Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Forgotten Thoughts

When I woke this morning it was to the unusual sound of quiet. Perfect, still quiet. I lay there in stunned amazement and didn't move. I just soaked up the quiet and enjoyed being able to connect thoughts and ideas without being interrupted every two and a half seconds. It was glorious.

And as I laid there thinking I had lots of interesting thoughts, many of which probably would have been interesting blog posts had they been able to be fleshed out. And now, a few hours later with kids running around screaming, doors slamming and the phone ringing? I can't even remember the thoughts I thought just a few short hours ago.

Joe sometimes gets frustrated with me when I'm really concentrating on something because I get really, really annoyed when someone interrupts me. And this is why; if I can't be allowed the time to connect my thoughts, or to absorb them fully, they're gone. And maybe they're not important in the scheme of life, but they were important enough to me in those too brief moments of quiet to think them, so I feel like it's sort of a shame that they're gone.

Ack. Whatever. Off to tame the beasts, once again.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One Month

One month has gone by already since Caroline was born? I almost don't believe it. Here she is, in all her one-month-old cuteness.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Harry Potter

"Mom," Madeleine began a few minutes ago, "Is Filtch a squib?"


"You know, Filch. From Harry Potter."

"What's a squib?'

Madeleine let out an exasperated sigh. "A squib is someone born to a wizard family with no magical powers." You can almost hear the "duh, Mom" that she wanted to include at the end of the sentence.



"So, Mom, is Filch a squib?" Madeleine asked once more.

"Oh, I don't remember. Which one is Filch?"

Madeleine looks at me for a moment, inwardly rolling her eyes, I'm sure, and then dives back into the second book in the Harry Potter series.

I haven't read these books since Madeleine was Caroline's age. If she's going to keep asking me questions about the books, I'm in trouble.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Decisions, decisions...

I stink at making decisions. I really do. When someone asks me what I'd like to eat, drink or whatever, I generally give some nonspecific answer because, usually, I really just don't care. Wine or beer, Coke or Sprite, La Croix or an Izze; I never have much of a strong preference.

This problem gets worse when we're talking about big ticket items. Like houses. Today, specifically, we're talking about houses.

I love our house. It's small, there's nothing particularly special about it, it seems like it's always a mess with five-- and soon to be six-- of us dropping a coat here or a book there but for whatever reason, I love it. It's home. And in a lot of ways I don't want to move anywhere; it's a lot of work, it's expensive and, besides, we're already home.

But then I think about our situation pragmatically and I know we'd be much more comfortable with another bedroom. And a family room. And maybe even an eat-in kitchen. So, we go house hunting and, invariably, we see a house we like yet Joe and I dawdle and ponder and, ultimately, never make a decision and see the house get sold to someone more capable of saying, "Yes, I want this house."

Today we saw a house. It's not a perfect house, but the soul of a really great house is there, it just needs some love and attention. It's in one of my favorite neighborhoods in our town. It's being sold well below market value. It has all the space we need. Yet again, we waver. It needs a LOT of work Joe and I say to each other. And it's true, it does. But look at this gorgeous red brick, Joe, and look-- real shutters! I say back. And Joe agrees, those things are lovely. But do we want to spend the next two or three years pulling up carpeting, patching ceilings and walls, ripping down outdated wallpaper and updating kitchen counters and bathroom fixtures? Maybe.

We have to be decisive now. There is already one offer in on this house. There's a deal to be had, a bigger house out there for us and, unfortunately for us, a major decision to be made.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Loud Girl

The other day Elisabeth was playing with some of her friends outside. She was trying to explain something to her group of friends and, as she is wont to do, the further along in her explanation she got, the higher her voice rose in volume and octave. Finally one observant friend asked her, "Elisabeth, why do you always yell everything?"

Elisabeth contemplated the question and then, without missing a beat, parroted something she's heard adults say about her multiple times "Oh, because I'm a loud girl," was the matter-of-fact reply.

Yes, indeed, she is. And also, apparently, unfazed and unembarrassed about the fact.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mary, Queen of Scots

Last week in history we discussed Mary, Queen of Scots. Out of all we learned and discussed (her childhood, her rise to power, her familial ties to Queen Elizabeth I, her captivity, etc.) the thing that fascinated Madeleine and Hank more than anything else was her marriage to Lord Darnley and his death. They loved the excitement of a building being blown up. They loved the intrigue of his body being found strangled. And they loved the mystery surrounding his death and the idea that so many blamed his wife.

