Monday, March 26, 2012

Party on . . .

I feel like I better devote a post to: turning 30. It's really been a blast turning 30, something about having a decade change made me want to plan things to make it memorable. So, we've enjoyed merging old traditions with new . . .

- Trev gave me a big cookbook, The Best Recipes in the World,  and we're really, really going to try to start choosing recipes to cook together (sometimes, at least)
- "Free" birthday dinners from Noodles and Ruby Tuesday
- Not free birthday dinner out with friends. Part of my "growing up" and celebrating 30 was to meet 2 dear couples at a favorite restaurant, Sunsets. Sans kids. Actually, a couple of the kids played together here with a precious youth group girl and had a blast. Karis was literally pushing me out the door, physically and verbally: "Leave mommy!" while shoving my legs
- Re-watching Chariots of Fire, which is my birthday movie. Such a reminder of passion and purpose in life
- Re-reading of Psalm 139
- Anticipating being in Bismarck soon . . . it's been so fun to look forward to that time with family and friends

I'm thankful for the traditions of celebrating life, for the intentional time to honor the breath that God has given me. I also think it's important to celebrate my parents on my birthday (Karis, if you are reading this when you are 13 or 18 or 30, you should steal this idea from me). They make life so special and memorable and celebratory, thanks dad and mom.

There are so many things I thought I'd have figured out by now . . . but I feel like I've been gently reminded lately that life really is all about growth. Learning, being shaped and molded and refined. At any age.

Another theme of birthday thoughts is to live in each moment, to be present. To enjoy the good moments, learn from the not-so-good, to be mindful of the moments (and not regret or worry about it when I'm not). Some people seem to do all this naturally, I am not one of those people.

And of course, grace. Grace really does cover all - the times of refinement, the ones where I lose sight of the moment.

Some birthday surprises included:
- Waking up to a front yard full of forks that spelled "Happy 30th Andrea". I still don't know who the culprit is, but I LOVE them!
- Just before breakfast, Karis ran to my legs, gave me a huge hug and said "I love you soooo much!". She has never ever done this before, and I feel like God was speaking through her. I cried.
- Some dear neighbors brought over bread, not even knowing it was my birthday. The mid-morning chat over tea was very refreshing

We are almost partied out here - I think Trevor is slightly relieved that my birthday is over. Our last event was meeting friends for a casual dinner at Chatterbox (Karis is starting to say "Go get dinner at restaurant! Sorry dear, back to home cooking tomorrow).

Friday, March 23, 2012

Things to learn from children's books

Karis's books are like friends to us, I'm savoring these days when she backs up onto my lap or cuddles with me on the couch (sometimes with her arm around me, precious!) to page through her favorite books. Reading about Corduroy and her delight when he goes up the escalator, I discover the beautiful story of friendship.  Always Room For One More reminds me about the desire to open our home with such an attitude. Angus and The Ducks makes me want a Scottish Terrier. More More More encourages me to tickle Karis's belly button and scoop her into my arms. Knuffle Bunny is always good for a laugh and makes me thankful for my in-home washing machine and dryer. Barnyard Dance makes me think of square dancing and completely cracks me up as I watch Karis stomp around. The Foot Book is surprisingly helpful in teaching Karis about her left and right feet. Winter Days in the Big Woods (a Little House adaptation) is helpful in establish the proper work for each day. If you read Love You Forever twice a day, it won't make you cry (well, not every time, at least).

I finished Kisses From Katie last week - lots to think about. As I had the fleeting thought of turning on our air conditioning several times the past days (weak, I know), I thought of Katie who lives in Uganda and adopted 14 girls at the age of 19 and has rats her in house and the hugest heart and incredibly inspiring life story. You should read it. 

What really impresses me in reading news this week is that Trevor finished Les Miserables. He says it was completely worth it and so I'm tempted to start.

