Oct 30, 2012

Cuddle Time Rules!

10/30/2012 — cori

Boy was I tired today!  It was a very full day.  As I was driving home, Chuck called and mentioned how tired I sounded, to which I appropriately respond, "You don't even know the end of it."  He had no clue what I meant obviously.   Neither did I.  I just knew there was an idiom that sounded kind of like that and I tried to use it in context and ended up failing miserably.  Just add it to the list of my idiom (not idiot) failures.  (For those of you still scratching your heads....the proper phraseology would be: "You don't even know the half of it.")

As soon as I got home, which was after Chuck, I walked in, kicked off my boots, threw my glasses on the table and announced with as much gusto as my cracky, tired voice could muster, "Who wants to cuddle me on my bed?" and ran upstairs dramatically.  All my people came running from all corners of the house to join me.  There was a mad dash down the tiny hallway that leads to my room.  Gavin, in all his excitement hit Chloe, who had a firm grip on my jeans, in the face (accidentally) as he's trying to desperately secure a position next to me once snuggly upon my bed.  Bennett zoomed under the rader and got there almost before me.  How the bed didn't crack in half with 4 people and a dog jumping on it all at the same time is beyond me.  Ninja, who is never allowed on my bed was beside herself with excitement at actually being up on this lofty, once unattainable pedestal.  In all the craziness, I noticed someone was missing...Chloe.  Apparently, she got trampled in the fray by her ever so gentle brothers.  She was across the hall, in her bed, crying.  Chuck went and got her, carried her into my bed and then "tada!" one, big, happy, cuddly, family.  It was heaven.

I'm thankful for my tiredness today.  It was precisely because of it that I was able to have such a beautiful memory of special time with my family.

At the end of the day we always ask each other what our favorite part of our day was.  Without a doubt, my favorite part was cuddling with all my favorite people on the bed and that they still want to cuddle me.

Oct 29, 2012

We Must Be Doing Something Right

10/29/2012 — cori

As Chloe and I are reading through her Chemistry workbook today, she's stops what she's reading aloud to me and suddenly announces, "Mommy, this is Comic Sans font.  I know cuz it's my favorite.  Daddy doesn't like it though."

I knew we must have been doing something right in order for our off-spring to be able to recognize fonts at such a young, precarious age.  You want to catch them young so you can indoctrinate them early on about the 'good' vs. 'bad' fonts.  We wouldn't want our children out there typing in fonts we find unacceptable, would we?

What kind of parents would we be if our children didn't have the same love of fonts as their parents.  Chuck and I are slightly obsessed with fonts.  He has hundreds of them memorized because of his line of work and I just plain like pretty words.  I'll see a font on a bill board or on a product and ask Chuck what it is, to which he will answer.  Then if we don't already have that particular font, we run to dafont.com and download it so we can use it as our very own.  Doesn't everybody?

The kids have big font footsteps to fill, but now we can rest easy knowing that at least one of our children will be able to attain our lofty goals.

Oct 28, 2012

The Infamous Head Wound

10/28/2012 — cori

You just never know with us.  Do you?  You could have a perfectly planned out day and then BAM!  Everything could change.  Wait a minute...that's every day for us.  Hmmmm...oh well, it still holds true for this story.

It was just a normal Saturday.  Gavin commandeered the laundry room early in the morning since he had a lot of wash to do.  Chuck and I were moving boxes from the garage down to the basement (where the laundry room is).  All the kids were helping us at one point or another, even the neighbor boy was here.  In between moving boxes Gavin was also checking on his laundry.  He had a question for me about it at one point and I helped him.

As I was walking back out to the garage to get more items to bring down, I thought I faintly heard Gavin say, "mom...".  I figured he had another laundry question and I wasn't going to walk all the way back down 15 steps when I was right there at the garage door....he could wait.

But upon coming back down to the basement I see blood drops on the floor.  Then I see Gavin leaning over the laundry sink with Chuck holding Gavin's head in his hands as he's running water all over it.  Then I see blood coming from Gavin's head.  Uh oh.  I should have sprinted down those stairs when I heard the faint 'mom' cry.

