Monday, October 06, 2014

In Memoriam

Last night my Grandma Ingrid passed on from this life to the next. I haven't seen her much in recent years. She moved away, and somehow I never found the time to visit until this fall. Although she and I had a good relationship, she'd said and done things that hurt people I cared about and sometimes she made critical remarks that made me really uncomfortable. I sent her letters occasionally, cards on her birthday and gifts for Christmas, but I wish I would have gone to see her more often. I think it would have made her happy. Although she did have strong opinions about a lot of things, including how other people should live their lives, she was a very giving person. I have so many wonderful memories of the times I spent with her. I saw her just a week ago, and although she was frail and got a little confused, we had a really nice visit. We talked a lot about the times my brothers, sisters and I spent with her as children. I told her she had been such a blessing to our family, and it must of been a lot of work for her to take care of so many of us. But she said no not really, it had been a lot of fun. I know it was for us. I love her so much and I'll miss her.

 At My Baptism

Four Generations 

Grandma Ingrid was a storyteller. She told stories to teach life lessons, pass on family history and entertain. When we were children, she sang us songs and taught us poems. There was one called "The North Wind Doth Blow" about a robin and another one about a pelican. Grandma loves animals, usually had several pets, and used to feed the birds every morning. For many years Grandma wrote letters filled with stories about her daily life, stories from her childhood, thoughts about current events and the weather, and sometimes jokes or quotes. She'd make copies of the letters and send them to family and friends.

Here's Grandma feeding me an orange after my mom specifically asked her not to, which is about par for the course. Apparently citrus did not agree with me as an infant, and I screamed for most of the night. I don't remember this, but I do have wonderful memories of breakfast at Grandma's house - silver dollar pancakes, grapefruit with sugar on top, and sometimes a little bit of milky coffee. Grandma loved feeding people and she made food a big part of our family traditions. She made kransekake (Swedish wedding cake) for us on our birthdays, gave us clementines and homemade raisin bread every Christmas and had us over to make Easter basket cupcakes and dozens of dyed eggs every Easter. Once when she was babysitting for us around Christmas time she let us help her make the raisin bread and then spread flour all over the kitchen floor and "ice skate" in it. 

This picture was taken "up north" at the cabins my great grandpa bought and passed on to my grandpa and grandma. The only vacations I remember taking before I started high school were to the cabins and our time there was some of the happiest of my childhood. Grandma always slept in the Creek Cabin and we could hear her snoring from the Main Cabin. The cabins were so special to her.

Grandma really valued education. She helped pay for my semester abroad and was so proud and happy when I graduated from college. 

For me, this is the iconic picture of Grandma. She loved her luggable loo!

Grandma also loved to play cards. She taught me to play Kings in the Corners and at least 3 kinds of rummy. Visits to Grandma as I got older always included cards.

Grandma Holding Sasha

 Grandma never shied away from festive hats. :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Finally, Fall Fun

Normally I love fall, except for the fact that it precedes winter. This year though, I've been feeling kind of "meh" about the whole fall thing. All of a sudden I feel like I'm too busy, it's too cold and it's getting dark too soon. October flew past in a blur and I'm already stressing about Christmas. We hadn't picked apples, gone for any hikes, made any leaf piles, put up Halloween decorations or carved jack o' lanterns. Thankfully today ended up being the kind of fall day I was looking for.

We started off with two chilly windy soccer games. Sasha had her last soccer game of the fall season and scored several goals. She has a great team and loved every minute of the season.

Jordan had another great game as well. Only two more games to go for his fall soccer season and then it's on to basketball. After soccer it was home for lunch, a quick clean up, and a quick cat nap for me. Then the kids and I got out the Halloween decorations, woke Justin up from his nap and we all drove up the road to pick out some pumpkins. The "you have to be able to carry the pumpkin you pick" rule was strictly enforced and we drove home to do some carving. Justin helped the kids with that while I cooked supper - roast beef, baked potatoes and stir fried vegetables. Yummy!

 After supper I finished sorting out pumpkin seeds from pumpkin pulp and roasted them while the kids cleaned their messes, took showers and did homework. Then we lit the jack o' lanterns and started a game of Sorry.

