Friday, August 31, 2007

here's to you:


Your thoughts and love and good wishes and cyber hugs have made my heart feel so happy today. I sat down at my computer tonight and read through all of your messages and e-mails and had a good cry. I am still feeling a little soggy. But I certainly don't feel forgotten. Thank you all very much.
I am not very good at claiming my crappy feelings because I have made this ridiculous assumption that the world will only like me if I am happy. Thank you for your support and love and helping me to realize that my whole package is what makes me, well, me. Fruit loops and all.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

empty


I have had a perfectly awful day today. I really hate reading some one's blog when all they do is complain, so if you're not in the mood skip this one... but I guess that's kind of what I need to do today. It might be PMS. It might be early menopause. It might just be my life as it is today...
I am a teacher and a mom and a wife and a daughter and a friend and a niece and a neighbor and....
I am so tired of being "happy" when I feel so empty. Today, all I want is someone to notice me and see that I am drowning in all of this emptiness.
I want my husband to look at me. I want my children to listen and respond. I want the students to be fed and ready to learn. I want them to be kind to each other. I want them to be kind to me. I want my mother to scoop me up and hold me like I hold my daughters. I want my friends to reach out to me and notice my pain and listen when I hurt. I want to let my vines grow over the fence and listen while my neighbor thanks me for adding something beautiful to this world. I want the dog to get off of the bed so I can stretch out my legs. I want a complete stranger to tell me that I am beautiful. I want my daughters to tell me that I am beautiful. I want my husband to tell me I am beautiful and really mean it. I want to believe what all of those people tell me. I want what I don't have. I don't want what I do have. I want my parents to quit the lessons for the day. I want to hear less of what I "should" do or what I "could" do. I want to hear more of "that was just great." I want things to be easy. I want to have the energy to do the things that are hard. I want my bedroom to be painted and the laundry to be done and the bathroom to be cleaned and the windows to be washed and the children to be happy and the dog to be fed and the husband to be wealthy and the mortgage to be paid and the grass to be mowed and the fridge to be clean and the stairs to be swept and the basement to be clean and the flowers to bloom forever. and I want to be happy.
But I am a great actor. I always have been. It's what sets me apart from everyone else. And I will continue to act like I have it all together and I will reach out to those in need and I will ask for forgiveness when my vine is overgrown and I will comfort the students and feed the students and teach the students and I will be nice to everyone I see and I will listen to my children when they demand that I hear them and I will tuck up my legs so the big dog has room on the comfy bed and I will pretend that I feel beautiful and I will quit asking my husband if I am beautiful and I will pretend not to notice when nobody sees me and I will pretend not to care when nobody hears me and I will laugh at the jokes that I've heard too many times and I will listen to the lessons because I know that they are all just trying to help and I will act like I don't care if someone else ate the leftovers in the fridge that I wanted to eat even thought I hate leftovers, but this one time I really wanted what was once mine and I will swell up with nothing, growing more numb every day until it is winter and I can wrap myself in sweaters and scarves and coats and hats and then no one will really see the then. and no one will see the pain and the emptiness. And I won't tell them. I will laugh and smile with my pretty face. And everyone will love me. And life will go on. And I will care for everyone else in my life and I will be. Empty.
And tomorrow will be tomorrow. Maybe it will be different. Maybe not.
It is possible that I may not feel this way. Or maybe I will. But I know that I will be greeted with kisses and hugs from the kids and the husband and the dog and the persistent cat and the children and the friends and the sun will rise and take my breath away again and the problems will melt and the big ones will be survived and life will go on.

the great minnesota get together


Yesterday, we went to the Minnesota State Fair. The day itself could not have been more perfect. Sunshine and 75 - perfect by Minnesota standards. We walked and walked and walked and laughed a lot and no one was in a hurry and we drank a lot of lemonade.


The best think that happened all day was in the Miracle of Birth Barn. We arrived just in time to watch a momma cow give birth to a calf, in all it's gooey, sticky, heart-wrenching, breath-holding splendor. The whole thing was broadcast throughout the barn on closed circuit tv. A very calm vet narrated the whole thing. I was amazed. The girls were amazed. Daddyman was mildly amused. We all bought t-shirts. It was a stunning event to be a part of in the middle of the fair in the middle of the city.


Then, of course, we ate ourselves silly. It was a good day. We returned home tired and dusty and happy.

dangerous


Last weekend we went into the suburbs. The very scary suburbs. So frightening, in fact, that we had to guard our children against the dangers. We made them wear their bike helmets. And while sitting on the lawn may seem danger-free, who knows what can happen in the wilds of suburbia? My dear, sweet feeble-minded auntie is obviously taking her life into her own hands be throwing caution to the wind and sitting on the lawn with out her helmet. Doesn't she know that she needs to protect herself? She is in the SUBURBS for goodness sake! ACK! I am running in circles frantically waving my hands over my head and shouting nonsense words - Save the Auntie. Save the children.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

and then she said...


