Thursday, December 10, 2015


We are down to 15 days til Christmas, and once again in a year where we are hoping for a White Christmas because, I say again, this is Minnesota. But apparently the chances are only 75%, not absolutely guaranteed, so there you go. Fingers crossed.

We have been out enjoying the warmth while it lasts. Fisher was out in short sleeves this morning playing baseball and football for a full hour before school - 41 degrees.

And last week we got to have our dearest friends for almost 24 hours, which is not nearly enough for how seldom we see them, but was oh so wonderful. This shot of Catie and I was taken outside of Surly Brewing Co, where the food was divine and even I had a beer.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

1. First of December. Holy cow.

2. Instead of counting days til Christmas like my children, I'm counting number of days left of school. This is the official number of days I have to get my holiday s--t together.

3. Kids get two full weeks for Christmas again this year! I cannot express the glee that is not picking them up everyday in the freezing cold for two whole weeks.

4. We got snow! Yesterday, maybe, maaaaaaybe, four inches. Probably three. Enough for a snow man and snow bags to go to school. Enough to have already lost one glove. Guess which Killins.

4. What I look forward to most at the holidays is my husband taking lots of time off work and hanging out with me! Sometimes we go on dates like to coffee or lunch (or both!), and I know he looks forward to going to the store with me.

5. Tonight's dinner was Lentil Chili from The Detoxinista's cookbook. So good. She's got one of those reputations for being dependable, as in nothing of hers is ever short of scrumptious.

6. I just love all of the holiday gift guides that pour out of websites and magazines this time of year. I hardly ever buy anything from any of them, but they are just fun. I get ideas.

7. Alla and I swapped books over the Thanksgiving break. Well, what I mean by that is I came home from the library with two books I personally intended to read, and she selected her favorite and proceeded to read it, and then we swapped. Our fiction book, The War That Saved My Life, was amazing. The other, our non-fiction book, Most Dangerous, is so far very interesting, and since Alla chose that one first, she has already given it 4.5 stars.

8. I had so many books I still wanted to read this year, but for the love, this year is only 30 more days, so I may have to amend that, unless I can read all the books on my list in that week after Christmas when the world finally slows down and I envision winter walks and lazy days with books and coffee and snowmen on the lawn. Oh please let that all happen.

9. I got my first real winter run in yesterday after the snow was done, and it was lovely - snow everywhere, about thirty, not windy. If every winter run could be like that I would be so very grateful.

10. Ron has started Percy Jackson with the kids after trudging through the first book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Everyone seems to love this.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Diabetes anniversary number 6.

Today is the day we found out Fisher has diabetes.

It was the very same Monday, the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Gosh, we did not know what our new life would be. And we also did not know that it would still be good, that we would learn, manage, rise above, find a new normal.

If you haven't read about our diabetes story, go HERE.

Today is just a normal day for us now, which means this:

I was up twice checking blood sugars last night, but during one of them I actually thought to myself, wow, it's been awhile since I've had to get up twice in one night. Also, no school today, so we could all sleep in a bit.

Lots of blood sugar checks during the day - before breakfast, mid-morning, before lunch. Lots of insulin given, and we are so thankful for the pump now.

Lots of food eaten, gosh this boy can eat.

Lots of playing outside (and me trying to manage low blood sugars because of it, but also wanting him to be out there because he loves it and he is so strong and healthy and happy being outside so much).

Lots of hugs and snuggles on this warmish day off.

Looking forward to Turkey Day.

Just so thankful for a healthy boy (and my healthy girl and husband!).

Diabetes will never go away. No, he won't grow out of it. But we hope for a cure in his lifetime.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

1. It's busy season here, but we finally found time for Alla to show us what she does at recess.

2. The days are so short, but we had record warmth on Sunday and so decided to make a giant pot of vegetarian chili and a pan of cornbread, get a bonfire going, and invite the neighbors. I think this will be a lovely time in the winter snow, too.

