Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2006

Christmas 2005

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Truth About Motherhood

The following conversation took place while Rowan was on the toilet. It seems like our most enlightening moments occur in the bathroom. Go figure.

Me: Rowan, please don't kick your pants off! I shouldn't have to keep putting them back on you all the time.
Rowan: Yes you should. You're a mommy.
Me: That doesn't mean that I have to do everything for you.
Rowan: Uh huh. You have to take care of me and Daddy.
Me: Then who takes care of me?
Rowan: Um...[thinks about it...laughs]...I don't know. Maybe I can help you sometimes after I get bigger.
Me: Thanks.
Rowan: I yuv you, Mommy.
Me: I love you too, sweets.

I told this story to Kyle, and he immediately started laughing. Then he asked, "Is that funny or not?"

What do you think?


Sunday, November 30, 2008

'Tis The Season!

Poor Thanksgiving. As soon as that turkey passes our lips, we're on to the next thing. It's too bad, really. Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. Great food, loving family, and NO STRESS!

Oh well. We're officially moving on! (If you can't beat 'em...)

Our house is now full of Christmas cheer! I'm not sure how to cope with Rowan's crazy energy. Every time he sees the tree, he asks me when ("seriously WHEN") Santa is coming to our house. I'm hoping that a daily chocolate from the Advent calendar convinces him that patience is rewarded. (I've given up on convincing him that patience is its own reward.)

Rowan had a blast decorating the tree. Christmas traditions are so much more special now that he's mature enough to participate!

Of course, he still has some maturing to do. He tried to convince me that cousin Avery taught him to do this, but I know better. I informed both kiddos that this picture will be on my Christmas card in about 12 years.

Avery was just one member of our Christmas decorating crew. Courtney, Jason, Grandma Connie, Grandpa Kevin and Scott all stopped by. After decorating, we enjoyed creamy chicken and potato soup for dinner and flourless chocolate torte for dessert. Mmmm.

And then we sipped wine while ooohing and aaahing at the beautiful tree. It was a lovely afternoon!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stupid Things That Cost $1

I'll admit that I'm a bit sheltered (and quite possibly a food snob), but I couldn't believe my eyes when I encountered the following freaks of nature at a nearby grocery store.

1. Microwave-ready potatoes. They're regular russet potatoes that have been washed and individually wrapped in some kind of fancy new plastic that doesn't melt in the microwave. Each potato costs 99 cents.

2. Grapples (pronounced grape-els, according to the package). They're regular apples that have been "bathed" in a concoction of natural and artificial grape flavor and encased in a hard plastic carton. A package of four costs $3.99.

Why? Seriously... Why?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Elf Yourself

Rowan and I had a blast with Elf Yourself yesterday afternoon. We put our whole family in the act.* Enjoy!
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

*Points to anyone can describe the significance of our two lesser-known family members.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Little Shutterbug

Rowan LOVES playing around with the camera. I usually end up deleting the results (blurry snapshots of my butt in yoga pants, for example). But Rowan recently took some pretty cool pics.

He even captured an elusive and rarely documented creature: Kyle doing yardwork. (tee hee!)


Friday, November 7, 2008

Election Day

Tuesday was such an amazing day. Exciting, nerve-wracking, historic, emotional and SO MUCH FUN! Naturally, it helped that our presidential candidate won!

We voted first thing in the morning. Our polling place is only two blocks from our house. Rowan actually ran the whole way, shouting "Barack Obama heeeeere weeeeee cooooome!" He thought we were going to visit Obama at his house. I think his enthusiasm died just a bit when finally made it through the line only to be greeted by a ballot and a permanent marker.

In the evening, we watched the results roll in at an election-night party at my friend Bev's house. I arrived with a flourless "Barackolat" torte. I stenciled Obama's face onto the torte with powdered sugar! The cake was a big hit (and everyone said it tasted great too).

Bev hosted quite the shindig! The picture above includes only a portion of the party goers. I hear there was even a lone Republican in attendance! (She didn't stay long enough for me to meet her. I hope she wasn't scared off by the cheering as the big battleground states fell for Obama.)

