Saturday, January 21, 2012

In Memory of a Great Grandma

I have gotten behind in blogging since the holidays. I have so many things that are muddling up my brain, so I am going to work on getting some more thoughts out here.

One of the really significant things that happened over the holidays is that Mike's grandma Carmen passed away on New Year's Day. It wasn't really expected, but also wasn't totally unexpected. Either way, it was a really hard thing for all of us.

Mike was really close to his grandma, and our kids had a great connection with her as well. We greatly miss her already. Dylan was really sad once he realized that daddy had lost his grandma. (He was sad about losing his great grandma, but even more sad for daddy). He said that he thought about how sad he would be if he were to lose one of his grandmas. What a sweet boy!

One of his memories about grandma Carmen was that whenever we would visit her, she would smile and "chuckle" (Dylan's word). Other memories that we have are visiting her at her apartment in Fargo, having her at Mike's parents' for holidays, and her wonderful cooking.
Here is a great picture from several years ago at Cousin Andrea's wedding
and the whole family at Sarah and Jesse's wedding in November, 2010

Grandma Carmen, you will be greatly missed.
Love, all of us...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Its not a last...

I wrote this post a little while ago, and decided that I wanted to try to notice more "not lasts" in my life. Another thing that I am thankful I still get to do for my kids is to help them with their school work. It isn't always a joyful time, so I want to focus on being thankful that I GET to do it.

I don't remember homework being such a source of contention when I was little, but then I was the child... not the parent trying to get the child to do it. I was a very different "student" than either of my kids, though. I LOVED to read (like really seriously could read all day...and still could if given the chance).

My kids like to read, and Dylan especially is a very good reader. It is just that, in order to actually read a whole book, you have to sit still, and pay attention, and remember what book you are reading, and where you are at in said book, and...well, you get the idea.

Aleah likes reading as well, but it doesn't come nearly as easy for her as it did for me, or for her brother for that matter. She doesn't like doing something that she isn't good at, so she tends to give up fairly easily if she gets frustrated (hmm...I wonder where she gets that trait...)
So, I am thankful that I am able to help my kids with their school work. Like my parents were able to help me with mine. Now, can someone just come up with an "anti-whining" cure?

(ok, neither of the pictures in this post are actually of me helping my kids with homework, but I started writing this post tonight, and wanted to finish it, and these were the best I could do without waking them both up and posing for a picture at the dining room table with their papers and books, and we KNOW that wouldn't be a good idea!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Where else but North Dakota
Can you go visit
the World's Largest Buffalo

 and drive a pretend stage coach
 and see a cute frontier town
 all in the same stop?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Its not a "last"...yet

I have heard a poem about "lasts". It is about how we focus on our kids' firsts, but often forget to notice the "lasts". I found it in its entirety, so here it is copied from Karen Kingsbury:

"Long ago you came to me, a miracle of firsts.
First smiles and teeth and baby steps, a sunbeam on the burst. 
But one day you will move away and leave to me your past,
And I will be left thinking of a lifetime of your lasts.

The last time that I held a bottle to your baby lips...
Last time that I lifted you and held you on my hip...
Last time when you had a binky stuck inside your mouth...
The last time that you crawled across the floor of this old house. 

Last time when you ran to me, still small enough to hold,
Last time when you said you'd marry me when you grew old.
Precious, simple moments and bright flashes from the past,
Would I have held you longer if I'd known they were the last? 

Your last few hours of kindergarten, last days of first grade...
Last at bat in Little League, last colored paper made.. 
Last time that I tucked you in for one last midday nap...
Last time when you wore your beat-up Green Bay Packers cap. 

Last time you caught a frog in that old backyard pond...
Last time when you ran barefoot across our fresh-cut lawn,
Silly scattered images to represent your past. 
Would I have taken pictures...if I'd known they were the last? 

The last dark night you slipped in bed and slept between us two,
When last I read to you of God or Horton Hears a Who!
Last time that I smelled your hair and prayed after your shower...
Last time that we held devotions in the evening hours. 

The last time you were M.J. in our games of give-and-go...
Last time that you made an angel in the melting snow.
I never even said good-bye to yesterdays long passed. 
Would I have marked the moments...if I'd known they were the last? 

Last piano lesson, and last soccer goal you kicked...
The last few weeks of middle school, last flowers that you picked.
Last time that you needed me for rides from here to there...
The last time that you spent the night with that old tattered bear.

Last time that I helped you with a math or spelling test,
Last time when I shouted your room was a mess. 
Time and life moved quicker, taking pieces of your past.
Would I have stretched the moments...if I'd known they were the last? 

The last time that you needed help with details of a dance...
Last time that you asked me for advice about romance. 
Last time that you talked to me about your hopes and dreams.
Last time that you wore a jersey for your high school team. 

I watched you grow and never noticed seasons as they passed.
I wish I could've frozen time, to hold on to your lasts.
For come tomorrow morning life will never be the same. 
You'll pledge forever to your girl, and she will take your name.