OK. I know that vacation is OVER, but I wanted to share a really easy (& time consuming) craft project that we did at the cabin: Clothes Pin Fairies
I purchased a bag of flat sided, wooden clothes pins at the local Ben Franklin store. I also bought a fat quarter of fabric that looked like the forest - sort of... and pipe cleaners.
Then, when I got home, I told the little girls that we were going to make "woodland fairies!" Oh, boy. What is it about girls and fairies? We colored faces and hair first - you might want to use permanent markers. We used washable markers because Yaya is drawn to creating body tattoos the moment a marker is placed in her wee little hand. Unfortunately, the fairies were left in the garden and the trees overnight and the rain made their features a little mushy.
I, luckily, have an uncanny ability to lie convincingly when put on the spot: "Ahna, look at our fairies. They are ruined." (Lips quiver, eyes begin to fill with tears.)
"Oh, no, honey. They are not ruined. They are just working so hard on becoming REAL fairies that they get a little blurry for awhile. We'll have to look for them when we return next summer and see what they are really going to look like."
(I am pretty sure that I am going to hell for lies like this. But it made them so happy to think about their creations becoming real fairies...)
Any way - color the hair and eyes first. Then, cut our a skirt and snip a little opening for the skirt. A small opening means that the skirt will stay on the clothes pin w/o glue or stitching. Then, create wings and arms from the pipe cleaners.
The fun isn't over there - oh no. The 5 bestcousinfriends spent HOURS playing with these fairies. They made new clothes for them. They made houses for them in the trees and gardens (Sorry, Oma.) They created adventures for the fairies that took them all over the place... many quiet read-a magazine-without-being-interrupted hours of imaginative fun and creative, cooperative play. All 5 cousins from 2 and a half years old to 8 and a half years old even played together. That was the best $5.41 I have ever spent.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

good bye bridge


Today, after packing suit cases for 7 people and cleaning two cabins and taking 7 people out on the lake for several hours in a borrowed boat and making "good bye pancakes" for the whole compound and replacing dog track divots in the precious green lawn and disassembling a "pop-up" tent and pushing "just one more time" on the swing for all 5 bestcousinfriends and deflating all 15 inflatable beach toys, Wonder Uncle and I loaded the Suburban Gold Honda Oddessy mini-van. We strapped each child into their safety seat, settled the black lab into his tiny space under the feet of the 2 year old and left behind the comforting embrace of the cabin and the lake and the loons and Oma and Papa.
With all 5 bestcousinfriends shouting, "Good bye, Papa! Good bye, Oma!" we began the long migration back to civilization.
Everything that we passed got a vigorous and prolonged "good bye."
"Good bye neighbor's house with the lady who makes good homemade strawberry jam and white bread that she gives us us eat while we swing on her swing set."
"Good bye merry-go-round that the quiet old guy in the hat and suspenders oils all of the time so that we can go really fast."
"Good bye sandy beach with the really good digger truck and the teeter totter that Esme keeps falling off of and the fire at the Fourth of July and the turtle under the dock as big as a large pizza and the weeds that Shadow buries his duck in - under water."
"Good bye long dirt road to the bridge that we walked on with Oma every morning and picked wild flowers and sang silly made-up songs at the top of our lungs and saw 3 deer crossing and heard the wind in the trees that sounded like the ocean."
"Good bye bridge, see you next summer."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

real-simple-mom-ness




Tonight, I visited a blog that I really enjoy reading (Mollycoddle.typepad.com) and she had just written about reading the same magazine that I had just finished - weird! She went ahead and created her own version of this article, and I thought it sounded like a lot of fun. Go ahead. Give it a shot. Let me know where I can find you, and I will read all about you, too.


NAME: Ahna AGE: 41 HOMETOWN: st. paul

OCCUPATION: full-time mom and wife, teacher, actor, writer


THE LAST TIME MY CHILDREN MADE ME LAUGH: My girls make me laugh on a daily basis - we laugh together alot. It's something that I really cherish in our family. Last night we had dinner with family friends from my childhood. My parents were good pals with my classmates parents - so it was a big shindig. My classmates father is an older gentleman who I still cannot call by his first name. I must call him "Dr. Gallagher." (That is, after all, his name... luckily.) Dr. Gallagher has a 4 wheeler that he uses for chores around their lake property, but this evening he gave my three girls and their 2 cousins rides in the woods for hours. He was kind and good natured, and the girls loved him. On the way home from the Bar-B-Que, my middle daughter was describing the evening. She was taken with Dr. Gallagher, describing him as "a magical little man."