What you might hear through the open screen door this week:
- "You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around . . . " (said by me, not Karis. Karis just laughs, which is why I do it)
- "Wear this to nappers?!" (with a note of exclamatory pleading that expresses her desire to wear whatever it is she is wearing to her nap or bedtime - one time she was running around with nothing on and grabbed her skin while saying this)
- "Honey?" (again, pleading exclamation, part of her bedtime routine still involves eating honey even when there is no cough. To do this, Karis climbs into her high chair and happily sips on her spoonful of sweet stickiness)
- "Go to Belle's house! Make Lefse! Have fun with Erika!" (yup, we made lefse. Karis ate a whole round of raw dough and also some chocolate pudding, all while wearing her chosen outfit: an adorable vintage Polly Flanders dress that is at least a size too small but oh so perfect)
- "Happy day Mommy!" (a couple former coworkers took me out for dinner, Karis loved the candle. I loved the triple chocolate)
- "Eat smoothie in my elephant cup" (because that is where smoothies belong)
- "Go potty! Mommy already showered. Get dressed! I pick outfit. Go to kitchen" (phrases said within 30 seconds of being up in the morning)
- "Pinky!" (a pink ball from the dollar bin at Target, the latest fave that goes everywhere we do)
- "French toast Friday!" (yup, a tradition)
- "I had a good day" (said on our way home Sunday night after seeing Aunt Cassie, melted our hearts)
- pretending she's going to the airport to pick up Cassie: "Bye momma! I'm going to airport pick up Cassie! I be back soon!"
- "Read it fast! Sing it fast!" (everything with Karis is FAST, a lot like her dad)
- "Go to restaurant. Cheeseburger!" (because that is what one eats at any restaurant, right?)
- "I have happy day mommy on my fingers!" (i.e. she got glitter on her fingers from some wrapping paper on the gift Trev gave me)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

(Old) McDonald's (Farm)

Since summer came early to MN (I am continuing to show incredible restraint in not turning on the air conditioner - I am also restraining from turning on the oven) we re-instituted one of our favorite seasonal traditions: weekend ice cream cones at McDonalds. Even better than the ice cream tonight was Karis's association . . . one of her very favorite songs lately is "Old Macdonald Had a Farm". So, when we told her we were going to McDonald's for ice cream, she showed us how she was making sense of that in her head by exclaiming, "Old Macdonald's ice cream!". Even better was when we got to there and she started saying "Old Macdonald's farm!", her wide eyes scanning the whole place with wonder.

A memorable St. Patrick's Day moment, for sure.

A lefse making adventure with friends earlier this week. Yes, Karis is eating the dough. And wearing a 2T dress that is too adorable, and definitely too small. I love that she is dressing herself these days!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A fish story

I had this thought that Lent would be the perfect time to incorporate fish into our weekly menus. I told Trevor that I was going to start making tilapia once a week, and I enthusiastically explained how inexpensive and easy to prepare it is. To which he replied, "Well yeah, of course it's cheap. They're raised in huge tanks . . . " At which point I put up my hands and asked him to please stop. I really, really, really dislike fish and while I do enjoy eating some fish I don't like to think about it at ALL. And now I can't bring myself to buy any tilapia. Or any other fish, for that matter.

I savor this season of reflection and repentance - there are daily opportunities to give and receive grace always, and I'm thankful for the collective focus in these weeks of thinking about the road that Jesus walked, the sacrifices He made, the temptations He endured, the promises He fulfilled.

I've been thinking this week about growth. Karis is constantly growing in so many ways, but it hit me that so am I. Or at least, I hope I am. Growth never stops at a certain age, and it's quite remarkable that even within this little family, we can all learn and grow together. Surely at different rates and in different ways, but we're all changing and learning and experiencing life in ways that prune us and shape us. The following quote recently affirmed these thoughts about growth and grace:

". . . [many displays of winter are a reminder that] beautiful things are still happening in some of nature’s most quiet and dark seasons; just as sometimes we personally have to go through such periods to come out into new growth. Part of the process of creating your family often leads to acknowledging things you would like to do differently; things you would like to be better, and opportunities for a positive and beautiful new beginning.
 In the process of acknowledging what you would like to change or do differently, I hope you take the time to see all the things that you do right.  I also hope you forgive yourself for any unrealistic expectations that you were harboring about parenting and family life." (from the parenting passageway).

Yes, I like that.

Another thought I like, from the book Kisses From Katie (read it, amazing story. Katie adopted 13 children from Uganda . . . at the age of nineteen):
"Parenting is sometimes tough. Parenting is almost always hilarious."

