January 31, 2011

What I'm Thinking About

Sixty-thirty this morning found the husband out blowing snow in the dark. Actually, he had likely been out there for awhile already by the time 6:30 rolled around. The sound of the steady rumble of the tractor pushing it all back, making the piles bigger, carving out our path amidst the constant falling, slowly worked it's way into my slumber. Finally the annoying blare of the alarm sealed the deal, and I reluctantly worked myself out from under the covers. My body wants to sleep more, but I'm not thinking about it.

It's still snowing, has been since last night, and I can hear the wind blowing. I'm constantly comparing this winter to last winter. I mentally check off that the last blizzard of winter 2010 occurred at the end of January, about a year ago.  February was survived, and by the middle of March last year, all the snow had melted and we had one of the best springs and summers I can remember. It will happen again this year, right? A month and half from now we will be splashing in mud puddles, right? I better not think about it.

I wish I could get up earlier in the morning. I really do. I really want to. But it seems that 6:30 am is the earliest I can manage on a "normal" day without some extra activity requiring me to get up earlier. There's a lot I always want to do before the kids wake up: Bible study, Netflix work-out, blog....but there is usually not enough time and before I know it the kids are up and the day is in full gear. Then I blink my eyes and it's past 10:00 am and I've still got my pajamas on while juggling whatever it is that day usually brings - laundry, collecting library books to return, cooking, making shopping lists - with potty training attempts for the boy, all the "help me's," breaking up fights, and an occasional attempt at personal hygiene. I try to not even think about the glaring lack of nap time now, the fact that there is no promise of afternoon quiet to look forward to. There's no point in lamenting it.

So we make cookies and make supper, and I sneak in a few blogged words here and there while the kids decide to "go to Africa" (not sure where they got that idea) or fish out of the plastic picnic table turned upside down into a boat. But these short, short days in terms of daylight always seem so long and soon the sun has set and kids start hanging on mom. Requests, laments, and "I wants" are all delivered in a toe-curling whine. Constant reminders that "mom cannot understand a whiny voice. Please speak respectfully" are obliged momentarily but forgotten seconds later. Toys apparently loose all of their attraction after the sun sets, because no suggestion of play peaks interest. I am frantic for ideas of how to occupy time 'til Daddy gets home (and by the way, where is he? Did he drive into the yard without me noticing? Nope. No shed lights on. It's gonna be awhile. I'm not gonna think about it.)

I fold socks and re-direct behavior and state for the 381st time that "no, you may not have a snack or drink right now. We will be having supper soon." And in the madness of it all I notice my beach towels high on a shelf in the laundry room. An idea pops into my head which evolves into the following course of events:

"Jack and Ava! Let's go hunting for jungle animals!" There is sudden quiet and attentiveness.

"You two wait in the laundry room while I hide the jungle animals, and then you can hunt for them!"

Excitement and cheers ensue. The girl declares she needs a flashlight. The boy states he needs a gun. I turn and grab a flashlight out of the drawer and hand it to the girl in one motion, but it was still enough time for the potty training boy to have an accident all over the laundry room floor. So I haul him off to the bathroom for a change and a cleaning, wipe up the floor, and proceed with the adventure.

Ava needs help turning on the flashlight and a quick flip of the switch tells me the batteries are dead. So I tell my hunters to stay where they are at while I run down to the basement to fetch two AAs out of the husband's handy yet thoroughly anal battery storage and organization center.

With everyone finally armed and loaded and waiting inside the laundry room, I hide the jungle animals. And by jungle animals I really mean beach towels with tigers and leopards on them. And by hiding I really mean hanging from various doors and hooks in the house. One of the towels has a panda bear on it, and I'm pretty certain they're protected, but I'm not gonna think about it.

And it works.....sort of....because apparently hunting jungle animals is more fun with mom. So the socks won't get folded, the clean dishes won't get put away, and this blog post will never get finished, but I'm not gonna think about it because following the kids around the house in the dark with a flashlight is sorta fun.

