Wednesday, January 30, 2013


What do you get when you combine a four-day weekend with a healthy dose of spontaneity?

Here's a glimpse: 

SIX hours of driving....

OODLES of junk food to keep the kids happy and me awake while I drove ( I have to point out that I do not drink soda or have caffeine on a regular basis, so me drinking Mountain Dew meant that I was reeeeeaaaaaalllllly tired, a fact which unfortunately shows up too well in that picture) ....

TWENTY-FOUR hours at an indoor waterpark...

LOTS of friends to play with....

ONE waterproof camera....

FIVE happy kids enjoying the 40 degree warm-up from one day to the next! 

And now we're back home and have ONE kid so worn-out from all the fun that she had to stay home from school to recuperate! 
And I won't lie and say that I've been tempted several times to join her there on the couch, except I have yet to find my way there through all the piles of laundry.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Top Ten of Growing Up in Minnesota

My family in front of a Minnesotan winter tradition--
A part of the Winter Festival in Saint Paul, every few years they would construct a palace entirely of ice.
I believe this was 1987 and apparently I was way too cool to smash my big hair with a hat.

10- I can tell my kids 100% true stories about how every day I walked almost a mile to and from elementary school in waist deep snow. 

9- I can calmly laugh at people who are in the throes of full blown panic when they experience the sensation of their nose hairs freezing together for the first time.

8- While other people groan, I am always rooting for a good snowstorm. 

7- I am not ashamed to dress in lots of layers. 

6- I can brag about how I was raised in one of the weirdest political states in America and came out relatively unjaded. (Why is it such a weird state?  Well,  not only was Minnesota the one and only state in the union to carry Walter Mondale for president in 1984, but they also elected Jesse Ventura, of WWWF fame, as their governor in 1999.)

5-  We shopped at Target before Target was the hip discount place to shop.  In fact I didn't even know Walmart existed until I was like 20 years old.

4-  I can tell people from what they call cold weather states (like Utah or Colorado) that they have no idea what real cold feels like.  And when they happen to visit Minnesota on a -30 degree day, they agree with me.  (True story)

3- I can blow people away with the little known piece of trivia that Minnesota, with its 10,000+ lakes,  has more shoreline that California, Florida, and Hawaii...combined!

2-  I can brag to my kids that our school superintendent worked on the twelfth floor of a skyscraper and wouldn't even consider canceling school until the snow was up to his office window.

1-  ...and then I can laugh (and enjoy the opportunity to sleep in) when our schools are delayed after receiving one measly inch of powdery snow.   

Saturday, January 19, 2013

An Open Letter to Adam's Orchestra Teacher

Dear Adam's Orchestra Teacher,

With two cello players in the house, I've sat through a lot of beginning strings concerts before and have never left without a headache and the feeling that my ears were somehow damaged afterward.  There's just something about the scritchy sounds that a beginning strings player makes as they're learning the instrument that is literally painful....both to my ears and to my nerves.  

That is why I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you...  

Thank you for listening to this week after week after week (which with the accompaniment playing probably doesn't even sound half as bad as I'm sure the practices do)....

in hopes that they will someday sound like this....

You are a saint. 

A Mom with Earplugs

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New House Rules

We've recently had a few incidents around here that are causing me to rethink a few of our family's rules.   I usually try to go with the "less is more" philosophy on rule making, but in the interest of the well-being of our family I've decided not to take any more chances. 

1.  Thou shalt not let the leaf of the poison ivy plant touch thy face, nor thy eyes...lest they be smitten with a sore curse exactly like the sore curse that inflicted thine sister in days' past. 

2.  Thou shalt not retire to thy bed early and expect that the floors of thine abode will sweep themselves.

3.  Thou shalt not go to the doctor's office and expect that they will have the FluMist nasal spray, for in the day that thou goest shall be the day after they runneth out and only have flu shots administered with sharp needles.   And after the needle have poketh thy arm, it is kind, yay even saintly,  to thy mother to keepest thyself from engaging in half-hour long sobbing fests and near-faints. 

4.  Thou shalt heretofore remember that the steams  from the depths of a covered pot  can be hotter than hell itself and forethought should be taken to keepest thy body far removed from those cursed vapors that seek to destroy all in their path.

5.  Thou shalt not turn the station on the car radio and try to makest me hear thy music.  For insomuch that thou thinkest my music is boring, thine music smiteth mine ears from off mine face.  I ask thee is it good for mine ears to be smitten?  Nay, I say it is not good. 

6.  Thou shalt not steal thy mother's bathrobe from off of the hanger and think to use it for thine own purposes.  For thy mother's anger is kindled against those who causeth her to be left cold and dripping with only a damp bathrobe to covereth her nethermost parts.

Monday, January 14, 2013

This Week's Top 5

5--Cami was approached by a member of the school newspaper about doing a report on her New Year's cupcake sale that raised $450 for Glen's Team in Training fundraiser.  Later she was approached by the journalism teacher about the possibility of writing about it in the local community paper.  I will post links as they are published! 

4--I am slowly discovering the joys of taking pictures on my new iPhone and being able to send them to people immediately.  It means that I'm not toting around my big camera as often, which while great for keeping track of home remodeling ideas while I'm out and about, unfortunately seems to be taking a toll on my blogging frequency. 

3--Emma made a gorgeous Danish for our Sunday morning breakfast.  I definitely could get used to the 1:00pm church time with fancy breakfasts like this coming my way! 

2--Glen received his order of custom wristbands to give to people who donate to his Team in Training fundraiser.  They say "Livestrong" on the yellow portion, "Beat Leukemia" on the orange portion, and "Team Spencer" on the purple portion. 

