Archive for January, 2009

Abraham’s a blogging genius—go vote for him!

My amazing husband is in the running for a 2009 Bloggie!

This really is a big honor. His blog, 22 Words, is up for the “Best Microblog” award.

You don’t have to create an account to vote, so if you want to give 22 Words a boost, go vote!

Voting is open until 2/2, but it only takes a couple minutes to do, so why not go do it now? You probably had “don’t procrastinate” on your New Year’s resolution list anyway. Consider this my contribution to helping you achieve your goals.

January 27, 2009 at 2:08 pm 9 comments

Toy Silencers

Toys that make noise drive me insane. I’m assuming I’m not alone in this. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to avoid all toys that make noise—I’m not even going to try. I’ve accepted it and I’m moving on, though we keep them to a minimum.

One of my favorite toys that Orison ever had was a toy phone that I got him for Christmas 2005. I remember it so well because the music and noises were quiet! Imagine that, toy manufacturers making toys that parents can stand to be around!

I’ve tried to locate this particular phone so that you all could know which one is awesome, but they must not make it any more. It was a little light-up, musical phone by Chicco. Here’s photographic proof:

orison-with-phone o-13-months

For his birthday a couple months ago, my parents just sent Orison these really cool cars that go super fast when you shake them. The boy loves them! The mom loathes them. Perhaps that’s too strong of a word, but they do drive me nuts. They have to be the loudest toys I’ve ever been around. What were my parents thinking?! Don’t they remember what it’s like to have young children???

But I was at a kids’ birthday party awhile back and overheard one of the dads talking about putting tape over the speakers to make the toy quieter. I immediately barged into the conversation and pleaded, “WHAT?!?! What do you do?!?!”

packingtape“You just put some packing tape over the speaker if you want to make it softer.”

I’m struck dumb with the sheer genius of this idea.

Then another mother in the conversation said, “Well, I tried that with one of Zoe’s toys, and it didn’t do enough, so I stuck sticky tack into the holes.”

I’m thinking, “People, you are changing my life.”

Here’s something to consider: I remember when we were helping with a preschool Sunday School class a few years ago. They shared that one way to get kids’ attention was to lower your voice to a whisper, and then everyone quiets down to be able to hear. They attend better to that change in volume, rather than raising your voice above the sea of 4-year-old voices. And it worked!

Is it possible that the same could be true for toys? Rather than trying to be the loudest toy in the room, could it engage a child better if it were softer?

Anyway, I’m off to arm myself with packing tape and sticky tack, to see if I can thwart toy manufacturers’ attempts to give my children conductive hearing loss.

January 26, 2009 at 4:10 pm 34 comments

Countdown to Spring, Minnesota-style

It’s the end of January.

About this time of year in Minnesota people start counting down to spring. Here’s how it goes:

Well it’s already the end of January. And February’s a short month. And then it’s March! March comes “in like a lion, out like a lamb”, right? And then it’ll be spring!

I do this too. But what we all tend to forget in our longing for spring is that this whole promise of better March days is kind of a crapshoot in Minnesota.

We forget all too easily that it snowed in May last year. MAY!!! I remember it particularly because my birthday’s in May. And even in all my Pennsylvania winters growing up, it never snowed in my birth month.

Perhaps it’s good that our memories fail us this time of year. Perhaps the cold freezes our hippocampuses or something. If we kept a record of wrongs against the weather here, we’d have all hit the road long ago.

Perhaps we’re gluttons for punishment. Perhaps we have martyr complexes.

But perhaps there’s just something so comforting about the warmth of a necessary hot beverage. Or cozy about the fleece jammies we clothe our children in at night. Or awe-inspiring as we catch snow on our tongues, remembering the purchase-price that made all our evil deeds just like those floating flakes.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m excited for spring. But I want to revel more in those moments that make what’s left of winter magical. They, like everything else, will be gone too soon.

January 23, 2009 at 11:58 am 30 comments

My $34 Latte: A Failed Attempt at Free Alone Time

I set out on a coffee shop excursion this afternoon around 2pm. I decided on a nearby Dunn Bros. for 3 reasons:

1. Free coupon for any size drink.
2. Good atmosphere.
3. Free parking.

Concerning #1: I stepped up to the counter and ordered my large chai tea latte (not a coffee drinker, friends) and headed upstairs to experience reason #2.

Concerning #2: I did my best to focus in a room of strangers, most of whom were talking loudly about their drunken escapades (and who were too old to be having so many drunken escapades, if you ask me). The people watcher in me is totally overstimulated in a coffee shop—can’t turn my gawk off.

I looked at my watch—wow, that 90 minutes went fast! Did I accomplish anything? Got my coat, packed up my laptop, walked to the door only to see…

the dreaded parking authority driving away from my car!!

Concerning #3: there is a free parking lot at this particular coffee shop, but of course when I arrived all the spaces were taken, but I thought, “No problem, I actually brought a handful of quarters.” I was prepared for a successful afternoon.

I was literally two minutes late. I mean, it’s not their fault. I was late.

