Tag Archives: Owen

March On

19 Mar

When it comes to trips down Memory Dirt Road, the last ten days of March are quite a tourist trap.  It’s mostly filled with stopping spots from the paved portion of my life, though.  Here’s a list of some of what you might see along the next dozen days:

In March of 2001 I made my first ever trip to Michigan when I flew up for an interview at Our Savior Lutheran.  I was blown away by their singing and kindness, and I met the seventh and eighth grade teacher.  We even had lunch together (with the entire Pastor’s family chaperoning) at Steak ‘n’ Shake before his big dinner theater and my flight out of town.  Okay, in all honesty it wasn’t anything close to a date, but we did relive those fries and burgers for several years to follow, because . . .

By this time in 2002 we were engaged.  Shocked?  It was speedy-wonderful.  I recommend it to everyone.  Well, okay, almost everyone.

Two years later my first nephew was born.  Okay, technically I have another nephew who was born first, but since I was three at the time, and didn’t meet him until we were both in our twenties and I married his uncle, his birth didn’t quite pack the same punch.  But Owen’s birth – that was a game-changer.  That made me an aunt, gave Simeon a cousin and Best Buddy, and brought me even closer to my sister than I imagined.

And the end of last March was a whirlwind of events.  First, my dear friends and I began a DIY Master’s Program otherwise known as “the book blog.”  You can find it here, just in case you’ve missed it in the past.  We started by reading Don Quixote. Who does that?  We do.  Now we’re reading Moby-Dick.  Yes, really.  And here’s the weirdest part – it’s not the least bit boring.  Not at all.  It’s an honest-to-goodness hoot.  Try it.

Then, before Sancho could even holler, “Look out for the windmills!” my last nephew was born.  I’m not declaring Henry the Official Last, for I have not that power, but I plan on spoiling him like he is, just in case.

And then, because I thought my sister didn’t have enough to do with a newborn around the house, we started this blog.  Yup, our blogiversary is coming up next week, and that’s actually what got my mind Marching through all these wonderful occurrences.  This blog has been great for those two things, making me demand unreasonable things from my supermom of a sister, and bringing back old memories that make us smile, ask lots of questions, and laugh and laugh.


By Both of Us

An Explanation

21 Feb

A few weeks ago my eldest says to me, “Mom, when I grow up I want to be one of those people who plays the giant piano thing during church…” Awesome. My son, the organist. I love it. I’m sure his Organist Aunt loves it even more. I can see them now, discussing Trompette Stops and Soft-soled Shoes.
He finished his adulthood dream with this, “…oh, AND I really REALLY want to be a video game tester.” Awesome. My son, the nerd. I love it. I’m sure his Nerd Dad loves it even more. I can see them now, discussing Koopa Troopas and Joysticks.

My son’s realization led to a discussion with a friend of what we had wanted to be when we grew up. Strangely enough, both of us had wanted to be dolphin trainers. Nebraska Girls Dream Big. And realistically.

What hadn’t I dreamed of being? Well, a lot of things, I guess. I never wanted to be a lawyer. Or a doctor. I had no designs to be a window cleaner or even a secretary. And I never considered being a Mom or a Teacher. What? Did you read that wrong? I’m sure not (although I’m not you). Nope. Hadn’t even thought about it.

What am I today? A Mom. A Teacher. Who knew?

I’d like to discuss the latter. See, initially I became a mom, which inspired me to want to be a teacher. Then I became a mom again while still having aspirations to become a teacher. Mom again, while working towards fulfilling the teacher dream. Teacher. Mom. The more Mom I became, the more Teacher I became, but the less Leave-the-house-to-teach-other-children I became. Get it?

Here’s where it gets confusing (yes, here). I finally figured out that what I really truly wanted to be when I grew up was a Mom (with a minor in teaching my own offspring). But, alas, turning into both a mom AND a teacher put a bit of a dink in our bank account. So, now, here I am. A  teacher. Full-time.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a really cool job. I’m a Title I Teacher. It’s one of those challenging/rewarding/pride-inducing/bash-your-head-into-a-wall jobs. Cool. I can go for that.