The rest was a blur.  Thank God Chuck was the first responder.  I would have totally freaked out.  Here is the story of what happened as described to me:  Gavin thought he would leap down all 8 stairs leading to the basement.  He failed to remember 1. his gangly height and 2. the lowness of the ceiling in the stairwell.  He said he made it all the way to the bottom in one awesome leap, but then he felt as though someone threw something at him and hit him in the back of the head. Suddenly his head started hurting really badly and he was getting tired.  He thought he'd go lay down on his bed (his room is in the basement) which was just a few steps away.  But as he was climbing into his bed, he noticed blood dripping.  That's when the faint 'mom' was thrown out there.

Chuck was on his way downstairs when he heard the faint cry for help and ran into Gavin's room only to find him curled up on his rug holding his head with blood dripping all over his hands and down his face.  Gavin, in all his pain, wanted to be sure to keep the blood in one location and not get it on the carpet or his bed, so he had enough frame of mind to stay put.  Chuck helped him into the laundry room where I cluelessly entered the scene.

After we've rinsed all the blood away, we find the gash that's producing the flow.  It's about an inch in width, but rather narrow. It doesn't look as though it needs stitches, but since it's a head wound, the blood flows freely.  We were finally able to get ice on it and check Gavin out for signs of a concussion. He was the one who was most calm, ironically.

Our neighbor went back to the scene of the accident and using his detective skills announced, "Looks like Gavin dented the wall.  There's a crack and a dent on the ceiling where he hit his head."  Nice.  That is one hard head.  Gavin announced, "I didn't realize I was so tall."

He obediently sat with ice on his head for a good 30 minutes, thus keeping the swelling down to a minimum.  Thankfully, we were able to keep him awake and even get food in him.  He couldn't wait to tell his friend.  He calls him right away and says, "Yeah...I just wanted to tell you about the head wound I just received."  All day long, all he wanted to do was talk about it.  He comes into our room as we're going to bed and says, "Let's talk about my head wound."  It is so his personality to turn it into a joke.

The kid is crazy. He's so melodramatic when it comes to something like a bug bite or paper cut but he almost cracks his head open and is mr. calm, cool and collected about it.  I don't get it.  I asked him if he's into random injuries lately like the one he obtained earlier this year.  I already had my turn at being a first responder once this year....I thought it only fair to give Chuck his chance to act at lightening quick speed to save a child (the same one).

Just another day around here.  Like when you wake up and your heater doesn't work and then your garage door breaks the next day and then your kid gets an unexpected head injury.  It's very important to go with the flow.  We like to call it an adventure.  Life around here is nothing if not an adventure!

Oct 23, 2012


10/23/2012 — cori

This is a trait that does not come naturally for most people. I believe it is something that is learned by experiencing first hand or observing those close to you who are giving or receiving it.   A few lucky ones are born with this gift of God imbedded into their souls.  It is looking out side of yourself and experiencing the pain, suffering, struggles of those around you as your own.

As a parent, I aim to teach our kids this lesson by example.  We talk about it frequently.  They've received it plenty.  But I don't think Gavin gained an appreciation for it until this week.  All the talking and seeing finally manifested into doing.  I couldn't be more proud.

Last week, Gavin had a very big report due that somehow got a little procrastinated.  We haven't done a formal investigation into how that could have possibly happened, but each parent has their own suspicions.   Thankfully, that wasn't the heart of the matter.  Gavin worked hard to research and write this report and then submitted himself to my ever demanding edits.  My critiques of his writing have always been a sore spot for him; always hard to take.  He takes it personally instead of academically.

We (Chuck & I) spent much time talking with him about his topic, presenting him with other ideas that might be useful to incorporate into his essay and leaving him with the choice as to what and how to incorporate all he's learned.  Children, even really big ones that think they already know everything, still need to be taught how to research, write, think critically and edit their own work.  Not much of that is being done in school.  After several days and nights of hard work, the essay was complete, all the hard work and revisions were worth it once he reviewed the finished product.  And he learned not only more about what he was researching, but about the method and whys and hows behind how to research.  Bonus!