Rowan spent the party playing games with the kiddos upstairs. He was NOT excited when it was time to leave. (I wasn't really either, honestly.)

Hope you had a great election day!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rowan's Obama Song

After (over)hearing information about this election for months, Rowan is quite excited that the big day has finally arrived. He's been singing about Barack Obama all morning! Even if you don't agree with our politics, you've got to appreciate the kid's enthusiasm.

Happy election day! Get out and VOTE!


Friday, October 31, 2008

Rowan's Spooky Story

Listen if you dare... Bwah hah hah hah!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Autumn Marathon

Nasty Cold. Pink eye. Stomach flu. Ear infection.

If you wondered why we’ve been too busy to blog lately, now you know.

Thankfully, Rowan recovered from his various illnesses just in time for some fall fun. Last weekend, we visited the apple orchard, carved/painted pumpkins (and roasted seeds!), baked apple crisp, and raked leaves.

An entire season in one weekend. Whew!

I'm glad we didn't wait for this weekend. I think the snow flurries might have dampened our spirits.

Next up: Rowan's triple birthday do-over costume extravaganza!


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Rowan!

Leave it to a 3-year-old to make the best of a bad situation. Rowan spent his birthday weekend with the stomach flu. We had thought he might be feeling better by today, but the virus just made its way down the digestive tract (if you know what I mean).

This morning, Rowan woke up feeling sick to his stomach and asked in a groggy little voice, "Is today my birthday?" I told him that it was, but I also promised that we'd have a super fun birthday do-over as soon as he was feeling better.

By this evening, Rowan was feeling a little more playful. He even let me take a few pictures of him in his mismatched PJs (we've been doing A LOT of laundry).

Rowan wasn't nearly as perky yesterday. In fact, he was so tired by naptime that he fell asleep standing up!

Happy birthday, my sweet little man! I'm so sorry that you had to be sick on your special day. Daddy and I will make it up to you as soon as you're feeling better. We love you!


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Not What We'd Planned

What a beautiful day for a birthday party!

Unfortunately, Rowan got the stomach flu last night, forcing us to postpone his special day. What could be more miserable than vomiting in a bucket? How about vomiting in a bucket while surrounded by decorations for the party you've been excited about all week? Bummer. Big bummer.

Rowan's feeling quite a bit better this afternoon. Kyle bought him a new movie to watch while he rests on the couch. Hopefully, we'll all be healthy tomorrow and can do something fun on his actual birthday. Looks like yucky weather, though. Maybe a trip to Nickelodeon Universe is in order if Rowan's feeling up to it.

This has been a really tough fall for our family. Since ECFE started, Rowan has had pink eye, a bad cold and the stomach flu. Lovely.

Maybe we're in for a healthy winter. Think so? Bright side...


Friday, October 3, 2008

The FDA Saved My Grocery List!

Good news, mamas: A tiny bit of melamine in food is O.K.! (They didn’t say “safe,” but “O.K.” is good enough for me.)

After hearing about the babies dying in China, I was actually starting to worry about our global food economy. Remember when all those animals died last year from melamine-laced Chinese pet food? Or when we found loads of drugs and contaminants in Chinese seafood? (The lead-tainted toys are a topic for another time. Toys are only toxic if babies put them in their mouths. Oh wait…)

Thank goodness the Food and Drug Administration is on top of it. The FDA will only allow the wee bit of melamine that enters food through normal factory processing to grace our shores. And they won’t allow any melamine in baby formula! Why? “There is too much uncertainty to set a level in infant formula and rule out any public health concern.” I almost get choked up thinking about how much the FDA cares about our babies.

Anyway, I'm just glad that I don’t have to worry about these things. For a while, I was thinking, “Oh my gosh! Maybe I should buy real food grown by local farmers instead of industrialized food crap grown in foreign countries and transferred through God knows how many ports and processing plants!”

I know what you’re thinking: “Move to Canada, you naïve, idealistic liberal!” Touché.

