Saturday, September 26, 2009


Freedom Farm Therapeutic Riding Center (
"Freedom of:

Freedom from:



Freedom to:


...and just BE.

We love this place, and can not describe in enough detail the benefits it has given our daughter. A place where she gets to, ....well..... all of the above. A sense of normalcy and accomplishment in an otherwise persistently difficult world.

Ride on, dear daughter, we are so proud of your strength and determination. We love you so much!
Melissa would like to thank all those family and friends who have donated to Freedom Farm...this wonderful, volunteer run, life-changing, amazing place would not be able to continue without your help!!! And thank you to Grandma & Grandpa C, and Grandma ? & Lyle who never fail to be Melissa's #1 fans (next to Mommy & Daddy, of course)!!!

Oh....and Bethany rolled over this morning....but nobody saw it because we were all busy getting ready for the horse show and settling the sick kids before we left. But I guess she has a little more freedom of movement now, too!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Singin' in the Rain

As sickness settled over our home this week, smiles were often difficult to come by. But when the rain (which we have not seen in nearly one month) began to fall this afternoon, it was impossible to keep these cute little sickos in the house due to the exciting temptation of fun that it offered.

In nothing but their stay-at-home-from-school-sick-kid pajamas.

And a couple of umbrellas.

With all the giggling and smiles, you'd think they were at Disneyland. Or I suppose, more appropriately, Sea World.

These two are so adorably having a front row seat at my own personal comedy club: where all the jokes are clean & innocent, and all the talent is entirely kissable!


This week was a long one. We thought we had Swine Flu. I think it was more likely a run of the mill cold. Regardless, it made for lots of tired, crabby, sad, runny-nosed little tykes around here. It was kind of tough. But through it all, I found myself to somehow manage a few demonstrations of inspiration.

Photographing my baby.
I obviously do not know what I am doing here, but I like to pretend that I know how to take really neat pictures.

Cleaning the table.
Seriously, this clutter has been here for months. I will spare you from all the photos I took during cleaning time...every 15 document progress. This literally took me ALL DAY to accomplish. But it was worth it as we actually got to USE our table for dinner, and the cookie jar in the center was even filled with homemade peanut butter cookies.

Baking bread.
At my dad's retirement party, I met another highly smart individual (who was basically responsible for setting up the Symposium) who also happens to have a bread baking hobby and has co-authored a book in print called "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day." After reading about his book, and checking out his website, I knew I HAD to have the book, and it arrived on Tuesday (as did my new SHARP knives for cutting the bread!). Dr. Jeff Hertzberg is a delightful fellow who held my baby before I even realized he was famous.

This bread is way too easy, and completely fabulous. When the kids had it for dinner the first night, Jonny said, "Wow, Mom. This tastes just like the kind of bread you get at restaurants with the dipping oil." Yeah, it's that good! This is their new book which I am anticipating later next month:

Start your own, beginning at

Basking in God's Love.
Sure, this might sound corny to some, but when you feel it, you FEEL it. And there is nothing at all corny about it! I have been reading "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan, and good golly, does it awaken your heart to what God has intended for you as His precious and beloved child. Seriously, you know how much you love your own kids? Well God loves you infinitely more than that. I know we all know that, but stop and THINK about that for a moment. Isn't that incredibly AMAZING?!? If I were a bazillionaire, I would be sending this book (along with a Bible, if needed) to each and every person I know.

Go here: and read some of the first chapter, and watch a video. Go NOW. Then grab your Bible and bask in God's love for you as you study His word. God loves YOU!

And I am holding out for more inspiration next week!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

30 Days!

Hi everyone! Jonny here. Today I'm writing the blog, which means it's thirty days until my birthday! Well I'm here to give you the monthly status report of me and the animals I take care of.

Marcus- My little gray hamster. He's doing fine, but living in his own personal bathroom. He also seems to enjoy the company of me and my siblings, (especially Thomas.) Marcus doesn't bite too much anymore, and likes when people pet him on the back. (Not his head! Trust me.) But Marcus is healthy and is nine months old today (sharing the same birthday number as me).

OrangeFishMale- He's doing fine. Seems to bother all the other fish, as he's the only boy.

OrangeFishFemale- She's just your average everyday fish, as she just swims around, and gets fed every twenty-four hours.

SilverFish- She seems to be very sick, as her entire face has turned purple.

Orange&BlackFish- Maximillion is doing just great too. She seems to take care for the four baby fish, keeping them safe and swimming with them.

TwinFish- The twin fish is doing all right too and healthy.

BabyFish- The baby fish are all doing fine. Mom says they're girls, but we don't know. But the four of them stick together, along with Maximillion.

Brietta- Brietta is being just a great dog. Healthy, plays with us, and doesn't go crazy as much anymore. But the Bernese Mountain Dog sure does like this 30mph wind.

Me- I feel better now. After going through a possible flu, along with my family, I seem to be fine. At school however, somebody got expelled after threatening a sixth grade girl with a knife to the neck. So now I'm really considering homeschool, however now Mom won't let me... but I'm in band and choir, and it's going fine there.

That's all for now... see you all in 30 days!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Nickle Dickle 2009

Getting beyond the silly name for the annual city-wide celebration in our town, Nickle Dickle Day is something we look forward to each year. In fact, I attended this event with Grandma ?, Papa Don, and the kids nearly one year before moving was a part of my searching for a new town to live in. And charmed us, it did do.
What used to be a small town event has turned into a day filled with 10's of thousands of people. At times, the crowds tend to rival those of the County Fair. Craft and food vendors line the city park, while music fills the air, and fun and games for the kids abound. Bounce houses of all sizes, hula hoops and limbo sticks, mini donuts, sno cones and cheese curds, spending a glorious day outside with Grandmas and Grandpa....what more could you want?
The Tickle starts off our morning----the little 1/2 mile race for the younger folk. Crispy and Laura were the only brave kiddos from our house to participate this year. Crispy had many little buddies to run with.