Then steps in our neighbor, a sweet 15 year old kid who is intimated by essays, learning, reading, writing and anything other than basketball.  However, he sees that Gavin seems to have a handle on this essay writing thing and asks him to help him with his paper.  And Gavin says YES!  This is a huge step for mankind.  My son just showed empathy!  I've waited so long for this day.  Not that he's never showed empathy before, he shows it to me on almost a daily basis.  But now he has opened up his horizons and has shown empathy to someone he doesn't love or know very well and finds it worth while to help anyways.

The two boys spent the better part of Saturday and Monday working together to get a 3 page paper written.  Gavin didn't do it for him, but he did walk along side him and encourage, help and give advice when and where needed (he was also the official typist).   Thankfully, I was also asked to contribute the help of my beloved red pen to the first draft.  I was so proud of this kid.  He did something super hard for himself and came out stronger and more knowledgeable on the other side simply by humbling himself and asking for help.

I told Gavin I was very thankful that he chose to help this boy and he responds, "Ya, well, I know what it feels like to be stressed about a report."  Bingo!  It really came from the heart.  He's actually relating how he feels to how another person may feel and takes a course of action.  I may be more proud of this accomplishment than any grade or academic achievement he makes the rest of the school year.

Oct 15, 2012

Talking In Circles

10/15/2012 — cori

One would think that as a marriage matures so would the communication skills.  That would be a wrong assumption if you were talking about us, however.  We seem to get more and more confused as the years progress.

We've always talked in circles. I believe there are multiple blog posts to prove that.  What surprises me though, is that it KEEPS happening.  Maybe it's Chuck's way of keeping the laughter alive or keeping me on my toes or keeping my brain synapses on high alert.  But after 16 years, we still have conversations that just go nowhere and make no sense.  Does this happen to other people?

Take the other day for example.  I wasn't feeling very well; very lethargic and achy.  We were in the car on the way to somewhere.  This is what I heard Chuck tell me:
"I think there is an app in store for you when we get home."

My ever so patient response:
"I don't know what that means."

So, since I obviously didn't  hear it clearly the first time, he just repeats exactly what he said the first time only louder because that's what you do when someone says they don't understand something, right?

Still not having a clue I mumble:
"What kind of app can help me feel better?  Is this some magical phone you have?"  Because sarcasm always makes a conversation that much better.

He finally understands my lack of understanding and starts to laugh:
"Ahhh, now I see....I didn't say 'app', I said, 'nap'.  But I guess I can see how you heard it that way.  I think you should take a nap when we get home."

I actually shook my head in agreement which meant I really felt horrible because I hate to take naps or even use apps, for that matter.  Chuck seems to have an app for everything, so it wouldn't have surprised me if he was relying on his phone to help make me better.

Maybe we should take a class together on how to enunciate and not mumble...maybe that would solve all our problems.  But then where would the laughter come from?  At this rate, we're going to be the happiest, laughingest old people you've ever seen.

Oct 14, 2012

Our Morning Hike

10/14/2012 — cori
When I woke up this morning, I remembered that we hadn't been to our favorite park, Schaar's Bluff, yet to photograph the fall colors.  I took the kids there for the first time last year by myself, without my camera.  I then proceeded to kick myself for an entire year because I missed the most amazing photo op.  When the kids and I took Daddy (and the camera) back the next weekend, the colors had already faded.  You have to time this just right.  Looks like we hit the jackpot today!  The more I'm in nature the more the beauty, serenity and majesty of it all fills my soul.  I stand in awe of the Creator of such good gifts.  My soul is full of his love for me when I'm out here.  I hope you feel this same love through these pictures.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.  

Oct 13, 2012

Group Work

10/13/2012 — cori

At Gavin's parent/teacher conference last week, the teacher had only good things to say about  how well he was doing in relation to his grades (only).  And then he paused a moment and addressed Gavin, "How do you feel about group work, Gavin?"

