Oct 31, 2014

Hall of Fame

10/31/2014 — cori

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

Oct 3, 2014

Yes, I Lost The Rice

10/03/2014 — cori

A few nights ago I cooked some rice to go with dinner.  One of my absolute favorite small appliances is the rice cooker my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas years ago.  It has literally saved my life.  I used to be a horrible rice cooker, now I look like a genius.  It makes me look good, plain and simple. I use it multiple times a week.  That's how much we love rice.  The two types of rice I generally cook are Basmati and Jasmine.  Now that you are intimately familiar with our rice habits, let me tell you a little story.

Like I said, I was making rice the other night.  I may or may not have been a tad bit scatter-brained. That time of the day is the craziest around our household.  Everyone has places to be, all normally at the same time, and I am trying to cook dinner at warp speed so we can all sit down and eat together before we all disperse.  I refuse to sacrifice sitting down at the table together each night.  This is the core of our family time.  This is where we have our best conversations, share our hearts and enjoy a few minutes together each day.  It would be much easier to let everyone help themselves to whatever they find and we all eat on the go.  But I don't always like the easy path....even if it sometimes costs me my sanity.

So....back to the rice.  As I was adding the rice into the rice cooker I was admiring the container I keep  my rice in.  Odd, I know.  I never said I was normal.  I remember thinking to myself,  I really like this kind of rice.  I think we should only by this kind from now on.  Why do I even bother buying two different types.  Yes, I think this will be the only one from hence forth.  Or something to that effect.  I was consciously making an executive decision about the type of rice I would be buying the next time I went to the grocery store.  A mental list if you will.

And because my brain was so busy processing everything I was doing and thinking, it somehow forgot to tell me what to do with the rice container.   Apparently I did something with it, but I have zero recollection.  It escaped into a black hole that I only thought happened to lost emails.  Oh well...dinner must go on.

The night progressed as normally as possible for us.  The next day came and went.  Finally, yesterday morning, at the crack of dawn, when I was making the kids' school lunches I noticed I was missing my now favorite, cherished brand of rice.  I only noticed because the peanut butter container was sitting right next to the spot I keep the rice containers.  However, there was only one rice container there, not two.  I do not have the mental capacity to deal with such mysteries at 6am.  I was baffled by it.  I asked around, "Hey, has anyone seen my rice container?"  No one responded.  No one cared.

But I refused to let the issue drop.  Nobody just looses rice.  It has to be here somewhere!  Then I remembered my propensity to throw things away without thinking about it.  Yes, I've even thrown away a $50 bill before.  Not one of my better moments.  So Chuck concluded that I probably threw my beloved rice container away.  But I just couldn't buy his hypothesis.  I wouldn't do that...would I? I like this rice.  I'm sure I just lost the rice.

I shall keep you in suspense no longer.  Everyone can take a collective deep breath (because I know you've been holding your breath during this whole Sherlock Holmes adventure).  I found my rice this morning.  And it wasn't in the trash.  Apparently, my brain thought that putting it in the farthest reaches of the bottom, back shelf behind all my other small appliances was in some fashion helpful. This is apparently where you put treasured items to save them.

I skipped joyfully up to our bedroom to tell my barely awake husband in a not at all irritatingly sing-songy voice, "I found the rice, I found the rice!"  We are all happy now.  It is proof I am not crazy....only during the dinner making process (maybe), but not completely crazy.  Nobody looses rice - not even me.

My Prayer Today

10/03/2014 — cori

Words from the heart of Mother Teresa:

Dearest Lord,
May I see you today and everyday
in the person of your sick whilst nursing
them, minister unto you.
Though you hide yourself behind
the unattractive disguise of the irritable,
the exacting, the unreasonable,
may I still recognize you and say:
Jesus, how sweet it is to serve you.

Oct 1, 2014

10 Year Old Camping Trip

10/01/2014 — cori
We decided very early on during the process of raising our kids that when they reached 10 years old they would have a special camping trip with Daddy to go off and have fun adventures in nature.  We also figured this would be the most opportune time to discuss the facts of life with them.  Ten years old is on the cusp of teenage-hood.  They still adore, admire and think the world of their parents. They're not too super cool yet.  They still listen to us.  So, the plan was, Daddy would take the boys and I would take Chloe to a Bed and Breakfast.  However, Chloe would have none of that - she wanted the camping trip with Daddy....afterall, the boys did.  She won - but so did we.  She got her special camping time with Daddy, but she also gets a special time at a fancy hotel with Mommy for us to have our special talk.

Gavin and Daddy went to Tyler State Park since we still lived in Texas when Gavin was 10.  See that necklace Gavin is wearing?  Chuck made it for him and gave it to him on their trip.  He wanted him to always remember the most important things they talked about.  The most important things were character traits.  Chuck also made a beautiful poster highlighting 3 character traits he felt were the most important for Gavin to remember throughout his upcoming adolescence.   Each green bead represents that character trait.  You couldn't pry that necklace off him for weeks after that special time with Dad.  I think each of the kids remember more about their awesome adventures with Dad than they do about the facts of life.  But at least we were the ones to teach them not leave it up to whoever they happen to hear around them.

Bennett and Daddy went to William O'Brien State Park in Marine on St. Croix in Minnesota. Another awesome time with another awesome kid.  However, they did survive the attack of the hairy caterpillars the entire weekend and even slept in the car one night because the storms were so severe. In this picture, Bennett is showing us where he and Daddy carved their name into a soft stone on the river's edge.  I'm so very thankful Chuck takes the time to show the kids how important each of them are.  Not just that, but he lives those special character traits he wants them to emulate.  Bennett also got his very own necklace and poster completely different from Gavin's.

Last but definitely not least is Chloe.  Her and Daddy went to Nerstrand State Park in Northfield, Minnesota.  Unbelievably, it did not rain on them.  They had wonderful adventures hiking and whittling.  She, too, got a beautiful necklace, made with love by Daddy.  It also represents the character traits that he wants her to hold on to while meandering the path of adolescence.   I'm so looking forward to my special time with Chloe.  Obviously, I don't make necklaces like Daddy, but I'm a good listener and I'm sure we'll have hours of talking and eating chocolate - not outside in nature but in a lovely little hotel somewhere. With warmth.  Running water.  A real bathroom, not a porta-potty.  Food cooked in a restaurant, not over an open flame in a pit.  And best of all, a mattress for a bed, not the cold, hard ground.  I think I win.

Ten years old seems so little looking back now.  But oh, how big we thought they were.  They thought they were practically grown ups too.  How thankful I am for this tradition.  It's the memory of the time together that they will always hold on to - not our words.  The gift of time is the greatest gift we can give our children.

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