In summary, this morning I was CRABBY. Tonight we have jack o' lanterns on the front step, Halloween decorations in the (relatively clean) living room, a yummy roasted pumpkin seed smell in the air (and an entire quart of roasted pumpkin seeds in the pantry), a half finished game of Sorry on the basement table and clean kids sleeping peacefully in their beds. And I am HAPPY!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Your Daughter Is A Rock Star!

A few weeks ago Jordan informed me that he's in the highest reading group in his class. Last week he told me that he'd moved up to 6th grade spelling. And this week we received the following email from Sasha's teacher.

Your Daughter Is A Rock Star!

Hannah - I forgot to mention this to you when you were in our room today. I told Sasha I would email or call you both to let you know that she did a great job working on kidblog today. I took my whole class to the computer lab today to write about their favorite fall activities. Sasha ended up being my hero. She listened well to directions because getting to kid blog and logging on can be tough. She also started walking around and helping everyone who needed help. She did it in such a nice way and was really patient with everyone (when I was about ready to pull my hair out lol.)

I pulled her aside afterwards and told her I just had to tell you both about how I appreciate her leadership in our classroom. She is an awesome kid! :)

Totally made my day. I love Jordan and Sasha's schools. They have such amazing teachers - fun, funny, creative and positive. I love that the kids are doing so well in school; it sure makes life a lot easier for me, and more enjoyable for them. And most of all, I love, love, love that Karlye, Jordan and Sasha love to learn. I hope and pray they retain that quality throughout their lives. It truly is a wonderful gift.

Monday, September 23, 2013


September is, increasingly for us, a month of changes. As the seasons shift from summer to fall the days, and especially the nights, are cooler. It's getting dark earlier. The kids have gone back to school. Karlye's mom moved to Rockford and Karlye is attending 6th grade at one of the middle schools there. Jordan started 5th grade at Rome Corners Intermediate School in Oregon. Sasha's still at Brooklyn Elementary, but first grade brings a new classroom, new teacher and new classmates. So far the kids are enjoying school and coping with the early mornings and more structured schedule just fine. I'm not loving the whole "waking up to an alarm clock again" deal, but I guess I don't really have a choice.

For us this is a month of both joy and sorrow. Tomorrow we will celebrate Karlye's 12th birthday, but today we pause to remember little Hailey who left us for heaven on this day four years ago. We pray for her parents, my sister Miriam and brother-in-law Eric, and for all who love and miss her. On September 11th  we commemorated the great losses our country suffered twelve years ago and we also celebrated my sister Lydia's birthday. Lydia happens to share a birthday with Jean Hellwig, the mother of one of my closest friends, who I have known for over half of my life. Four days ago, on September 19th, Jean entered her heavenly home. She was one of the most welcoming people I've ever met. Her love for, and dedication to her family was amazing. I know her passing has left a hole in many lives that can never be filled on this earth. We keep all of her family and friends in our prayers as well.

And so we say goodbye to summer, hello to fall. Goodbye to carefree days, late nights and sleeping in. Hello to schedules and routine. Goodbye to swimsuits, shorts and tank tops. Hello to jeans, jackets and backpacks. And to those we love and miss, we will remember you, until we meet again.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


This month we had several firsts. Sasha lost her first two teeth. She actually pulled the first one out herself! Since she's starting first grade she got to put her school supplies in her very own desk for the first time ever.

Jordan and Karlye got their first locker shelves and other assorted locker paraphernalia and got to arrange their lockers for the first time.

Charlie had his first doggy play date with Danielle and Chris's miniature pinscher Pagoda and lived to tell the tale. (He's normally terrified of small dogs.)

And I did my first mud run! (Hopefully the first of many.) It was an absolute blast! For those of you who don't know, the fact that I paid money for an exercise related event, especially one that involved getting absolutely filthy, is totally amazing and completely unprecedented. Thank you Kerry for talking me into it! Here I am in all my muddy glory.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

Well, it's official...summer is almost over and I can't say I'm particularly thrilled about it. I absolutely love summer. First of all, I'm not a morning person. At all. So not having to set an alarm is one of my all time favorite things. Secondly, I love warm weather. Being able to leave the house without having to pile on layers of clothes makes me very very happy. Also I love swimming, beaches, reading/napping under a shady tree, lemonade, iced tea and basil. Tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers are my favorite vegetables. And honestly, I love having my kids around. This may have been my best summer ever since I became a mom. Sure there was plenty of whining and arguing and craziness and messes, but there was also so much great stuff. The kids played by themselves and with the neighbors, spent tons of time outside, read lots of books, sampled lots of produce straight out of the garden (including chili peppers!!!), and overall managed to occupy themselves really well. I love the way they create their own projects and games and really dive into the things they're interested in. I can't say I don't ever wish for JUST 5 FREAKING MINUTES of silence, but I also enjoy listening to them talk while I learn who they are and who they are becoming.

