Dec 31, 2014

Girls Day Out

12/31/2014 — cori

On Monday Chloe and I got to spend the entire day together doing fun, girly things and crashed at an awesome hotel that night to round out our special time together.  We celebrated all things girly like this wonderful song by Doris Day that got us started on the right foot:



Since we just watched "Elf" (as is our family tradition every Christmas Eve), Buddy's schedule of what to do with his Dad on his first day home was stuck in my head.  I'm not as good as Buddy at writing out my agenda on an Etch-A-Sketch so I played her the clip instead.  This cracks me up every time!

I planned out our whole day:
First we'll make snow angles for 2 hours
Then we'll go ice skating
Then we'll eat a whole roll of Toll House cookie dough as fast as we can
And then, when we're finished, we'll snuggle.

Our day began at the Mall of America.  We shopped till we could no longer walk.  We made our way to a fantastic crepe stand for lunch.  This will definitely be one of our new favorite places.


From there we went to get a manicure; Chloe's first.  I usually do her nails all the time at home, but it was a special treat to sit at her own station and have somebody fuss over her in true grown up fashion.


Next, we headed over to the Double Tree Hotel to check in and hang out for a bit.  It was cold -but sunny.  We can always handle the cold better when it comes with the sun!



Once we surveyed the room, we sat down to read this fun, informative book together about what to expect as you grow up.  It's all in celebration of being a girl.


After that we were starving for dinner, even though it was only 3:30pm.  We headed out to a new pizza place called Mozza Mia.  We had the joint to ourselves.  Our plan was to go ice skating which opened at 4pm and still have a little day-light left to skate in.  Unfortunately, when we got to the outdoor rink, it was closed due to the weather having been so warm.  Crazy, huh?!  Too warm in Minnesota?!  Actually, we had quite a warm spell of above freezing temps for the past 2 weeks, so it was pretty obvious the ice probably wasn't thick enough on the lake to hold us.  I'm super thankful for their protectiveness of our hypothermia, but sad that we didn't get to skate.


That just meant we got more time to check out the pool and hot tub at the hotel.  Also, we didn't have to subject ourselves to sub-zero freezing temps outside as we were trying to ice skate.  Even though it's been pretty warm lately, Monday was definitely not warm.  It was 8 when we were outside with a windchill of -5.  The hot tub was awesome.

We rounded out our evening with a fun game of Square Off and watching tv in bed.  The next morning we hit a fun French bistro for breakfast before heading off to doctors appointments.  What an awesome gift - uninterrupted time with my favorite girl!  I'm the luckiest mom in the whole world!


Dec 19, 2014

An Epic Christmas Fail

12/19/2014 — cori
About a week before Christmas I decided maybe I should try to throw together a quick little Christmas card.  My time leading up to Christmas is slightly busy, to say the least.  I figured a week before Christmas is better than a week after.  I thought about forgoing Christmas cards all together, but then I felt rude.  So I threw together a little card in like literally 5 minutes.

I already knew there was not one acceptable family photo.  Not a one, in a whole, entire year. Pathetic. Not cool.  I have already made a mental note to take more family photos next year and DUFDN photos don't count. All our family and friends across the country do not want to receive a picture of us dressed in costume (even though we rock our costumes).   I could only find one, lone family photo.  In that particular photo my eyes are half squinted shut looking like I am sneering at the camera.  That will never do.  I can't send out a Christmas sneer (even though everyone else looked great).  So that left me looking for pictures of just the three kids together and one of Chuck and I together. Harder than you think.  Try finding a picture of three kids together all looking at the camera at the same time, not trying to push one another over, or making snarky faces, actually doing their hair or not wearing mis-matched outfits or clothes where the colors don't clash.  Hard to do.  This is what I came up with:


Gavin thought it odd that JOY was spelled with a theta symbol, but other than that, everyone approved it.  I had to do black and white because the colors of the photos didn't match the card.  But then, I apparently stopped there when it came to card design.  This is how you whip up a card in 5 minutes people.  Voila!

I ran to Target to pick up my creation, got home and about had a heart attack.  I failed to check all the tiny details of the card such as WHO IT'S FROM.  Notice the name: Love, Jenny and Ella.  WHAT?! How could I not see that?!  Way to go Cori, way to pay attention to details.  What if I sent these out like this?  I would never, ever, ever hear the end of it.  

