Dec 31, 2015

Skiing - Mallott Style

12/31/2015 — cori
For Christmas this year we gave the kids a ski trip. We tend to value adventures and time together over things/toys. The kids have known about this for a long time. Part of the fun is the anticipation. We left the day after Christmas - IN A SNOW STORM - and attempted to ski for 2 full days having never all actually skied together, ever. Chuck ranked the highest in our 'experience' scale being that he skied twice as a teenager in Ohio as well as a failed attempt at snowboarding with me a few years ago. Bennett went skiing once with a friend a year ago. Chloe had a ski lesson last year during a field trip. My attempt at snowboarding once was disastrous. And Gavin has never touched skis before in his life. We knew something good had to come from all this. And no, we were not about to pay for ski lessons, that would just be a waste of time (according to Chuck). Thus begins our adventure:

The lovely drive north.

After eating lunch in Grand Marais, we headed off in search of the famed Gunflint Trail. We had no idea it was also a part of the Boundary Waters. It's a beautiful 58 mile road with lots of gorgeous vistas, hiking and trekking to be had. On this fine day we were headed straight for the Moose Viewing Trail. 

As with most of our hikes, we came completely unprepared. Not one person carried a whistle in case of an emergency, or water or granola bars in case we got stranded and had to wait for a search and rescue team. Heck, we didn't even have our snow pants on and the snow was over a foot deep - up to our knees. Plus, we were the only car parked in the space we assumed was a parking lot. The snow covered any trial and signage. We walked a half mile the wrong way (we were following moose tracks such as the one Chloe's boot is next too). 

Once we got back to where we started, we saw a sign pointing in the opposite direction from where we previously "hiked".  It was so quiet and serene. We felt like we were in the woods in the Chronicles of Narnia after they walked through the wardrobe into perpetual winter.

This is the direction we were supposed to go to the Moose Viewing Trail. Unfortunately, the fallen trees were no obstacle for us. We traversed under and over in search of a moose. I was both super excited and very afraid. What if we actually saw a moose in our path?!? We didn't have a plan other than to snap a picture of it and run. I was a little relieved that we didn't see one but also very disappointed because, how cool would that have been?! We then trudged back through the snow with sopping wet jeans and boots filled with snow in search of the cabin we would be spending the next three days in.

Here was our glorious cabin. We now feel very Minnesotan. Every Minnesotan has said at one time or another that they "went up north" to spend time "at the cabin". Now we can join in that chorus.

Many a chess game was played. The night comes fast and it is so dark and quiet. We were off the grid with zero cell coverage and no internet. I felt very rustic and Little House on the Prairie-ish.

Here is Gavin cooking some brownies for everyone after a rough day of skiing.

Here we are playing a game of Scrabble at the table.

This is the guest cabin about 50 yards away from the main house. This is where Chuck and I stayed since there were only two bedrooms in the main cabin. Very cozy.

The gorgeous sunset on Pike Lake at our cabin.

We spent two hours in this little room on our very first day of skiing. We had zero clue how long it would take to get all our gear, then get it on, then try to walk with all our stuff over to the bunny slope. Except when we were here, so were like 100 other people, so it made figuring out how to put the most uncomfortable boots in the world on that much more fun. We might have gotten a little flustered.

This was the bunny slope where we all 'cut our teeth'. It was actually called "Flapjack". It was so flat. But that didn't stop us from falling all over ourselves. Chloe, Gavin and I spent the entire first day right here. I felt accomplished just figuring out how to get on the moving sidewalk without falling. Learning how to stop and steer was imperative. Since we had no instructor, trial and error were our guides. Oh ya, and the temperature on this fine day was 10 degrees but with the windchill it was registering at -2. There aren't enough feet and hand warmers in the world to keep you warm enough out here all day in these temperatures. I know.

We took the gondola to the top of the highest peak. This was a great resort. They had 95 runs - 20 of which were for beginners. We only tried out two or three runs - by "we" I mean everyone but me. See that little hill on the left, we never it made it off that "mountain". It felt like Everest when you're going down it on skis, let me tell you! We each had major wipe-outs on the different runs. After I mastered Flapjack, I moved up to Big Bunny. Don't let the name fool you, it was steep! I wiped out big time and really wanted to cry. I barely held it together. I went down it again just to prove that I wouldn't let the mountain beat me - and it didn't! Chloe wiped out huge on another slope and Daddy had to go rescue her (she was more embarrassed that I captured that on video than the actual fall). Chuck and Bennett wiped out three times on a slope they didn't mean to go on and found out it was in the 'more difficult' category. No wonder. It took Gavin a while to master getting off the ski lift standing up. He had quite an interesting dismount that involved falling over every time.