So what will I think about as I dizzy myself with everything I'm not thinking about? When winter rages on, when I'm tired, when the husband's not home yet, when the house is now scattered with beach towels, what will I hand-over-hand, white knuckle gripped steer my mind towards?

The little blessings, the big blessings, the way they really do out number the annoyances...

And I read over at the blog that rocks my world these words:

the reward of the unhurried is the real life

Counting some more today with everyone else over at A Holy Experience. Read today's post and a hundred more thanks by clicking HERE.

Thanks Lord for:
#131. 24 hours away up north with the husband and no kids
#132. a beautiful wedding to attend
#133. the husband dancing 4 (say it with me, FOUR!) slow dances with me without any subtle prompting from me
#134. and that he danced 2 fun dances with me (even though I am sure he felt awkward)
#135. the tots having so much fun at Grandma's
#136. traveling time in the car to read
#137. grace from the husband with no words or complaints when I was uncharacteristically (or at least I would like to think that way) unplanned and unorganized for our little trip away
#138. that spring will come, the snow will not last forever. It might not be today, tomorrow or even a month from now, but the snow will melt and the sun will shine someday
#139. a quiet day even with all of the aforementioned
#140. monster cookies cooling on the counter
#141. that we still got to have supper together as a family today
#142. the way the husband scans my face when he gets home in an effort to determine the "temperature" of the home
#143. the sound of children gleefully having a tea party
#145. the screams of little girls being chased by "tigers"
#146. the sounds of little boys pretending to be tigers
#147. that my 3 year old boy isn't the only one who throws things in anger and is selfish
#148. the little girl wanting to clean up her room before going to bed
#149. the gentle snores of a very tired husband with more snow to move tomorrow morning
#150. warm air blowing on my bare feet while I type away

January 27, 2011

Happiness Is...

...a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Just the husband, the tots, and I.

With afternoon naps being severed from the kids' routine a few weeks ago, I'm still trying to create a new low-key activity to fill that void, something they look forward to, something I can rely on.

But Sundays are different, and during our after-church dinner this past frigid weekend, I proposed two afternoon activities for the whole family:
#1. build a fleet of spaceships using every.single.Duplo block (this was inspired by Jack's slightly smaller fleet built the previous day without any prompting from me, but he and his sister cleaned the whole thing up on their own before I could take a single picture)
#2. build the biggest, most elaborate train station we could with the wooden train set we gave Jack for Christmas
We did both.....and even combined the efforts.

Everybody had fun.

Everybody worked together.

Everybody was happy....even if I never made it into a single photo.

Oh, and the milk cartons? In this case, they were sky scapers. But why do we have them? Don't ask.


To check out more happiness, go visit this week's photo challenge over at i should be folding laundry by clicking HERE

January 26, 2011

What You Might Otherwise Ignore

"What gets lost is the idea that photography might force you to spend time looking at what is in front of you, noticing what you might otherwise ignore."

I read this sentence only recently in an article (read it for yourself by clicking HERE) talking about how the instantaneous nature of photography nowadays threatens to take away the experience of photography and more importantly the experience of life. This helped to explain my occasional urge to dust off my old Pentax, carefully snap some film into place, and attach my favorite lens which used to belong to my mother. Sometimes all that furious snapping away with the digital point 'n' shoot feels a bit mindless.

....until I slow down and use the camera cupped in my hands to help me see what is really there, what could get missed. Sometimes it takes me awhile to see what's really there; sometimes it takes a series of shots to find the beauty in the weeds, the hints of glory in a dying and decaying world. And I've said it before,
"...that's when one learns what's in a photo...even if you're still unsure about how to take a really good photo. You begin to learn what it means to take meaningful photos of your family and the world around you. You learn to see things differently, to recognize the beauty in things that you've never noticed before. You learn to isolate from the chaos the serene."
If there really is a slow photography movement, then maybe there is, or also should be, a slow life movement. I'm not saying I'm gonna clear down my schedule, wipe it clean, and lay on my back staring at the clouds all day. There's a place for that every now and then and learning to say "no" is a good thing. But that's not what I mean.