With zero emotion on his face and in the most monotone, lowest voice he could muster he pronounces once and for all, "I don't work well with others."

Yes.  Read that again.  My son actually said that ALOUD to another human in a position of authority and leadership that could affect his overall grade and life.

I was scrambling to help save face.  I know my son infinitely better than this teacher who has known him for all of 6 weeks.  I know his antisocial tendencies.  I'm intimately familiar with his lack of enthusiasm when it comes to talking with other human beings.  And I don't consider any of these things a negative because I know who he is.  He is a highly introverted thinker.  He hates to interrupt when others are talking (which you often have to in group work situations in order to get heard).  He is a very private person.  He rarely shares his emotions, even with me, partly because he has no idea how he is feeling.  He is a person who is stuck in his head most of the time.  And there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that.  He is comfortable in his skin.

But in public school, where the one-size-fits-all mentality thrives, that becomes a big problem.  It becomes a liability.  Because most schools, be they private, public or co-operative learning centers, expect group work to be done regardless of each kids' individual learning style.  The extroverts come out shining in most group work scenarios.  The introverts end up either doing all the work because the rest of the group doesn't care as much about the project as they do, or they got stuck with the least appealing part of the project because they are too apprehensive to speak up (I only know this from experience).  The introvert also tends to get looked down upon because they don't thrive in this environment  therefore, the conclusion goes, they must not be giving it their all, not trying hard enough.

Without apologizing for my son's statement or excusing his behavior in group work away, I simply explained to his teacher that he is highly introverted and not comfortable in larger group situations (he does just fine in a group of 2 or in situations where you can pick your group).  Simply because he doesn't happen to possess group work skills does not equal that he does not understand the assignment or subject he is being taught.  I told him that Gavin is aware that group work will be very common in his high school classes and even though he doesn't necessarily like it, he knows the challenge of it will make him grow.

Thankfully, the teacher seemed satisfied with my answer but looked warily at Gavin.  My momma bear instincts are on high alert.  I left the conference with the statement to the teacher that this happened to be Gavin's favorite class which seemed to make the teacher happy, even if he couldn't fathom Gavin's honest answer.

After that awkward little moment, I decided it was time to coach Gavin in the fine art of making things sound better than they actually are.  I informed him, "Honey, please do not tell another adult, or anyone for that matter, that you don't like working with other people even though that is a true statement.  Put a positive spin on it like, 'I work great in groups of one or two people.'  Doesn't that sound better?"  I have been his social skills teacher his entire life and apparently dropped the ball on this one, I never saw it coming.

It's the quirks of each of our children that make them special to us and the world.  Why does the world insist we all fit in the same box?  Why can't these beautiful differences be used to the best of their advantage?  Why are kids made to feel bad, weird, self-conscious about their uniqueness?  I definitely see the benefit of doing things you're not good at to help grow you mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and academically.  Both Gavin and I accept that years of upcoming group work are inevitable and that he will indeed grow through it and become a good 'faker'.  But he never has to give up being who he is at the core just to please people.

Oct 11, 2012


10/11/2012 — cori
Last school year, Gavin got out earlier than Chloe and Bennett enabling us to spend some quality time together sharing the events of our days with each other.  This year, his school day is much longer.  He gets home while I'm picking Bennett up from school.  Yet, surprisingly, we've fallen into an unexpected pattern of still getting to share our days with one another.  Once he's done with his homework and before I start preparing dinner, he and I take Ninja on a walk together.  It is during this uninterrupted time together I get to hear all about each class, what he's thinking and how he's doing.  Sometimes we walk in silence just enjoying each other and the weather.  I treasure this unexpected routine and am so thankful I have a son who loves to share his time with me.

Oct 8, 2012

Listen To Me

10/08/2012 — cori

Let's just say that we have had a few listening issues going on in this house betwixt the adults and the children.  And let's just say that the adults keep sighing in exasperation because none of their bag of tricks have worked thus far when enticing the young ones to listen.  And let's continue saying that the adults were dangling at the end of their collective rope and were ready to institute the "Yell and Intimidate" routine with the children so at least they would listen out of fear if nothing else.