1--With the help of my awesome sister, Heather, I finished the YW project I was working on and absolutely LOVE the way it turned out! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Year Ago Today

This time a year ago, life was good.   We had our normal concerns (including why Spence was so pale and low on energy), but for the most part we were a normal busy family. A few hours later, our pediatrician called and dropped the unexpected bombshell that would change our lives forever.  Little could we imagine in those first horrible moments after hearing the word, "Leukemia," the journey that we were about to  embark on.  A journey that would include some of the darkest, most fearful moments of our lives.  And at the other end of the spectrum, a journey of more kindness and generosity being heaped upon us that we could have ever imagined. 

Here's a little glimpse of that journey:
  • 118 nights in the hospital
  • Developed and/or discovered allergies to 5 different kinds of medications, including 2 classes of antibiotics (penicillin and sulfa)
  • 4 rounds of intensive chemo
  • 2 bouts with the dreaded stomach infection c-diff, which meant isolation in the hospital room
  • More medications than the rest of our entire family (and probably our extended families) combined have taken in our lifetimes
  • Unexplained chest pain
  • Weeks of having no immune system
  • Five months of being hairless,  often even without eyebrows or leg hair
  • Lost 40 lbs.  (most of which he so kindly transplanted  straight to my belly and hips)
  • Countless blood and platelet transfusions
  • Buckets of tears and worry that still haven't ended

Although I would never, ever, ever want to relive this past year, I would be remiss if I didn't also list a few of the many blessings that were poured out on our family during those months.    They were every bit as part of the experience as were the negatives. 

  • Fresh homecooked meals brought to our family every-other-day for 18+ weeks
  • Friends that left their house extra early and drove out of the way  every single day to pick up Cami for early morning seminary
  • Long lost friends and relatives who used Spencer's sickness as an opportunity to get in touch with us after many years
  • A housecleaner paid for by friends who came every-other-week ( I miss this)
  • Dozens and dozens of people who took time out of their busy schedule (often on a weekly basis) to visit Spence in the hospital
  • Increased faith in God's individual love for His children
  • 3 of our 5 kids who have changed their ideal future careers to something in the medical field
  • Caring docs and nurses, who not only took care of him around the clock, but also answered our gazillions of questions and made us feel important and loved
  • Hundreds of people around the world who prayed daily for Spencer and our family
  • Celebrating seven months in remission

I find myself woefully short on the right words to say today, but on this year anniversary of the day of his diagnosis, I just wanted to pause and express our deep gratitude for all that you have done to support our family this year.  That support has meant the world to us. 


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Project-a-holics Anonymous

I love diving...

  • but I don't scuba... 
  • in fact I've never in my entire life even dived into water before.   (Feet first, yes.  Belly first, sometimes.  Head first, no. )  
  • I don't dumpster dive either, although there was a time in my life that I would walk around the neighborhood and swipe people's coupons out of their recycling bins, but that's a story for another day. 

So how do I love diving? 

I love to dive head-first into projects.    Give me a deadline and something hands-on to do and I can throw myself 50000000% into it, knocking everything and everyone out of the way in the meantime.   

I don't really mean to do it.  It just sort of happens.   I have something I need to do and then I have an idea.  An idea that would make it so much better, that I just can't help but do it.  

So I dive in....and while I'm in the process, I invariably get sucked into the adrenaline rush.  I get caught up in the awesomeness of my plan and it almost seems intoxicating to make it happen.  I literally thrive on that feeling and feel lost when I don't have something "fun" to work on.

Then I finish. 

Sometimes I'm glad to have done it.  Most of the time though, it's a huge let-down.  I'm off the adrenaline rush and realize I've spent too much money, put too much time into it, my house is a gigantic mess, and I'm not really sure it meant that much more than it would have been without all the effort. 

I've been going through this process over and over again my entire adult life and even knowing that that's how it usually ends, I still manage to let myself get sucked in.   I feel like I need to go to a Project-a-holics Anonymous and learn how to temper the enthusiasm with which I pursue my projects, but I can't seem to find the number for it in my phone book.    

Maybe I'll just start my own chapter of it.   We'll meet every Tuesdays at midnight on top of Mount Kilimanjaro.  Bring hiking boots, a water bottle, and your laminator. 

We'll get started....
right after I finish up this project I'm working on.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Just Wondering....

....why I ever thought that taking care of small children was very hard.  Sure they cried a lot and kept us up all night, but teenagers do the same thing with far more drama than a 2-year-old ever could.  (Disclaimer:  I have very nice teenagers who are 99.7% awesome) 

....why both of my boys,  at about the age of 10,  have gone through a stubborn I-want-to-wear-shorts-every-day-of-the-year phase.  I don't like to create power struggles with my kids about unimportant things like clothing choices, but, man, it  embarrasses me to no end every time a certain 10-year-old of mine walks out of the house in 25-degree weather wearing his shorts and t-shirt. 

....why cloudy days are so darn hard on my psyche. 

....we can't all just send Christmas cards to each other all year long.  I go into serious withdrawal every time I walk to the mailbox these days. 

....why a certain child of mine can't smile this nice in all of his pictures. I can accomplish ten times more in one day than I can in an entire week-and-a-half with my kids  home all day. 

...why I lazily put off doing things that would be infinitely easier if I just did them right away. Cami could be any more hard-working and creative.  Her New Year's Eve cupcake sale raised nearly $350 (plus a $100 donation) for Glen's LLS fundraising for leukemia research. 

...why a certain child of mine puts more thought into what he's going to wear for school spirit day than he does about writing a 2-page essay (that he still gets an "A" on). 

....why the rest of my siblings don't move closer so we can have cousin sleep-overs more often!

...why broccoli can't taste like Grandma Sandy's addictive English toffee.   

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