip by on his way to the control booth. Tubby and Laura were most excited to see him. Soon after, Santa appeared at the end of the block.....neither Tubby nor Laura wanted any part of getting close to that funny looking dude.
A long list of introductions and thanks, followed by a crowd countdown, and the light show finally began. The 30 foot metal pole "tree" was impressive and fun. Massively beautiful through all five songs Bob had programmed. He has talked about making one of these in our backyard. After seeing it in action, it would be nice to watch one out our living room window. Lots of "ooo's" and "ahhhh's" came from the crowd throughout the show. This has probably been one of the most exciting things to happen in Glencoe in several years! Below is video of the Christmas light show...all four songs, in Glencoe. Click on the link, then click on the big "Let there be lights!" circle in the middle of the page, and play the video at the bottom of the page:

After the awesome show, we were all invited inside for cookies, cocoa, and a visit with Santa. The line was huge and so very slow going. We finally gave up on it after 30 minutes, and opted for just cookies and cocoa. A visit to Santa would have to wait. We visited with the Elf for a bit as we found a quiet and cool space in a corner, out of the too large and hot crowd containing lots of crabby kids by that point. We were all proud of that Elf, and it was fun to see other kids excited to get their picture spontaneously taken with Santa's helper. When the line subsided, we went up to see the big guy.....Laua and Tubby began to cry, and shrunk back in fear, the older boys were just too old, the neighbor girl had a sudden bout of extreme shyness (I have NEVER seen this little chatter-box shy), and only Melissa was brave enough to walk right up there and talk to Santa. Crispy and Jonny followed at least 3 of the kids might be getting something for Christmas this year.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Today there is much to be thankful for.

After a fairly restless sleep for all of us, we started our day lazily enough around 8am. We had all been worried about Daddy, and it even affected the kids. Laura was found asleep on the bathroom floor, Crispy was found in some random spot in his room, and I had had two visitors walk through my bedroom at strange times without saying a word. Usually nights are quiet at our house, without any creatures stirring. I am thankful we have a comfortable home and a safe place to sleep.

The kids had some breakfast, then went to work on their annual "Thankful" pictures to hang on the wall. It has been fun to watch the kids' pictures evolve over the years, and in the case of my oldest two, regress back to stick figures and minimal intent. Generally, they are all thankful for our family. That is good. I am thankful for my kids.

Daddy finally turned the corner last night around 2am, and things started working for him again. He was doing well enough to come home from the hospital early this afternoon! Hooray! The kids were so excited, and talked about all the big hugs they were going to give him when he arrived. Bob looked a million times better when I picked him up, and it was so good to see him back in a "normal" state. And after a quick nap, Daddy was dressed in his suit again, and headed out to work on the Christmas lights. He only made it out there about 30 minutes before he came in realizing he was too weak and unsteady to be up on that huge ladder. I was glad he made that decision, because I was thinking the exact same thoughts as I was watching him from the window. I am very thankful for my husband.

We all spent a few hours working on Christmas light projects and putting up the inside tree. Bob wanted to rest, so I took the kids down to the farm for a Thanksgiving feast with Grandma and Lyle's family. They had an enormous abundance of food, and no one went away hungry. A few of us could not even shovel in any dessert an hour later. Before eating, we stood together for prayer and thanksgiving. My kids again reiterated being thankful for family, as did I. I am also thankful we have a personal God who loves us individually so much that He provides for us our every need.

The kids had fun playing with some of the other kids there. Melissa and Jonny put on a little play for us after dinner that Melissa had been planning for days. It was a cute little Thanksgiving story about finding "family" in unusual places (and finding your eye when it accidently pops out of your head). With the turkey coma quickly setting in, the kids and I had to make our departure and long 60 minute drive in the dark country back home. To combat my sleepiness, I let Alex drive us home.....the whole way. That "exciting" drive kept me awake, no problem.

