Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Mount Olive Christmas Pageant

Last Sunday, our church put on a little Christmas pageant after mass. It was one of those productions where everybody heads downstairs to the "fellowship hall" after church is over and munches a variety of Lutheran goodies...while the kids re-enact the Nativity. This always proves to be an amusing event for everyone. I knew that going in. However, I said a little prayer during church that the "amusing" part of the event would not be brought on by my children. (Julia, after all, was playing an angel! That's a good omen, right?) Unfortunately, I was interrupted mid-petition by a hungry 18 month old, wanting to munch the rest of her banana. I never finished my prayer. I should have.

The pageant started with the a prayer. When Pastor was finished, he said, "I have been told that we need to get things rolling. Some of the little angels are getting a little antsy."

Seconds later, there were kids marching in, two by two, to "Away in a Manger." It was cute. They had costumes...some camels, a sheep, a cow, a thing with horns (reindeer? Goat? Bull? ) Mary, Joseph, shepherds, three wise men, and a few little girls wearing the white "altar boy" outfits with halos on their heads...aka angels. Everyone looked picture-perfect. Except where was Julia? She was supposed to be in the crowd of angels. Did I miss her? She is the shortest one here....

Wait. A few seconds after I noticed my missing daughter, she came rushing in, holding the hand of the "director," being coerced to walk up to the stage. Instead of the neatly combed blonde hair in pigtails that her papa had prepared that morning, Julia's hair was a voluminous rat's nest. Somewhere in it was a tinsel halo, tangled among the sticky strands of blonde with remnants of the five packages of gummi bears she had probably been eating before the show...to keep her busy, of course. When she saw the stage, she broke out in a full run, eager to get the show going.

The first few minutes went well. Julia stood as still as, well, an angel...while they read a few verses from Luke's gospel. The handbells played. The kids stood up again when the bells were done and resumed their roles. Except by this time, the novelty of the situation was clearly over. Julia started getting antsy. She sat, she stood, she spun around in circles on her butt. After the novelty of *that* was over, she walked away from her crowd of angels and stood right in front of Mary. (Not our Mary, but the girl who was playing the actual Mary, standing next to Joseph and the baby Jesus.) Mary, who was being played by a shy, very well-behaved ten-year-old, suddenly was shuffling on her feet like she was stumbling. What was Julia doing? Was I imagining this?

No. I was not imagining it. Julia was carefully scooting Mary backward toward the back of the stage. She wanted Mary's spot. My eyes grew big in horror as I rememberd something Julia had said during rehearsal:

"Mommy, I am sick of being an angel. This is boring. I want to be Mary!"

Oh dear. She was trying to live out her aspirations by eliminating her competition. Julia was trying to knock Mary, the mother of Jesus, right of the stage!

I remembered that prayer that I never finished.

Thankfully, Mary had to leave her post and read a few lines at the lone microphone across the room. When she moved away from her spot, Julia stood there and grinned like she had won the prize. The manger was HERS! Also fortunately, if you haven't noticed, Julia gets bored with things rather quickly. Soon after she had achieved her prestigious position, she grew tired of standing next tp Joseph and simply jumped off of the back of the stage herself.

At this point, Mary, our Mary...not the girl playing the Blessed Mother... decided to take matters into her own hands. Mary notices everything....even when her sister ditches the Christmas play off the back of stage. Over the hush of the nativity, she shouted, "DOOOO-UH, DOOOO-UH!" (Translation: JULIA, JULIA) Mary was no longer content munching on christmas cookies. She wanted to get up there and be part of the show. Mike tried to stop her initially, but I told him to just let her go up there. Perhaps she could talk some sense in to our little "angel."

This proved to be a very good idea. Not because Mary saved the day, but because Papa was now free to collect The Three-Year-Old and put her back in her place onstage before she knocked down the ten foot high wooden star display that probably weighed about thirty pounds. We saw the stars began to quiver...and before I had the chance to sic Mike on Julia, he was already backstage, steadying the heavy star tower....and probably preventing a call to 911 on a Sunday morning and some horrifying nativity bloodshed...