I was not wasting the $6.90 it cost to print these up so I did what any self-respecting creative type would do and cut off the Love, Jenny and Ella part.  I would have preferred to just mark it out with a big, black Sharpie pen, but hey, I couldn't send out tacky Christmas cards.  I'd rather send out cards that are the size of a teeny, tiny, odd looking post card with no 'love - anyone'.  I decided to hand write our names on the back to cover for that little over sight.  No one will ever know the difference. Right?

When the kids got home I asked them, "So, who wants to be Jenny and who wants to be Ella?"  That elicited multiple blank stares.  I then went on to confess my pathetic Christmas card failure to them. Confession is good.  Laughing at yourself is good.  Sending Christmas cards out with other people's names on them is not good.

Watch out - next year we might just send out a picture of Chuck and Ninja.  Apparently, anything goes around here.   Always check the signature part - just a little something I've learned from life experience.


****addendum****

This occurred on my second batch of Christmas cards which only highlights two more failures on my part, 1) I did this once before and knew you were supposed to change the name part and clearly forgot and 2) I didn't order enough the first go around and had to pay more to add 10 more cards to my collection and a lifetime of embarrassment to my ego.   I had no excuse.  It was pure stupidity, plain and simple.

Dec 18, 2014

Dinner Talk

12/18/2014 — cori
You never know what it's going to be, but you know it's going to be something interesting.  Here's the progression of tonight's convo:

Me:  So guys, what's everyone's thankfuls?

We all proceed with our thankfuls.  Then the obvious question..."Where's Dad?"

Me:  He's at a late work meeting. He gets to eat Mexican food in an expensive restaurant while we get to eat pancakes for dinner.

Gavin:  I hope these pancakes don't have globs in them.

Bennett:  I hope they don't have pockets of baking soda.

Chloe:  I hope they're cooked all the way through like Daddy's.

Me:  It may come as a surprise to you that I made perfect pancakes this time.  No globs or pockets of flour.

Everyone excitedly ate the fare I offered and even acknowledged that it didn't suck.  I'm obviously not known for my breakfast food making.  That's Chuck's department.  And since he was noticeably absent today, the task fell to me.  The conversation just progressed downhill rapidly from here.

Bennett:  So, I have my math test tomorrow.

Gavin:  What are you studying?

Bennett: Probability.

Gavin:  Give me a problem.

The problem was given and he excitedly answered it.  Then he turned it around on the rest of us.

Gavin:  Mom, here's a probability problem for you.  Say you have this bookshelf and you can only put seven books on it, right.  How many different ways can you order the books?

Me:  I don't like probability.

Gavin:  But you do like books, right? So, how many different ways can you order the books?

I didn't have enough time to draw the problem out cuz that's just how my brain works...I have to see it - on paper.  So, I threw out what I thought was a reasonable sounding answer: 49 different ways.

Gavin:  Wrong.  See you have 7 different slots, once you have the first book in the first slot, now you have 6 different options left and then 5 and so forth, right?  So, the answer is 7 factorial which comes out to 5,040 different ways to arrange the books on a shelf. (He says this like he's talking about the weather outside - like it's obvious).

Me:  hmmmm

Bennett:  Mom...say you have two books, how many ways can you arrange them on a shelf?

Me:  Bennett, that's the kind of problem I like!

Why must I be cursed to answer math word problems at dinner my entire life?!  Why can't a mother eat in peace without math entering into the conversation just once?!

Dec 6, 2014

Awkward

12/06/2014 — cori
Chuck has been out of town all week, meaning...he's been out of the loop.  Our household is spinning many plates at the same time as are many household's with this age of children.  It's just par for the course.  If you step away from the spinning plates, for even a second, the dynamic changes drastically. Chuck stepped away.

Once he got back last night he thought he could jump right back in and take up where he left off.  In theory that's great; doesn't work in reality.  We started the morning by having to drop off Gavin for a Mock Trial event at 7:30 and pick up Chloe from a sleep over at 9am.  I also had to head to the grocery store while it and I were still slightly sane.  The grocery store becomes a mad house on the weekends and I didn't have time to get everything during the week.  My goal was to get there before 9am.  So Chuck offered to pick up Chloe so I could get an early start and keep my sanity in tact for the rest of the weekend.