And I will watch you, knowing God has blessed you with this day.
I never would have wanted, Luke, to somehow make you stay. 
They say a son's a son until he takes for him a wife.
You're grown-up now;  it's time to go and start your brand new life. 

One last hug, one last good-bye, one quick and hurried kiss...
One last time to understand just how much you'll be missed. 
I'll watch you leave and think how quickly childhood sped past.
Would I have held on longer....if I'd known it was your last?" 

Poem was quoted from the book, "Rejoice", by Karen Kingsbury.  Pages 209-210.

As I thought about this poem, I decided to try to notice the "lasts".

And last night I was heading home with my 6-year-old who fell asleep in the back seat and I started thinking...I am so happy that I haven't yet had the "last" of carrying my kids in from the car when they are sleeping (or pretending to sleep).

I can still carry both of them into the house (although it is getting more challenging, especially with my 11-year-old). How long will I be able to do this? I don't know, but I will enjoy this period of time while I still can.

I will not grumble about how heavy they are, or that they really could walk in the house by themselves. I will continue to carry them in as long as I possibly can.

Why is this an important gesture for me?

Because I still remember when my mom and dad carried me in from the car when I was sleeping (or pretending to sleep) and it was one of my favorite things.

It is one of my favorite memories of my childhood still.

Not a big thing by any means, but a significant one in my life. It demonstrated their love for me I guess, and a feeling of protection and complete safety.

I want to give this to my kids for as long as I possibly can.

So, this isn't a "last" yet...and I am so thankful.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


So, I have finally gotten around to putting the finishing touches on this post. If you remember, I did a similar post for Aleah awhile ago, and now completed this one for our boy. Enjoy!

As a reminder to those who don't know us well, we met our son Dylan when he was 4, and his adoption was finalized when he was 5 1/2. There was much of his life that we didn't get a chance to experience, and ever since we knew him, we were struck by his excellent verbal skills. He had a vocabulary that went far beyond what would be expected for a 4-year-old (most of it even appropriate...just wise beyond his years).

It was pretty amazing when people met him for the first time because he was really tiny for his age, so people would think he was even younger than he was. Then he would start talking with his little gruff voice in sentences that Mike would be proud to string together ;)

Because of this, we really liked hearing some things from him that truly showed his innocence. Here are some of our favorites from those early years:
  • "Mops" and "graham hoppers" (moths and grasshoppers)
  • "Rolliemote" (the remote control for the t.v.)
  • "Rote matrol" (a remote control car or other vehicle)
  • The "tuna voice" (once when Dylan was in trouble, Mike or I said to not make us use that "tone of voice", and Dylan from that point on would ask us to not use the "tuna voice"). We still use the phrase in our family now!
  • Dylan and Mike were riding in the car, and Mike asked Dylan why he got in trouble in school that day. Dylan replied "Dad, that's a hard question, can you ask somethin' else?" Mike thought he was doing a pretty good job of keeping his response hidden until he heard a voice from the back seat: "Dad, are you done laughing yet?"
  • We have long enjoyed the blurb from the movie "Up" where the one dog would be diverted from any other task with the word "Squirrel!". We joked that it was just like Dylan. Mike and Dylan were riding in the car having a conversation about something, and suddenly Dylan stopped in the middle of a sentence and said "squirrel!" pointing to a squirrel outside the car.
  • We were leaving a gathering at my sister's house, and Dylan was frustrated that we were leaving just as they were starting a bonfire and he wouldn't get to "marsh the lemmos"
  • Another one we got to enjoy for quite a while is when he would "skretch" his body (stretch)
  • And, last but not least, Mike took Dylan into a public restroom. Dylan was in the stall doing his "business". It was taking awhile, so Mike asked how he was doing. Dylan reported "almost done...just a couple more", and then Mike heard a "whoa, whoa" and asked what happened. Dylan said that he was "practicin'". Mike was scared to ask, but it turns out that Dylan was using the "grown up seat" which really meant he was trying to just sit on the bowl without the seat, and had almost fallen in!
Love this's to many more years of great statements from him!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tea Party and Twister

My kids are both wonderfully creative. They love playing and creating things. Aleah lately has been into making elaborate "parties" or "games" or "carnivals" for us to participate in. Recently I decided I needed to document one of these events so I don't forget this wonderful phase.

She invited me to a tea party. I had to draw my name first.

Then I was invited into the "tea room" by my hostess.

(look at those cute fingers!)

Then we played Twister on the board she made herself
(that also doubled as the tablecloth for tea)

and then...she was off to a different project

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Village

A local town has a wonderful park that has many different animals (kind of a mini zoo). It is great fun to go there any time of year to see all the animals.

Well, during Christmas, they also have an amazing light display through the whole park. We try to get there every year to see the lights, and thankfully, this year we were able to! We didn't get there in time to see the animals, but what we did see was well worth it!

Excuse all the pictures, but I just couldn't decide which ones to include. I loved them all!

Don't you just love Christmas lights?