Once at home, safely in the driveway (minus the scrape up against Daddy's truck), we were all quite thankful for still being alive.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Daddy's Down

It's been a week since posting again, and things are much the same. Lots of hockey practices, lots of church play rehearsals, too many therapy dates and doctor appointments, and way too many Webkinz lying around. Laundry and cleaning are constant with no results to be seen. Cook, eat, clean, cook, eat, clean. *sigh*

Bob has been home this week working diligently on his Christmas display. All the kids have been enlisted this year and have had various jobs. I was even assigned stringing of mini mega trees that I could complete in the house while Tubby helped by handing me lights and the "sticks"(zip ties) I needed. Pots of coffee have been guzzled by my husband as he has been bundled in his snowsuit and special arctic explorer boots, working the days and nights away in the cold.

That all caught up to him today.....he came down with horrible, intense stomach pains with which caused him to double over and barely be even able to move. His whole intestinal system had stopped sometime yesterday afternoon. He needed to go to the ER....and wanted to go all the way to Glencoe (?!?!?)....and was planning on driving himself. Seriously, the man could not even straighten up enough to look forward, and thought he was going to drive 20 miles? He did have enough common sense left to finally submit to my driving him instead.

That was the longest 25 minute drive I have had in a long time. Bob was hardly able to stand the pain, and it seemed like Glencoe was getting farther away than closer each minute. Tubby sat behind me, with a very concerned "Da-da?" coming from his sweet little mouth every few minutes. "Daddy has owies," was all I could say. He seemed to understand. Besides suffering through too many kidney stones to count(I stopped after 12), I have never been with someone else who has been in so much irretractable pain. It is awful. It is scary. You feel so helpless. There is absolutely nothing you can do. Except get to the hospital.

A little bit of morphine and some reglan provided a small but welcome respite for my poor husband. Blood work and an abdominal CAT scan came up negative for all the serious things they were looking for. What was discovered was a hiatal hernia with lots of reflux (we are still marvelling on how a CAT scan picked up reflux). If everything else continues to turn up negative, perhaps Bob can avoid a very unwelcome scoping procedure.

He's had a bad day. The pain has remained severe, with some small relief with medications. I guess it will just take time for everything to calm down so that the inflammation and gastritis can settle a bit. It was not fun to see my husband in a hospital gown....he's not suppose to get sick....he needs to keep our family going. When Daddy is down, then what do we do?

We prayed for Daddy. The kids wanted to visit him, but poor Daddy was not in any state for visitors...he had all he could do to just concentrate on making it through every minute. We went to Target and bought frozen dinners (the kids thought that was SOO cool!) and a new movie to watch tonight. We filled up our gas tank for less than $40 and got the truck washed. We mindlessly ate our dinner, and the kids played one of Jonny's new video games. We watched Wall-E, and the three littlest fell asleep on the couch. I am now awake by myself, hoping my husband is starting to at least feel a LITTLE better. I guess that is what we do when Daddy is not around.

But we didn't put up any Christmas lights today....we're sorry Daddy, but we CAN'T do that without you. Please get better soon! We love you and miss you very much!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Making Spirits Right

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, year after year, the whole purpose and point seems to become lost and buried under the never ending laundry list of things to do. Instead of celebrating the season, I find myself "failing" each day.....falling from "the list", not being able to find that perfect gift, not getting the cleaning done, not getting the holiday baking done, and never being able to decorate just right. There is always too much to do, too little time to do it in, and never enough time or energy to focus on priorities.

That's all just WRONG.

So, to help start this year's season off right, Pam and I took the kids to a wonderful Advent preparation evening at church tonight. It began with a simple soup supper, with plenty of tasty, homemade soups and breads, and of course dessert. We were entertained with a small but meaningful "Bustle of Christmas" skit, portraying the frazzled-ness we all put ourselves through every year. This was quickly followed by the touching music of Carol Zimmerman (who my mom, Pam, Mary, and her mom also had the pleasure of enjoying earlier this week at the Women's Holiday Dessert) who sang beautiful seasonal compositions of her own, to help us put our focus where it needs to be during this special season.....on our Heavenly Father up above, and to all our loved ones here on earth.

Once our hearts and minds were settled in their correct places, we participated in some meaningful family craft projects. The kids and I made a beautiful Advent wreathe for our home while Grandma took the very wriggly and loud baby for a walk. Then Grandma helped the kids collect Advent boxes which we will get to open every day in December until the day we celebrate the birth of dear baby Jesus.