3. Regarding the National Book Awards results tomorrow, I made a fair attempt to read the five finalists in the Young People's Literature category, however, Bone Gap hasn't yet made it to me, and I've only just picked up Most Dangerous today. I'm 1/3 of the way through The Thing About Jellyfish, didn't care for Challenger Deep, and greatly enjoyed Nimona.

4. In other family book updates, Alla is enjoying Jack, and Fisher today started the new Wimpy Kid book. Fisher discovered the Jeff Kinney books the summer after kindergarten and I daresay were the first books he could read on his own that really showed him the joy of reading. I picked up his copy tonight while he was off building Legos with Daddy and think I might make this my first Wimpy Kid book; I chuckled a few times.

5. Before I move on to other topics, I must strongly suggest immediately requesting the new Gary D. Schmidt book from your local library. Orbiting Jupiter is one of the few books I've given 5 stars this year, a book I was awaiting and which I read twice. As in, I just closed it and then opened it back up again. Please read this book.

6. Best new show on television: The Grinder. Fred Savage is killer.

7. Three more days til Thanksgiving vacation.

8. Which means I should probably finalize the holiday menu and figure out when I'm going to shop for it, sans kids. I can just taste the cranberry sauce! Thankfully one of my kids is looking forward to the actual turkey.

9. In preparation for the new Star Wars movie, we, like every other household in America or the World, are watching all six.

10. It's the second rainy day in a row. Fisher might be going stir-crazy (but thank goodness for the new Wimpy Kid book), and the rest of us are a little punchy. I got in a quick drizzly run this morning, but behind tomorrow's third day of rain we are due for twenty degree-cooler temps and blustery winds. It's time to break out the tights.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

1. I haven't made pumpkin spice anything.

2. The month is slipping away. It felt that summer was blissfully endless, and now that the kids are back in school we are practically in holiday season.

3. But it's still in the 60s and 70s, which makes this tolerable.

4. Our tree is still green, but a month from now we will be planning and shopping for Thanksgiving dinner.

5. Despite myself, I see the end of the year coming and I get a little excited by the book lists that are coming.

6. Before the start of the school year the kids and I came up with a breakfast rotation, so that on any given day what we're having has already been decided and we can avoid the "what do you want for breakfast" question and then then Mommy making three different meals. This has been a lifesaver for our mornings. Tuesdays, for example, are steel cut oats days, which I start the night before and just have to heat up in the morning. Everyone puts on their own toppings, everyone is happy. The one problem we have is that Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are all breakfasts that feature eggs of some sort, and I fear we are all tiring of eggs, but I cannot let the breakfast rotation die! So, ideas? Simple, some protein, something that can become a staple in our new awesome breakfast rotation?

7. Halloween costumes are ordered. I miss the days of going to Old Navy and grabbing some cute fluffy costume into which you Velcro your unsuspecting toddler. Much harder when the kids have minds of their own.

8. Circus Mirandus was an excellent read. Highly recommend. Would also make a good read-aloud.

9. Now I'm going to read the five finalist books in the Young People's Literature category for the National Book Award. Alla and I both read Nimona this summer, so I only have four to read, starting with Challenger Deep. I love a list, and I think my daughter does, too, as she asked me if I might make her a reading list for the school year, like her summer reading list.

10. We used our long weekend well, squeezing in a date night (The Martian is awesome, but please read the book first), a visit with Nana and Pappi, movie night at home (we learned that our family is the ideal audience for Space Jam), lots of outside time, quite a few games of Trouble, and a family walk at Tamarack. I mentioned that our own tree is still green, but the entire state of Minnesota is lit up right now and might actually be just slightly past peak color. Here, a glimpse of our nature walk.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Currently reading: Circus Mirandus.

2. In other book news, tomorrow the finalists are announced for the National Book Awards. I don't get too excited about this particular award, but it does give me another list of books.