THE LAST TIME I MADE MY CHILDREN LAUGH: Tonight after dinner at the cabin, sitting on the steps to the dock... telling stories about Loons (the birds, not our family)

WHEN I NEED TO GET DINNER ON THE TABLE IN A HURRY: oh baby, we hit the cereal cupboard in a big way! or scramble up some eggs. Or , if we're lucky - maybe, just maybe pancakes... breakfast for dinner, it's the only thing I can think of under the stress of hungry children.

I CARVE OUT TIME FOR MYSELF: This is still really hard for me to do. I feel so guilty going to work, that when we have time together as a family, I will take it and sacrifice the "me" time.

THE LAST BOOK I READ TO MY CHILDREN: Tonight before bedtime I read "Oh, David" by David Shannon to our youngest daughter. I also read a couple of chapters from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" to the whole gang. I am not as good about reading to our girls as my husband is. When he is home, it's "Daddy, read to me." He almost always says, "yes." It could be to get out of doing other house stuff, but that's OK.

I REALIZED THAT I HAD TURNED INTO MY MOTHER WHEN....: I insisted on cleaning the house BEFORE the cleaning service came to help clean our house one week after our second daughter was born. Coincidentally, I had just had my second c-section. Good grief! Who cares what a complete stranger thinks of my housekeeping skills?! I am paying her to clean it!

THE INVENTION I WOULD CREATE TO MAKE MY LIFE EASIER: an instant food/beverage maker - like the one on Star Trek: "Earl Gray. Hot." Each child would get exactly what they wanted to eat for each meal - no more weeping and whining. Everything would be hot and ready at exactly the time that we are, and I could have a glass of wine - Fat Bastard. Chilled.

WHAT SUPRISES ME THE MOST ABOUT BEING A PARENT: That I can love each child as much and as differently as I do. I don't know what I thought would happen when we had more than one child... someone put it perfectly, when your second child is born, you don't devide your love - you double it. Amazing!

FAVORITE OUTDOOR ACTIVITY TO DO WITH MY CHILDREN: We go on "bubble gum walks." Each kid gets a piece of gum to chew. When we find something interesting on the walk, we tear off a small piece of gum and attach the new treasure (ie, moss, a leaf, a cicada shell) to the piece of cereal box cardboard that we brought with us. When the gum is gone, it's time to go home and check out our new discoveries. I also love to make sidewalk chalk art. I guess it makes me think of Mary Poppins and jumping into the chalk paintings...

THE MOST FUN THING ABOUT BEING A MOM: Theme days. To keep things interesting in our house, and chase all of the crabby monsters away, we have theme days. In Feb, we crank the heat, move the furniture to the side of the room, put on our bathing suits and have "Beach Day." Many times a month, we have an "Opera Day" On this day, we can only sing our words to communicate with our family. It doesn't matter where we are going or what we are doing, we must sing. It's really hard to be mad at someone when you are singing to them: "Don't hit your sister. Here's a tissue, please blow your nose. No. You can not have another candybar before lunch time." It creates a few curious looks in the grocery store or at Target, but it's worth it. Everyone in our family loves it and we have such good stories to talk about at bedtime.

I HOPE THAT MY KIDS INHERIT: My positive outlook on life - a sense of joy and wonder. The love of good music and theater. My husband's quick wit and sense of humor.

THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON I WANT OUR CHILDREN TO LEARN ABOUT LIFE IS: Life is so wonderful. This life is a gift from God. Use that gift well. We are each given different talents and abilities. Celebrate yourself and your gifts, don't waste time comparing yourself to anyone. Laugh often. Sing loudly. Be kind to others. Watch out for yourself and each other. Know that your mom and dad really really really love you and we always will, no matter what you do or say because that's the Mom-and-Dad Rule.


******************
some more questions from the magazine that I didn't take the time to answer:
before I turn off the lights at bedtime, I say to my children:
the most noticeable way parenting has changed me:
favorite tradition I share with my children:
three things my children have taught me are:
the hardest thing about being a mom:
I carve out time for myself by:
when I have 30 minutes to myself I:
when I was a kid, I said, "When I'm a parent, I will never..."
the television mom I'm most like:
one thing I wish I had known about parenting before I became a parent:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