All three kids love music, playing dodge ball on the neighbors' trampoline, hanging out with their friends (we are blessed to have so many right on our block!) and creating art. They are also all OBSESSED with Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series. And they are all goofy as all get out.

Karlye loves to hang out with her friends and talk talk talk talk talk and is also really starting to get into reading. Both girls love to sing, and dance and are really into their Build-A-Bears. Sasha loves pink and sparkles and any article of clothing that she can twirl in properly. She plays for hours alone in her room or with her friends, often creating giant messes in the process. She's been checking out books on butterflies, polar bears and hamsters and is hoping to convince Justin to let her buy a hamster of her own. She helped me pick out butterfly plants to add to our flower garden because she wanted to attract monarch butterflies so she could study them.

Jordan reminds me a lot of myself. He has a lot of interests and seems to immerse himself in all of them. He's got his nose buries in a book about fifty percent of the time. If it's not Percy Jackson it's anything on dragons, Harry Potter, or LEGOS/Ninjago. He's also into the Hobbit and has started (for the second time) to try to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy. His interests are so intermingled and multi-dimensional. If he's into a book he has to read it, listen to it on CD, watch the movie if there is one, learn about the author, explore the book's general subject matter, and create projects based on it. After he read the Percy Jackson books he checked out and read books on Greek and Roman mythology.  He just started writing a book about a mythical creature he invented that's similar to a Hobbit and he's almost finished drawing the map he created to go with the book. He learned to read and write Anglo Saxon runes from a book on dragons he checked out at the library and was thrilled to discover that J.R.R. Tolkien used them in his books. He also spends an inordinate amount of time playing with LEGOS. He and his friend Tyler used his tablet to video tape two episodes of a Ninjago show they created.

BUT in spite of all this magical summer wonderfulness, I'm not actually dreading the start of school. Having an actual routine, time to work more and some time to myself won't such bad things. And there's a lot of new things to be excited about. Karlye's starting middle school and Jordan's starting intermediate school. They have class schedules and lockers...stuff I didn't have until high school. Jordan's going to learn to play the baritone. Sasha has a new teacher and a chance to meet new friends, and even though she has to go to lunch later than the kindergartners she also gets to stay on the playground longer than they do. Both Jordan and Sasha will be on new soccer teams. And we've had a lot of fun these last few weeks of summer. Jordan and Karlye went to Dubuque and Galena with Grandpa Glen and Grandma Louise who then took Sasha and her cousin Jack to the Cave of the Mounds and to ride the train in Baraboo. With the return of the hot weather we've been to the beach, the pool and yesterday we checked out the new splash pad in Fitchburg. Maybe all that will tide us over until next summer...

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Finally, A "Boring" Day!

When Jordan was younger, he used to think that any day in which no one came over and we didn't go anywhere was boring. I tried and tried to explain the concept of nice normal days in which we could hang around the house, get things done and relax. He just wasn't buying it. Fast forward a few years and he seems to like nice normal stay at home "boring" days even more than I do.

Today was great. I went to work this morning, but didn't have anywhere to be in the afternoon or evening, for a change. I got quite a bit of work and housework done this afternoon at a nice relaxed pace. The kids spent the afternoon putting puzzles together in Sasha's room while listening to books on CD. They were so quiet I almost forgot they were here. They made up for that by being extra noisy and goofy at dinner, but since we ate on the deck, it wasn't a big deal. Did I mention the weather was absolutely gorgeous? Sunny and upper seventies to low eighties with a breeze is my favorite weather, unless I want to go swimming. Then it needs to be hot, hot, hot!

Bedtime went reasonable well, although I had to confiscate a basket of toys that Sasha didn't get around to putting away. I'll give back some of them and the rest will be tossed, donated or sold. Hooray for less stuff! Then I actually made it all the way through a twenty minute yoga video with no interruptions. I didn't even know that was possible!