3. We are I am in a big dinner rut here, as in, I have a binder full of family recipes and I open it and don't want to make any of them. But one day last week I got out of the rut for one night when I did "cheese plate dinner," which could be appetizer dinner or little bit of this and little bit of that dinner. The kids declared it the best dinner ever, which I believe was due to the fact that on their plates was popcorn. And roasted garbanzo beans.

4. Two days ago it was 85. Yesterday 55.

5. This weekend is MEA, which in Minnesota means the entire state has Thursday and Friday off of school!

6. The fall colors are beautiful outside, however I do not appreciate their trying to come inside my house.

7. Fisher has one more soccer game for fall, and it is this Saturday, when we are expected to be in the 30s at game time. Awesome.

8. Fisher is loving getting to school a little early on Tuesdays for Chess Club.

9. Favorite Pandora stations? Fisher and I pretty much agree on Lorde Radio, Ron always picks Hall & Oates Radio, Alla is hardly ever allowed her pick of Katy Perry Radio but she will listen to that while she folds (and beyond). For a run I love Expose Radio.

10. The following things, if we run out of them, constitute a food emergency in our house: apples, eggs, coffee, half and half, coconut oil, cheese, and salsa.

Monday, October 12, 2015

September lake day.

Two weeks ago we had a Sunday that was glorious. Fisher had Chess Club at the library, so we all rode our bikes there. Then, not wanting to spend any time indoors, Alla and I rode off to the lake to put in our toes and soak up some Vitamin D. I am thinking that because we did this, we earned yet another amazing Sunday yesterday - 85 degrees on October 11th. Amazing.

Anyway. Back to two weeks ago.

I often forget about the lake once school starts up and we are feeling a bit of fall, but let this day stand as a reminder that perhaps the best thing to do on a hot September (or October!) day, it to ride to a lake in your flip flops and pretend summer's never going to end. Walk in the water as long as you want, collect snails to put in a sandy shelter, walk out as far as you can without getting your clothes completely soaked, watch yellow leaves fall on the shore. Appreciate. Soak in.

Because like the flip of a switch, those warm hours are gone and the fleece is preferred over the flip-flops.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

DHC Customer Spotlight

I've been outed. The new DHC catalog is out and I'm in it! Here's the story.

One day in April I was headed out for a snowy windy run when my cell phone rang and it was DHC on the other end, asking did I want to come out to San Francisco and be their Customer Spotlight for their November catalog. Um, let me think about it. YES!

Obviously LOTS of arrangements had to be made, but my mom and Bob were so amazing and took the kids for three nights so Ron and I could head out and enjoy the sunshine fog.

We were treated to an amazing dinner, I got to meet up with my old friend Vanessa from college days at Cal State Fullerton, and then I spend an entire day in a photo studio being primped and fed. They even made me a latte!

This here is the gorgeous Kala Ketchum, super make up and hair artist.

Ron and I even had a little time in the city, most of which we spend walking. A lot. Spotted this Fisher sign on a car.

Chinatown. You can't go to SF without walking through Chinatown. And getting chopsticks to bring home to your kids. You just can't.

Can you believe Ron spotted this SIX THIRTY-SEVEN sign while traipsing about the city? So he brought me back after my day in the spotlight so I could take a picture.

One of the coolest parts was that I was being photographed by a photographer, who also happens to shoot Canon, so whaddya know, he snapped this lovely one of Ron and I on our way out of the studio and into the car that was waiting to take us back to our hotel. It was all glam, I tell you!

Truthfully, when I found out we were going to San Francisco, I realized we were going to get to meet our new nieces, which was in fact the best part. It was short, but look at this face. What an amazing trip.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Random notes on the last day of September.

Now that we are headed into the second month of school, I can say with confidence that on most mornings there is some sort of crisis, but only five minutes before it's time to go. So, you know, no time to solve said crisis.

