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 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.

Sep 7, 2016

20 Years

9/07/2016 — cori

Twenty years ago. On one hand it seems like forever. On the other, it's such a short blip on the radar screen. Either way, its been the best adventure I could have asked for or imagined! I never could have envisioned the places we would go, the things we would do, the people we would meet, the children we would have, or the love we would grow. 

The best part for me has always been the unexpected fun we find around every corner. I love Chuck's optimistic outlook on life. It's contagious. Take for example how we jokingly said we should get tattoos to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

And then this happened. Yup. We just up and did it. Completely unexpected, but completely full of meaning. We'll definitely never forget this day. I would even say it's made a lasting impression on us.

Sep 6, 2016

Let The Games Begin

9/06/2016 — cori
Today we start the next phase of the year with excitement even as we mourn summer's passing. Gone is the leisurely pace summer brings and in it's place is the constant go, go, go of school activities and schedules. Not that it's all bad, it just takes me a while to ramp up. It also makes me so thankful for the time I got to spend with my kids over the summer and makes me miss them a wee bit more than normal. But this mommy will be fine once the first week is over and our new routine is in place. It's all good.

Chloe's first day of 7th grade. First day of a new school. First day of changing classes and teachers.

First day of High School for this young stud. He couldn't be more excited or ready!

"May the odds be ever in your favor!"

The First of The Last

9/06/2016 — cori
And the countdown begins....Spoiler alert - I will be doing this most of the school year...guaranteed! 

My sweet, intense, firstborn who couldn't wait to start school back in 2004 and learn more and more and more and ask as many questions as his mind could think up has morphed overnight (seemingly) into this:

A high school senior. Top of his class. He hasn't changed one bit. He still has an intense love of learning. He still asks a million questions, only difference is, I don't have the answers anymore. And he is still as sweet as ever. 

My eyes are tearing up just writing those few short sentences. So I better make this one short. 

I love who he is. I love what he loves and how he still loves to share his passions, questions, discoveries and excitement with me. I love how his brain works. This is going to be an amazing year. He is taking 3 college courses (2 from the University of Minnesota and 1 from St. Cloud State University) plus German 3 and economics. He is also getting the chance to TA for his favorite teacher this year as well. And he is the Senior Captain of his Mock Trial Team.

I have a feeling this year is going to go by very, very fast. 

The Blob

9/06/2016 — cori

This past weekend we were invited to a friend's lake house on Big Watab Lake. This is what Minnesotans do (and I'm sure anyone anywhere who owns a lake house does, but since there are 10,000 lakes happens alot around these parts). Having a lake house is as common as having a second car it seems. Spending the day at the lake was a first for us. We attempted to go camping last August at a lake. That was a major fail. However, we did end up with good sunset pix. We were optimistic for a second attempt - afterall, we wouldn't be camping and the forecast called for 79 degrees and sunny. This was going to be good. We could just feel it. Plus, friend had a Blob. How could this go wrong?

Introducing The Blob. This sturdy three story structure is held down by lots of cement in buckets under the water, as is the blob. This little device was the envy of the whole lake. Unfortunately, I will never know how fun it was since I choose not to submit myself to torture-like devices. But Chuck, Bennett and Gavin were gung-ho for it. They should have thought twice when 1) friend never put on his swim trunks or offered to go on the blob with them  and 2) the cloudy, overcast skies hardly let any sunshine pass through thus not warming the water for our much anticipated day on the lake.

Ever ready for fun, Bennett was the first one on the blob. That's him on the can barely see his head poking up from the blob. And then there's Chuck...he's the one jumping off the second story of the structure. He has to land precisely on a red square on the blob. This will then catapult Bennett out into the lake. 

And that's exactly what it did. Bennett later mentioned feeling like he got whipped on the back. It was red and purple the rest of the day.

Here's Gavin's catapult. We were told you're supposed to tuck in like a ball. But he said he had no idea he'd been launched until he was in the air, and by then it was too late. He got all the air knocked out of him and also sported a nice shade of purple on his back all afternoon. He couldn't really breathe or talk very well after his time on the blob. The guys only did it twice. Shocking, when we presumed before arriving that we would all spend the whole afternoon playing in the water and on the blob.

Chloe chose a smarter option...she paddle boarded. And as long as she stayed in the little alcove by the shoreline, the wind wasn't a problem.

She also enjoyed going down this rickety-looking slide into the freezing cold abyss.

Bennett also thought he'd try his hand a paddle-boarding.

On our way home we stopped at the beautiful Munsinger Gardens in St. Cloud.

I was so impressed that 1) it was free and 2) they were able to get all the flowers to bloom at the same time! It truly was breath-taking. My paltry pictures don't do it justice. It was all awash with color.

Thank you for your kind wishes Doris Kelly, my heart was definitely peaceful!

Why don't my plants grow this way?