Although hesitant at first, Mary approached the stage and climbed right up. No costume and in a bright red dress, she took center stage and tried to act like she knew what was going on. When it came time to sing, Mary smiled. I could read her mind. "I know how to sing! I do that at home all the time!" She "sang" with the christmas carols, loudly and clearly, just like we do in the car: "Bum Bum Bum Bum Bum." Now THAT was cute. People went "ohhhh cute!" Mary glowed. She continued "Bum Bum Bum-ing" a little bit after the songs were over. She actually lasted about half of the pageant up there.

Meanwhile, her sister was able to remain on stage, now fascinated by a bale of straw. Phew. There was plenty of straw there for Julia to pick at over a period of ten minutes. Except for some additional flopping around onstage and obligatory showing of the crotch (why do little girls ALWAYS find it necessary to lift up their dresses in public?) We were in the clear. At the end of the pageant, Julia ran off the stage and crashed right into a pole. It's naptime!

Well, I guess all's well that ends well. And this ended well. The people of Mount Olive got their Christmas pageant. They witnessed beauty, cuteness, hilarity, a bit of danger, and even some nudity. All in all a good show. Next year, I bring the video camera.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fun is in the eye of the beholder

Today I was in the kitchen making soup and homemade bread. Julia loves to help out, and since the bread was now in the oven, she wanted to do something else. I was about to ask her to stir the soup when the phone rang. It was the electrician, with a follow-up call. (He came over yesterday to replace a bad outlet upstairs....one day it was fine, the next day it was black and stinky.....) Anyways the electrician told me I needed to unplug any and all of my space heaters for fear that our house would burn down. I must have sounded rather distraught at the mere thought of losing my beloved Heat Machine, because both the electrician and Julia caught on to the note of helplessness in my voice. The electrician told me he wanted to rewire our house and put a special circuit in just for space heaters. While he was waiting to hear my response, Julia, who was still in "help mommy" mode, shouts proudly:


oh dear.

The electrician laughs. "Been a long day, honey?" He says. I turned beet-red. Not only does he know that I am an idiot when it comes to anything with current, he now thinks that I am PREGNANT booze hound! I got him off the phone by telling him there was someone at the door. Oh dear. I should have said that the liquor store was closing soon and I needed to make a Beer Run before six o'clock rolls around. I might need to find a new electrician.

And I need to tell Mike to stop leaving the Captain Morgan out in plain sight. Miss Julia knows what it is, and she also thinks that it goes right between the 1% and the butter on the dining room table.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

We've been busy.

Oops. Sorry it's been a month since I posted to this beloved blog. There are many excuses I can think of. And some of them are legitimate, while some are of the "there is no excuse for that" variety. I really am sorry...but before I spend the next few days expounding on many of the details as to why I decided I was too busy to post anything up here, I would like to introduce you to somebody:

(sex unknown. nickname courtesy of your older sisters)
ETA: 3.26.10
(alien-baby picture) actually, the little circle is the lens of the eye
Actually, I think he or she looks kinda like a pirate. Ahoy maytee!

Helloooooo out there!

Good excuse, huh?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Halloween 2009

Happy Halloween!
This year, our Halloween Package Deal included one stinky, kneiving, exuberant skunk, a puffy, zealous, nerd-eating marshmallow, and a patient, industrious, SUPER grandma. We sure had a fun time.

Friday night, we went to "Malloween." Yup...the mall shops put on a trick-or-treating event for the kids in town. I had NO IDEA how popular it was. Mike was working, so Mom and I piled the kiddos in the van and took off. As we were driving away, my neighbor, who has twins, laughed and told us we were nuts to go to the mall. Why? I thought. It's warm in there, and we can practice trick-or-treating.