Thankfully, the FDA has changed my tune and turned me back into global food consumer. Sometimes I wonder how that pet food ever got past those guys. And did they ever figure out the source of those contaminated tomatoes/peppers/whatever? Hmmm...

Oh well, I’m not supposed to think. I'm a mom. I’m supposed to shop! In fact, shopping is my civic duty. And what's more patriotic than buying food that's grown and processed in foreign countries? Some products might even contain soy lecithin or high-fructose corn syrup derived from commodity crops grown right here in Minnesota.

God, help America!


I mean, God bless America!


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Arts and Crap

Rowan has been sick since Saturday, leaving us housebound and stir crazy. He felt a little better today, so we ventured out to Michaels to pick up some wreath-making supplies. I also bought Rowan his first 64-count box of Crayola Crayons! I was surprised to discover that the crayons are made in the U.S. (Hopefully, that means they're less likely to contain lead, melamine and other toxic chemicals that some factories like to feed to children.)

When Kyle came home from work, he asked Rowan where he got his awesome new box of crayons. Rowan replied enthusiastically:

"Mama bought 'em at the arts and crap store!"

Hmmm....toddler mispronunciation or statement of fact? You decide.

Then I told Rowan that I wanted to take some pictures of him coloring. For once, he seemed excited to pose for me. "Mama, I'm going to give you my best smiles EVER!" he said.

This is what I got after that bold promise:

Still a cutie to me!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Help Me! I'm too Tired to Think.

I'm beat.

After completing the Breast Cancer 3-Day last weekend, I'm physically and emotionally exhausted. And it didn't help that I returned home to an empty fridge, piles of laundry, a messy house, and the anticipation of a busy work week. Bah! (Why is it that any semblance of order vanishes when mama's away?)

So rather than hit you with the usual "blah...blah...blah," I'm asking for YOUR input.

I'm turning 29 in a little less than two weeks. (Yikes!) I'd like to compile a fun list of "30 Things to Do Before I Turn 30." Any recommendations? How shall I spend the last year of my fleeting 20s?

I'm trying to keep the list fairly realistic. A second honeymoon in France is unlikely to fit in our budget, for example. And I have no interest in risking my life by base jumping, sky diving, or performing other stunts that involve speed or heights.

But I guess I'm stifling your creativity...

What would you do during the last year of your 20s? What did you do? What do you wish you did?

Suggest away!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Toilet!

Kyle just removed the main-floor toilet from our historic 1936 home. We were surprised to discover that the inscription on the lid reads:

Sept. 16, 1936
Made in the USA

Cool, huh? Our toilet is 72 years old TODAY!

We plan to replace the flooring in the tiny bathroom and reinstall the toilet with a new seat and wax ring (it was leaking). We had been considering buying a new toilet, but today's discovery felt like a sign. The toilet is in good shape, really. And I have to admit, the newer low-flow models can be rather annoying despite their "green cred."

I'll have to post a pictorial tour of our house sometime soon. Believe it or not, we live in the former parsonage of the Lutheran church just around the corner. We've been repainting and decorating, but it's amazing how long it takes us to finish projects. In fact, we've been living without a door on our second-floor bathroom for... I can't even admit how long. But don't worry, the door is painted and ready for hanging. I'm not sure that I'll know what to do with my newfound privacy!

(Who is glad that Rowan's birthday is approaching, forcing us to finish various projects before his party.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mama and the Boogie Man

I never said that I was brave. I’m therefore cutting myself some slack for a rather cowardly performance as "boogie-man vanquisher" last weekend. I was watching television when I heard Rowan through the baby monitor.

"Mama!" he yelled. "Mama, get in here!"

Thinking that he had to pee, I rushed upstairs.

"I saw something," Rowan whispered. Then he reached his arm out from under the blankets and pointed behind me. "It was right over there."

As I glanced over my shoulder, a prickly feeling crept up my spine.

"It had two eyes," he continued, cupping his hands around his eye sockets. "Then one of the eyes disappeared." His left hand closed into a fist on "disappeared."

"Well…I’m sure..." I started, but Rowan quickly interrupted me.

"I'm serious," he insisted. "Close the door and you'll see it."