This is us at our best.  We're a great team.  Seems straight forward, right?  There should be no story here.  Ahhh....but it wouldn't be us if there wasn't.

Chuck heads over to Katie's house.  He spends a good 15 minutes small talking with her parents while waiting for Chloe to come downstairs.  She never comes.  The mom makes a mention about how nice it will be for the girls to get together soon.  Chuck puts two and two together and realizes his mistake.  OMG!!!  How embarrassing!

He just randomly showed up at some friends' house to shoot the breeze for no reason at all...which is how it looked from their point of view.  They had just woken up.  Awkward.

He then calls me at the store to ask me how to get to Apen's house, the other friend who she spent the night with.  He avoids mentioning his mistake.  I thought that was a little odd.  It was later than when he said he'd pick her up.  I just thought he got a late start.   Once I get home I hear of  The Great Pick Up Fiasco.

See...you cannot walk away from the plates.  This parenting business is very tricky.  It's hard to know where your kids are at all times.  I've heard of an app you that allows you to write a list on your phone and share it between two people.  Too bad there's not an app for the list in my brain that keeps all those plates spinning.

Dec 3, 2014

Giving Thanks

12/03/2014 — cori
I wish you could sing, "It's the most wonderful time...of the year" during Thanksgiving because I think it is true.  Another one has come and gone yet again.  This year was the first time we all got to meet Logan, John and Karen's first baby.  To say we were excited was an understatement.  He was pretty much the center of everything.  Here's the breakdown in picture form:

This is the little guy that stole our hearts over Thanksgiving

We all enjoyed an (edible) Thanksgiving feast together.
This picture is a recreation while at Mom & Dad's house
(we forgot to take one on the actual day of thanks).

Chloe held Logan


 Our super competitive Thanksgiving Day Bean Bag Toss.
We had to abandon our annual football game because of frigid temps.
I think it reached 7 on Thanksgiving Day.  Outdoor sports were not an option.

 Gavin held Logan

We walked through the skyways in downtown Minneapolis.
Chloe learned how to maneuver a stroller with a baby. 

Bennett held Logan
 
Temps soared up to 30 degrees, so we made the most of it and went sledding

"I'm going to die!"

"Look Mom, no hands!"

Chloe fed Logan every chance she got (she got many chances)

We visited a winery
 
And of course we played games.  Many games.
Our old stand-by is always Guesstures.  

We thought Aunt Karen liked Chloe....but now I'm not sure
since she appears to be holding her at gunpoint.

And of course, Chuck howling at the moon.
Always a good way to end a blog.

Nov 25, 2014

So Big

11/25/2014 — cori

I know this is the worst quality photo, but what it captures is priceless.  As I was dropping Chloe off at school today it struck me how grown up she is becoming.  She's started bringing a thermos of hot tea with her every morning to drink on the bus (if we had coffee in this house, I'm sure she would prefer that).  She carries a messenger bag now instead of a back-pack.  Cool matters.  And because this is Minnesota, you always have to carry your winter gear with you back and forth to school, thus the green Half-Price bag that holds her boots and snow pants. 

Since it felt like zero degrees this morning and I had the day off, I offered to take the kids to school.  I just love where Chloe goes to school.  It is a new school housed in a very old building (circa 1961). Both Chloe and I love this.  We both adore the 'old smell', the creaky wood floors, all the history surrounding you as you walk the halls.  She comes home every day saying how much she loves school.  And it's not just that she gets to see her friends.  She loves the freedom to learn at her own pace at this school; to pursue projects and experiments of her own choosing.  She loves how most of the other kids who attend also are self-driven to learn.  She loves the respect the teachers show the kids and in turn, the kids adore and respect the teachers.

This grainy, phone snap-shot captures more than Chloe walking into school...it captures all the things she loves at 10 years old.  Okay...it doesn't capture her horse Beauty... I have another picture for that, but pretty much everything else. 


The other love of Chloe's life...Beauty - and yes, she is black.   And yet another blurry photo.