WHOA. It was UBER-CROWDED. Like cheese curd line, state-fair crowded! There were literally thousands of people there, ushering little goblins, witches, faries, and mysteriously-clad kiddos from one store to another to get free dum dums. (I noticed a blatant absence of chocolate. It was one of those deals where "trick or treat" gets you either a tiny tootsie roll, a piece of gum, or if you're lucky, a sucker...)

The kids were great. Mary stayed in the stroller after her first piece of candy...a dum dum...her favorite...and Julia walked because, frankly, she didn't fit in the stroller in her marshmallow suit.

My skunk and marshmallow, ready for action!

Little miss skunk waits in line for her first piece of glory. The big white blob next door is Miss Marshmallow.

The girls lasted about 30 minutes of Mall O Ween. Then, miss Marshmallow was overheating and we moved on to supper at a mall restaurant.

An evil grin: I stole mommy's wallet!!!! Ha!

ANOTHER evil grin: I am the comander of this ship! Ha!

Julia is in heaven....Grandma Beth actually put money into the ride. Mommy NEVER does that. The girls didn't even know that the mall spaceship moved. Now they do. Crap. I will never carry quarters again.

Home, after a bath, reading stories with g-ma. mary is evilly grinning again. This time, I don't know what she's up to.

Halloween! Papa was master-carver. I harvested pumpkin seeds. Julia helped. Mary "helped."

Julia was grumpy because the pumpkin was making her itchy. She started chucking pumpkin guts around the kitchen and got a stern look from mommy. That's when grandma took the picture. This is the stern look that I got in return for the one I gave.

Evil vampire teeth!

Thar she blows! Julia in her SMarshmallow suit. This year, we asked her what she wanted to be for halloween. We offered typical things: a princess, tinkerbell, a fairy, a witch, etc. Nope. Without question, she wanted to be a "smarshmallow." All righty, then. Papa went to the fabric store and bought out their white fleece and six bags of polyester fiber fill. Let's just say she didn't get cold that night.

A picture with grandma!

My skunk. Notice the dum dum in her hand. She spent the entire evening eating suckers. Mary was actually able to carry her candy bag AND eat a sucker at the same time! What skill!

Family picture. That's the rest of us there behind that marshmallow-child.
Ready for action!

Aidan and Sawyer, our neighbor's twin boys. They were our first trick-or-treaters.

Trick or treat!!!


I was a neurotic mother this fall season. I was on a mission: the kids will NOT get this H1N1 flu. I made everyone wash their hands. A LOT. I pulled J out of daycare. We avoided the playplace at McDonald's. I used the anti-bacterial cart wipes at the grocery store. We ate vegetables. I bought five bottles of hand sanitizer and put them all over the house, in the cars, and even at church.

Well, so far, my mission has been successful....sort of. Right now, the kids are perfectly healthy, probably eating candy, and waiting to take their prophylactic doses of Tamiflu. Why the tamiflu? Because their MOTHER is at home, sick with the flu. And pneumonia. I even have an x-ray to prove it. Drat.

It started last week with a little wheezing for three days. I have asthma, so I blamed that. Except that I was puffing on my inhalers like a drug addict. One night, I had a fever and a few chillls. That was it. The next day, though, my lungs grew angry. Breathing is not something to be taken for granted. I started taking steroids for the wheezing, and soon it turned to hacking. When I called Mom yesterday (in the middle of her clinic) asking for antibiotics (I had a sinking feeling that something was growing down in my chest because I could hear it rattling in there), she ordered me to go to the ER. I called her from the ER and said I had pneunomia. Little did I know that she had already dropped EVERYTHING at work and drove up here with Dad, picked up the kids, and told me to go to bed.

My mother loves me.

Thanks, Mom. And thanks, Dad. I hope the kids aren't driving you too crazy and you are getting something done today. Don't forget: television is a wonderful invention....