Laura was accompanied by Tubby, Bethany, The Beast, and I.
Last year, Laura was the absolute last kid to cross the finish line. This year would have resulted in the same outcome had it not been for the preschoolers who started five minutes after her group began the run. No matter. She tries her best, works so hard to move those little legs, and works even harder to keep them moving. I couldn't be more proud of her.

Four weeks ago, the first clue to the hidden Nickle Dickle Day medallion was given in our local paper. As we do every year, we collected the clues each week, and searched in the places we thought it may have been hidden.

We have searched.
And searched.
And searched.

And have never found it. Not even when it was hidden in the park just behind our house. We have never even been close. Though this year, we walked very near it while searching in areas all around the hidden medallion. But someone else searching that night in the park too, beat us to it. Rats. And we were going to buy a trampoline with the award money! Well, at least we are getting closer, and smarter with figuring out these clues. We'll get it next year!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Great Day for a Great Guy

My dad has been trying to retire from the U of MN for forever. He has devoted more than 40 years of selfless service to that establishment. Earning grants for important research programs, teaching medical informatics in medical school classrooms, serving as mentor to countless up and coming enthusiastic medical and engineering students, spending countless Saturdays in the pathology research labs, developing a health informatics program to be utilized in real world hospitals and clinics on the side, travelling to exotic parts of the world such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, and all over the US to implement and problem solve such programs, helping to head up a new cancer center off site, and having a list of degrees behind his name too long to fit into one blog post. He has put in SO MANY hours at the University...and that is not even counting the endless hours of work time at home. And honestly, has received very little thanks for his efforts over the years. That is, until today.

A wonderful Symposium was planned in honor of my father and all of his contributions over the past 4 decades. Professors, students, colleagues, and close friends, all took turns behind the podium, thanking my dad for what he's done, on professional, communal, international, and personal levels. The positives poured forth, as well they should, for more than 3 hours. Like a popular "Roast" without all the mean insults, or a funeral eulogy where you are not actually dead( I prefer the Roast analogy), it was so wonderful to hear the compliments about my father....I already KNEW all the great things about him, but it was so FABULOUS to have him hear about those things thought by others, too!

My dad had a few (like 40 minutes worth) of words of acknowledgement to others, including to my mom and us kids....

Though my dad has been so incredibly busy over the years, he certainly made us all feel special. Yes, he worked long hours, and yes, he was on many business trips for many days out of the month. But when he was spending time with us, he was SPENDING TIME WITH us. He was all there. The nature walks and hikes through the county park trails in the fall, cross-country skiing through the golf course in winter, games of Mastermind, Triominos, and Balderdash, and the weekly reading of the Sunday comics. Because of the QUALITY of that time spent, I never felt my dad was "missing" anything.

My brother flew in from Florida for this grand event, and my youngest brother was able to secure the day off. Bob just happened to be in between meetings during his busy day, which allowed me to attend, when I previously thought there was no way I could go, what with all the comings and goings of such little people I am responsible for throughout the day. There was a fancy reception following the Symposium, and an even fancier dinner following that at Nicollet Island Inn. That place is gorgeous! And catered to us well. From attending to my nursing baby's needs for privacy to the delectable 13 layer German Chocolate cake, it was a most wonderful experience...especially since I am in no way, no how, accustomed to fancy restaurants of any kind!

When it was all said and done, my hardworking and humble dad was able to relax with a sigh as the spotlight on him was dimmed. He had been so surprised by all the wonderful and nice things people had said about him all day long. I was surprised that he had been surprised. He is so wonderful, that I thought he must certainly realize that. I guess that just goes to show us that even the best of us have a warped view of who we are on the outside. And that's too bad, because I am certain that God would so love to have us view ourselves as how He has created us....perfectly and wonderfully made. I can see that in my dad, and I hope he will be able to see that in himself too, for all of his many years to come.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just a Few Baby Pics

Somebody turned 4 months old today.
In the past 4 months, we have seen a lot of this:

A VERY LARGE and challenging amount of it.

So, we have been beyond thrilled that lately, we have been seeing much more of THIS:

Thanks to good 'ol Zantac, and the passage of a bit of time, Bethany has become a much more content little girl.

And we are very glad about that. As is she.

She remains petite and small at 11.5 pounds, finally filling into 0-3 month sized clothing.

She is rather talkative and communicative to everyone willing to chat with her.

She is quick to return a sweet little smile.
Her eyes sparkle now with more happiness where once they only sparkled with sad tears.
She is thoughtful and contemplative, as she watches all the bustling activity around her.
She is interested in all she can see, and enjoys spending time watching the butterflies flit above her head.

She is soft and still fuzzy, and has such a wonderful, delicious baby smell.
And STRONG! This girl tries to sit up whenever possible, and has been "crawling" since her third week on her belly. She is just a poke shy of rolling over.
Gone are her preemie/fetal looks, and in their place is emerging a rather beautiful little girl.
Funny faces, with raspberry noises.
Her sense of humor and joy for life are emerging.
And now, when we are asked how Bethany is doing, it is a pleasure to say, "She is simply lovely."
Happy 4 Month Birthday, Baby Bethany!!!!