Halloween negotiations have begun, which means Alla trying to figure out how to get as much as she can in the way of dress-up clothes.

One thing I did well in September: joined the Y and started regularly taking the Body Pump class, so I can truthfully say that yes, I do lift weights. (A few dumbbells at home aren't the same, I learned this month.)

Apparently the kids on our street have moved on from baseball and are only wanting to play football now, which is breaking Fisher's heart.

We are hoping the Twins don't break our hearts this week.

Alla's latest obsessions: finding a babydoll (apparently at some point she gave all of hers away), and making working quills.

The best book I read in September: The Marvels. I recommend it to everyone.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

1. I am always suggesting that moms get in the picture, too, and rarely taking my own advice. Last Tuesday we were at a Twins game and I handed the camera to my daughter, who came through with this shot. Thank you, Alla!

2. We wore shorts and t-shirts to that game. In September. It is strangely warm for late September.

3. The way I know it's September is that both kids are coughing, and they have managed to gift me with a sore throat, sneezes, and snot. Thanks, school! No better way to enjoy the last day of summer than curled up with a cup of tea, I always say.

4. Our street was paved over the summer, and it is now a complete hazard to little boy knees. And elbows. And hands. Every kid in the neighborhood has fallen and completely left skin on the street. These are not clean cuts, they are just ripped off skin. Thanks, City of Shoreview.

5. With the kids back in school I decided to take on some ambitious personal care, namely joining the Y so I can be more focused on weight-training. Yes, you can work out in 10 minutes on You Tube, but no it's not the same as lifting a bar for an hour. My body will thank me, one day, I think.

6. The book dilemma has been resolved, as I finished Did You Ever Have a Family (fairly good) and got to move on to The Marvels (so far, lovely).

7. I've got a new spot over on the photo blog that showcases where I've been featured over the past few months - check it out!

8. The kids and I just finished up reading Gooseberry Park, which was a lovely read aloud. Heads up: you'll need four different voices for the four main characters.

9. Costco has a new chicken sausage that is chipotle lime flavor and calling my name for a late lunch.

10. On Sunday Fisher and I went out to lunch to celebrate his half birthday, and the ridiculous people at Red Robin decided that all three screens needed to be on the Vikings and not one could be switched to Twins baseball. Not one. If I had a Twitter account, I'd be alerting the Twins president. Luckily, we followed the play by play on, which made my little seven and a half year old mostly happy.

Friday, September 18, 2015


Last month we sent Alla to camp. For a week! This was all her doing; she asked in the spring if there was some camp she could go to and do all those fun outdoor things. She got her fill, let me tell you. She went during the one week where we had torrential rain and cool temps two days in a row, and she had to kayak to their cabin's overnight camp spot.
But. She was in good spirits when we picked her up and had so much to tell us, and you could tell it was good for her, and she learned things and was so confident. But needed hot water and clean clothes.

This happened to be the very same day we had to pick up Fisher from his last day of Diabetes [day] camp about an hour away from her camp, so we sped to a Target for clean shoes (I had brought everything else fresh, but who knew all three pairs of shoes would be muddy and there would be dirt in between her toes), and then walked around the lakefront in Hudson, Wisconsin for a bit.
The wind blew and she chatted all about the days and the kids and the counselors and the games and songs, and we just listened to her voice that we had never gone five whole days without.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