PS: YES, I have halloween pics of our brood...and they will get uploaded eventually. Now, it is naptime. See ya.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Reformation Day

To all my lutheran friends out there: Happy Reformation Day. Yes, today is the anniversary of the day that Martin Luther took a hammer and nails down to the cathedral in Nuremberg and pounded his opinion right into the church door. What a guy. He didn't bother to take the 95 Theses to a committee for revision so that they could get watered down and lost in a sea of meetings, he didn't force his ideas down folks' thorats either...nope. We need more people like that in this day and age.

In church today, Mike was running around like a chicken with his head cut off. Our organist/music director is leaving, so he was in charge of the music that included handbells, a choir, and some brass instruments. Things were going so well....everybody showed up, the music sounded great, and our kids were being QUIET. It was the middle of the sermon before Mike and I simultaneously realized that the kids were being quiet. They are NEVER quiet by the middle of the sermon. Uh oh.

We shot each other a Look. A quick scan of the church: Julia was digging through the pockets of my coat, eating some ancient trail mix. check. Mary: wait. where was Mary? We reached a very disturbing conclusion at the same time....

Two milliseconds later, (still in the middle of the sermon) we had solved the mystery of Mary's whereabouts. Someone was playing an impromptu solo on the piano. Mike and I shot up out of the pew...it was like a scene from a movie where they play the characters out in slow motion: both of us leaping across the choir toward the piano with arms outstretched and our mouthes in a silent "nooooooooooooooo."

But it was too late. pound Pound POUND...of course Mary was on the left end of the keyboard where the low notes reside. As Mike tried to whisk away the Sermon Interrupter, a gleeful laugh erupted from my daughter. She LOVES attention, and by now, most of the congregation had turned around in their seats. Poor pastor Franck was preaching on, but nobody was listening. Everyone wanted to know who decided to share their musical talents at such an opportune time.

Mike set Mary down and tried to help me close up the piano before she could come running back for more. Unfortunately, that's when I chose to slip (WHY do I wear heels?) and landed my right forearm on the extreme right end of the keyboard. A shrill sound from the piano provided overdue entertainment for our audience, who was now watching as I stood up, crashed into the piano bench, and scooped up my toddler who was now completely hysterical.

I pretended that I had to go to the bathroom and left the sanctuary. I snuck back in during communion, secretly hoping that the kid next to us would climb on the organ pedals and interrupt the petitions. No such luck. After church, instead of getting "thank you's" for all of Mike's hard work, we heard plenty of compliments on Mary's solo.
"Thanks for waking me up in the middle of the sermon."
"What a nice change from the regular music."
"She's not afraid to be heard, is she?" they all said.

I think Luther would have agreed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


A big thank you goes out from us to Jimmy and Joy, who drove up from the cities to visit and spent their entire Saturday cleaning and painting our kitchen. Yes...I know. We have nice friends. And they are talented, too! Joy makes great bars, and Jimmy can paint without using masking tape! We are blessed....

PS: Also a big thank you to gramma Ruth, who took the kidlets for the weekend so we could get some work done. Now I remember how people without kids manage to put make up on in the morning and do things like dust furniture and clean behind the fridge.

Here is a picture of what it looked like under the oven. I made a rabbit with all of the dust bunnies. Notice the baby chew toys and rawhides. That about sums it up.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Random photo of the day

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coolest thing EVER

Sarah and I are faithful JCPenney shoppers. There's almost nothing about the store that we don't like. Whenever we need to get something that's not a) groceries or b) tupperware, it's off to Penney's we go. And we almost always find what we need. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy just thinking about a trip to Penney's.
The two of us have taken this love to an extreme level. Whenever we travel, we make it a point to visit the local JCPenney to check it out. We're kind of JCPenney connoisseurs. It's actually starting to verge on the nerdy. For example, during our recent trip to the Mankato Penney's we had a conversation that went something like this.