My to-do list for homemaking tasks alone will always be longer than what I have time to accomplish. And you know what? That's really okay. But hurrying through it all, driving a titch (okay, more than a titch) over the speed limit, plowing through my children's childhood, snapping through the moments in a frenzy just leaves me with a pile of flat, lifeless moments, like a pile of flat, lifeless pictures.

So what is the antidote? What is the anti-busy, the serum against the venom of fast-food, fast-photography, fast-life? How do I see, feel, hear, smell, experience.....what I might otherwise ignore?

Does it really start with something as simple as thankfulness? Does finding the little things to be thankful for really help slow my pace and help me take it all in?

After a few months of finding, counting, naming, listing the little moments of God's grace wove into my existence, I think it may very well be the key. For when I intentionally point out to myself the little things that bless, I find more, I see more......I experience more. Those things have always been there but that doesn't necessarily mean I've really noticed them, really allowed them to penetrate my dry soul. Those moments aren't just fate. They aren't just the collision of a few haphazard occurrences in a larger than large universe. Those moments are seen by God, allowed by God, directed by God. And unless I intentionally sear those moments into my heart, capturing the subtle nuances of all His light in each pixel-like second, I am left dull, an under-exposed, quickly snapped photo of a life.

So with or without my camera in hand, I want to see what I might otherwise ignore.

I am so blessed by and so thankful to God for:

#111. the super yummy homemade chicken pot pie given to us by a friend for no particular reason
#112. the delectable homemade monster cookies given to us by the same friend
#113. two little boys who let me cut their hair (some tears were involved on their part) so that I could do something to release all this "I-must-help-this-family" energy
#114. the friend is "home"
#115. the friend meeting us at the door without his walker (even with his wife insisting that he get his walker)
#116. the hubby and the friend hugging
#117. the friend giving me a hug, too
#118. two little boys acknowledging each other by patting each other on the arm before going their separate ways
#119. the smell of homemade bread
#120. my little boy asking for "more squash please"
#121. my little boy having one really good morning after so many challenging ones
#122. making peach pie with my little girl
#123. high temps 40 degrees higher than last week; it's 20 above zero!
#124. two little blond heads
#125. 4 little hands trying to knead bread dough
#126. a simple stew on a winter night
#127. the horsey-ride-with-daddy tradition after supper
#128. building a fleet of spaceships with Duplo blocks with the tots on a quiet Sunday
#129. juicy oranges
#130. chillin' out with the hubby on a Sunday evening watching a few episodes of Mythbusters

January 20, 2011


I've been trying to stay really positive about winter this year. There are so many reasons to not like winter, especially now that I currently don't ski like I used to (the 6+ winters in a row that I did ski NEVER had this much snow).

The snow is now higher in the ditches than the road. Today we saw windchills of 40 below zero. Fun.

But I really don't want to complain. I really don't. People complain about the cold, and then oddly enough, 6 months later they complain about the heat. I would never dream of complaining about the heat. Ninety degrees and humidity? Ahhhh, bliss.

So when it comes to the cold, I'll bundle up and bite my tongue. And what's more, despite cabin fever, kids climbing up the walls, and ground temperatures hovering just above the not-so-great zone for geo-thermal furnaces, I will look for the beauty. I will stop and gaze at the meringue top fields, the icing covered trees, the city lights stretching long fingers of glowing light into the colder than cold night sky.

And I'll sing these words with David Crowder:

The day is brighter here with You
The night is lighter than its hue

Would lead me to believe
Which leads me to believe

You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
Yeah, You make everything glorious
And I am Yours
What does that make me?

My eyes are small but they have seen
The beauty of enormous things
Which leads me to believe
There's light enough to see
Oh, that

You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
Yeah, You make everything glorious
And I am Yours
What does that make me?

Go check out some more circles captured over at i should be folding laundry.