Nov 23, 2014

Selfies

11/23/2014 — cori
One day her and her friend were at the park playing and took a selfie together and texted it to me cuz apparently you can play and take pix of yourself at the same time now - awesome.  This was not an option when I was 10.  Anyways, I digress...her friend and her were enjoying a crisp afternoon at the park and wanted to show me how much fun they were having without having to actually tell me. Modern technology has allowed them to show me.  They sent this adorable picture:


I immediately texted them back and said, "Love the sun rays!"  And for whatever reason, that just cracked up two 10 year old girls.  Now, every time they send me a selfie, they make sure to add sun rays and/or comment about 'loving the sun rays'.  I don't even now how to text cool.

I am new to this phenomenon.  Chloe is not.  She takes approximately 53 selfies a day.  And shares them with anyone who is on her contact list.  Me, not so much.  She's always telling me, "Mom, you should totally take a selfie right now."  And I'm like, "Um.  No."  And she's like, "Awww, Mom.  It would be fun."  And I'm like, "Um. No."

But all is not lost, Chloe is teaching me how to take selfies.  I acquiesce and allow her to take a selfie with me in it, but I will not just take one of me, myself and I only.  I'm not that interesting, trust me. So, every time she does my hair she insists on taking pictures of it.  Somehow that morphed into teaching me how to take a selfie tonight.  Here is my foray into selfie-dom:


It would be perfect if only there were some sun rays.

Nov 19, 2014

A Time for Quiet

11/19/2014 — cori
A few circumstances in our life currently have given me reason to contemplate the beauty of quiet in our lives.  The quiet seasons in life bear much fruit.  It would be wise of us to embrace them.  I've noticed how most of us are often a little apprehensive of too much quiet.  We often feel the need to fill up all our quiet spaces with busyness and activity.  Sometimes we may be scared of what we might learn about ourselves during this time of reflection and meditation.  But it is so good for our soul. The quiet enables us to listen to our heart and to God, to process what we're learning,  and it helps us shut out the noise of distraction constantly humming all around us.  I've noticed how it is not a popular thing to do in our day and age.  If we're not active, then something must be wrong. However, consider how the quiet times of life (or our day, week, season) allow us time to think, heal, listen, grow, learn and gain deeper understanding.  As with all things percolating in my mind, I must write about it to voice what I am learning.  One day I'm sure I'll look back and see where I've grown from this current train of thought.  One building block at a time.  


Simple
Silent
Serene

Beauty I feel and see
Filling up inside of me

Courageous
Compassionate
Content

The heart within is calm
The solitude a healing balm

Listen
Learn
Love

My soul fills with peace
All strivings cease

Stillness 
Solitude
Steadfast

Not in a hurry
No need to worry

Hopeful
Helpful
Healed

Fear set aside
In grace I abide

Ponder
Prepare
Peaceful

Burdens released
Love increased

Gracious
Giving
Grateful

The gift of quiet is sure to be found
When thankfulness in my heart abounds.





Nov 17, 2014

The Heavens Declare

11/17/2014 — cori

Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers, 
“Do you like it? I did it just for you.”
Max Lucado

A Fall Surprise

11/17/2014 — cori
Although it's still fall, winter has decided to make a surprise visit.  But she is still so beautiful and radiant in her colors.  She still takes your breath away with her exquisiteness and the sharpness of her touch. She is an oxymoron, wanting to be loved and enjoyed, yet keeping you at arms reach because of her frigidness.  She teaches me there is beauty in the hard places of life, you just have to keep your eyes open to see them.  Winter keeps me thankful.






Nov 10, 2014

Halloween Enchantment

11/10/2014 — cori
Another Halloween, another day to dress up.  Can you really ever get enough opportunities for this kind of pleasure?  And oh, what fun we had.

Chloe was Little Red Riding Hood.  Very ingenious.

I was your run of the mill boring cheetah.  But I was just 
the one who stayed home and passed out candy, so it's not like
I needed a super exciting, awe-inspiring costume or anything. 
It was either between cheetah or gangsta.  There's always next year.

Chuck - there's always Chuck.  He decided to mock the modern style of our day.
He even went to H&M to procure the exact assortment of proper Hipster clothing.
The scarf is the clincher.  Also the way-too-tight light grey jeans, rolled up a little
too high. The sad thing was, nobody at work thought he was 'dressed up'.  
We called him: Scarf Guy

Bennett the Mountain Man.  Nobody recognized him.

