Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If She's a Pirate

Sometimes our children leave us no choice.  We try to use rational parenting techniques, but kids aren't always receptive to reason.  Eventually negotiations break down and new tactics must be used.  The other night, my husband was trying to coax our son to brush his teeth.  He kept stalling, so my husband resorted to motivation by fear.  "No girl will want to marry you if your teeth are all black", he said.
"If she's a pirate she will", he answered. He nonchalantly picked up his toothbrush.  


Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Quiet Now

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving week.  I had to take a bolgcation for awhile as I was in charge of keeping 17 people fed and entertained for 3 days.  Though I'm exhausted today, it was well worth it. The 6 children ran around the house creating chaos but their laughter filled the house.  I loved helping my nieces with craft projects.  My 3 year old nephew finally was comfortable enough to wrap his arms around me and lay his chubby little cheek on my shoulder.  My younger brother and I made stuffed mushrooms and barbecued turkey sandwiches while debating global issues.  My older brother helped out with the dishes and gave me an update on all the new computer gadgets. I might have been the general in charge, but everyone pitched in to make this year's dinner successful.  What am I most thankful for?  I'm thankful that I took at least a little bit of special time to spend with each family member.  Because now that my house is quiet, I can feast on the memories that our family created.  (I'm also thankful that my husband accepts the craziness once a year so that we can have the whole family together in one place!)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It Has Begun

It has officially begun.  People start trickling in to my house tonight.  Yesterday my Mom and I went to the grocery store.  We had a list of all the items we needed. We kept forgetting to grab certain items, and we had difficulty finding others. It was like we were trapped in a never ending maze, going around and around in circles hoping to find our way out. Eventually, we overloaded our carts and decided it was time to go.  Now it's on to the cooking!


Monday, November 22, 2010


As usual, I have waited until the last minute! I have only 3 days now to prepare for turkey day. I shouldn't be sitting here blogging, I know, but I'm kind of addicted to it.  I can't wait until all the cleaning is done and everyone arrives.  The cooking is fun because I have some great helpers.  My mom helps me put everything together.  My grandpa one year helped me make phyllo mushroom triangles.  It was wonderful to have him brushing the phyllo sheets with butter and seeing how he carefully folded each one into it's triangular shape.  Another year my younger brother helped me make bruschetta.  I'm hoping I can get some other family members involved in the kitchen this year.  There is a special bonding that occurs when loved ones create a special dish together.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ancient Books

This is a depiction of the Trojan war.
We went to the Art Museum on Saturday.  We looked around for about 2 hours.  The kids  loved seeing the Egyptian sarcophagi (my husband said the plural was sarcophaguses but I looked it up). I enjoyed everything but I was entranced by the illuminated books.  This one, from France, was done in 1470 AD.   The gold leafing, vibrant colors, and intricate patterns were astounding.   How many hours were spent creating this single page?  I imagined holding it and running my fingers across the beautiful Latin words. The words themselves were foreign to me. I wondered how many hands had held this treasure and what stories could be told of its own history?


Friday, November 19, 2010

Crazy Morning

Couldn't find Ryan's homework... Ryan missed the bus (probably because I was blogging!)... took him to school... took my boots to be repaired... got oil change... went to the bank... went to buy a birthday present... went to the grocery store...finally home.  Now I can eat lunch relax...check my Google calendar to make sure I'm doing everything...then go to work... take Ryan to the birthday party... make dinner... pick Ryan up... eat dinner... read for 2 minutes before I'm snoring.


Precious Moment

Last night while my son was getting ready for bed, he found my big pink comb on the counter.  He grabbed the comb and motioned for me to sit on the bathroom floor.  He stood behind me, gently combing small sections.  He walked around and carefully checked out how it looked in front.  His little fingers stroked through my shoulder length hair.  His mind was absorbed in taking care of me.  Most nights, I repeatedly remind him to get ready for bed, while he bounces around trying to add play time to a day that has already passed.  Last night, I let him comb my hair until he was done.  He took another look at his work and plopped down in my lap, hugging me.  He suggested I get a hair cut.  I couldn't make that moment last forever, but the memory of it will.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Where Does Passion Come From?

I've coached skating for 20 years.  My own girls have skated since they could walk, but they have never really wanted to "learn" correct techniques. They wanted to slide around and have fun.  That was fine with me.  I never pushed them to take lessons, though I secretly wished they would have the same passion for the sport that I have.  I did however, want to see something spark their interests.  I was worried that nothing inspired their hearts to greatness.  They were happy being adequate in all their activities whether it was violin, piano, school, or sports. At 11 and 13,  maybe they were still too young.  How do parents ignite passion in their children? Is it possible? Do you have to wait until it shows itself? Can you subtly speed along the process? Or do you let them be adequate?  All these questions filled my head.  
Then everything changed.  I still don't know what happened, but all of a sudden my girls are begging me to give them lessons and skate as much as possible.  I asked them what was different and even they had no explanation.    I don't know if they will stick with skating or move onto something else, but now that they are another year older they at least have a burning desire to be great at something.         