garage fishing


Wonder Uncle is in the process of teaching all 5 bestcousinfriends to fish. Papa bought each granddaughter a fishing pole. Attatched to the fishing line is a little rubber fish - I guess to teach the art of casting? Well, that's what Wonder Uncle thougth to. He lined all 5 girls up on the edge of the lip of the garage and taught them how to cast.
Via is a natural - no doubt, she got the fishing gene from her mother who has fished competetively in Canada.
Noni - not so good, but she really loves flinging the rubber fish thing in the tree branches - "It's a flying fish. Do you want to see, Mom? Oh, darnit! It's stuck in the leaves and stick things again. Wonder Uncle!!!"
Yaya is a fishing genius. She sits patiently while everyone else does their thing, demonstrating the true skill of a seasoned fisher-person: the ability to sit idly for hours at a time while others fling their sticks around frantically. I couldn't be more proud.
The cousins? Eternally patient, zen-like giggling fisher-people. They mediate their way into the casting motion, stopping to do yoga poses between casts. Seriously. And they know the names for each pose. Did I mention they live in LA with their midwest transplant parents?
I am really not joking. Yoga poses.

cabin fashion

What do the fashion elite choose to wear "up north?" well, let me tell you, it takes more than a little thought. It also takes a little whining and compromise. More compromise on the mom's part. When the toddler set takes a spin through the fashion "dos" and "don'ts," it's more "I do" and "mommy don't"
Yaya got up yesterday from her nap and decided that it was time to create her own wardrobe. Something that really said "I am 2 years old and I know who I am and where I am going."
She went the shed/store. (During the drizzling morning hours, the girls had set up a store with the help of the Wonder Uncle.) Yaya shopped and payed with white stones from the driveway. The white stones are the most valuable stone in the driveway. The grey ones have less value. The pink ones, while pretty, are worth nothing. You might as well use the pink ones to decorate a fish bowl - Via's idea.
So, Yaya chose what she wanted and payed for her new wardrobe and created a new image. It gives me great privaledge to introduce Yaya Boo.


It's been raining alot. When questioned about the necessity of the goggle and snorkle, she said it would help her breathe better when it rains. The life jacket? In case the rain tries to take her away, it will help her float so mom can find her.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

visual wonders in washable markers















It started with art in the cabin.
It's a rainy day - again. 5 little girls in 2 small cabins=craft time! We made glorious pictures for Oma's Birthday. Each girl was given the challenge of creating a piece of art that had both the cabin and a self portrait. They worked very hard at the vinyl covered cabin table - filling in each detail that they thought was vital (both girls from LA included sunshine, the lake and snow in one form or another - what are their parents telling them!?)
I have to say that Oma is going to be thrilled with the results. Some have stories that go along with the pictures, some have captions, some are just visual wonders in washable marker.
I am so lucky to spend time with this lovely little gaggle of girls.

















So, it went from drawing on paper to drawing on their own bodies. While I don't mind the whole temporary tattoo business, Papa was feigning shock .... so, we put the markers away and brought out the make-up. It was time for some serious make-overs. Each girl sat perfectly still in the vinyl kitchen chair as the oldest cousin, Via worked her magic.
There was shocking pink blusher, dazzling blue eye shadow, and sparkling glitter lip stick. The cherry on the top of the cake was the chalky blue nail polish. Every girl got a health coating of this wonder of modern science. The color is reminiscent of blue cotton candy you can find in plastic bags, and the girls love it just the same.






Freya brought the tea set in her back pack. Esme brought the tea and fish cookies in her back pack ("Auntie Ahna, I got to bring two boxes in my back pack!" she said with a beaming smile.) The whole gift came from China Town in LA, and it couldn't have made for a happier bunch of girls. We set up a little tea table in the front lawn and placed sitting rugs all around. 5 little porceline cups (thank you, Auntie Johanna for making sure there were 5 cups in the set!) 1 fragile blue porceline tea pot.
Then, they took turns serving each other. It was charming. They loved it. We took lots of pictures, their dad and I. Via proclaimed that the tea tasted like "patootey!" The other girls gulped theirs down quickly - did I mention that we loaded it up with milk and sugar?
The whole event lasted about 15 minutes.
I think we'll do it again today.

