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 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.......


Friday, October 2, 2009


Mike and I joined what we affectionately call "The Hippie Farm Co-op" this year, which means we get big box of fresh locally grown veggies every Monday. This year, since September was so very warm, they had some extra canning shares of broccoli and tomatoes. At Mike's request, we bought one. I was thinking we'd have a few jars of each and we could eat them sometime in January...

WHOA. When the "canning shares" arrived, I finally figured out what I had committed to: a winter of Rabbit-dom. FIFTY POUNDS of broccoli awaited me on our doorstep...and then came a box of SIXTY POUNDS of tomatoes. !!! I had a hundred and ten pounds of rabbit food on porch...and two days to pack it away before we went on vacation. Ugh!

That night, I cleaned up my favorite cleaver (yes we have more than one) and spent five hours hacking away at the broccoli pile. I didn't know this, but broccoli wants to be steamed before you freeze it...which meant I was dumping steaming piles of green cruciferous vegetable matter on any flat surface I could find. With the added smell of the HUGE box of tomatoes on the floor, our kitchen smelled like a V8 factory.


The next night, it was time to can tomatoes and spaghetti sauce. When it came time to do the work, Mike popped his head around the corner and said, "Dear, I will be back in two minutes to do the canning for you. I think the canning part is a little complicated for you. Just give me a sec to sew one corner on this mitten." (He was making grandma Mitzi a pair of mittens for her birthday...) So, slop, squish, squirt, smush...I peeled the little red suckers and gutted them for TWO HOURS before I saw my husband....apparently the mitten tried to get the better of him. Conquering the Tomatoes was supposed to be a team project, but the other half of my team copped out at game time. Oh well. I had a blast listening to Metallica and being a Domestic Diva. I learned that you don't have to use a spoon to neatly remove the seeds and juice from a tomato....after you peel it, just hold it over the sink and squeeze. Pretty soon, a little stream of tomato guts comes zooming out of the fruit and hopefully lands somewhere in the sink (or on the wall...or ceiling...etc) What fun! After awhile, I even learned to aim properly.
The sixty pounds became sixteen quarts of tomatoes, nine quarts of sauce, and a bunch of pint jars with various combinations of the above. Ahhh...success.

Before we could get to all the canning, Miss Mary came along to help. She loves tomatoes, and I do believe she ate ten or twelve of them. Since they spent two days sitting in a box on the kitchen floor, she had plenty of time to help herself to a bite when passing through. She would bite a hole in the tomato and then suck out all the insides. It was funny until I discovered that she was secretly hoarding them upstairs. I noticed that there were red splotches on the carpeting through the living room and up the stairs. After following the trail upstairs, I found a small heap of juiceless tomatoes under the crib. Queen Mary was sitting near her throne of tomatoes, with gobs of tomato guts on the front of her onesie. mmmmm... Thank God for Lysol Deodorizing CArpet Cleaner...