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Life's Little Bloopers #1

Every once in a while I do something really stupid. I turn red, my cheeks flush with warmth and I try to hide from the world for a few moments.  I realize that every human has their dumb moments, but I don't have a list of these readily available to make me feel better. (Misery loves company right?)  So with that in mind, I am starting a series of posts in which I display all my bloopers.  This is my way of giving back, to help others realize that there is at least one person out there who has done something even dumber.

My First Thanksgiving Turkey:

I didn't realize that turkeys had to be defrosted for a couple days before cooking.  My college room mate and I tried taking it out of the fridge and letting it sit for about 2 hours. Then we put the icy bird into the oven.  After about 3 hours of roasting, we took it out to check on it.  The top layer was ok, but about 1/4 inch into the bird, it was still frozen.  I decided we should just turn up the temperature.  Our fiances showed up about an hour later.  We tried to serve what we could.  We each got about 1 slice.  (It probably wasn't safe to eat, but we didn't know that either.)  I don't quite remember, but I think we must have all gone straight for the store bought pumpkin pie and dinner rolls.  Somehow we survived the night and our fiancees did end up marrying us, so I guess it wasn't a total loss.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Only 6

My son doesn't seem to think he is only 6.  Somehow he envisions that he should be able to draw like an adult or play the piano with no mistakes.  This proves wildly frustrating for him when he does not perform up to his own expectations.  I haven't quite figured out the right parenting method to deal with this when he wads up all his school papers and proclaims that "this is the worst day ever!"  The other day, however I was treated to a glimpse of the future.
We stopped at an Italian bakery before going to a performance of a local youth orchestra.   Ryan enjoyed his cherry butter cookie so much that he wanted to ask the guy behind the counter what the recipe was.  I told him, I didn't think the guy would give it to him.  But Ryan persisted.  He walked up to the counter wearing his little suit jacket and tie and peered over the top.  The guy didn't notice him at first, but Ryan waited patiently for the other customer to be finished.  Then he calmly asked his question.  He came back to our table with a look of satisfaction.  No, he didn't get the recipe. The guy didn't know how to make them either, but Ryan was proud that he had tried .  At that moment I didn't see him as a 6 year old and I was happy that he didn't either.


Monday, November 15, 2010

A Little Surprise

We spent most of the day Saturday going through our usual routine of sports classes, homework and a trip to the library. My husband wanted to do something special for the kids in the evening.  We decided to order pizza and not tell them.  In fact, we told them we were going to have squash soup and salad for dinner, their least favorite selection! They grumbled and groaned. Then we put in a movie.  I prepared a salad so they wouldn't get suspicious and said I would make the soup after the movie. I also ran upstairs to call the pizza place.
Everyone was engrossed in the movie, then the doorbell rang. "Who could that be?" They asked.  I went to the door and my son followed me.  I handed him the bottle of soda while I paid for the pizza. "It's pizza! Who ordered pizza?  Dad did you order it?" They asked. They started running around excitedly. My husband and I acted like we had no clue how the pizza got there.
"I guess we don't have to have squash soup now", my husband said. They all laughed as they realized we had in fact planned the whole thing. We had our party on the floor, in front of the paused movie.
"Thanks Mom and Dad, you're the best!" They said.  It was a great way to spice up a routine Saturday.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Mighty Ganges

It looks calm here, but believe me there are huge rapids around the bend!
I didn't want to do it.  I was scared.  I'm not comfortable in raging water... but would I ever have this opportunity again?  My husband promised me that we would only raft down the tiny rapids.  Ok.  I was going rafting for the first time in my life and it was on the Mighty Ganges River.  Our guide handed out life jackets and explained in excruciating detail of what to do when something goes wrong, like when you fall out and get trapped under the boat.  My husband glanced back at me, his crooked smile didn't reassure me.  I felt the color draining from my face.  Then it was time to climb into the boat.  It was my last chance to say I would meet them when they returned.  But some other force took hold of me and I meekly stepped into the raft.  One guide sat behind me which made me feel better.  I hoped he could reach out and grab me if I came loose from the tiny rubber craft.
We came upon the first rapids.  My heart pounded in my chest.  The guide told us to paddle and I did exactly what he said.  We made it through. I sighed with relief.  Everyone else in the boat slapped the water with their paddles in celebration like we were at a football game!  The second one was a little bigger.  I could see the water swirling into whirlpools. To my right, sharp jagged cliffs rose out of the water.  The boat dipped into the  holy river and my husband and the other guys got wet. They all laughed. How were they enjoying this? I was just so happy to still be in the boat.
Then, my heart sank.  I saw before me a wall of water towering above us.  How could this flimsy rubber vessel possibly make it through that? My brain screamed. The guide commanded us to paddle.  I clutched the paddle as if it was my life line.  I blocked everything out except that small space of broiling water that I aimed for with my paddle.  I don't understand how it happened, but our little craft, crested the wave and easily traveled down the other side.  I didn't even get wet, but everyone else on the boat was nearly soaked.  They laughed and cheered. The guide behind me made fun of my wigging out, and I laughed too.  Our last rapids was the easiest and this time I wasn't scared. I also got drenched. Then I finally understood.  Our guides had steered the boat, so that I, "the terrified one", would get a smooth easy ride and everyone else would still get a thrill.
We drifted to a serene beach near Rishikesh. I was, at the same time, relieved to be disembarking and sad that our once in a lifetime adventure was at an end. Would I do it again?  You bet.