January 17, 2011


It's Monday. The day when laundry piled high is sorted, washed and dried, folded and put away...in order to be worn and dirtied again. The day when beds are stripped and bedding is washed and put back on...in order to be slept on again. The day when dirty dishes ignored on a lazy Sunday are scrubbed...in order to be used again.

It's the day when lists are made. Lists for the days of the week and what I will feed my family those days. Lists for the food to buy at the grocery store to match the menu listed. Mental lists of tasks to complete and accomplish this week. And lists of thanks.

When the weeks of Christmas and New Years and living room projects and the numb week following a friend's accident all blend together and the habit of typing thanks on Mondays seems to be pushed into the shadows, I tell myself, I won't give up on my goal and I will catch up.

The endless ways God makes His grace manifest to me in the seemingly ordinary, in the miraculous, and in the humbling are all tallied and noted. I will continue to find the beauty in the plain, the glory in the ordinary, and the miracle in the pain. I will stop, I will let go, I will bend down low and once again step off this world's crazy train.

And here I am catching up and linking up and listing...

Thank you God for:
#81. "sleigh" rides for the tots at Christmas
#82. a living room remodel complete
#83. and completely paid for
#84. new games for Christmas to play with the tots on long, cold days
#85. meeting a girlfriend at the gym to let the kids run around
#86. a very low stress birthday party weekend for 2 little 3 year olds
#87. Netflix
#88. the cast off the little girl's arm
#89. little voices asking me to read "one more book"
#90. seed catalogs in the mail
#91. enjoying garden produce in the midst of winter
#92. the friend walking again
#93. the friend's brother driving over in wintery weather just to drop off the humidifier for our furnace
#94. the weight of a homemade afghan given to us by a friend at our wedding on a cold evening
#95. all the snow still clinging to the trees
#96. just enough time between snow storms to push back all the snow
#97. four wheel drive vehicles
#98. the whistle of a tea kettle ready to be poured out
#99. leftover ice cream cake
#100. the neighbor's grove
#101. and our grove with all it's wind-stopping power
#102. 2 tots converted to twin beds from cribs with very little "issues"
#103. grace for all of us when it was time to pull the plug on naptime for the tots
#104. bedtime going better because of no naptime
#105. the little girl starting to pray on her own
#106. the lovely children's book pointing out that summer really begins on Dec 21st when the days slowly start growing longer (conversely, winter begins on June 21, but we're not gonna think about that one)
#107. the smell and feel of clean sheets
#108. the meal prepared by the husband's mom during our remodeling project
#109. the weight of the little boy's hand on my head when he doesn't want me to get up and leave his bed
#110. that the two little bodies of my tots still fit on my lap in 1 chair all snuggled underneath an old comforter

January 16, 2011

Life with Toddlers

The little girl was helping fold towels and socks when the little boy walked up.

"No!" Ava says to Jack. "You can't be here. I'm doing this! Go to your bed!"

"Ava," I scold, "Jack can be here with us."

The girl turns sweet and says, "Okay, Jack. You can look at me."

How generous of you, Ava.


Jack wet his bed during the night and upon greeting him in the morning he says to me,

"There's pee in my bed! Yucky!"

I sigh and start pulling bedding off while he examines the wet spot.

He turns sincere and asks me, "You wanna smell it?"

I'm good, thanks.


It was one of those moments with my little Jack-hammer that leaves me feeling inadequate and unsure. He struggled against me and kept retorting in his most rebellious tone.

Trying to stay calm, I spoke in my lowest voice. "Jack it is your job to respect me. When you disrespect me, you are disrespecting Jesus."

Giving me that face of his, he replied, "Jesus is naughty."

My heart twisted. Proverbs speaks of a path of destruction, and this looks like one to me. Proverbs also says that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Laying him on my bed, holding his hands tight in mine and pressing them gently to his chest, I stood over him. I know all the modern parenting advice about "getting to their level" but this kid does not need an adult at his level. He needs to know he is under authority....my authority, just as I am under God's authority.

"Jack," I say sternly. "Jesus is not naughty. Jesus...is....God."

His face turns inquisitive and he asks, "Gowiaf is naughty?"