These were the views from the top of the highest peak. That's Lake Superior in the background.

It was sooooooo cold! We did what we could to stay warm. On the second day, the temps reached 15 degrees, but it was very windy thus causing it to feel more like 3. Here we were on the ski-lift. You would think I would have had a cow on the ski-lift but I wasn't scared one bit. What I had a cow about was going down hills really fast on slippery, skinny, shiny skis. I don't like fast. 

Here we were in the Chalet taking a lunch break and trying to warm up before heading back outside to torture ourselves for the next 3 hours. The saddest part of this whole trip was that Chuck was sick the entire time. He felt bad starting Christmas Eve but just thought it was a cold. He had a fever, achy muscles, headache, cough - everything. Come to find out once we got home he had Pertussis. But he skied like a champ. I actually think the skiing invigorated him.

I think we all got the 'ski bug'. However, we might like to try it in some warmer temps next time. And could somebody please work on making those horrible ski boots more comfortable?! For the love!

Dec 23, 2015

Bus Stop Drama

12/23/2015 — cori

This is exactly what it looks like in downtown Minneapolis when Chuck leaves work and heads for the bus. He's taken public transit now for over 2 years. It costs much less, is better for the environment and gives him a chance to unwind and read instead of fight traffic on his daily commute. It is a little inconvenient at times, but the pros definitely out-weigh the cons. Except for when it doesn't. 

Let's say, hypothetically, you're standing in line, waiting for the bus with your nose in your book. And also let's say, you never even glance at the number on the bus, you just walk in, following the people in front of you never once looking up from your book. And let's continue saying that you continue reading the entire time the bus driver is driving who-knows-where and are clueless to said fact. And let's conclude our hypothetical scenario by realizing that you are no-where near home and have actually been brought, unbeknownst to you, to a completely different city. That would suck.

Here is the text conversation Chuck and I shared yesterday about this exact same topic. What a coincidence:


12/23/2015 — cori

This little kiddo (the one on the right) is just learning how to say everyone's names. At this age (2) it always comes out in a unique, creative oftentimes funny way. It's like they're playing the 'telephone game'. After processing the words they hear the grown-ups say, it comes out similarly, but not exact. That's the joy of learning a new language. 

When these two were playing together one of the days they were here visiting for Thanksgiving, Bennett must have been doing something crazy to get Logan's attention. Logan's reaction was priceless. He stares at Bennett, shakes his head, turns around and starts walking away mumbling to himself, "Demet".  It was hilarious to all who witnessed the event.

First of all, it looks like Logan is beyond such childish, silly play that Bennett is trying to elicit from him. And it appeared as if Logan is shaking his head at Bennett as if he can't believe his juvenile actions, "that kid, when will he grow up?". Then the final straw was turning his back on him and walking away saying his name as if it were a swear word. Too. Funny.

Dat Demet!

Dec 22, 2015

Paint Nite

12/22/2015 — cori

So. Much. Fun! I wracked my brain this year for a creative, fun, unexpected gift for Chuck's birthday (since he always outdoes me in this department) and this is the best I could come up with. And he liked it! He was more of a Monet and I was summoning Van Gogh.

This was held at a local restaurant we'd never been to before. So we arrived early to eat some of the best Italian food ever! With our tummy's happy, we walked over to their banquet room and enjoyed a night of trying not to be anal about our artwork. This was a little more of a challenge for Chuck than it was for me. This reminded me of college and an awesome art class I took. Chuck...not so much. He's used to precision. He's a details guy. Let's just say there was a lot of 'humphs' and 'heavy sighs' going on in the seat next to me. The programs he uses on the computer to make things look good are much more preferred than our own wobbly, mere human hands.

We practiced getting our game face on. This level of creativity requires consternation, uh, I mean concentration. If only I had one of Chuck chewing on his bottom lip...the entire evening.

This is the piece of art we would be plagiarizing as our own after our two hours of agony pretending to be artists. This particular piece is the example we went by. The host of our Paint Nite also painted another of this exact same one step by step in front of us so we knew what to do. She practically held our hands. It wasn't paint by number, but it was close. At the beginning she said, "You have complete freedom. Enjoy."  That's when I lost Chuck.  He said that was too much for him. He wanted more restraints. He wanted a ruler. He yearned for Sketch (his program of choice for drawing and creating). But then he remembered that we were on a date and this was supposed to be fun and not perfect and so he threw caution to the wind and had fun anyways.