Hoping for a great weekend also, even though it will be busy. :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Little Things That Make Me Happy

I'm not sure I can adequately express my love for wool socks. I've started keeping a pair by my bed so I can put them on any time my feet are so cold that I can't fall asleep. (This happens more often than you might think.) Also, I wear them pretty much any day with a high of less than 60 degrees. Since I'm having a crabby evening, now seems like the perfect time to make a list of some of the little things that bring joy to my life.

1. wool socks
2. the reading lamp on my nightstand (It has a red lamp shade and was a gift from my Grandma Betty. When I was younger I kept asking if I could have it when she died. Thankfully she's still with us and I've grown a little more tactful over the years.)
3. listening to my kids sing
4. books, books and more books
5. watching the steam rise from a cup of tea
6. afternoon naps
7. our gas fireplace
8. watching rain run down the window panes
9. hanging laundry up to dry
10. steaming hot showers
11. lip balm
12. cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg (and chai tea lattes!!!)
13. the piles of books my kids keep in and around their beds
14. cozy quilts
15. the few moments when I'm laying on my pillow and the pillowcase is still cold
16. trees
17. stars
18. fog
19.huge fluffy snowflakes
20. family game night

How about you? What are some little things that light up your life?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winter Blues...Blah

What a long, trying afternoon and evening. I spent most of the morning tired and down, but managed to perk up before the kids got home from school, only to listen to them whine, cry, mope and fall apart for much of the late afternoon and evening. I spent almost all my energy remaining calm and patient and now they're in bed and I'm exhausted.

Jordan's issues included "we never do anything", "we never go anywhere" (my brother Seth was in town this weekend and we saw extended family three days in a row, so that's not true), "you're always working on the computer or doing housework and you never do anything with us" (I had already offered to do something with him but he didn't take me up on it), "you only do stuff with us separately and not with both Sasha and I together", "I don't know what to do", "I want to do something fun" (I'd given him a list of about 20 things he could do, most of which were fun things), "there's nothing to do", and "I have too many options of things to do and I can't pick one" (causing me to suggest that we get rid of some of his stuff).

Sasha went into meltdown mode because she wanted to play inside but the neighbor kids wanted to play outside, then when they finally were going inside to play it was too close to chore time for her to go in their house, and she didn't want to take bunny grahams to school for snack tomorrow, she wanted to take goldfish crackers, even though we didn't have enough for everyone.

Ugh! I think it's the weather. Too cold and not enough snow left to make it fun to go outside. Either no sun or sun so blinding you can hardly stand to look outside. Plus, we've all been sick on and off lately.

At least we made it through the evening and the kids even finished their jobs in time for a game of Scrabble. And we only had one Scrabble related meltdown. I'm going to try to plan a family fun night tomorrow, if I can find the energy.

Can't wait until spring!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Two Reasons I Love the Kids' School

1. They do fun and creative things like this to motivate the kids:

Posted: Dec 18, 2012 11:00 PM CST
OREGON (WKOW) -- Elementary students in Oregon were surprised Tuesday with a break-out "flash mob" dance from their teachers.
Brooklyn elementary school was having an assembly and while the principal was reading a poem, the school's staff started dancing.
The principal says they are hoping the dance got students excited about learning.
"We're hoping that was kind of an inspiring event for them; that they want to learn the dance. And then we'll tie it to our expectations this week of keeping hallways clean. Each week we'll look at what should kids be working on next; playground behavior, bus behavior and so on," said principal Kerri Modjeski.
Staff members are hoping that by the end of the year the students will know all of the moves and that the whole school will be able to dance together.

2. The afternoon before the huge December snowstorm (we got 18-20 inches of snow here!), Jordan was in a panic. He left his boots on the bus, and the next day had already been declared a snow day. I called the school in a panic. They gave me the bus driver's cell phone #. I called him in a panic and left a message. (Are you sensing a theme here? Yep, panic it is!). An hour later he called me back, said he had the boots and would drop them off at our house in 5 minutes. And he did! Good thing too, because the kids had two snow days in a row and then Christmas vacation began. Can you imagine being a 10 year old boy with two weeks off of school, 20 inches of snow to play in and no snow boots?!?