At this point, I'm thinking, "No way, kid! Don't suck me into your scary imagination! I've seen enough horror flicks to know that when little blonde children say creepy things, it's a bad sign."

Of course, I didn't say any of this to Rowan. No, I kept my composure and did what any freaked out mama would do: I snuggled into bed with him, pulled up the covers, and called out for reinforcements.

Kyle wasn't impressed.

He discovered that Rowan's monster was actually the smoke detector. "Oh, right," I thought. "That makes sense."

Deep down, though, I know that my cuddles reassured Rowan as much as Kyle’s investigation did. At least that’s what I’m choosing to believe.

So we now have a new division of labor: mama cuddles while daddy investigates.

Works for me.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Yearbook Yourself!

What would I have looked like as a high school senior in 1976? Now you don't have to wonder! (Thanks Molly!) Enjoy my pictorial time warp and then Yearbook Yourself.

Class of 1952

Class of 1960

Class of 1968

Class of 1976

Class of 1980

Class of 1994

Class of 1998
(MY senior year!)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pedal, Baby, Pedal!

With chants of "Drill, baby, drill!" filling the Xcel Energy Center, I think it's fitting to announce that we're now a one-car family!

But before you go thinking that we're green, I'll admit that the decision wasn’t ours. My silver Ford Escort with the orange hubcap — the car I bought when I turned 17 — won’t start. After serving me well for nearly 12 years, it now sits in our garage among the other junk and unfinished projects.

We don’t really know what’s wrong with the car, so there’s a chance that we (“we” meaning someone else who knows something about cars) can fix it. But I won't be holding my breath.

Surprisingly enough, we haven’t missed the second car. In fact, we rarely used it when it did work. Our house is perfectly situated for commuting to either downtown by bus or bike.

Kyle totes his bike to work on the bus and then pedals home. He'd bike both ways, but his employer doesn't have on-site showers. Maybe biking to work will be more practical now that the weather is cooler.

A side benefit: Kyle comes home in such a good mood when he's biking! The sunshine, fresh air and exercise must be a welcome change from fluorescent-lit cubicle land. And our pocket books are happy, too. We don't even fill our gas tank once a week.

At least we can feel good knowing that we've further reduced our family's dependence on big oil.

Every bit counts! (Something to keep me sane this election season.)


*Shall I continue with the disclaimers? I think not. I don't plan to make this a political blog, anyway. I'm not enough of an expert (AT ALL) for that. I just need to get my feelings off my chest sometimes! And I think that it will be fun for Rowan to know how his mama felt during this history-making election.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

State Fair Fun

We've been to the state fair three (THREE) times this year! I guess living in the neighborhood has turned us into junkies.

Our most eventful trip brought together seven adults (Angie, Kyle, Court, Joel, Heidi, Amy and Scott) and four toddlers (Rowan, Avery, Maddox and Hunter)! Although we spent most of our time appeasing kiddos and searching for straglers, we had a lot of fun. Here are a few picture highlights:

Courtney, Rowan, Avery and Joel navigate the crowd together.

Rowan milks a cow statue. Weird. Just plain weird.

Avery says "cheese!"

Rowan cops an attitude. "No more pictures, mama!"

It wasn't easy wrangling four toddlers, but we managed
to get a pretty cute picture of them all together!

Thanks for the great time!

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain picked a woman! How do you feel?

UPDATE 8/30: I couldn't agree more with this Newsweek article. The more I learn about Palin's extremist politics (she supported Pat Buchanan's 2000 presidential run, for goodness sake) and stunning lack of experience ("I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq," she says), the more freaked out I become. I guess Obama was right on Thursday. McCain just doesn't get it. And I used to think he was a fairly reasonable guy...


Normally, I wouldn't do this. In fact, I probably shouldn't do this. But so many people have asked what I think about McCain's VP choice, that I feel like I have to say something.* I'll keep it short.