bestcousinfriends






The cousins came and we LOVE THEM SO MUCH! The very first thing that we did - and I mean we didn't even go in the house and talk. The cousins got out of the car and we put on life jackets and we went fishing. Uncle David is maybe the best uncle in the whole world. He carried the motor down 40 steps to the lake. He put it in the boat. And after all of that work - running up to get the life jackets, running up to get the gas, running up to get the oil, running up to get a hat, running up to get the girls - the darned motor didn't work. of course, it hasn't been started in about 2 years. I don't know why we thought it would work. So we just fished off the end of the dock. Then Uncle David took all 5 little girls in the canoe for a canoe ride. They saw the beaver house and the lily pads and the cat tails and the weeds and the place where the really big turtle lives. Everyone had a great time.
Then, to make the night even better, all of the girls piled into the van with Oma. David and Papa took the blue car, and we went into town to get a Dave's Pizza. It is maybe the best pizza in the entire world. But at this point, I can't say that I have really eaten any pizza.
After a very long air plane ride and a very long car ride and a very long afternoon of fishing and canoeing and a very long day of waiting for the cousins and no napping, dinner was a little.... overwhelming. They sort of ate. mostly they danced around and under the table over the chairs into the kitchen... the whole time Papa was making his serious scolding face and Oma was sighing and David was trying to drink a beer and I was trying to make everything right in the world (which isn't my responsibility, i know, but when life becomes chaos, the only thing I know how to do is to try to make everyone happy. It rarely works.)
The kids ate bread sticks and sucked milk out of plastic souvenier cups and then, I hustled everyone back into the mini-van and took them home to the cabin.
The two youngest girls fell asleep in their car seats. The 3 older girls sat in a "meditative state" for the car ride home, then poured out of the van like pudding - sloppy and drippy.
Everyone slep very late the next day. Thank goodness.
I can't wait to see what the next days will bring.

Friday, August 17, 2007

what to do with 3 girls a dog and a lake


Yaya really likes helping Oma. I think it has everything to do with the ear muffler-things. It doesn't really matter what job Oma is doing, Yaya needs to help ... but only if she can wear ear covers. This particular photo was snapped while the two of them were watering flowers. A very dangerous task indeed.









Noni is already the bored pre-teen. About a hundred times a day she declares that there is "absolutely nothing to do here. I am bored." I can't see what is so wrong with that. My folks have cable TV at the cabin - go figure. We don't have cable TV at home, so mostly Noni is pissed off that we don't allow her to watch 24/7. We had to make the rule that the TV goes off after 10:00 AM (We might sleep that late. Who knows.) And it can't be turned on again until after 4:30 PM (right around the time we start making Bloody Mary's and drinking beer.)
Wow, that makes us sound like really wonderful parents. We are actually having a wonderful time with the girls. Swimming, doing projects, reading Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory... but everyone needs a vacation, if you know what I mean, therefor the TV is not completely banned. Ah well. We will never win the Parent of the Year Award - if there is even such a thing.


Via has exactly the right idea. She lays around most of the day reading. She can completely ignore everything around her, unless someone is scooping up peppermint bonbon ice cream cones. That she can hear through closed windows and doors.

Best things so far: Reading Willy in the tent. Swimming in the cold water until our lips turn blue. Grilling Salmon for my dad. Figuring out that the dog is still happy if he sleeps in the bathroom with the door closed. Finding the stash of candy from the Fourth of July parade. Getting Rick's phone call when he got back to St. Paul safely.
Worst things so far: The nightly woodtick check. Escorting Daddy-Long-Leg spiders out of the tent and out of the bedding. My father insisting that I bathe the children in bug spray because his neighbor's son got West Nile (I don't know what's worse: the story of the son and his nasty illness or the amount of chemicals that are required to keep those nasty mosquitos at bay.)
I know that there will be a lot more good things in the next week and a half. It's good to be here. Ahhhhh.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

crafts and cookies



We are here! Do you know how I can tell? We are "crafting" in our bathrobes and eating Oma's home made chocolate chip cookies before breakfast. Papa's making "good coffee" in the kitchen and the dog has already been in for a swim. It's good to be here.
My family and I stay in a one bedroom cabin - the cabinette - next to my parents cabin and near the garage-mahall. It's become know as the "Red Cabin Compound." Of course, it's only a joke. Truely, it is the farthest thing from the North East and all of the "vacation compounds" that exist out there. Our Red Cabin Compound came into existence after a small resort went out of buisness. My parents bought 2 little tiny cabins side by side at the top of a hill over looking a quiet bay on a big lake. It's idyllic.
And itt is so quiet (until all 3 little girls wake up, then it's chaos central.) At night, it get's so dark. I forget how beautiful it is until we get here. The loons sing until the sun rises. The woodpeckers punctuate the evening hours. The reeds dance in the wind. Everything is cooked on the grill - except the bi-weekly pan of rice crispy bars. It's hot and windy during the day and brisk, jacket weather at night. Such a relief from all things "city."
After day 3 we have made 6 potholder/coasters, 3 giant sand castles, one fort in a tent, 5 panini grilled sandwiches (We've even gone gourmet - brie, apples and smokey ham on french peasant bread.) 1 pan of rice crispy bars. Tonight, we are begining another cabin project, but that will have to wait. Yaya is napping. Daddyman is in the hammock. Noni and Via are reading to each other in the tent/clubhouse and the dog is lying in the middle of the dirt road. Everyone is happy and sleepy. I think I need a nap, too. Now, where shall I take my nap? I've got it, the pontoon.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