So, when it came time to choose something we'd learned about in history to summarize and illustrate, both big kids chose the untimely death of Lord Darnley.

The following pictures show them ever so happily illustrating the explosion referenced above.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Caroline: Three Weeks Old

Happy Birthday, Joe!

Today is Joe's birthday, but we celebrated yesterday. Apparently I had too much fun chatting with our families, sipping a New Glarus beer and grumbling about the Packers pathetic performance to take pictures.

I don't know, though, if pictures would have properly captured the relaxed, fun atmosphere of the day. We spent the afternoon with Joe's parents, my dad (poor Diana was sick), Bob, his girlfriend and her daughter and my sister and her fiance munching on cheese and crackers and chips and salsa and sipping beer while cheering the Packers onto victory. Well, most of us anyway. Bob and Blake were brave enough to show up for the birthday celebration wearing their Bears hat and sweatshirt respectively, but after giving them a hard time, the rest of us, all Packer fans, managed to avert our eyes from the offending logos.

I made a couple different kinds of chili over the weekend and reheated them in crock pots before leaving for church in the morning. Before the game I whipped up some easy corn bread and that was the extent of my culinary efforts. I was actually able to sit and relax instead of cooking prior to the meal. It was a nice change of pace. Joe's mom was nice enough to bring down an apple upside down cake (Joe's favorite) and I whipped up a mocha torte so we'd have enough cake with the larger crowd.

And the best part? The birthday boy proclaimed the day a success. Happy birthday, Joe!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Medical Adventures: The Photo

Here is Elisabeth showing off her splint in all its glory.

If you missed it, the post detailing the necessity of the splint was posted the other day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Elisabeth Decoded

Look carefully at the following pictures. Do you see the dirt all over her face (you can make the picture larger by clicking it)? Notice the outfit. These pictures sum up Elisabeth perfectly.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Medical Adventures

Tuesday morning found us waking up north of Green Bay at Joe's parents' house. We woke relatively early given the late night before and hit the road by 9 a.m. We were back in Milwaukee by 11:30 a.m. and Joe made short work of heading into the office. I had planned a relatively easy day knowing we'd all be tired; a few quick errands and an extended visit to the library, per Madeleine's request.

By noon there was a problem. Hank and Elisabeth had gone in the basement to wrestle and play. I heard lots of shrieks and giggles and went about the business of unpacking, checking messages and getting lunch ready. But then I heard a different kind of shriek. This one wasn't in good cheer and shortly after Elisabeth came upstairs with tears in her eyes and clutching her left wrist. I tried to touch it and to have her move it, but doing so only resulted in tears of pain from Elisabeth. Now, from a lot of three-year-olds this may not mean much. If Hank, for instance, was to cry like that I would assume he'd maybe stubbed his toe, but Elisabeth? She's one tough cookie and tears from her are always the real deal.

I called her doctor. He suggested giving her a Tylenol, putting ice on the wrist and reassessing around 2 p.m. So, that's what we did. At 2 p.m. she was still in just as much pain so off to the doctor we went. Her pediatrician assessed the wrist and gave us the unfortunate news that it needed to be x-rayed. Across town. Way, way across town. So we loaded into the van, drove through some of Milwaukee's less than choice neighborhoods (i.e. the ones that are always on the nightly news b/c of some shooting or another) and then proceeded to spend the next three hours waiting to have Elisabeth's wrist x-rayed.

By 5:30 we were on our way home when I received a call from Elisabeth's doctor. The x-rays were negative, thankfully; Elisabeth had just suffered a sprain. She is now the proud owner of a splint that she refuses to take off her wrist and functions pretty well despite having the use of only one hand.

Joe and I have taken to calling Elisabeth our hospital child. She has visited the emergency room or urgent care no less than three times. Madeleine has gone zero and Hank only once (and Caroline I'm not even going to count yet). I'm not saying it won't happen, but clearly Elisabeth has a greater proclivity for getting hurt.

The upshot of all of this? While sitting in the waiting room for three hours with all four kids it hit me: if I could get through that with four kids then I can get through anything with four kids. So that's good. I guess.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Packers Versus Da Bears

The game wasn't the offensive shootout I expected, but still, there's something deliciously fun about beating the Bears at Lambeau.