It's not like our kids are doing the opposite of what we say.  And it's not like they spitefully go out of their way to not listen.  Oh contraire.  Upon meeting any one of my offspring, you may be thinking, "What in the world is that woman complaining about?  Those kids are just great."  But then you wouldn't have had the pleasure of spending 24 hours with them.  All. Alone.

See, our little listening demon comes in the form of "Oh...sorry, Mom, I just forgot."  On everything!  Homework.  Chores.  The last thing I asked them to do.  I just don't buy the "I forgot" excuse for one second.  I do, however, buy the "I'm Tuning You Out" excuse.  On the outside I'm getting, "oh ya, sure  Mom" and "okay, I'll do that" only to appease me.  They know that I, too, have the worst short term memory and they're counting on that to kick in before they go and do the dreaded chore and activity I've asked of them.  But on the inside they're busy thinking of birds, basketballs, books and buddys.

No more.  Chuck and I decided to once and for all time, emphasize the importance of listening.  It came in the form of a little game.  We ditched our "Intimation" tactics and opted for "heaping on the guilt" instead.  Just joking.  No, we opted to teach them a lesson they'll not soon forget.

Chuck and I completely rearranged our family room, moving furniture all about.  We placed random obstacles all around the floor.  We placed props in certain places that they would have to lift or move upon our direction.  We were giddy with excitement.  We told the kids to lock themselves and the dog in a room while we were formulating our genius plan (surprisingly they listened to that directive).

And then we blindfolded them.  We took one kid at a time out of the room.  We gave them three instructions: 1.  You must ONLY listen to MY voice (whichever parent was giving the instruction), 2.  You must keep your hands glued to your side, and 3.  You may not reach your foot out in front of you to feel around, walk as normal.  Then we brought them downstairs into our new domain.

If I was the one giving the directions to the blindfolded child, then Chuck was the one standing uncomfortingly close to them and whispering into their ear the opposite of what I was saying.  He kept contradicting my directions.  It was almost impossible for me not to laugh.  I kept getting ruffled and messed up.  I had to remain focused so I could give the kids sound advice about how to navigate the obstacle course.  I don't know who had to concentrate harder, me or the kids.  You could tell there were a few times when they hesitated, like when Chuck told them to watch out, if they took one more step they'd fall down the stairs and I 'm telling them at the same time to take 4 steps.  Or like the time we told them to pick up the bowl and put it over their head and then dump it over.  It was only filled with cotton balls, but they didn't know that.

After we worked our magic on Chloe, my ever perceptive child said immediately upon removing her blindfold, "I know what you were doing...you were like God, Mom (since I was the one directing her) and Dad was like the devil and I had to work extra hard to only listen to you."  Well...yes, that too dear.  But we were hoping you would see the importance of listening to us even and especially when you're distracted.  Everything we tell you is out of love and for your good.  Sometimes it is extra hard to listen, but when you do, you know it will go well with you.  I think they learned more about listening to God than to us, to be honest.  But apparently, that was the bigger lesson we were supposed to be teaching them.

The kids thanked us over and over the rest of the day for such a fun activity that we reverted to only out of desperation.  Goes to show that when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go from there is up.  I think we're on our way up in the listening department now.

*I'd like to thank the book "Creative Correction" for the inspiration for the obstacle course.

Oct 4, 2012

A Lakota Prayer

10/04/2012 — cori

This past weekend we had the awesome opportunity to go to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN.  It was wonderful to get up close and personal with many of these magnificent raptors.  The Center was having a special celebration the day we were there which included a Native American Hoop Dancer and storyteller.  He was by far, the best part of the whole day.  He shared with us so much history in the short time he was there. 

They invited him to participate in the day because the eagle shares great honor and significance among the Native Americans.  We learned that the eagle represents the ascending human spirit.  Each of their feathers represents virtues.  The hoops that Mr. Loke dances with, combine to make many different shapes and pictures, which of course, also have great meaning.  Here he is near the end of his dance with all his hoops arranged to represent eagles wings.  It was unlike anything I've ever seen.