busy hands




We are going on vacation tomorrow. I am taking all three girls "Up North" to my parents cabin for two weeks. There is mostly nothing to do. There is cable t.v. There is a beach. It is wonderful and relaxing and stressful. It takes the city out of us, and that is good. It is so quiet up there, it's amazing. The girls love it. The dog loves it. Daddy-man will come with us for a couple of days, then he has to come back and work. (I think that secretly he loves the solitude in his own house. C'mon. Who wouldn't love time alone in your own house?!)
While I was trying to pack today and it was like a sauna in our bedrooms, the girls kept asking if we could go to the beach again today. I tried to put them off as long as I could, then... I broke. We didn't go to the beach. I simply couldn't let go of my list of things to do - the beach was not on the list. So, I improvised. I turned the sprinkler on.
That lasted about 15.3 seconds.
I was out of tricks. I was tired. I was stressed out because once again I am single-handedly packing for every single person in our family - and the dog - so we can hurry up and relax.
In a moment of desperation, I handed the camera to my 5 year old and told her to "go make some art."
The last 2 photos for this entry are taken by Noni. The portrait of Noni is taken by Via. I am going to have to get them their own cameras.
Cool.

bud and the hog




This is my uncle. We call him Bud. That's not his real name. It's his nick-name. When he turned 40 he quit using his "kid" name. After lots of thought, he decided that his middle name would be the best name for him to use in the business world.
The rest of his immediate family thought that this was hilarious. For the rest of his birthday week, they insisted on calling each other by their middle names. Everyone except their youngest son who came up with something completely random -- typical. (BTW - none of his family call him by his "business" name. Just can't.)
Now Bud has turned 50. For this decade, he decided to get himself a new vehicle to take to work.
Now, Bud is really a cool guy. He has totally mellowed and is very enjoyable (It could be that both of his kids are almost done with college and no longer live in his house. If they don't live with him, they can't taunt him by randomly changing their names - apparently, not an uncommon event when they were living with him.)
I've got to tell you that the scooter is really cool. Imagine this totally hip 50 something guy hopping on a scooter in the 'burbs and heading into "town."
I love it. It makes me smile every time I think about him zipping around town. I also love it because it makes him happy. I like him when he's happy. He's got a great sense of humor.

Friday, August 10, 2007

car picnic







The girls and I have gone to the beach several days in a row. We are on vacation. We're takin' life easy. Movin' at a very slow pace. Doin' whatever we want to do. Within reason. We've gone to the beach 3 times this week. We expect to go to the beach at least 3 more days. Then, we're going "up north" and we'll probably go to the beach there, too.
I know, in other parts of the country, that is a more common occurrence than it is here in Minnesota - we usually have exactly 3 days of weather that is hot enough to coax our pasty skinned selves into a swimming suit and into the water... in public. This summer, we're living in the 7th level of hell. Good God, it's hot. My people -I'm of Scandinavian descent - are not equipped for this kind of heat and humidity.

This summer, we opted to forgo the window air conditioner. OK. It was my idea. I wanted to live a little greener. I was feeling all earthy and romantic. You know... throw open the windows. Hear the world as it goes along its bird-singing, bee-buzzing, breeze-blowing way. This is Minnesota, after all. How hot is it really going to get? Besides, if it does get a little hot, it only lasts for 3 days, tops. We can survive that.

It's been weeks. Many, many cicada filled weeks of sticky hotness. Not the good, sexy kind of hotness either. No. This is the "Oh, my lord, what SMELLS!? oh, it's me. again" kind of hotness.

So we've been going to the beach.

Now, some of you may know that the great out-of-doors is not my first love. It is a testament to the very nature of vacation that I am taking all 3 girls to the beach, by myself. Several days in a row. I guess that summer and vacation both make me feel all earthy and romantic...
To make the beach trips more interesting for all of us, and to make life easier for me, we have been participating in what I fondly call "car picnics." It's not as romantic as tee-pees. It's not as nostalgic as forts. But, it is easy and controlled (lol) and the kids think that maybe they have died and gone to heaven. And the van is air-conditioned. Enough said.

CAR PICNIC RECIPE
Pack what ever leftovers might be in the fridge. (Don't make anything fancy... just throw in frilled tooth pics or those umbrella pics. Kids will eat anything that they can poke a stick into.)
Fill water bottles with lemonade and ice. (Such a treat after "milk at every meal.")
Take the grapes out of the freezer.
Throw everything into the cooler and cover the whole thing with lots of ice.
Pull the trays that we swiped from the school cafeteria out of the trunk.
Toss everything into the van, or whatever you happen to be driving at the time, and...
Head to the beach. Bake at 95* for 1-2 hours. Soak in water several times.