These were our finished products. I had a blast. Did I mess up? Yes. Do I care? No. There's no one right way to do anything in my book. The mess ups make this mine and that's what I value. Chuck on the the other hand does care a wee tiny bit more about the mess ups. He just about came undone with his bridge. I thought he would throw his canvas to the floor and start stomping on it. What I love about Chuck's is that it is so true to his design style: it has clean lines, minimalist and lots of white space. I especially like the color of his leaves. 

Art is ultimately an expression of who we are. It is to be appreciated and enjoyed, not picked apart and examined. Art is for pleasure and beauty. Both of which we enjoy in abundance.

Dec 20, 2015

My Christmas Prayer

12/20/2015 — cori


that peace will exist
that good will come
that life will improve
that violence will cease
that cures will be found
that hearts will be healed
that justice will be shown
that the sick will be cured
that wrongs will be righted
that the weary will find rest
that relationships will be restored
that our lives will make a difference


in the way I live
in the opinions I give
in the efforts I put forth
in the words that I speak
in the knowledge I learn
in the wisdom I dispense
in the depths of my heart
in the accolades I receive
in the role I've been given
in my thoughts towards others
in the way I live what I believe
in respecting those with whom I disagree


for all of the poor
for all of the addicts
for those without hope
for the weary refugees
for those without water
for the children of abuse
for the war-torn countries
 for those who need shelter
for those imprisoned wrongly
for the people who are enslaved 
for those who think they're forgotten
for those who are trying to help all of these

Dec 18, 2015


12/18/2015 — cori

These four cutie-pies are the bomb! They are exactly the kind of friends you want to help navigate the oftentimes muddy waters of middle school. They are kind, caring, helpful, funny, and best friends....except for when they're not.

For the past month this little band of sisters has had a spur in their saddle. Nobody could put their finger on exactly what the problem was, but it was very evident that there was a problem. A big one of course, cuz this is middle school and even a tiny problem gets blown out of size to epic proportions. Suddenly all the kindness, caring and helpfulness was disappearing. In it's place we saw impatience, talking behind each other's backs and alienation. It wasn't pretty.

Chloe talked to me about it when she started feeling the discord. I asked her if there was anything I could do to help. She said no. Each day I would ask how things were going and each day they were slowly going downhill. The snowball was growing.

But conflict is a normal part of life and it was important for me to let the girls try to work this out without interfering. But then their teacher starts to notice. The teacher called a meeting with the girls since this little rift was starting to put the whole class out of balance. There was a temporary truce, but no heart changes. Feelings were still hurt. Anger was still in the air. Emotions still raw.

Thank God one of the moms texted me and asked if I knew what was going on and if she and I would like to get together to talk about it. What a brave mom. I'm so thankful for her because she set in motion a series of events that saved these Fab Four. After our little chat we agreed to get all the girls together at my house that very night, we couldn't waste another minute. I had the lovely task of trying to reach the other moms and explain the game-plan. The other moms were rockstars as well and dropped everything to come over to my house with their daughters for operation: SAVE THE FRIENDSHIP.

In effect we staged an intervention. The girls were unable to work through their problems (turns out they didn't know how). The awesome teacher was unable to get to the root of the problem (turns out they were scared of getting in trouble so they just clammed up and didn't talk). So I explained to the moms that my goal was to offer them a safe place to talk and I would walk them through this hard place and teach them how to handle conflict. I spent the afternoon praying about it and was really peaceful when everyone finally got here.

You could tell that each girl was nervous. Each mom was anxious as well but only because they couldn't stand to see this friendship fall apart. They were so gracious to trust me as I held their daughters' hearts in my hands and walked them through this hard place.

The girls and I sat in a circle while the moms sat around the perimeter. I told the girls that they were in no way in trouble (an audible sigh was heard) but that we moms valued their friendship so much that we felt we needed to help guide them through this rough patch. I explained that what they were going through was completely normal and they will most likely have an argument of this magnitude again in the future and we wanted to teach them how to navigate these rough waters. That's what parents do!

We started by going around and each person said what they valued most about each other. Then came the hard part, they had to go around and tell each person what was currently frustrating them the most about each other. I explained that sometimes it's really hard to hear this news. I also shared with them how I react when someone who loves me tells me something hard to hear. I told them it's ok to cry and be sad but also to realize that this person loves you and needs to share this frustration in order to continue to have a healthy relationship. As friends we have to take the good with the bad.