Wondering if I should get back to the subject at hand or if I should just run with this, I reply, "Yes, Goliath was naughty."

Excited now about something, he re-enacts David with the sling taking down the giant, and in his biggest big -boy voice he growls, "But the little boy knocks down Gowiaf and go BOOM!"....etc, etc in Jack-Jack language.


January 14, 2011


I run my hand along our new wall. It's flawless. You can do just about anything with sheet rock, and it really doesn't matter what it looks like when it goes up....if you have someone who knows how to do a good job of taping and mudding. And that just makes me think of him...of them...and it hurts.

I run downstairs to fetch some garden potatoes out of the basement, and I have to step over the little pile of sheet rock compound that he spilled and that I stilled hadn't cleaned up. And I think about him, them, again...and it hurts.

The furnace kicks in, that quiet hum that is so comforting, the air that somehow gets heated from the ground even when it's this cold out. I dunno...he explained it all to my husband, and my husband tried to explain it to me again, but I still don't get it. All I know is, he fixed it, and every time that thing kicks in, I think of him...of them...and it hurts some more.

I bundle up my tots and put that hat on the girl, that hat that he gave her when she broke her arm. And my heart turns to him...to them...and I just want to cry.

I walk out to the shed with the kids and glance over at the spot that marks our septic system's lift pump. A year ago he came over in the dark and cold and helped my husband dig down through over three feet of snow to fix something. And again my thoughts are of him...of them...and there's that pang of hurt.

My hand stops on the new wall and my eyes focus on the texturing.....the texturing that he did. And you guessed it. I'm reminded of him...of them...and my heart is aching...for him...for them.

Why do people want little bumps on their walls anyway? Why don't we want it perfectly smooth?

Why can't life be perfectly smooth?

Why can't I stop hurting? Why are there constantly tears in the back of these eyes?

But every pang of hurt, every stinging tear leads to a prayer. Earlier on, during that dark day, that hurt and those tears would send me to my knees praying the blood of Jesus, asking for mercy, pleading for that grace that moves mountains. I go to sleep and still the hurt is there, and her face is there, stained with tears, in my dreams.

What's wrong with me? Why am I so affected?

Would I wish away these hurts and tears? Would I want these little "bumps" to be made smooth?

But are not these aches, these bumps, the very things that drive me to pray? The things that remind me of him...of them...become the very things that cause me to breath prayer for him...for them.

And when there are no more words, I know that the "bumps" of hurt textured across my heart are prayers in and of themselves.

"For we do not know what we should
pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself
makes intercession for us
with groanings which cannot be uttered."
Romans 8:26

And this is how I will let it be. I will let God texture my heart with prayers for others. And when the miracles start rolling in for him...for them...then thanks will be added to the layers.

The heaviness is gone now.

Thankful now for the miracles, for the life saved, for the mobility preserved, for the path to recovery embraced. 

And excited now to go see him...to go see them...tomorrow.

January 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Darlings

I woke up around 4:30 am. I turned the alarm off, not feeling tired at all, and took a bath. I knew it would be the last bath I took for awhile.

I got dressed and dried my hair. My feet and legs felt puffy and all that work left me a bit breathless. At 37 weeks, I measured 43 weeks and had been on bedrest since 30 weeks.

I had a bland supper the night before of my favorite food, malt o meal, and would not be eating this morning.

Adam got ready, got the car, and I waddled out of the house. He started to put the car into drive, but I grabbed his hand and whispered, "Please pray. I'm kinda scared." A few tears stung at my eyes. I felt excitement and nervousness in my chest.....along with Twin A's feet.

He quietly prayed, and we pulled out of the yard. I knew nothing would ever be the same, but I just didn't know how or to what degree my life would change.

On the dark quiet drive into town, we discussed boys' names. We had a girl name and a boy name picked out, along with a few back-up girls' names, but we couldn't agree on any more boy names. We settled on one that was okay....and would just have to be okay if they were both boys.

