Oct 17, 2016

Your Skype Hole

10/17/2016 — cori

The other night at dinner, Gavin and I were trying to explain what we had just learned to the rest of the fam after watching the FRONTLINE documentary on The United States of Secrets. It was truly fascinating and disturbing at the same time. It's basically about how the U.S. Government legally and illegally collects information on everyone living the U.S in an effort to root out terrorists. Ignorance is bliss. Like President Obama said, "You can't have 100% security and 100% privacy at the same time." The question is which do we want more?

These were the types of serious issues we were discussing over dinner. This is a heavy topic. Then I went and opened my mouth, "Did you know that the government can see through your skype hole?"

People kept talking but there was an awkward pause. Then Bennett circled back around to the led balloon I just dropped and said, "Mom, did you just say 'skype hole'?"

With head in hand I confessed, "Yes. I was hoping no one noticed. I couldn't remember the name of that little camera on the top of our monitor, so I thought that would accurately describe it."

You can imagine the laughter, sarcasm and general mayhem that ensued. You now have a skype hole, use it wisely.

Oct 15, 2016

Baby Bing

10/15/2016 — cori

Chuck's brother, John and his wife Karen just welcomed Mason, their second child into the world yesterday. All the joy and excitement of a newborn has brought memories flooding back when, once-upon-a-time, we were in those same shoes.

As Chuck was talking with his brother, John was explaining how they would be introducing Mason to Logan (the older brother). They had read somewhere that it helps the transition of the older sibling. Makes perfect sense too. He said you say something like, "Mason, I'd like you to meet your big brother Logan" instead of vice-versa, "Logan, come meet your new brother." It has something to do with helping the elder child see that his place in the family is already established and still secure.

As new parents, this is a big deal! Especially when you are having a second child. It's impossible to imagine you can ever love another human being more than you love your first child. You want to make this transition as smooth as possible for both you and your oldest child. There are tons of articles on what and how to do this. I thought the method John and Karen chose was very wise. Then they asked Chuck, "So, how did you guys do it?" Well...we did things a bit...differently.

That's Gavin at almost three in the above picture. At the time, the articles in all the parenthood magazines about having your second child were saying you should buy a doll for your older child. We liked that idea. Gavin was totally up for that. He had already been playing with an old doll we had lying around the house. The experts were saying that if your oldest has a 'baby' of his/her own to hold while Mommy is holding the new baby, that they will connect with what Mommy is doing and won't feel so left out. Remember, feeling like your oldest will be left out is your biggest fear when welcoming your second child. So we bought into this train of thought hook, line and sinker.

We wanted to find just the right baby for Gavin. It had to be about the same size as a new baby. We wanted it to be light weight and not hard plastic. And we didn't want it to cost a fortune. We opted for a Cabbage Patch Doll. Unfortunately, at that time, most of those dolls were girls. We had a really hard time finding any little boy Cabbage Patch Dolls.

I'm not sure how or why, but we ended up buying a Chinese-looking Cabbage Patch Doll. We dressed it in one of the newborn onesies we received for Bennett. We had it wrapped in a shoe box, waiting for Gavin to open once he got to the hospital to meet Bennett. He instantly named him Bing. I have no idea where, why or how he decided on his name. Maybe he just looked like a "Bing." We didn't even tell him his doll was a Chinese baby.

Gavin cherished Bing. He took his job and his baby seriously! He held him, rocked him, fed him his bottle, carried him in a baby backpack, burped him, and kissed him. He also did the same for Bennett.

He cuddled him and told him important big brother stuff.

 He would read him books ad nauseum (Gavin memorized books and read them over and over and over to anyone who would listen - Bennett was a captive audience.). 

He would feed Bennett. 

He would teach Bennett how his toys worked.

And as Bennett got older and he found out he could make the baby smile and laugh - he was sold. They played incessantly together from then on. The benefits of Baby Bing were innumerable.

I would like to thank Baby Bing for helping Gavin with the transition to Big Brotherhood. As if giving your firstborn a Chinese Cabbage Patch Doll is just one more viable option for easing that ever fearful transition in life.  We were just starting off making the best choices we knew how, not knowing what adventures lie ahead in our little family's lives. Somehow, those choices turned into funny stories and adventures that you just can't make up. This would be the beginnings of MommyStories. However, I wouldn't start chronicling them for another 3 years.