Hank waiting for kick-off.

Caroline and me waiting for kick-off.

Happy Packer fans after the game.

More than the victory, even, I am beyond thrilled that football season has started again. Joe and I spent the entire drive home this morning discussing the ins and outs of the game. Finally-- new plays to dissect and new players to critique! Why is football season so short anyway?

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I don't usually single a business out for having good service because I generally expect most businesses to provide decent service and so, by and large, I'm much more likely to note and comment on poor business practices than good ones.

However, I was so recently impressed with Zappos that I decided to spread the word. Until a few weeks ago I had heard of Zappos but never ordered anything through their website since I like to try on shoes before buying them. However, I had a terrible time finding hiking boots that would fit Elisabeth's tiny feet and so I decided to check Zappos' website.

The initial purchase was uneventful enough; I found the shoes I wanted, entered the necessary information and clicked submit. Elisabeth's shoes arrived quickly and I was happy to note the shipping was free.

However, the shoes were too large. So I buckled in for what I assumed would be a huge hassle and called Zappos' toll-free line. I was shocked when an actual person answered the phone instead of a recording, and even more shocked to hear that an exchange would be no trouble and wouldn't cost me a dime. Without even getting the pair back they had originally sent me, they sent out Elisabeth's new shoes and they immediately emailed me a shipping label so that I wouldn't have to pay for the return shipping on the shoes I had initially received.

So much for needing to try shoes on; Zappos' return policy is so easy and hassle-free that I'll definitely order from them again.

Friday, September 11, 2009


This morning started out for me very much like this same day eight years ago. I woke up to a bright, clear September day not expecting anything particularly interesting to happen. Like in 2001, I started my day slowly; then preparing for work and packing up a toddler for daycare, today squeezing in a shower and caring for a newborn. Eight years ago I turned on the TV while I ate breakfast and saw the damage left by the first of the airplanes to hit the World Trade Center. Today I did not turn on the TV or even the radio as I usually do and so, as a result, it took me awhile to realize today was September 11.

It's funny, because I can hardly remember what happened last week with much clarity but I, like so many other Americans, can remember the events of September 11, 2001 very vividly. I remember being at my office after dropping Madeleine off at daycare and hearing there was a fourth airplane missing and that perhaps the capitol, where my employer worked, was the target. I remember leaving work and picking Madeleine up and taking her home. I didn't think there was any real danger in Janesville, Wisconsin of all places, but still, I wanted my family close. I remember finally getting ahold of Joe, then a law student. He came home early that day too. Most of all I remember staring at the TV, so horrifyingly mesmerizing, for the entire day.

Today is nothing like that horrible day eight years ago. I have three more kids today than I did then, the three oldest who are with my dad and Diana today, not with me, and that's OK; I'm not rushing off to pick them up. I went grocery shopping. I paid bills. I did laundry and didn't turn on the TV once.

And yet, still, I remember. I have thought about the day eight years ago often today. And while our lives have changed considerably in eight years, I appreciate the fact that my memories of such an important day have not.

Elisabeth's First Day of Preschool

Since the day Hank finished up at our local Nature Preschool we've been itching to go back. Hank had such a fantastic year and this preschool is everything that I think preschool should be, with the emphasis being on playing and learning outdoors and not worrying about letters and numbers and all the various "schoolish" tasks that older children are capable of mastering quickly when they're a bit older (and I won't even get into how Hank just sort of absorbed it all even though it was never officially "taught" at this same preschool by just seeing and hearing it around him).

Well, now it's Elisabeth's turn to harvest a garden, make salsa, search for animal tracks in the snow, catch butterflies and all the other fun and exciting things her brother did three short years ago and yesterday was her first day.

I don't know if Elisabeth was really nervous; she barely seemed fazed by the events of the day, but she does look a touch nervous in this first picture, no?

And, naturally, Madeleine insisted on getting in on the picture taking as well.

Once we got there, Madeleine and Hank shifted into hyper-gear and insisted on helping Elisabeth do everything. This resulted in no small amount of objection from the small, yet independent, Elisabeth Jane, and finally Joe and I were forced to intervene and tell the big kids to back off. Notice, though, how in both of the following pictures, the first of Elisabeth walking up to the front door through the front play space and the second of her hanging her backpack up in her newly found cubby, Elisabeth's "helpers" are never far off.