Surprisingly, the second part of their sharing went super smooth. Each girl would shake her head and acknowledge that she was very aware that this was one of her weaknesses (as would the moms). Then they decided on a code word for each girl that they would tell them when they felt that they were starting to exhibit those frustrating behaviors.  In effect, we wanted to empower them to stop an argument before it even starts. Sometimes we have a hard time seeing when we're being bossy, or impatient, or overly sensitive or snappy. That's what friends are for - to help call us out on these things.

You should have seen the smiles all around. You could see the burden come off of each of their little shoulders. Then they started talking all on their own without my asking any questions. They apologized for hurting each other these past few weeks. They talked about how worried each of them had been. They talked about how thankful they were for this time and this safe place to share.

I'm so incredibly thankful for the other moms who showed their girls a healthy way to handle a problem, who took the time to care (even though it was late at night, inconvenient, and unscheduled), and value a friend as much as I do. This was truly a team effort and the girls reaped the benefit.

What a beautiful example of friendship.

Dec 14, 2015

Smart Phones and Parenting

12/14/2015 — cori
      Photo Credit: Sally Anscombe/Flickr Select/Getty Images

I came across this story on Huffington Post today about a mom who did an experiment with her children. She was curious to see how often her little 2 year old boys would turn and look at her while they were playing. Her experiment will astonish you. It will make you humble. It will cause you to think twice before spending any more quality time with your smart phone.

Our children (no matter how old) desire all of us. They want our attention, our smiles, our waves, our claps, our nods of affirmation, our looks of warning, our laughs, our participation. Not only do they want all this, they NEED it. This is how they learn. If not from you, then who? As a parent you are shaping their world by what you do and don't do. What you sacrifice and give them now, you will reap the benefits of later in life with a beautiful, genuine relationship with your grown children.

I've noticed this trend over the past few years. I see parents of little ones looking down at their phones instead of staying engaged or playing with their precious children. What in the world could be more important than that very minute of time with the most treasured gift you have in all the world?! What treasures of time and relationship building opportunities we loose when we are distracted by this lifeless piece of metal in our hand.  It is an unfortunate side effect of having so much technology so close all the time. It is hard to limit yourself.

It's not only a problem that parents with little children are tempted with; us parents with older kids do the exact same thing. It's a horrible message we send our kids. In effect our actions tell them you are not as important as this is right now, I can't be bothered right now. Children learn by watching and then imitating. These kids will interpret the message and imitate our behavior. They will then become kids with their noses stuck in their ipads, phones or computers. It starts with us.

It's easy to blame the technology. It's easy to blame the kids. It's easy to blame society. It's even easier to make excuses. It's hard to own the responsibility. It causes us to swallow our pride, quit justifying ourselves and humbly admit that maybe the problem originated with us, the parents. NPR has a fantastic article that discusses this very thing.

But the wonderful news is that kids are so resilient. Just because it might be like this now, doesn't mean that it has to stay like this. You can change, your kids can change, your relationship will change - all for the better. But it takes being purposeful. It takes setting limits for yourself and your kids. It takes being teachable instead of being an excuse maker. In an age of excess and instantaneous pleasure, it will be hard.

Practice being present in the moment. Right here. Right now. When you're surrounded with those you love and who love you, give them all of you. Giving someone your attention says you're important, I value you, I want you. 

Isn't that what all of us want?

Dec 12, 2015

If You Could Get A Tattoo....

12/12/2015 — cori

This was our topic of conversation at dinner last night. Yes, we really did go there. And the answers may surprise you.

Chuck said he would get a tattoo of an icon. Or maybe many icons all in a row. That's his thing. He makes computer icons (not to be confused with Icons from the Orthodox Church). He spends a lot of time thinking about icons, working with icons, critiquing icons. It just makes sense. He just can't commit to where. Would it be around his bicep like those barbed-wire fence tatoos? Or would he keep adding a new tattoo for each new icon he makes?

Not that this is any big surprise, but Bennett said he would get a massive tattoo of a donut on his stomach encircling his belly button. 

Gavin said if he got a tattoo, it wouldn't show. He would have a large dragon down his back and maybe wrapped around his side. 

We didn't really ask questions because this was all hypothetical. Right? At least I was under the impression this was a hypothetical conversation.

Chloe would like to have her name somewhere down by her ankle. We all found this funny. Like, why do you need to tattoo your own name anywhere on your own person, do you plan on forgetting it? Daddy then informed her that most people get someone else's name tattooed on them. But hey, this is her dream and we don't want to ruin it.

I have actually seen this one on a stranger and complimented her on how beautiful it was. If I ever get a tattoo, this is exactly what it would be. ironic would that be if the mom of the family was the first to get a tattoo. Totally unexpected. 


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