I'm not sure how much the kids were influenced by this evening...but I know they had a lot of fun. I know Pam and I really appreciated the sentiments and break from the craziness the world spins on this most precious time of year. And I hope that this is just the beginning of taking the steps of not only "making spirits bright", but making spirits "right" as well.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

(November 12)

It's a big "tooth" month going on at our house. Laura, only four and a half, has just lost her second tooth! She discovered today that it was missing....who knows when or where it has gone. All the kids have lost their first tooth at age four....but they have all been very near their fifth birthday at the time. And certainly none of them had ever lost two at that age! After the trauma of losing the first one in the middle of October (see picture to the right), this new missing tooth was no big deal to her. Her older siblings were more concerned about it when they came home from school. Melissa immediately composed a letter to the Tooth Fairy on the computer on behalf of her younger sister:
"Dear Tooth Fairy~
This is Laura saying I have lost a tooth but I do not know when or where it is. Can you give me a toy or maybe two toys for my sister and me? You rock!
P.S. My sister Melissa helped me with the typing.
Laura & Melissa"

All was well when Laura woke up the next morning with three miniature tubs of Play-Doh under her pillow. It's a good thing that fairies can read.

Now You See Them, Now You Don't!

(November 10)

Two years and two months plus two weeks all leading up to this day:

That's what $5000 can buy you these days!

Fall....ummm...Winter Hayride

(November 8)

Pam and Lyle had a wonderful hayride and bonfire party planned down at the farm to celebrate the fall season. Lucky for me, they were kind enough to incorporate Jonny and Auntie Barb's birthdays into the celebration plan also. I can not tell you how WONDERFUL it was to NOT have a birthday party at our house again. Sure, they are fun and all, but after 9 per year, plus separate kid parties, St.Patrick's Day, and our Christmas Eve gathering, this tired Mommy is pretty burnt out on parties at her house!

After what had been one of the most warm and gorgeous "Indian Summers" in recent history, the weather changed just a few days before party day, and our fall went to winter in about 12 hours flat. The wind whipped around mercilessly at 20-30MPH, blowing dustings of snow across the fields and roadways, while plunging the temperatures into the low teens at best. Instead of roasting hot dogs and s'mores on the bonfire, images of hunkering down under woolen blankets and warming our toes around the fireplace in the living room seemed much more appropriate.
Being the hearty Minnesotans that we are, I poured my kids into their snowpants and winter jackets, covered their heads and hands with appropriate apparel, and we climbed aboard the trailer for the planned upon hayride. IT....WAS.....SO......COLD!!!! Despite extra blankets and our winter gear, we found ourselves freezing and shivering as we toured the farmland for about 40 minutes near Madison Lake. Besides a few deer hunters we disturbed on our trail, and one crazy dog who thought he could outrun us, there was no other sustainable life to be found on this blustery winter's day. At one point, Uncle Alan stated he did not think his heart could take much was scary....I think he was totally serious. It was looking like my dad might have to utilize his CPR skills again! The kids had a blast anyhow, and even Alex got into it, playing some kind of balancing game with Jonny, and was enjoying himself in the out of doors. He'll need to toughen himself up for those cold Canadian winters once he leaves for college (thanks to Obama for scaring my son away). When we returned to the house, the two sane people who remained behind (my mom and Barb) greeted us warmly as we all tried to recover some much depleted body heat. The warm chili, hot apple cider, and fresh cornbread did just the trick.

The kids (12 in all) busied themselves with board games in the basement while the adults enjoyed uninterrupted conversation. I can not remember the last time that ever happened! The large farm house also provided a hide and seek sanctuary with plenty of nooks and cranies just perfect for little bodies to crawl into....this kept the interest of most of the kids for hours...literally. So though not quite the party as planned, no one was suffering from the lack of outdoor activity today. It was great.

Thank you Pam & Lyle for such a great day!

Camera Found...Now the Blogging May Resume


Pumpkin Day came and went this year in a flurry of activity as it always does. Being politically correct, the kids have a Fall party each year on "halloween" where they play games, make pumpkin crafts, get tons of candy, and even carve Jack-o-lanterns. Everyone is dressed in black and orange, as certainly no costumes are allowed. Any parent who even remotely cares about his/her child will dare not miss to make an appearance at some point during the festivities.