From the very first ultrasound, the first of seven, the one where we found out there were two babies instead of one, we asked not to be told the gender of our twins. But deep down we knew. Twin A was a girl and Twin B was a boy.

And we were right.

With scheduled C-Sections there is just too much to think about. First you have to pick your baby's birthday. And then there's the counting down the days and minutes until the chosen day. But Twin B just couldn't decide which way he wanted to be, and when he finally decided on breech and when he was already Twin B as it was, the one with the greater risk, we had to opt for a scheduled C-Section.

And thus began the day that forever changed our lives. Little Ava and Jack greeted us with cries and wrinkled faces and all their infant neediness.

Now, three years later to the day, they have learned and accomplished so much. They have taught us, shown us our infinite weaknesses, blessed us, and left us tired and exasperated. In three short years, we have learned many times to accept a "new normal," develop new routines, and how to get through day after day, and month after month feeling tired.

We were a family before Jack and Ava came along and we'll be a family after they leave the house, but having them a part of our family for a few short decades is truly a privilege and terrifying challenge all at the same time.

I have some parenting goals this year. There are things I've slacked-off on recently and there are some things I need to do differently. Jack and Ava each need to work on different things. There's a path of destruction before them and there's the path God has made for them. Somehow I need to point them to God's path. But as un-qualified as I feel, I know that God gave me these two and He's also equipping me for each step of the way.

Their sweet faces, curious fingers, always hungry toddler tummies, and even stubborn attitudes have taken a piece of my heart that I know I'll never get back.

Happy Birthday my sweet ones.

"Love is the commitment of my will to your best needs and interests regardless of the cost."

January 7, 2011

My Top 10 of 2010

I am being brave and linking up to the You Capture photo challenge over at I Should Be Folding Laundry for the first time! I felt this week's challenge of My Top 10 Photos of 2010 would be a great way to get started and a great way to reflect on the past year.

Even though I'm still shooting with my Sony point & shoot, I made a commitment in 2010 to shoot solely in manual and to never use my flash unless in dire need. I was able to stick to my goals and can't even remember the last time I used any other mode than manual, and I think I only used my flash once. And on top of that, I've started using my manual focus a lot, mostly for creative shots. Not that I am against auto focusing at all, this is just the nature of the beast with my camera at this time. If I want something in particular in or out of focus, I gotta tell my camera what to do.

As I read through Beth's post and a few other posts of those who linked up, I was shocked to learn that she and many others made similar photography commitments this past year....although usually with entirely different cameras. Not that the camera makes the photographer, as Beth also states, but I am feeling that I am very close to maxing out the potential of my current gear. Will 2011 be the year of the dslr for me? I don't know, and I'm not going to dwell on it. I'm just gonna continue to push myself and my poor little camera.

So in no particular order, here are my Top 10 Photos of 2010!

This was one of the first photos of my kids I took on manual settings. When I brought it up on the computer the next day, I was completely sold on shooting manual. I never, ever, ever would have been able to achieve that lighting with auto settings. The photo could be framed a bit better, and I've cropped it for other uses, but I love this one of my sugar-plum fairy.


Because I don't have the capability of shooting RAW, only JPEG, I never edit my photos. In fact, I only crop on rare occasions or for particular enlargements. Here is one instance in which a small amount of editing would have helped. I love this photo of my grandma, but the glare on her glasses is just a titch distracting from her warm eyes.

I have wonderful friends who apparently think I take better pictures than what I think I do. You are your own worse critic, right? For the second year in a row, they have given me the challenge and privilege of taking their family pictures. What a girl won't do for a pair of "killer" shoes. Anyway, I am so very happy with this one.

It's a scary thing when others have more confidence in you than you do in yourself. So when someone asked me to take some senior pictures, I put on my big-girl pants and gave it my best shot. This was an oops shot, but I ended up adoring it.
(Disclaimer: In no way am I a professional photographer. If I am compensated at all for these little photo shoots, I leave it up to the other person to decide what these photos are worth to them. I'm still trying to grow my skills and when friends, and friends of friends, and family of friends are willing to let me experiment on them, that's usually enough for me. In return, I get to use the photos however I want.)