Gavin the secret service agent.  
Any opportunity he gets to wear a suit, he takes it.  Halloween included.

Oct 22, 2014

I Clean Too Good

10/22/2014 — cori

Yesterday as I was walking through the house  and noticed a smudge mark on my wood floors.  This 'smudge' didn't sit well with me.  In all honesty, I noticed it several days ago, but the angle of the sun hitting the floors just right yesterday afternoon reminded me of it yet again. I couldn't procrastinate a minute longer.  So I got out my handy little pre-packaged dust wipes and scrubbed away at the unwelcome smudge on the floor.  It was gleaming.  While I was on my hands and knees, I decided to just run that little sucker all over the floor in the surrounding area.  I was rather proud of my quick thinking and newly shined floors.  That is until Gavin decides to walk downstairs and lands flat on his face before he even reaches the stairs.

Of course he was laughing about it (as were we all).  It was just the classic slip and fall routine where your legs slip out from under you.  Luckily, he had managed to keep holding on to the stair railing so he didn't bang his head.  At the time of the fall, I still hadn't put together my overly cleaned floors and his slipping.  Then he asked me, "Mom, did you clean the floors today or something cuz they are extra slippery right here at the foot of the stairs?  It's like ice over here."  And then it dawned on me....oh no - I did this!

I sheepishly confessed to cleaning the smudge with a dust wipe not even a hour or so before the falling incident.  Ooops.  I guess I just cleaned it too good.  My bad.  Then Bennett was like, "Mom, you should totally do this to the whole floor, then we could slide all over the place."  See there the kids go again encouraging me to actually clean the whole house.  Look what would happen if I was that diligent.  Everyone would be bonking their heads all over the place.  No, I can't have that happening.  In the spirit of protecting my beloveds I will no longer have a spotless house, I will let dust build up and leave smudges on floors cuz clean houses are hazardous...especially to my people.

Oct 20, 2014

iPad Art

10/20/2014 — cori

I found this picture as the background on Chloe's iPad the other day.  I was like, "CHLOE!  This is so cool!  How did you do it?!"  And she was all casual and hip, "Through this Photo Sketch App, Mom. Here, let me show you how it works."  And I'm all like, "You have GOT to teach me how to use this! It is so awesome.!" (and yes, when I'm excited I speak in capital letters and explanation points).

If I can't actually draw this good, I can at least take a picture and let someone else draw it.  We then spent the next 30 minutes messing around on the app.  Man!  Where was this when I was in school?  I would have rocked art class!  Every day I see seeds of a miniature graphic designer sprouting up in this sweet girl.  She masters all these programs so easily.  She is now in the middle of building a website for a school project.  Daddy couldn't be prouder of his little protege!

Oct 17, 2014

The Valley Of Gold

10/17/2014 — cori
The kids had a long weekend this week.  Add to that a gorgeous fall day and you know what's coming next...yup, a hike.  We trekked out to our favorite local park, Schaar's Bluff.  But this was no ordinary hike.  We knew the leaves would be in full color.  We would all come armed with iPads, cameras and camera phones in hand to capture as much beauty as possible.  My peeps don't like to simply walk through nature, they prefer to have a task such as a scavenger hunt or an end goal.  So in the spirit of not being bored on a hike I gave the kids the assignment of taking photos of any and everything they wanted to and editing it to be as creative as possible.  The name of the game was creativity and thinking outside the box.  They had a full 24 hours to work on their creations and turn them in.  I would in turn put them on my blog.  I just LOVE what they each came up with!  I treasure the chance of seeing the world through their eyes.



Bennett's collage.  
I love that he added text and font.


My favorite photo of Chloe's


Chloe's personal favorite


My second favorite of Chloe's.
I think she's inherited her Daddy's eye for design.


Even though I told the kids to edit their photos,
I didn't.  I don't have as cool of apps.  But I like 
them just the way they are.  This one is looking 
out onto the Mississippi River.


In this photo, the sun rays were shining through 
so beautifully making the yellow glow under the
tree canopy even more brilliant.