Being as organized as usual, Laura, Thomas, and I made a visit to the pumpkin patch that morning after dropping the kids off at school. Being the last day of October, pickings were slim, to say the least. After searching the fields for quite a while, we had to give up our efforts and succumb to settling for pre-picked pumpkins waiting for adoption in the pumpkin barrel. Some had quite interesting shapes and colors, but we were just happy at that point to have found seven that were not rotted from one end to the other.

Bringing Melissa's "fresh" pumpkin with me, I headed off to her school to assist her in a carving project. The cafeteria was jam packed with third graders elbow to elbow in pumpkin goo and guts. Little knives flailing about, and some kind of electric chainsaw carving device at one of the back tables. After about 3 revisions, Melissa decided on the face she wanted to carve, and we set to work. She did her best, and enjoyed being part of the creative process. A class picture revealed all the kids looking pretty satisfied with their end results. down, six more to go....all before dinner!

The beautiful warm weather of the day provided us the perfect opportunity to carve pumpkins out on our deck. There was plenty of room, little mess to clean up on the glass table top, and so lovely to be spending the time outdoors. I can't think of any other halloween being so is usually windy and freezing around here by this time of year. The kids each got to work carving their pumpkins from the minute they walked in the door from school. I think we had it all done in record time....certainly less than one hour. Nothing like leaving it all to the last minute!

A quick meal, some costume changes, and the kids were ready to gather candy by six. Thomas was adorable as he waddled around in a cozy penguin suit. By the second house, he was already onto the trick or treating thing, and was having great fun gathering candy into his little pumpkin bucket. Laura made a cute Tinkerbell, though she rarely left the wagon due to her irrational fear of animals that were potentially lurking behing each and every door. Crispy was Boba Fett from Star Wars, and Jonny was a backwards Darth Vader. Melissa was our pop star diva whose world was a stage that night.

Our house was amazing. Bob(Mario) had done up the trees in stobe lights and theater lighting shaded the front of the house. Lights danced and fog machines exhaled to the tune of Alvin and the Chipmunks' rendition of "Witch Doctor". Along with about 10 cute inflatables, our house was quite the attraction. This is nothing...they need to come back at Christmas!

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

After days of Laura trying to convince us that it's going to be Christmas "tomorrow" because Halloween is over, she's really got some ammunition today. We awoke to at least 2 inches of beautiful snow covering every tiny tree branch and each blade of grass. And it was still snowing! It looked like a winter wonderland out there, and the kids couldn't wait to get all geared up to try out the season's first batch of snow.
The kids quickly got dressed for school, then headed out onto the deck to grab their first handfuls of the sticky white stuff. Thomas was afraid of it, and refused to give it a try.....instead, he stood back with a grumpy, yet inquisitive face as he watched his older siblings happily playing outside. Crispy made a few snowballs and threw them at the window, making the familiar klunky splat sound that only comes with perfectly moist snowballs. The kids excitedly waited for me to search out their snow gear in high hopes they would be able to play in it at the school grounds. Sad for them, the "In Today" sugns were posted over the school entrance doors. Poor kiddos.

After watching the snow fall out the window for about 4 hours, and seeing how much fun Laura was having in it all by herself, Thomas finally was brave enough to give this snow stuff a try. I bundled him all up in body suit, boots, hat, and mittens, and he remained cooperative enough to keep it all on while I quickly grabbed a pair of boots and jacket. He even seemed happy about this new adventure awaiting him beyond the doors.

Laura, Thomas, Michael, and I enjoyed the fresh snow for about an hour, before Tubby was desperately needing a nap and couldn't go on. We made a snowman, threw some snowballs, tried to make a snow brick wall, and even did some sledding down the hill in the back yard. Thomas was a good sport most of the time, and enjoyed running through the snow. He did not like falling into it, but was easily responsive to shaking it off and moving on. Laura was having fun using the snowball maker and throwing her round little snow bombs at her mom. I was appreciative of all the fresh air and brisk temperatures after suffering through the summer temps of last week (yes, "sufferring")......ahhhh... this is more like it! If only I can get Laura to stop demanding to see Santa "right NOW"..........