Here's another one of my sugar-plum fairy. I realize portraits are best done with both eyes showing, but with kids, you take what you can get. I like how the fence posts line up. Also, it's so rare for me to get good bokeh shots with people in them, especially my rambunctious twins. And I found it a huge personal victory to get both background and foreground bokeh.

My little Jack-Hammer. What more can I say? I could eat him up, and I'm not sure if I would start with his cheeks or his lips.

"A boy is noise with dirt on it."  Not sure who coined that phrase, but they either knew my Jack-Hammer personally or most boys have similar qualities. There's nothing earth shattering about this shot, but I wanted another photo of Jack for this post.....and this is quintessential Jack. Plus, I love the colors. When deciding what photos are "good," I have a hard time separating subject matter from photo quality. And with my kids, subject matter usually takes precedence.

More brave souls here, very brave in fact. This gorgeous couple had a beautiful yet relaxed wedding along the North Shore of Lake Superior. We were thrilled to be invited, and the weather was perfect, leaving unpredictable Superior flawless. This girl was the total opposite of a "bridezilla" and asked me to take their pictures. My only problem was that I had to blow out the sky and water in basically every shot in order to get light on those photogenic faces. But in this particular shot, I like how the "blown out" water looks very eternal.

Taking self portraits is surprisingly exhausting and has even led to injury for me. Here's my favorite self portrait of 2010 that I took for a self portrait photo challenge.

I can't believe that 9 out of the 10 photos I chose were of people! I take pictures of nearly everything. This lovely scene is just out our back door, and I'm thinking this would make a cery nice canvas print.

Whether intentionally or inadvertantly, I set goals for nearly everything I do....which is both a gift and a flaw. I haven't completely chosen a photography goal for this year, yet, but I do wonder what my top 10 will look like a year from now.


January 5, 2011

Rite of Passage

It was cold outside today, below zero to be more precise. And I had errands to run in town, lots of errands. I bundled up the kids and tackled the to do list, checking off recycling, library, order DQ cakes (taking the easy route for the kids' birthday this year), groceries, hair cut for Ava....and I'm sure there was something else. We were in town for...ever.

At our last stop, I didn't take the time to put the gloves back on the kids. The vehicle was warm and we were parked close....closer than what our garage is to our house at home.

Once at home, I tell the kids to head right to the house and I'll be behind them with a wagon load of groceries (I know, it sounds pathetic. An attached garage is in the plans and will eventually be worked into the budget, but that's still a few years away, so I'm not even thinking about it). Ava runs back to me crying that her hands are cold. I'm not sure where the gloves are and they are so annoying to try to put on that I just pull her coat over her hands when I hear Jack crying.......his "something-is-wrong" cry.

I leave the wagon....and Ava (I've learned to prioritize who's crying is most urgent) whose hands are covered by now...and run up to the back door. As I get closer, I wonder why Jack is standing so close to the metal railing on the stairs up to the door. Only a half a step more and I can see that he's got his tongue and lower lip stuck to the railing.

While I stare at him in horror for a few nano-seconds, so many thoughts run threw my mind.

"I don't have time to get a picture of this."
"I am so texting Adam about this one."
"Where is Ava?"
"How did he do this?"
"Remember the kid from elementary school that did this on the playground? He left a chunk of his tongue on that swing post."
"Remember what you heard as the best way to solve this problem. Warm water...."
"Now go get some!"

Within a fraction of second, my mind covered all that ground, I told Jack it was going to be okay and to hold still, and I ran inside.

I threw the bag of library books I was carrying onto the floor and grabbed a dirty measuring cup off the counter filling it with water.

I ran back out the door and poured the water over his tongue. But those little mucus membranes would not release.

I dashed back into the house for more water, tracking snow all over my laminate floors which get VERY slippery when wet.

Glancing down at the white one-cup measuring cup with little chunks of oatmeal on it that I'm filling with water, I'm suddenly struck by the hilarity of it all. I run back outside laughing, slipping on my floor, and dribbling water the whole way.