1. She's done it again, grown a whole bunch of beautiful sunflowers for us to gaze upon as fall rolls around.
2. That said, fall is taking its sweet time this year, and we're glad about that. The weather is still in the 80s and just gorgeous. It is so very nice to sit outside in only one layer.
3. Perfectly gorgeous weather for one more Twins game, I'd say. We have our fingers crossed that they can pull off a Wild Card slot.
4. I am anxiously awaiting today's delivery of my pre-ordered The Marvels.
The Marvels
5. I am, however, only about halfway through my current read, Did You Ever Have a Family, and those who know me are aware that I can only read one book at a time. Dilemma.
6. Yesterday I tried a class at the local Y, an all-over weight training class that is similar if not exactly the same class I used to take pre-kiddos, and I would be lying if I said that the entire back side of me is in very much pain today. I apparently need to add weight if working muscles on the front side of me.
7. This weekend our neighborhood had itself a mini-block party, which if you're not familiar with the term, means bring your own dinner to our driveway and eat it. We also stayed out past dark (!) with a lovely bonfire, chatted with our neighbor friends, and only got a few mosquito bites.
8. Our kids wanted hot dogs for said mini block party, but it was much easier for me to put something in the oven early in the afternoon and pull it out in time for sitting outside to eat it. If your neck of the woods isn't too hot for turning on ovens (or if you had to turn your A/C back on like me), then definitely make this Oven-Braised Mexican Beef. Couldn't be easier or more delicious.
9. We are back into it here. Alla came home with homework yesterday. Fisher is playing fall soccer. Alla had her audition for The Wizard of Oz this morning.
10. I just remembered I have at least a cup's worth of coffee still in the pot! Oh happy afternoon!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

First day of fifth grade/first day of kindergarten.

This is my very first time getting to post a comparison like this, first day of kindergarten and first day of fifth grade. I may have jumped the gun, and yep I'll most likely get back here and do it again in June, but I simply couldn't resist. Obviously.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

First day of school: 5th and 2nd.

5th and 2nd, for the love! It's a big year here with Alla rolling out of elementary. It means that it's the last time they will be together until Alla is a senior in high school. Okay, moving right along. Do not dwell on that little statistic, I just wanted to put it out there for posterity and that is all.

I have all those hopes of the start of every school year. For them to be kind and experience kind. For deep learning and a love of learning. For very good friends. For confidence. For finding what makes them tick. For feeling like they are just rocking it. All the hopes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Both kids had successful (if slightly chilly) days at camp last week.

2. Two weeks left of summer here, and so grateful. I know some of you have started already or will be very soon and all I can say is I'M SORRY and THAT SUCKS because August is for summer.

3. That said, Back to School events are definitely on the horizon as the kids get to meet their teachers next week.

4. Fisher's buddy just returned from a two-week vacation, and to say he was excited to see his friend is an understatement. The kid went running when their car came around the corner.

5. It's been a bit chilly here with highs only in the low 60s, but we look to be in for a beautiful stretch of 70s and 80s for the rest of August and first bit of September, which is fantastic because we are not ready for fall. Fall is lovely and there are good apples, of course, but we know it will come and summer will leave no matter what we're ready for, so our family is the type to just want to hold on to summer as long as we can.

6. We are therefore excited for one last summer hurrah, which we have kept secret from the kids. I love secrets.

7. Reading a fantastically funny book recommended by Fisher and already read by Ron: My Near-Death Adventures. I'd recommend this book to readers young and old, as there's something in it for everyone!

8. Ron and I ran a combined 19 miles this weekend, which I will break down for you: 14 him, 5 me, both numbers of which are more than either of us are used to. Go us!

9. Unbelievably, the State Fair opens this week!

10. While Alla was away at camp Ron got her sunflower garden bed together and I hauled 800 pounds of dirt to fill it up. She was very surprised and delighted when she came home Friday evening!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

1. So it is down to this: 1 week of camps, 1 week of vacation, and 1 week to take it all in, mourn, and then it's second and fifth grades around here. I can't even say it yet, that's it's the end of one thing and the beginning of something else. Sigh.

2. Alla is on day three of camp. We miss her. It is incredibly weird and quiet with just one kid. I wonder what she is eating, if she is sleeping, who she's made friends with, what her favorite camp activity has been, what her face looks like when she gets all our letters.

3. Fisher is on day two of diabetes camp. Wow, this is the kind of thing I never thought possible for him, take him to camp, let him have all the fun, know he is safe.