When everyone is "done," head to the car and pull out the IKEA rugs for the "entrance mats." (For some reason, this is one of the most important parts of our car picnic... but they do help get the sand off little feet. The rugs are second only to the frilly tooth pics.)
Then, everyone gets a tray and we dig in. We don't drive and eat. That is practically against the rules.

As I re-read this blog, I realize that it sounds ever-so-slightly white trashy. I think the heat does that to every one. We all wear less clothing than we should. We walk around perpetually barefoot. The baby spends too much time in a diaper, and nothing else. I don't care. I am going to call it "earthy and romantic."

Thursday, August 9, 2007

appologies

I read my latest entry to my husband this morning.

He said, "You can't write that. It's fiction. It's a blog. You can't write fiction on your blog."
I said, "I am using artistic license. It's my blog. Who cares what I write? Besides, most of it happened..."
He said, "Yeah, except the part that makes us sound like neglectful, selfish fatties lying in the middle of the Mall of America surrounded by more packages than we can obviously afford."

(OK, He didn't use those exact words, but that's what he meant. Again, artistic license.)

I said, "What do you mean?"
He said, "That part about Yaya running down the corridor groping hairy man-legs. She was asleep."
I said, "So?"
He said, "It's a blog. You can't lie."
I said, "It's my blog... so?"

10 minutes passed. I web surfed. I felt guilty.

So , here I am. 'fessing up. It's not all true. But a lot of it is. I obviously had too much sugar. I was drunk with blogging power. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

MOA

Today, we went on a mini family vacation to the MOA.








Not that MOA. This MOA. In Bloomington, MN. The Mecca of Consumerism.






While there, we went to "The Park at MOA." It used to be "Camp Snoopy," But recently, they lost the rights to use that mild mannered little dog as their mascot - it's all about money, no doubt - so now it's just a generic "park." It's still damned expensive. The general consumer did not benefit from the loss of the mascot. Maybe the MOA is saving up for a new mascot...?






So, we broke open the piggy bank and took the girls on a few rides. One of their favorites was the "Tree Swing." It's suprisingly charming. It's a giant tree constructed from some sort of brightly colored plastic polymer that has many bright red swings dangling from chains that are attached to "branches" on the underside of the "canopy." When everyone is safely buckled into their swing/chairs, the tree top raises several feet into the air and begins to whirl around, swinging the riders through the air.
This elicited giggles from our two older girls. Giggles and shrieks and belly laughs and the chanting - "Again! Again! We want to do it again! Again!"
We didn't let them. We are heartless and cruel. We forced them to ride a giant ferris wheel instead.
The ferris wheel elicited giggles from the two older girls. And Rick. Giggles and shrieks and belly laughs and chanting, "Again! Again! We want to do it again! Again!"
I left and went to H&M.






All of that giggling and shrieking and shopping can build up quite an appetite. So we headed off in search of food. We found ourselves at The Rain Forest Cafe. It was a loud and yummy and expensive and exhausting event. Everyone was full and happy. Then, the dinner event was put right over the top on the Fun-O-Meter when we gave in to the pleading of our darling girls and opted to finished dinner with a "volcano" dessert.
For those of you who have never dared this world of chocolate chaos, let me explain: It is 15 lbs of chocolate cake and a gallon of vanilla ice cream covered in a vat of chocolate fudge and caramel syrup then smothered in mounds of whipped cream.
As if that riotous explosion of sugar and caffeine wasn't enough, the restaurant folk top the whole dessert thing off with a sparkler - yes, a real Fourth of July sparkler - and then, every single server in the enormous restaurant chants "Vol-ca-no! Vol-ca-no!" as one small, anorexic server struggles this chocolate monstrosity to the table. They keep chanting "Vol-ca-no. Vol-ca-no!" until the sparkler goes out. By its' self. It takes a while. The girls were thrilled. They chanted, "Again! Again! Let's do the volcano again!"
We didn't let them. We are cruel and uncaring parents.
Instead we let them loose in the hallways of the MOA.





Directly outside the Rain Forest Cafe there are several plastic creatures that help "create the ambiance" of a rain forest. (My personal feelings regarding the amount of toxins used to create this atmosphere is for another time... ACK!) Among these plastic injection-molded oddities is this very 'gator.
Now, I did not take this photo, and these girls are not my girls, but the reaction to this thing was exactly the same. Go figure. Noni and Via dangled their little bodies over the edge of the plastic injection-molded leaves and vines while machines pumped "fog" into the gator swamp area. The gator "roared." They giggled and shrieked. They chanted, "Again. Again..." They thought it was the greatest show on earth.