But the absolute best part was the prayer of the Lakota that he and his nephew, Doug Goodfeather, sung before they began.  It is so humble, yet powerful.  I haven't been able to stop meditating on it.

Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds.

And whose breath gives life to all the world.
Hear me! I am small and weak.
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes
Ever hold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made.
My ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand
The things you might teach me.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden
In every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother.
But to fight my greatest enemy, myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
With clear hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset.
My spirit may come to you without shame

Oct 2, 2012

Could It Be?

10/02/2012 — cori

Pain, heartache, brokenness, sorrow
Wondering how in the world you will face tomorrow.

Hardship, anger, loneliness, despair
Wondering if anyone even gives a care.

Abandoned, distraught, hurt, afraid
Praying this all goes away some day.

"What have I done wrong?"
"Where is God in all this?"
"If I only try harder, had more money, pray more,
then maybe things wouldn't be so amiss."

As followers of Jesus, believers in God
What is the way we are to respond
When suffering sneaks into our life
And cuts our hearts deep with its careless knife?

David questioned, cried and lamented.
It was towards God that he yelled and vented.
Job lost everything and everyone he held dear.
And questioned the love of the God that he feared.
Jesus, as a man, was acquainted with sorrow
He asked his Father if this cup of suffering could pass by him tomorrow.

The common thread in these stories of woe
Is they cried out to God, before Him did they go
Expressing their feelings of desperate sorrow
Yet somehow trusting He really cared even if they didn't know
The whys or the answers or the reasons behind
Yet choosing "Your will be done....not mine."

Could it be that our suffering serves some greater good
That we can't see with these human eyes like we should?
Could it be that sometimes the hardest path
Isn't set before us because of God's wrath?
Could it be that He's guiding us, loving us, growing us too
Using these hardships because He knew
There's no other way we'd come to the end of ourself
Completely dependent on Him for Life and nobody else?

photo credit: BY 

Oct 1, 2012

Farm Life

10/01/2012 — cori
You know it's been a special day when you've gotten peed on by one of 7 dogs, pet a turkey and ridden a 4 wheeler all in one day!  Those were just a few of the highlights of our most recent farm visit.  Apparently, Floppy (the dog who peed on me) was claiming me as 'his'.  He was very happy to mark me and let all the other dogs know that he had first dibs.  Good thing I wore my 'farm clothes' which included my old jeans.  I had contemplated wearing shorts - good call on my part to ditch the shorts and opt for my oldest pair of jeans.  And then there was Lurch:

Yes...he is not your typical tom turkey.  He roams the property, just one more of the many animals Aunt Lou has a huge heart for.  He is missing many feathers because apparently the chickens don't like him.  They have plucked many of his feathers out.  He likes to follow you around, hissing and making his cackle call every now and then; sometimes terrorizing the dogs.  I wasn't brave enough to pet his head, but I did get a swipe of his back feathers.

Aunt Lou also took the kids horse back riding.  Chloe was in her element...she could do this all day.  She loves the smell, the dirt, the sweat and the work that goes along with horses.  Whenever I reached out to brush the dirt or grime off her face or hair, she would stop me and say, "I like it there, Mom, please leave it."  Bennett and Gavin enjoyed it I think as much as they enjoy eating brussel sprouts.

But then Uncle Joel broke out he big guns - the four wheeler.  He even let Chuck have the first solo ride.  While Chloe is riding horses and being dirty all day, her father would probably be right by her side smelling of fuel and caked in dust from riding the four wheeler until it runs out of gas.

The kids couldn't wipe those silly grins off their faces.  They LOVED that 4 wheeled wonder!  It empowered them and brought out their wild side.  Speaking of wild side, I decided to throw caution to the wind and lift my hands in a care-free, risk-taking sort of way that people often do when they're trying to show that they're not scared.  See...I'm not scared.   And I'm smiling...that means I'm having fun.

What happens at the farm...stays at the farm.

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