And as it happens, Bing ended up transitioning over to Bennett at some vague point in time. We're not completely sure when, but Baby Bing was now Bennett's prize possession. And as such, he took on a completely different personality. Bing now had a whale-spout. He slept with Bing, therefore there were drool marks all over his body. He drug poor Bing around the house by said whale-spout. Bing was well-loved. We often had to wipe Bing down with Clorox Wipes when Bennett wasn't looking (cuz you're not supposed to wipe down real kids with Clorox Wipes and we were still trying to be as 'real' as possible). And of course, Baby Bing was always naked, much the way Bennett preferred to be.

 Baby Bing...the gift that keeps on giving.

Oct 14, 2016

On The Injured List

10/14/2016 — cori

Last week Bennett came home from school with a small bandaid/popsicle stick concoction on his left pinky. He told me he was playing football before school with some other guys. Someone kicked the ball within close range of his hand and it apparently made instant contact with this finger, bending it sideways.

He went to the nurse. I knew it was serious when he said he went to the nurse. In all his years of schooling he has prided himself on never going to see the nurse, no matter how bad the injury. So that told me something of his pain level. However, being that it was football, I figured it was just a finger jam. That kind of stuff happens all the time. So we decided to wait it out a few days.

I always choose the wrong answer. Especially if it involves when to or not to take the kids to the Doctor's office. I don't take them when I should. I usually take them when I shouldn't and get that look from the Doctor like I'm a helicopter parent or something. I can't win in this department.

Three days later and Bennett's finger is still killing him, more swollen, and more bruised. He has zero use of it and has been living on ibuprofen to numb the pain. Ooops...maybe we should have taken him in right away. We rushed to the urgent care clinic a week ago. Of course it was a Friday evening after 5pm. That's when all the bad stuff happens and you can't reach your normal doctor. We go have x-rays taken and sure enough. It's broken. In TWO places. He has a compound fracture. Of course he does.

The doctor puts it in a temporary splint and tells us to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor on Monday. We go in Monday and the specialist tells us that not only is it broken, but he has to have surgery and schedules us for the next day with a hand surgeon. Apparently time is of the essence with bone healing.

We were thinking that maybe giving his pinky a good pull and taping his fingers together for a few weeks until the bone healed would do the trick. But then again, we're those parents who don't take our kid to the doctor when we're supposed to, so what do we know?

We consult with the hand doctor the very next day (not knowing we were only there for a pre-op appointment - Mr. Specialist and us had a little miscommunication going on there). The Surgeon explains how she will be screwing several pins into his bone to set it. He should be healed in time for basketball tryouts in 6 weeks.

And that's really the crux of this whole thing. Basketball. His life (and consequently ours) revolves around basketball. This is his first year at the high school. He's super pumped about try-outs and making the A Team after training hard all summer. Every time we talked to a Doctor, the one question was, "Will he be ready by try-outs?" Each doctor confirmed that he would. Whew! Collective sigh of relief.

The crazy thing is. Bennett is the 4th person on his team who has broken a bone in a freak accident within the past month. One kid broke his vertebrae during a football game. He's out for the season. One kid broke his knee at open gym. He's out for the season. One kid broke his ankle in a soccer game. He's supposed to be cleared to play a week before tryouts. And then there's Bennett. He's not going to be cleared to play until just a few days before try-outs. This is going to be an interesting season if pre-season has been this dramatic.

So...we just got back from surgery. Bennett is doing great. They numbed his arm from the shoulder down and gave him some medicine to make him drowsy. He was mortified to have to wear a 'purple dress' (his words) and 'stupid gray socks' (his words) for the surgery. He made us promise to take no pictures. Image is still everything, even during surgery, for high schoolers. He has several pins holding his finger together set in a small cast to keep it safe. Thankfully, he is healthy and strong and healing fast. I'm also thankful that we have insurance and were able to give him this option instead of our home remedy.