Yaya, however, was not amused. She ran shrieking in the other direction, tears streaming down her pink cheeks. In her blind three-year-old fear, she grabbed the first pair of hairy man-legs that she ran into. Her crying slowed. Then, she looking up and realized that these legs did not belong to her father. She ran on - grabbing new, hairy man-legs. She ran, grabbing and shrieking her way halfway down a very long corridor.
Now, most reasonable people would have chased their 3 year old daughter down the hall to catch her and comforted her in her moment of terror. We are not most reasonable parents. We had been stuck motionless from laughing. We were weak. We were unable to move. We tried to go after her, honestly, but we couldn't. We were already crashing from the sugar overload. It was pathetic, really. Two largish adults lying in a heap of shopping bags and left-over boxes at the feet of a plastic 'gator, the fog rolling over the edge of the plastic leaves...
Don't worry. She eventually came back. Children are amazingly adept at following their parents voices in a crowd. We held her and comforted her, and after a quick nap on the nearest bench...
We all headed off to do a little more school shopping.
Ahhhh. Vacation. You gotta love it.

Monday, August 6, 2007

the budding artist






































Via has decided that from this moment forward she will be known as a photographer. She took these lovely photos of the fence. I'm not sure how she got the angle that she got, but it works in a very ... artistic way. It gives me a slight case of vertigo. I think that she is feeling a little left out because Noni and I have been doing our "art thing" a lot lately. Daddyman love and interest only goes so far, I guess... I've got to find the right thing that we can connect on, I guess. Hmmmm.
I love this curious girl.

powderhorn park arts festival


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We had the best day yesterday! I have a new partner for arts festival-ing (My own new word. hee hee.) Her name in Noni. Sometimes known as Nonifolani. We saw this great artist. Her name is Amy and she makes these crazy people. She calls them: Peepwool. You can see all of her lovely madness on line at www.peepwool.com I want all of them. She also makes really rockin' hats.
Besides the peepwool gal, we saw lots of great art. It is such a wonderful, relaxed atmosphere. No one is in a hurry. Everyone is just sort of hangin'out lookin' at cool stuff. Noni and I ask lots of questions. What do you like? Why? What do you think that the artist was trying to say? I don't know either - let's ask. It is totally fun. She is cut from exactly the same cloth that I am. We laugh and dawdle and drink loads of lemonade.
Daddyman took Via to see the new Harry Potter movie. They've read all of the books together. Then they both re-read them all, alone. Quietly. In their own little corner of the house. Where no one can find them if we need them. I don't know how they do it. It's a little annoying.
Nora and I want to make our own peepwool. We are going to go to the Salvation Army and Goodwill to find some old wool sweaters right now. See you soon.
PS. Someone let Daddyman and Via know where we are when they emerge from their reading shells.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

collapsed



http://www.startribune.com/slideshows/rich_media/1344505.html
(This video clip really shows what it was all about.)

I am still sort of in shock... I can't begin to wrap my head around this event. I am angry and sad. The world around us is forever, dramatically changed. A solid structure that so many had come to count on has broken, like a child's toy. And lives are forever changed. There is not only a hole in the road, but a hole in the lives of so many families that are still looking for their loved ones. I came downstairs this morning to see my husband sitting in front of the computer, weeping. He was reading the list of bios of those still missing. I asked him if he knew someone, and he said, "No. I just feel so much saddness for those who did."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

extreme make-over: pre-teen edition



So....
We've been getting ourselves set for a new school year (for those of you keeping track, our last day of school was today.) Via was in need of a little TLC, so we did a little of this and a little of that. We cut and curl and created a new wardrobe of hip and cool clothing that fits really well... she looks like a million bucks! OK, when hasn't she, but everyone needs a boost now and again... especially when your sisters are driving you crazy and your mom asks you to help too much and you have to do your homework when every other kid in the neighborhood is on summer break, but your stupid year 'round arts school is still driving you into the ground.
PS The photos were taken by little sister Noni. Art direction by Via.

garden glee














I love my garden! But, alas, I think it is soon at it's end. It has been so damned hot! I water and everything looks lush and gorgeous, but they summer growing cycle has really been sped up due to the ridiculous, alien-temperatures that we've been having in Minnesota lately - it's sort of strange.... I must say that I do enjoy the heat. (Even though my people are not genetically predisposed for this kind of humidity...)
OK. So it took a couple of decades, but I love diggin' in the dirt. The hollyhocks in the photo are a vintage variety that I found at a fund raiser/plant sale for the Friends School of Minnesota. (They have a rockin' selection of goods. Oma and I waited in line for over an hour just to walk through the door. The plants were gorgeous, they were very well organized...) I have already made my wish list for next year. And I've planned where I am taking out more grass to expand my garden. And I've spotted a few places that are in the shade, and need something to love. I can't wait to start again next season.
Ahhh. I better just take a deep breath and enjoy what this summer still has to offer.