Sarah: There are too many walls in here. They need to do something to open up this space.
Me: It looks like this store is pretty low on the remodel list. Look at that tile. I think that's pre-1990s remodel tile.
Sarah: Yeah - it's the same stuff they had in Southdale. That lavender color.
Me: Holy cow - is that the home department?
Sarah: This is a tiny store. They don't even have any dishes. It's all sheets and pillows.
Me: I think this place is smaller than the Sun-Ray store was before it closed. And that was a small store.
Sarah: You know what? Penney's would do well to move out of the mall to a free-standing building in this town. Like Maple Grove. (Etc...etc...)

So imagine my delight when we happened upon this small-town treasure in Ashland, Wisconsin on our recent trip to Marquette, Michigan. A real-life Main Street JCPenney store. This thing is a relic!

Front of the store - I made Sarah pull over so that I could get out and take pictures. Check out that lettering!

Alas, they were closed for the day. Otherwise we would have had to go in and buy something just to say that we did. The signage in the windows was current, though, so I know the store hasn't been closed like so many other similar JCPenney stores.

On the rear of the store. Check out that vintage sign! I can't even guess how old that thing is - anyone have any ideas?

This place seriously has to be the last downtown Penneys in existence. And who knew it was only an hour away from my home?

I know where we're going this Saturday.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall has come to Duluth

Sorry about the quality - I think one of the kids slimed my camera lens.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, October 4, 2009

In Da UP

Hey Der!

We spent the weekend driving across northern Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan to attend a friend's wedding in Marquette. Despite the constant cold, rainy weather, it proved to be a fun-filled weekend. The kids were actually pretty good in the car. (A special thanks to the Show Machine, Nemo, Milo, Otis, Dori, Larry, Bob, Merriweather, and the cops who didn't pull us over despite our kiddos sleeping on the van floor...)

I accidentally put the photos in in reverse order, so here goes.

On the way home, we went on a hike somewhere in the UP. The girls were getting restless and we wanted to get them good and tired for a nap...SO....we drove sixty some odd miles looking for a rest stop. When no rest stop would come, I told papa to "JUST PICK SOMEWHERE!@!!!!" (Mama's coffee, water, and BLADDER were simply finished. nuf said.) So, papa pulled off the road at some random old logging site for a hike. We braved tall wet grass and a "sort of" path, and the girls examined various types of pine trees, moss, and lichen. It was wet and took a little bit of imagination...but I think we had fun. Julia enjoyed petting the moss, Mary thought the milkweed was simply delicious. When our hike was finished, we made a big bed out of the back of the van and attempted "naptime." Before we even got up to highway speed, we passed a BEAUTIFUL rest stop on the side of the road, complete with potties and real hiking trails. Drat. Mama, you should be more patient!!!

The fall color was gorgeous. I'm sorry this picture is not, but say "oooh and ahhhh" to yourself anyways. I have never seen Fall Color like there is in the U.P. Wowzers.

Before we left, Mary took a turn at the wheel. Beep Beep!

After breakfast at the HOliday Inn. Two tired, stuffed kiddos. Julia ate TWO whole servings of eggs benedict...Mary dissed all the breakfast food and went straight for the bbq ribs. Good thing we were at a buffet.

Wedding reception: Jessi, Jamie, Dan, and I danced "THRILLER." Jamie commandeered the DJ's computer and we had a blast. We stopped their ghetto rap crap (nooone was dancing anyways) and danced to a barrage of Michael Jackson, along with Mr. Robato, The Devil Went Down to Georgia...and even Convoy. I have not danced to Convoy since I was at a tiny bar near camp about seven years ago....but it was just as fun....

Papa and Julia take to the dance floor. Mike gets kudos...he spent half of the wedding reception putting our kids to bed. What a guy. I owe him big, which is why he is enjoying a captain and coke tonight.

Julia....dancin the night away.

Mary...eating. Another buffet. This time it was a huge pile of corn. We saw that corn again just this afternoon.......