Oct 2, 2016

Learn What You Love

10/02/2016 — cori

The other evening, while listening to a podcast, we were introduced to someone I'd never before heard of, Mr. Richard Saul Wurman. He is the Benjamin Franklin of our day. He is incredibly multifaceted. He can't be, nor does he want to be, defined by one thing. He is an architect, graphic designer, information architect, author as well as the creator of several conferences, including TED Talks (which is a family favorite!). How had we never heard of him before, we wondered? The reason is, he is about as unsuperficial and unpretentious a human being as they come. His life long goal is just to learn and then share what he has learned. He is a fascinating individual that I think we can all learn a lot from if we stop and listen. Here is a nice introduction:

Oct 1, 2016

A Beep In The Night

10/01/2016 — cori

Do you see that tiny little dot on the ceiling just above the stairs? That's one of our smoke alarms. It is also the star of this show. This wouldn't be the first time I've blogged about a noise emanating from our ceiling. I need to show you this awkward picture in order for you to better understand what's at the crux of this story. Let me begin:

Sometime in the middle of the night a couple nights ago, I wake up to a beeping sound. At first I thought it was a bird with a very regular, mechanical chirp at one minute intervals. But to my half-asleep mind, even that didn't make sense. As I'm be pulled into consciousness, I thought it would be a good idea to find out if Chuck also heard the same noise, so I ask him, "Are you awake? Do you hear that noise?" To my surprise, he is awake and he hears the same noise as me. He says he thinks it's one of the smoke detectors. Ah, yes, that would make sense. I check the clock, it's 5:14 am.

I ask him, "What are you going to do about it? I won't be able to sleep for the next 45 minutes with that sound blaring." (yes, I was being a little dramatic and selfish) He responds, "I guess I'll go see which one it is." Apparently, I feel it is important that I offer helpful advice in my semi-awake state of mind so I tell him, "Look for the one that has a blinking red light and then you'll know which one it is. All the working ones have green lights." Where I pulled that type of wisdom from at 5:14 in the morning is beyond me, but I felt compelled to share it with him and he felt obligated to follow it.

So he gets out of bed. As he tells it, since his eyes are still glued shut, he's relying on his echolocation skills to help pinpoint the nefarious smoke detector. He pokes his head in each of the kids' rooms upstairs, but doesn't hear the sound coming from either of them. He stumbles back into our room to get his phone to help light his path. He goes back into the hallway, disengages echolocation, peels his eyes open and using the light from his phone, shines it upon every smoke detector within earshot: the hallway, our room and both the kids' rooms. None of them have a blinking red light. 

Then he looks up at the smoke detector at the bottom of the stairs. He instinctually knows that is the one. However, he's confused because it doesn't have a blinking red light like I said it would. He felt the need to come back and tell me which one was the culprit. Thanks for that. 

There is no easy way to get to it. It is 20+ feet up in the air attached to the roof/ceiling. It requires one to stand on the very tip top of an 8 foot ladder (the part that says, "Don't stand here") that one has to drag in from the garage in a semi-awake state of mind. I was a little worried for Chuck, but not worried enough to get out of bed to help. However, I desperately wanted to give him more helpful advice that I was thinking about: when bringing the ladder in, remember to put the door stop in front of the door so it's easier to bring the ladder in all by yourself. Unfortunately for him, I never was able to articulate that thought out loud.

I heard a lot of noise downstairs and then finally the dreaded beeping ceased and I eased back into a fit-full sleep only to be awakened by Chuck telling me he was just going to stay up now. Ok. Thanks for that. I love his need to communicate early in the morning. I remember mumbling something like, "I'm glad you're the Dad and get to do all the hard stuff in the middle of the night."

Later that day, I found out that he did indeed have a hard time bringing the 8 foot ladder into the house from the garage. No, he didn't use the door stop. But he did see it sitting on the window ledge as he was contorting himself between the door and ladder and thought how useful that would have been instead of the predicament he currently found himself in. 

We asked the kids who heard the noise. Not surprisingly, Gavin didn't (being that he lives in the cave beneath us). Bennett didn't either, even though it was right outside his door. Chloe heard it, but she thought it was Daddy being noisy downstairs making pancakes for her. 

I just love how Chuck is ready at all times for any challenge thrown at him, morning, day or night. He's the GOAT.*

* I just learned what that meant and wanted to incorporate it into my writing somehow to prove to the kids that I'm hip and know how to use the new lingo. I used to understand GOAT to mean 'scapegoat'. However, that would be a faulty, old-fashioned way to interpret the word. It now means: Greatest Of All Time. 