But this experience only confirms to me why I just stay home, folks. Here are my reasons for staying home:

1. I’ve already paid for all the drinks at my house and am no longer thinking about it, so they are, therefore, free.
2. The atmosphere is just as distracting as anywhere else, except I’m distracted by kids and tasks that I need to do, instead of other peoples’ post-inebriated conversations.
3. Free parking.


January 20, 2009 at 5:55 pm 33 comments

Peace Like a River Winners!

We have our winners for the Peace Like a River giveaway! They are: JoannaRachel, and Katherine!

I know I told you in my email that I’d get the books right out to you. Well that was before I woke up and it was -20F and with wind chill -34F! I love all my readers, but I’m not crazy. You’re gonna have to wait until tomorrow, when we’re expected to get out of the negatives. Such is life for a Minnesotan in winter!

It was so cold this morning that Orison’s preschool was cancelled. Thus all my bright ideas for productivity this morning were promptly derailed. Ah well, I like having him around.

January 15, 2009 at 2:52 pm 10 comments

Subscribers, win my favorite read of 2008!

I have three copies of Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River that I want to give away to three of you!

Here’s how to win

1. Subscribe by email or RSS. (If you don’t know what RSS is, my husband can show you. It’s really easy.)
2. Contact me to let me know you’re a subscriber.
3. I’ll draw a winner on Wednesday, January 14th.

Bonus Entries!

If you refer a person to this blog and they subscribe, let me know. I’ll enter your name again each time you do it! (I’ll just be trusting you, so play fair. 🙂 )

January 10, 2009 at 10:58 am 61 comments

The Holidays, 15 Months Later

For some reason, the Christmas holidays this year were more difficult for me without Felicity than last Christmas. Mostly because last year I was in total shock—I was 28 years old and had just buried a child.

In the first couple months after she died, Abraham felt antsy and restless. He just wanted to hit the open road and never look back. I wanted to barricade myself in our house and never get out of my pajamas.

But, we went on a massive road trip at this time last year, making stops in Erie, State College, Newport News, Raleigh, Louisville, and Chicago. And during that time we discovered we were expecting our third child.

Reflecting on last year’s Christmas with Abraham the other day, he said something to the effect of, “Well, if you’re already in a tailspin you might as well go all out.”

Last year, I felt cut loose, spinning out of control, unable to focus on anything. This year the pain has had time to soak into my heart. I’m a different person.

She would be fifteen months old now. She’d probably be doing that clumsy, half-drunk walking that you capture with a video camera. And she’d have been scolded endlessly for being all up in the Christmas tree.

In some ways this felt like the first Christmas without her. This is the first year we’d have bought her presents and she’d have learned the joy of ripping wrapping paper and finding the delightful surprises inside. Maybe I’d have bought her her first baby doll.

Losing a child who never lived on earth means all your “memories” really aren’t memories at all—they’re just a bunch of imaginings and what-ifs.

All these imaginings and what-ifs make Christmas a really hard time for me, and probably for all the other mothers in the Living Without Children Club.

Losing a child means you lose more than a child. For me this Christmas it meant I’ve lost a little of the sparkle and delight, a little of the zeal and wonder.

That’s not to say there weren’t joys through these last days. It’s just that there are no more pure joys for me, it seems. There’s a heavy weight that I pull along through all my joys now, like a loaded-down sled through thick, wet snow.

January 5, 2009 at 11:47 pm 73 comments

Boy Sweaters for My Knitting Audience

This summer I worked on sweaters for the boys to wear this fall and winter. I chose Berroco’s Comfort yarn in a variegated blue called Military Mix.

For Orison’s, I used Knitting Pure and Simple’s Children’s Neckdown Cardigan. This is a pattern you have to purchase, but it’s very good. It would be well worth your $4.


For Morrow, I chose a free pattern for a little ribbed jacket, since I wasn’t sure what size he’d be this fall and winter. I love this pattern too, and I was so pleased with how it turned out.


January 3, 2009 at 5:41 pm 30 comments

Extended Scripture Memory for Kids (and parents)

During the month of December, we decided to read Luke, Chapter 2 every night before bed with Orison. We would do our Advent Calendar reading for the night, then Orison would settle into his bed for Daddy to read the account of Jesus’s birth.

He got excited about the repetition and predictability of it. “Are we going to read Luke 2 tonight?!?!”

The effect of reading one section of Scripture every night for a month was surprising. Nothing we anticipated, really. But on December 23rd, Abraham got him started and did an experiment to see how many words he knew in the story.

Basically, he just kept going. And going.

He had the whole thing almost word-perfect from verses 1-21. We were STUNNED!

So our new plan for family devotions for 2009 is to introduce Orison to important people/accounts in the Bible, reading a section repeatedly for a certain amount of time. We might not do a whole month with all of them, but the repetition has proven really good for his little memory.

And it’s had its effect on us, as well. I know a lot more of Luke 2 than I ever have before. So not only do your kids get concepts and stories from the Bible into their eager little brains, but you learn it too!

Enjoy the edited version!

January 1, 2009 at 11:03 am 87 comments

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