How did Elisabeth handle the big day? Well, she barely had time to bother to say good-bye to anyone and barely turned her head when we all left the classroom. Her teachers gave us a more hearty good-bye than our daughter did. And at pick-up Elisabeth was full of good cheer and stories about her fun morning. Hank asked her if she'd had a super fun time and Elisabeth answered, "No! It was REALLY fun!" So, there you have it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

First Day of School

Yesterday we started school and despite one crabby six-year-old and one ten day old baby who hit the first day of a growth spurt and wanted to nurse every five seconds, it actually went pretty well. The kids seem happy to be back in a routine and interested in what they were learning. I'm sure things will change in the next few weeks, but it was a decent start to the school year.

My fourth grader!

My first/second grader!

The whole gang.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Caroline's Baptism, II

A follow-up in which I post better pictures. Thanks Dad and Diana!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Caroline's Baptism

I'm hoping some of the other photographers present at Caroline's baptism got some better shots than what I have. In each of mine someone in the picture has a wonky look on their face. Usually multiple people. Please, people, send me your .jpeg and .tif files-- I desperately want them!

In the interim, however, I'll share some of what I have.

Joe and me with Caroline following the service. The gown Caroline is wearing is the same gown worn by my great-grandmother, my maternal grandmother and now all four of my kids. While my mom and I did not wear it, others in our generations did, so the gown is on its fifth generation now. Of course, you can't really see the gown in any of my pictures because no one-- including me-- thought to get a close-up of just Caroline. Ugh!

Our whole crew.

Our family with Caroline's godparents.

Madeleine and Caroline with the cakes made by a very talented friend of ours from our congregation for Caroline's reception following the service.

I think most everyone who attended the service was able to join us for some cake, punch and coffee and I'm more than certain that at least fifty percent of our congregation held Caroline at some point. Madeleine kept asking when it would be her turn and grumbled how everyone else got to hold Caroline for too long. It was a fun celebration.

A much smaller crew including grandparents, godparents and a few friends joined us at home for a relaxing lunch that I failed to really record, photographically-speaking, except for the beautiful flowers Diana brought and the leftover cake.

As a side note, there are a million little things that happen through the course of life that make me miss my mom and it's usually the dumb little things, not the big important things. For instance, you'd think a big important day like Caroline's birth or her baptism would make my mom's absence hit home and it does, in a way, but you know what's really made her absence hit home today? The lack of pictures that I have from Caroline's baptism. Weird.

Anyway, it was a beautiful, happy day and such a joy to witness Caroline receive the blessings of baptism in the presence of family and so many good friends.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Doting Big Sister

Madeleine just adores her new baby sister. Can you tell?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Funny kid quotes from yesterday and today

* After observing Hank crumbling up goldfish crackers and sprinkling them on his waffles I asked him what he was doing. His response? "What, Mom! I'm trying new things!"

* I was telling Joe a story about a friend who was interested in buying a microdermabrasion cream and concluded that I wasn't going to buy it for various reasons. From the other side of the table Madeleine said, in all seriousness, "Mom, you'll regret not buying it when you're a wrinkled old prune."

* Today Hank was going over his bike ramp and hit his, erm, nether regions a little harder than expected. His immediate comment, "OW! My crouch!"

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

More Caroline

My four(!) crazy kiddos this past Monday, the day we left the hospital. This was a sad day; I'm one of those that loves the hospital and all those nice nurses and food brought in periodically and not being responsible for much of anything besides feeling better.

Plus we had a great view of Lake Michigan.

Caroline getting dressed to come home (the outfit is a premie size-- she's so tiny!).

These signs greeted us when we pulled in our driveway.

One from Madeleine...

one from Hank...

and one from Elisabeth.

Caroline is doing so well and we love having her home. I'm ridiculously exhausted, which is a whole other post in which I laugh at myself because I thought I remembered how tiring it was having a newborn, but I didn't remember. I really, really didn't. We're also being ridiculously spoiled by so many good friends; I'm sure I won't have to cook for a week or two and I am so, SO thankful to have the luxury of not having to worry about what is for supper every day and instead learning how to parent four (!!!) children.