About McCain's VP pick, Angie feels:

  1. Underwhelmed: All I really know about Palin other than personal information (five children, former beauty contestant, likes to fish) is that she's been a governor for less than two years and that she's under investigation for possibly firing someone who wouldn't fire her ex-brother-in-law. Not too inspiring.
  2. Insulted: I'm not insulted by the choice itself (I'll leave that to Pawlenty and Romney). I'm insulted by the McCain camp's insistence that Palin appeals to "wounded Clinton supporters." Do they really think that these women will forget about health care, national security and the economy and say, "Look! She has female parts! I'm inspired!" Give women some credit, please.
  3. Nervous: If McCain wins, Palin will be just a heartbeat away from the presidency. The McCain camp says that Palin's total lack of national and international experience doesn't matter, because McCain has ooodles of it. Well, McCain is 72 years old and has had some pretty significant health scares over the past 10 years. Palin would stand a strong chance of inheriting the commander-in-chief role. To me, that's scary. Deer-in-headlights scary.

You might be surprised that there are two things I really like about the pick. Mainly, it takes the GOP's arguments about Obama's experience off the table. Apparently, they don't think experience matters.

I'm also happy that there's no chance Pawlenty will leave us to fend for ourselves with Carol Molnau as governor. That's right, people, Carol Molnau is a woman and I still don't want her to lead our state. Shocking, isn't it?

OK, that's enough. Back to potty learning and goofy Rowan quotes.


*This is my "don't be offended" disclaimer. Those who know me, know that I'm opinionated, but fair. The opinions expressed in this post are mine and mine alone. I don't expect everyone to agree with me, and I enjoy a good-natured debate about the issues. But I don't appreciate being told to forget the issues and become blinded by a person's gender or race or whatever. I become rather annoyed with identity politics and debates over "hot button" issues. I'd rather focus on turning around our economy, improving education and increasing our national security!

Monday, August 25, 2008

On the Shores of Door

Man, were we lousy picture takers during our trip to Door County! No photos of the beach, or the wineries, or the campfires. There's not even a picture of the midnight swim Angie and Courtney (mostly Angie) initiated after drinking Starbucks martinis! (We did wear swimming suits, thank you very much.)

Oh well, we had a fabulous trip with Kyle's family to Wisconsin's thumb. And I suppose some details are best left to memory, although I bet Jason would appreciate having my five-point action plan for landing a wife on DVD. From what I remember, it was pure genius. Good times...

I've compiled a few pics in a slideshow. For more, visit Grandma Connie's blog.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Toilet Tricks Only a Mom Would Attempt

Rowan has a bit of a pooping problem.* The little guy holds it in too long. Then, because he’s afraid to release the monster his poop has become, he fights it even more. It’s a vicious cycle, really.

Although our doctor said that constipation is common in toddlers — especially during potty learning — I decided to take action. We’ve been trying the usual remedies (water, fruit, oatmeal) with some success. But none of that’s very interesting.

So instead, I give you the three stupidest ways I’ve convinced Rowan to poop in the toilet:

  1. Offering Bribes
    Officially, I’m against bribery. Unofficially, I kind of like it because it works. Well…it sort of works.

    My experiment began innocently enough. Rowan was refusing to poop, so I threw him a little incentive. If he pooped in the toilet, he could have a freezie pop. It worked! The lure of an artificially flavored, plastic-encased concoction of corn syrup slush convinced him to set the fighter free!

    But it didn’t take long for Rowan to get smart. "If I don't poop, can I have blueberries instead?” Um... What do I say to that? I mean, I’d rather feed him the blueberries, but the kid’s gotta poop. And for that matter, what are we now negotiating? Treats for pushing it or fruits for holding it? Huh?

    And then he got really smart. He attempted to score treats for burping, farting and spitting on the couch. I explained that pooping in the toilet isn’t the same as performing rude bodily functions on our furniture. His reply? “Well, if I spit in the sink can I have a treat?”


    My current take on bribery is that it only works if you have short-term goals in mind — very short-term goals.

  2. Applying Poop Potion
    I’m not referring to some herbal remedy or traditional cure. Nope, our poop potion is simply a jar of expensive organic moisturizer that I dab on Rowan’s cheek (face, not butt) when he has to poop. (Don’t ask me why I didn’t choose a cheaper placebo like tap water or something.)