4. While Alla has been away at camp, Daddy has built her a garden bed for her sunflowers. She is going to be so happy when she gets home, and that is going to be one happy garden when they are all in bloom!

5. I am nearly finished with Goodbye Stranger, but I think I am a little bit savoring it. To all the moms of pre-teens out there, this is an important book and down the road having a parent-child discussion over the themes brought up in the book will be very important.

6. Last week the kids and I finished Half Magic, a delightful read-aloud.

7. Since Alla is gone this week, we haven't started a new one, so I've been reading all of the Mercy Watsons to Fisher. My absolute favorite is when Animal Control Officer Francine Poulet shows up.

8. Today it rained all day. Cozy. Just not if you're driving 35 miles one-way, four times.

9. Kids at camp = running for me!

10. I dragged the school supplies out of the closet so I can label them because of #1. Then I'll be chucking them back in the closet as I continue in my denial.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Ten on Tuesday.

1. First Tuesday of the month, but my is this a great month, what with all thirty-one days and some camps for the kids, and a family outing to celebrate ten books read by each kid, and a family vacation and the start of the state fair. Please let August go slowly.

2. I say some camps for the kids as if they were just going to the local park program, when in fact Alla will be going to SLEEPAWAY camp and Fisher will be going to diabetes camp (just for the days in a week, thank goodness), so these are in fact really big deals.

3. Alla is in a day camp this week at Ron's work, an engineering camp from which she has brought home a light up hat and a contest-winning rocket, both of which she made. She is taking copious notes, love her, and this is making my engineer husband so very happy. She still wants to be a country vet with her own farm and animal menagerie, Babe. We have a long way to go.

4. This leaves Fisher and I with some days to fill. So far we've done bowling, a big hit, and Minnehaha Falls. I know this kid would love to do mini golf, so I'm looking for a good (shady) spot for that.

5. This is also Alla's final week of summer orchestra, and I am greatly looking forward to hearing her violin at tomorrow evening's concert, as she has really put in the time to practice this summer, what without the hours of math homework and all.

6. Fisher just today finished Harry Potter #3! I think he's hooked.

7. I am currently enjoying The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate.

8. One of my greatest responsibilities as keeper of the home is to supply my family with homemade granola, to be absolutely sure that we never ever run out.

9. Ron and I celebrated wedding anniversary Lucky Thirteen yesterday! Add to that the five years we dated before getting married, and that puts us at 18 together. Love that guy.

10. In cased you missed it, I was featured over on the Snap Maven blog, which I recommend you check out just for nostalgia's sake. Gosh I loved going through my files for favorite images!

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Beautiful, if a little hot at Tamarack Nature Center yesterday afternoon. Lots of space for personal agendas, whether dam building or pool forming or just redistributing buckets of sand. I'm always amazed at how peaceful and quiet it is there, unlike any other playground. Kids work together in their sand and water industries, adults are cooled by the kid-powered stream, too.

One of our must-do's every summer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Duluth 2015.

We just returned from a lovely jaunt up to the North Shore. Yay! (Alla is showing how we all felt about being there. Nothing like dipping your toes in fifty degree water! It's refreshing!

Fisher has other faces, I think, but this is one of his best. Ha! Perhaps after an afternoon of hiking Gooseberry, this is the best he can do.

Thankfully my other child has better faces, even after the same amount of hiking.

Ah, Duluth, where you can make a whole day out of enjoying your lake view in an Adirondack chair, unless you have a kid like Alla who makes a whole day out of exploring every last rock and crevice and you're sure she'll just slip right into Superior and be lost forever.

Where no one can resist finding dozens of rocks, skipping them, collecting them, plunking them, stacking them.

Where someone used to an ocean can have that same immense feeling, of being so small next to something so big. Also, here, since I have never been in the winter, I always try to imagine what Superior looks like snow-covered. All of it.

 So thankful we got up there for a few days.