This doesn't quite capture the Valley Of Gold but it
comes close.  You walk into this little valley off the 
trail and voila....it's entirely gold above, around,
and beneath you.  It's breath-taking.  Too bad you
can't capture the other beauties of fall like the crunch
of the leaves beneath your feet and the smell of dried 
leaves all around you.  Exhilarating!


The following is Gavin's collection of pictures.   He chose to put them in a video.  The music that so adequately expresses the occasion, was created by him in GarageBand.  This reflects his personality perfectly!

Oct 15, 2014

Encompassed By Autumn

10/15/2014 — cori

What if trees refused to let go of their dying leaves?
Letting go let's us grow.
-Laurie Wallin


How beautifully the leaves grow old,
how full of light and color are their last days.
- John Burroughs




A single sunbeam is enough
to drive away many shadows.
- St. Francis of Assisi

Oct 12, 2014

On Being Loved

10/12/2014 — cori
Chuck was out of town most of last week.   As any single parent already knows, parenting is ten times harder on your own.  Not only do I love Chuck as my husband but we make a great team when it comes to parenting.  He is an awesome Dad!  I couldn't do what I do without him.  Needless to say, when he's out of town, I'm not at my best.  I get tired ten times easier.  I'm not good at carrying all the burdens he normally carries.  I miss him dreadfully.  So do the kids.  We're just not whole.  A noticeable piece is missing.  We all function without that piece, just not optimally.

In steps Bennett to fills Daddy's very big, loving shoes.  By the end of the week he could tell my love tank was on the verge of empty.  So he took it upon himself to fill it.  As he was walking out the door to school one morning he said in passing, "Uh Mom, I left something for you." And then bestowed upon me his cheesy "I'm Up To Something" grin.




He left me the sweetest love notes all around the house.  My heart filled instantly with encouragement and joy.  This is exactly something Chuck would do if he saw I was down - he would find a way to fill me up with love.  I think Victor Hugo sums up my feelings the best:

"The supreme happiness of life
is the conviction that we are loved."

Oct 6, 2014

Native American Prayer

10/06/2014 — cori
A few years ago we went to a festival where we got to meet some Native Americans from the Lakota Tribe.  They drove to Minnesota from a Reservation in South Dakota to share some of their heritage with us.  First of all, this is huge because white Minnesotans drove them out of here over 150 years ago during the US-Dakota War of 1862.  That they would come back with kindness, not bitterness, forgiveness, not anger and educate us....that just blew me away.  

I was so touched by the gentleness and humbleness of these men.  I was almost in tears when they taught us to pray the Lakota Prayer.  I wanted to know more and more, so I did some research.  I found this site that helped me better understand what many of the Native tribes meant when they speak of The Great Spirit.  

After reading this prayer titled, "Great Spirit", I wrote it down in my journal to keep so that I could meditate on the simplicity of the words and pureness of the heart behind the prayer.  I'm not very good at praying, my words often get jumbled, I loose my thought process, my mind wanders.  But when I pray this prayer, my heart cries, "YES!  Me too!" 

One day I believe God will redeem all things; relationships between people groups, the land, the animals and all of humanity.  Until that time, this will be my prayer.


Great Spirit

Great Spirit,
Give us hearts to understand;
Never to take from creation's beauty more than we give;
Never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed;
Never to deny to give our hands for the building of earth's beauty;
Never to take from her what we cannot use.

Give us hearts to understand
That to destroy earth's music is to create confusion;
That to wreck her appearance is to blind us to beauty;
That to callously pollute her fragrance is to make a house of stench;
That as we care for her, she will care for us.

We have forgotten who we are.
We have sought only our own security.
We have exploited simply for our own ends.
We have distorted our knowledge.
We have abused our power.

Great Spirit whose dry lands thirst, help us find a way to refresh your lands.

Great Spirit whose waters are chocked with debris and pollution, help us find a way to cleanse your waters

Great Spirit whose beautiful earth grows ugly with mis-use, help us find a way to restore beauty to your handiwork.

Great Spirit whose creatures are being destroyed, help us find a way to replenish them.

Great Spirit whose gifts are being lost in selfishness and corruption, help us find the way to restore our humanity. 


Great Spirit Prayer By Big Thunder - Late 19th Century Algonquin





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