    Rowan is as convinced that the potion softens his poop as I am that it softens my skin. I doubt it works in either case, but it makes us feel better. I guess that’s all that matters. Kyle just shakes his head.

  3. "Talking the Poop"
    Super embarrassing and highly effective, “talking the poop” is the practice of giving Rowan’s poop a voice — letting it express its own needs, if you will. (No, I'm not kidding.)

    It all started one evening during a luxurious bubble bath. I had just settled into the tub with a magazine, when Kyle burst through the doorway, holding Rowan at arms-length.

    “Rowan’s gotta poop, and it’s a hard one,” he said, plopping the already grimacing toddler onto his Elmo potty seat. (I know what you’re thinking: “This girl’s life is like a day at the spa!”)

    As soon as Rowan’s butt hit the seat, he began fighting the inevitable. Kyle’s coaching didn’t help. “C’mon, Ro. You’ve got to get that thing out, or it'll just get harder. You can do this!”

    Suddenly, I had a brilliant idea! (Did I mention that I was enjoying a glass of wine during my bath?) We had to make our case in a more child-friendly way!

    To Rowan’s delight and Kyle’s horror, I began talking as though I were Rowan’s poop. (Imagine a cartoonish voice to get the full effect.) “Well, hey there, Rowan! It’s me, your poop. You've gotta push me out, so I can go for a swim!”

    Rowan’s imagination didn’t miss a beat in this little improvisation. “But you’re too hard, poop,” he replied. “And I don’t like the toilet. I want my diaper.”

    “Oh, I don’t want to be all squished up in some stinky diaper,” I said (as the cartoonish poop, in case you’re not getting this). “I want you to set me free!”

    I won’t pain you with further details (this has been painful enough already), but Rowan's poop eventually took a happy trip down the waterslide. “Have a nice swim,” Rowan said as he flushed. “Woo hoo!”

    Then he asked for a freezie pop...

There you go. You now know the three stupidest ways I’ve convinced Rowan to poop in the toilet. So if you’re ever in a Target restroom and hear a well-intentioned young mother talking like a disgruntled poop, cut her some slack. She’s doing the best that she can.


*Rowan: If you're now 16 and reading this, I’m truly sorry for embarrassing you. You have no idea how wrapped up a parent can become in a child’s bodily functions. I promise you’ll understand someday. Love you!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Quotable Rowan

I overheard all of these gems this evening while using the computer in our office:

"Daaaaaad! Get in here and turn the lights on! My pupils are getting way too big from being in this dark room."

"You don't throw things at people — only at robots!"

"Big hyenas are big, but they're scared of big lions because they're, you know, big. And you know, tigers sting because their bodies are big, so they spray out stuff. Big stuff."

"You're a sticky stink bomb."

"I guess I like crazy talk."

Never a dull moment around here.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back and Blue

Rowan really said it best:

"Since it's so much fun to be on vacation, why can't we stay on vacation all the time?"

Why indeed? But alas, our sun-filled, water-soaked, family-packed, cherry-jam-fueled trip to Door County is over. We're sad to be back to the old grind, but there's nothing like sleeping in your own bed and using your own bathroom.

I'll post more pictures this week, but here's one of Rowan after a morning of mini golf. You can see by the look on his face that 18 holes proved a bit much for a two-year-old — even a mature 2-year-old like Rowan. Actually, it's Rowan's maturity and verbal skills that make his naughty moments so entertaining.

I give you Rowan's rant after about the sixteenth time I told him that he can't hit everyone's ball into the hole:

"I can't handle this! Don't say that I can, mama, because I can't! I'm so frustrated with waiting! I can't be patient, I really really can't. Taking turns isn't nice, it's boring!"

Why don't you tell me how you really feel, kid?


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Up North!

We enjoyed a wonderful week at my parents' cabin earlier this summer. Rowan caught his first fish, and Kyle and I spent lots of time relaxing (a good adult-to-child ratio allows for that). Hopefully, we'll get up there again before the snow flies!

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