And last, but not least, a flower as big as Bennett's head. Impressive.

Aug 29, 2016

"There's a Hole in the Bag"

8/29/2016 — cori

Here are two of our crazy kids during our most recent road trip. Yes, Chloe is brushing Bennett's hair. What happens in the car, stays in the car. For the most part. Except for that time that we were driving in the middle of nowhere Ohio and heard Chloe say, in a rather quiet voice, from the nether regions of the car, "There's a hole in the bag."

"Ok. So....why should we care?"

And then it all registered in slow motion. Chloe woke up not feeling well, saying something about a stomach ache. Chloe being extra quiet in the backseat (this never happens). Chloe literally throws up in her mouth and then swallows it (thus the reason she was uber quiet) until she can't anymore. It was at that exact moment I knew exactly what, "There's a hole in the bag" meant. She just threw up and THERE'S A HOLE IN THE THROW UP BAG!

I tell Chuck to pull over IMMEDIATELY! Luckily we're around the corner from some gas station in the middle of nowhere. He screeches up to the entrance as I'm opening my door and jumping out. Since Chloe is sitting in the seat behind Gavin, I open his door and he jumps out of the way at the same time as I'm pulling the back seat down to get to Chloe. Mom instinct kicks in and you just act. You don't always know what you're going to do, but you just start going. I yank her out of the car and see the infamous bag with a hole in it.

From there, it's a blur. I leave Chloe and sprint to the door of the convenience store.  The worker is sitting out front on a smoke break and sees me hauling and jumps up and asks, "What do you need?" It's not everyday some half-crazed woman comes running up to the door from a car barely off the highway with all the doors open. I rattle off a list of supplies like a Surgeon. He gives me what I ask for and I sprint back out to car.

Chloe decides to finally stop swallowing her puke and lets the remaining contents of her stomach out. But that still leaves the stuff from the 'hole' all over the floor mat, Chloe's socks and shoes and anything else that was under the insufficient puke bag.

Next time the poor convenience store worker sees me, I'm ushering Chloe into their bathroom and using all their paper towels to wipe her down. He brings out a bunch more wet/dry paper towels to Chuck who I left to tend to the puke (his usual job). On my way out, I ask the worker for more plastic bags 'just in case'. Chloe inspects each one of them for holes. They pass the test. Thankfully, convenience store worker also lets us use his hose to spray off the floor mat. But that didn't stop us from needing to stop somewhere and buy car fresheners to mask the oder. I plan on keeping Clorox wipes in my vehicle from now on.

We drove for 8 hours that day. Chloe puked for all of them. It was a horrible day for her. But at least we were prepared from then on out with quality plastic bags, wipes, and paper towels. Chloe is a great aim at least. I'm afraid we inherited the Vacation Puke Curse from our friends, the Thompsons. We feel each other's pain.

Aug 20, 2016

It's Hard To Be Bennett

8/20/2016 — cori

Yesterday, we had some friends from out of town stop by for a visit. We only casually know each other, so there were a lot of questions floating around. Since Gavin is a senior this year, he naturally fields lots of questions about college, his interest of study and so on. We spent quite a lot of time talking about how he loves computer programming as compared to web design that Chuck does. Then these sweet, unsuspecting people decided to ask Bennett a question.

Bennett may be in the room with us, but he is not always 'present'. He loves to let his mind wander while people are conversing around him. What he's thinking, nobody really knows; probably basketball, basketball, basketball.  He gets confused easily when people ask him questions. His first response is usually, "Wait, what?" That is because he's coming back from that far away place he just spent the whole conversation whittling away time in.

So on this fine day, when he was asked, "Bennett, what do you enjoy?" he was surprisingly ready with his response. "I like basketball."

"Anything else?" friend asks.

"Ya. Maybe coaching." Bennett responds. We don't need to go deeper, just one word answers seem to be appropriate.

"Oh. So are you interested in designing a program to help athletes not get injured so much?" friend throws out there.

And then comes the response that reveals Bennett has zero clue what he's talking about and is said in typical Bennett fashion: "No. I'm not into programming or design."

Everyone else in the room knew that's not what friend was asking, except Bennett. All he heard were the two key words we had been talking about earlier 'programming' and 'design' in relation to computers. He wanted to distance himself as far away as possible from those two things.

We all had to hide our smirks and giggles. Friend moved on to asking what Chloe's interests were. Once these friends left, Chuck was like, "Bennett, what were you thinking?!" And Bennett was all, "I was confused!" And we were like, "No duh! When people are confused they normally ask someone to rephrase the question." Bennett says, "So, should I have said, 'wait, what?'"

"Not exactly." It's hard being Bennett's parents people. Very hard. That kid cracks us up all day long. So now, whenever we ask Bennett a question he answers, "I'm not into programming or design." Typical Bennett. Never a dull moment with this kid.

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