Random Karis-isms this week:
- "Little Jay!" (Trevor named one of her 'little people' . . . and now 'Little Jay' is a bedtime must-have item)
- "I have an owie. Run around! Fell on Cedar Chest!" (Karis got her first big and noticeable owie - she did indeed run into our cedar chest and has a scrape on her eyebrow to show it. She is enjoying telling everyone she meets about it, as well as re-enacting the event sans actually hitting her head)
- Walking up to strangers in church to talk, probably telling them about her owie. This girl is an extrovert, it's so fun to watch.
- "I wanna go back to Sterling's birthday party" (exclaimed over and over all the way home from Sterling's birthday party)
- "I get orange gum" (Trevor got Karis orange gum, so sweet - literally)
- "Go talk in the bathroom!" (commonly heard when we go to restaurants. Karis likes to do things she's not supposed to in hopes that I will go have a talk with her in the bathroom. She really likes restaurant bathrooms. We left Snuffy's a little prematurely a couple weeks ago because of this)
- "I don't like tomatoes" (true and funny. you'd really have to hear the tone/inflection of this statement to get the humor. Or maybe you have to be Karis's mom to think this is funny?)
- "Read Ra-pu-pu-pum" (reading the Drummer Boy book, a latest favorite)
- "Wash on Monday, mend on Tuesday, churn on Wednesday" (a statement from her 'Laura book', an adaptation from the Little House series)
- "Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, it's a rainbow" (repeating a phrase sung by her picnic basket. Did you know picnic baskets sing?)
- "Check on snowman" (Trev and Karis made a big one, with 'milk balls', i.e. whoppers robin eggs candy, for the eyes and mouth. They melted off and Karis snuck one into her mouth before I could catch her. She looked delighted).
- "I wanna go to Bismarck!" (amen, daughter)
- Running full speed to hug my knees (please, let this last forever . . . )
- Singing "Old Macdonald Had a Farm" while dancing
-  "Mommy, leave! Mommy and daddy go on date. I eat dinner at Lukas's" (said as we dropped her off with friends for a couple hours - Trev and I went to a restaurant we've been talking about trying for years for an early birthday celebration. Dear K - I think that answers your question in the comment. =) )

Monday, March 5, 2012


As I write this very sentence, I'm tuning into the Today show (my feeble effort at catching some news before K stirs and the week begins) and there is an interview of a tornado survivor. Life really is a breath, and every current breath is the only one we can count on - what will I do with it?

Speaking of life, today is my dad's birthday. Happy Birthday, DK! I hope you know you're life is incredibly celebrated today! You teach by example how to make the most of every day. Live it up!

And speaking of living it up and counting the crazy blessings that come our way at times . . . what are the chances of having two DIRL experiences within six weeks of each other?! We had the gift of time off and travel a few weeks ago when we converged with family for a long weekend in Florida. "Are you ready to go to Florida?!", said Karis for a couple weeks before. We had the best time with my parents, my bro and his girlfriend. The journey there was fun (going through a fabulous stage with Karis as far as flying is concerned, she even shocked me by napping on my lap. Precious). We arrived, shopped like maniacs for meal supplies at Supertarget, ate Chick-fil-A in the jam-packed van, and enjoyed a breezy drive to the house.

We fell into a relaxed rhythm of early mornings, time on the beach, rest, meals together. We enjoyed outings to a different beach, Bahama Breeze restaurant, a gorgeous drive to Captiva Island and a dinner at the Mucky Duck. Watching sunsets on the water, watching Karis hilarious entertain, reading magazines,  exploring . . . walking or riding bikes on the beach, people watching (you would too! beaches are fascinating places). It was quality time, refreshing, encouraging, fun. We even snuck in some movie watching and a round of Dutch Blitz. I am so sad to say we didn't take many (any?) videos - tragic! I also took a whopping 19 pictures. Ack. Karis was a delight to watch, we reveled in her joy at being with family and in a new environment. The girl loves life and her exuberant attitude is contagious.

There were a couple tell-tale signs that Trevor and I are novice beach-dwellers:
- You know that common perception about long, romantic walks on the beach? Our first day there, we tried that . . . Andrea style, which means fast. We got a good mile away, at which point Trev's toes were ripped up from walking on some rocks. Poor guy! We of course had to walk back, it looked painful. We did end up taking another walk on our last day there, with shoes that time.
- My toes were fine, but my pasty white shoulders burned pretty badly the first day and I wore a t-shirt the rest of the time. To further my midwest ways, I wasn't even disappointed to not get a tan.

Small blips on the bliss that was vacation. We're thankful for the memories.

Florida style Karis-isms:
- "The waves chase me!"
- "Go to the beach!"
- "Build sandcastles! Seashells!"
- "Watch cucumber, Bobby the tomato!" (Veggie tales, a fave activity at all times - especially dancing along)
- "Diapers!" (while pulling maxi-pads off the shelf at Target)
- "Paint nails again!" (almost everyone had a turn or two painting fingers and toes)