Sep 26, 2016

The "Fun Run"

9/26/2016 — cori

A while back I saw an advertisement for a Fun Run to benefit St. Jude Children's Hospital. I presented the option to the family. After asking how long it was and me quickly scanning the ad, I said, "Looks like it's only 1.5 miles," so they all said, "yes." However, the biggest selling point was that this would be held at the new Vikings Stadium. It had only been open 1 week. Brand. Spankin. New. And there was no way we'd ever be able to afford tickets to go see it. This looked like a win/win for all.

The big day finally arrived. As it turns out, Chloe and I signed up to volunteer at the event, not actually walk or run. I signed Chuck and the boys up for the run. It was a bit chilly, overcast and windy out. For the first half of the event, Chloe and I were assigned to the "Swag Tent" where we got to hand out free samples to all the participants.

When it came time for the big Walk/Run, Chloe and I were escorted into the stadium. We we told to wait on the 50 yard line and cheer for all the people coming across the finish line. I think we lucked out in the volunteer department.

As we were patiently and warmly waiting for the racers to do their thing, I was asking someone near me how long the run was. He replied, "It's a 5K." Oops. I kinda told my people it was only 1.5 miles. They didn't even train. They just woke up at 6am, walked out the door and were told to run 3 miles for charity at 9am.

As soon as Chuck crossed the finish line (long after the boys did) he told me (once he was able to breathe again), "That was the biggest bait and switch ever! I go from thinking I'm running 1.5 miles to actually running 3 miles." But I was so proud of my boys. Bennett sprinted through the finish line in 7th place. Gavin was far behind him. And Chuck was only a few minutes behind Gavin. Overall, they did awesome. And it was for a good cause. They just couldn't really walk the rest of the day. But it was for a good cause. And nobody is mad at me anymore.

And right before we left the stadium, Chuck stood at the 5 yard line and told Bennett to run for the endzone. Bennett caught the (mini) football (that we were passing out in the swag tent) and landed with both feet in the paint. Then they were happy. 

Sep 19, 2016

Her Mother's Daughter

9/19/2016 — cori

This morning, within 30 seconds of Chloe walking out the front door at 7:05 am, I get a text from her:

Is she my off-spring or what?! Here are the ways I can tell: 1) She is in awe of nature, especially sunrises and sunsets (me too!) 2) She immediately needs to share it with someone (me too!) 3) Her very next thought is to take a picture of it (me too!). 

At the exact same time she was taking her beautiful sunrise picture out front on the way to the bus, I was out back taking this one. Great minds think alike.

Sep 18, 2016

Frisbee Golf

9/18/2016 — cori
On Friday Chuck and I were wracking our brains trying to come up with a fun outdoor activity to do this weekend with the kids. The weather was forecasted to be gorgeous on Sunday and we wanted to take advantage of probably one of the last, warmish weekends for a very long time. Everywhere we wanted to go hiking was too far away. We didn't want to spend half the day driving. So hiking was out. Then the idea of frisbee golf struck me. We quickly googled frisbee golf locations near us and found an ample supply of DGCs (disc golf courses). Our education of this sport has already begun. Now that we know what to call it, we realized we would need to go buy some "discs". We just happened to be at Target and thought we'd look to see if they had any. Before we made it to the sports section we were in the dog section buying snacks for Ninja when Chuck found perfectly colorful, cheap frisbees just laying there....as dog toys. Plus, they were only $1.09. Bonus! This day is already looking promising. We have secured the "discs" at a very reasonable price, got all the picnic food and are ready for the fun and the sun.

Notice how we all decorated our discs so we would know whose was whose. Genius idea really. We were quite pleased with ourselves. Until we get there....the DGC, that is.

After we park, gather all our gear out of the trunk, and walk towards the picnic area my people are already throwing their "discs". Granted, there was one of those disc catcher thingys right in front of us and everyone wanted to see if we could get our colorful frisbees discs into them. I'm just standing there with my pretty pink disc when all of the sudden, out of nowhere, something knocks me in the forehead - hard. It was Bennett. Well, not him, but his disc. He said he was just trying to get it in the thingy when all of the sudden it made a right hand turn - straight into my forehead. Great! I haven't even played one round of frisbee golf and I'm already injured. Thankfully, we had ice packs in the lunch bag.