I'd love to hear of adventures that you were at first terrified by, but conquered anyway.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Time Chage

For those of you living in "Daylight Savings Time" area, I hope you all remembered to set your clocks back on Sunday morning.  Last spring I totally forgot.  One of my friends called me up from work asking why I wasn't there yet.  I thought she was kidding. (She likes to joke around a lot!)  Then I realized my time snafu.  It seems I have always had difficulty with concepts of time.  I remember when I was much younger, I called up a store to find out their hours and I asked them if it was their Daylight Standard Time hours or their previous hours.  The lady on the other end thought I was a complete idiot.  I just wanted to make sure I got there before they closed.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Review

I just finished reading Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin.  I had been wanting to read it for awhile, but it just kept moving to the bottom of my "to read" pile.  Then my husband strongly suggested that I move it to the top.  I'm glad I heeded his advice.  In his book, Mr. Colvin, uses research to prove his point that "talent",  the way we most often use the word, is not inborn.  It comes from what he terms "deliberate practice".  Mindlessly swinging the golf club at the range doesn't do it.  You have to create a system where you search for your inadequacies, then focus all your energy on strengthening those aspects of your game.  Anyone can do it but it takes a ton of work..... more than most people are willing take on.  I thought it was very inspiring.  No one should ever think they don't have the "talent" for something and give up.  If you want it, whether it's in sports, music, business, or life in general, diligently work on your weak areas and you will improve.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chasing Turkeys

 Turkey....oh so juicy and delicious with mashed potatoes and gravy.  That is until I saw them up close and personal.  My kids and I were strolling through the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum enjoying the many species of flora.  All of a sudden we heard a rustle, then something ran out of the bushes like a velociraptor hunting prey.  My daughter yelled, "Turkey", and the chase was on.  The four of us tried to sneak up on the large bird, but kids aren't the quietest of species.  It ran out into the open this time and we just took off after it.  It was quickly out of range.  I never imagined that turkeys could run so fast!  We again tried the slow sneaky approach, which was a good thing because somehow, now there were 5 turkeys. We hid behind the bushes.  My son thought he was a real spy as he looked through the binoculars we had brought with us.  You wouldn't think that a bird with such a tiny head has much of a brain, but every time we inched closer, they sensed it and scattered.  Finally, we decided to hide behind a group of pines and just watch them.  We couldn't believe what happened next.  Another group of about 5 turkeys appeared and both groups started squabbling.  It was like family members at a reunion.  The noise level increased, until the two groups faced off around a tree and a turkey fight began.  They were jumping and squawking and chasing each other.  Just as quickly as it had started they all ran off and it was quiet again.  The kids and I looked at each other amazed. I looked around and wondered where the heck we were.  Great we were lost....thank goodness I had tucked the Garmin in my backpack.
Thanksgiving will never be the same!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Summer Memories

Some of my favorite memories from childhood, were made on the lake fishing with my Grandpa.  I don't get to the lake as often anymore, but I cherish every moment in his little oar powered boat.  It renews my spirit to float on the water, listening to the gentle lapping of waves against the boat.   The occasional swan glides across the surface and Grandpa tries to impart his many years of wisdom to me.  Sometimes we catch fish but that's not really why I'm there.
Now that the first frost has fallen upon the ground, I remember these summer days on the water and it warms my heart.


Monday, November 1, 2010


Today is November 1st.  I can't believe how fast time has flown by this year.  It's gone so fast, that last month I actually submitted my time card for work and I wrote a "3" in for the month.  My manager called me just to make sure I wasn't putting in time from March!  My brain couldn't process that we were already in the 10th month of the calendar.
Now, I only have 24 days to plan the menu and get the house ready for our big Thanksgiving feast.  Every year I host Thanksgiving dinner for our family.  11 adults and 6 kids.  Yes I am crazy!!  They all stay right here in our house for 3 days.  We don't have room for everyone, so at night the kids all "camp out" on the floor.  By Saturday, total chaos descends on the house as the kids run around crazy from their inevitable lack of sleep and from the sugar pumping through their veins.  The adults stay up late talking, playing cards, cooking, and eating more pie than we should.  It's all great though. It's the only time the whole family is together. Throughout the year, we all look forward to those 3 days in November when we are all under the same roof.