We get his tongue and lip freed from the railing without leaving any chunks behind, and I calmed everybody inside. All of this drama was nothing a good popsicle couldn't cure

"What happened?" Ava asks, and I try to explain why we don't lick metal things in the winter.

It's never actually happened to me, but for Jack I'm chalking it up as a rite of passage.

January 3, 2011


We were snowed in.

And even though we couldn't make it out of the yard to go to a small New Year's Eve gathering, we could have made it a fun night at home just us. There is something oddly quieting about being snowed in.

But we were on the fringes of a large project that was almost done. Just a few more hours of wiring, cleaning, and trim work and we would have our living room back.

So 11:30 pm on New Year's Eve finds me vacuuming sheet rock dust off of one set of basement stairs. I glance up from the tedious job to look out the window and see that after days of snow and wind, everything is still.

The evergreen right outside our living room, which has been adorned with Christmas lights, looks as if it has drifted in from a fairy tail. Every branch on every tree, every fence post,  every...thing appears to have been frosted with the thickest buttercream frosting.

Gazing through the windows just isn't enough for me. I step out the front door, as if stepping through the wardrobe, leaving the mess and chaos of a living room remodel behind me. And for a moment, I'm in Narnia.

It's so still, so quiet, so.....heavy, the cold doesn't even seem to penetrate. I can hardly contain myself. I run back inside and grab my tripod, setting it up in the 2 feet of snow that's collected at our front door. It's dark outside, no moon, no stars, just the heaviness of night and thickness of new snow. But it's nothing a long shutter speed can't handle, and waiting 3 to 5 whole seconds for the shutter to click seems like an eternity.

The next morning is not as peaceful. I look down the road towards town and am greeted by this:

And the husband spends 3 hours of New Years morning clearing out our landing strip driveway.

Everything is heavy with snow and ice, and I begin to shovel our two exceptionally long sidewalks.

I sometimes wonder how I ended up in Minnesota. I mean, I know it's because I was born here, but why wasn't I born somewhere else? Not that I really want to live somewhere else, but why do we feel compelled to stay here and fight this white stuff  nearly 6 months out of the year?

As I shovel a foot of snow covered by an inch of ice under another foot of snow, I realize that anyone can live in a warm climate year round. It doesn't take any special determination to live in balmy locations, and there really is something unique about coming inside after working or playing out in the snow. And it takes a special kind of faith to day dream about your garden and where you're going to plant the new things while braving single-digit highs with wind chills well below zero.

{somewhere out there is my beloved garden which bears more produce than we can eat & give away}

I stop hoisting scoops of snow and survey the three feet I've managed to shovel so far. I wasn't quite sure what to think of the little sidewalk snow blower Adam recently traded for....something...I don't know...more things come and go around here than I can keep track of anymore. I mean, shoveling snow is a good winter work-out. It makes me feel very "in-touch" with the season. Why would we need a mini-snowblower?

Well, two feet of snow and ice is why. And after counting more levers and knobs and warning signs on the little snow blower than I knew what they were for and after seeing the husband's that-thing-is-more-than-you-can-handle look, I decide to call it quits. I've done my *for fun* shoveling and will head back inside to do some more vacuuming. Yay. 

But the next day....after two chaotic hours of Sunday School with a group of 2-4 year olds, after a fabulous (if I do say so myself) pork roast with potatoes from the aforementioned garden, and after kicking the husband out of the house for some much needed fun and "guy-time" snowmobiling with friends....AND after getting the kids down for a nap, I bundle up and head out into the winter wonderland with my camera.

My fingers freeze...painfully so...they hurt for hours afterwards, but everything is so beautiful. And even though I can hear the distant hum of howling wind outside our grove, it's so quiet. Just my camera complaining to me a bit as I coax it into the focus I want.

I trudge through knee deep snow to get out to the heart of our grove, but I'm glad I did. Because now I'm certain Narnia exists.

And it's a good thing we got all that snow cleared away, because there's more coming.