Bennett looks real torn up about my injury. Lunch was good though. The funniest thing happened at lunch though. We could see all the other DGC players walking around, throwing their discs and whatnot. What we noticed is that instead of nice decorated colorful dog toys they had 3 and 4 different weighted and shaped discs. They also had disc bags they were carrying them around in! We knew we were in trouble once we saw that. We realized we were more like little kids with their plastic, playskool golf clubs on a real golf course where everyone else is using 9 irons and putters. We laughed so hard at this realization. We were about to go out on that DGC and make morons of ourselves. At least it wouldn't be the first time.  

Normally, Chloe is scared of "discs" but not on this wonderful day. Come to find out they've been practicing throwing "discs" in gym lately. She's ready to put what she's been learning to good use.

Hole 1. We did it. We all managed to get our discs into this thingy (the hole, I guess). At the tee place, where you start, they have a map of where the 'hole' is, how far away it is, and the par. Gavin said we should just square the par number and make that our par since we were all so clueless and bad.

We had no idea if there was a proper disc-throwing-form/technique or not. Most of the time our discs rolled. That's probably because they were really frisbees. Or dog toys.

Gavin's form was better.

Chuck...the obvious winner of the game, had the best form. His stayed in the air and rolled less than the rest of ours. Even though most of us sucked, and even though we were playing with dog toys, and even though Bennett cheat, we had a blast! I can see us trying this again. We might even bring extra frisbees with us and even a bag to put all our extra frisbees in so it looks like we know what we're doing. I recommend NOT doing this on a windy day and not standing too close to Bennett.

Sep 16, 2016


9/16/2016 — cori
Last night before bed Gavin tell us, "You know how I sometimes have insomnia at night and I just can't fall asleep?" 

Yes. We do. Very common in teenagers.

"Well, I think I know why. Last night as I was trying to fall asleep I just couldn't stop thinking. I laid there for 20-30 minutes just thinking about how much I love my mouse and all its cool functionalities."

Thank you for sharing, Gavin.

Here is the beloved mouse:

He really is infatuated with this. This makes him so happy. He lives in a very practical, logical, happy world. It doesn't take much to please him. I love this kid. I love that this is what is running through his mind late at night and that he loves to share that with us still. I love that he is who he is and comfortable in his own skin. He knows most kids his own age don't love their mouses (plural/sp?) as much as he does his and he can even laugh at how ridiculous it sounds. He doesn't take himself too seriously. But he does take that mouse seriously.  

The first thing Chuck and I thought of was, of course, a VeggieTales Silly Song. This is what the kids watched when they were little. Chuck and I greatly appreciated (and still do) the comedic genius of these parodies. I know we're dating ourselves and the video is not in HD, but it encapsulates Gavin's mouse-love perfectly! The mouse IS Gavin's Cheeseburger.

Sep 14, 2016

Spank Me

9/14/2016 — cori

"Mommy, I have to confess. Every time I follow you up the stairs, I have this overwhelming urge to spank your bottom" says Chloe with a suppressed giggle.

"Hm. Interesting" I say. "I can see Daddy saying that, but it's rather surprising coming from you, Sweetie. Maybe you should stop following me up the stairs."

I am quite well known for my rather unique problem solving abilities.

Sep 12, 2016


9/12/2016 — cori

Homelessness. Poverty. Hunger. This makes me sad. The gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" seems to widen every year. This is not a problem of not enough stuff, money, housing, jobs, resources, food - it's a greed problem. It's a distribution problem. It's all of our problem. If I don't make the pain of these people my own, then I won't care enough to help. We need to put ourselves in the "other's" shoes. It is not our job to judge why or how people come into these circumstances. Life is full of many choices and decisions each of us would love to redo or undo if we could. Judgement gets us nowhere. Compassion is what changes people. Love in action. Meeting people where they're at. Mercy.

Gavin's economics teacher had his class play this little game (click on 'continue to spent') imagining themselves in the shoes of poor working class. Those teetering on the edge of homelessness, hunger, poverty. This is a brilliant resource. Walking in another's shoes helps us understand just the tiniest bit more. If you take the time to walk through this website and play the game, trust me, you'll feel relieved at the end that its not your real life.

The Ride To School

9/12/2016 — cori

This is Bennett's dream year. Not only does he get to go to the High School...he no longer has to ride the bus! This is huge people! Only the cool kids come in cars. Bennett is now in that category. He gets to ride with his brother to and from school these days. They might not say two words to each other on the way there or home, but at least they both look cool and really...that's all that matters to high schoolers.

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