But, I miss my children desperately. I miss this blog desperately. I miss sweat pants desperately.

If you’ve been wondering where I am, that’s it. Molding minds and all. I promise I’ll come back. In the meantime you all are SO lucky, because you will be inundated with the wit and wiles of my sister more than usual.  Hoorah for us all!


We have a new “righter”.

29 Nov

My son is blogging. My 7-year-old is blogging. My primary-schooler is blogging. My Lego, Harry Potter, Greek Mythology, Mario Bros., Pokemon obsessed offspring is blogging. In fact, he has a new obsession. It’s blogging. I guess the cyber-apple doesn’t blog, um, I mean FALL, too far from the tree. You see, his brilliant teacher, in an attempt to create better writers, word processors, spellers, communicators, and complete thinkers, has created for his class a kid-blog. The entire class is invited to contribute. They answer questions posed by their teacher. They pose their own questions. There’s give. There’s take. You know, that whole thing. Here’s the deal, though – with my darling there is a lot of give. An awful lot. I’m going to estimate that, oh, half of the posts on the blog are his. Seriously. He’s prolific. He is genetically predisposed to reveal to the masses his mind. You’re welcome, buddy.

Initially, when I found out about his love of blogging I was like, Whoa! – Wait! – that’s MY THING! (I have very few, you see, and I’m not a great sharer.) But then I relaxed. I thought. And this is what I decided: I could invite him into this world. So, I have begrudgingly accepted his need to constantly check his blog and write posts. I get it. AND, are you ready for this? I am allowing him a guest blogging paragraph on this post. Yep, it’s true. Below he has regaled us with his thoughts on blogging. (Pay special attention – it took him about 1 hour to type it. No keyboarding in the 2nd grade curriculum….)


I   like  blogging  becuase  it is like  righting .Mom likes it to. I can ask people things.It is fun. You can talk to people.You can ask things.People can talk.When I blog I talk to people.You can  tell people what your  favorite movie is.I love blogging!

There you have it – unedited and straight out of the little fingers of my own precious blogger.

I’ve Been Waiting for This Day

3 Nov

Thing I Love: Milestones

Our nest is a flurry of newly discovered skills! Here’s my list:

  • Henry can sit up on his own without seconds later bashing his forehead into the shag. Huge. Plus, mobility still seems quite distant in the future. Even huger. I don’t need that kid discovering how inept his mother is at childproofing (and cleaning, in general). At this point he still respects me. I intend to keep it that way until he’s at least 10 1/2 months old.
  • Charlie can blow his nose. Big stuff. An endless nostril clearing future lies before him. Congrats, Chuck. We couldn’t be prouder.
  • Joe is learning to read words while simultaneously Owen is learning to read music. Magical. Maybe soon they can host a concert reading of set 1 of the BOB book series. (fingers crossed!)
  • A.J. can sew. (But he did it while watching Transformers 3. Machismo status: MAINTAINED)

   Thanks for allowing me this brag. Photographic proof of mentioned milestones below:

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Growl of the Beloved

8 Oct

See those cuddly bears? Those are our Oldests (when they were Youngests). I remember this evening well. My bear had been washed clean in Holy Baptism earlier that day. He was 6 days old. Christina’s bear joined us to help celebrate (as all good bear cousins do). This Mama Bear and her grizzly husband were T-I-R-E-D, and therefore, well, bearish. We had holed up in our cave for the night (or so we thought) when our den-guests invented a photo-op. (This bear metaphor is getting exhausting. Do you mind if I quit? Thanks.) Anyway, they invaded our room, and made us come downstairs for family pictures. I got all swept up in the crazy that is our family and amidst a LOT of chortling we changed our newborns into matching bear outfits.

It was this evening, in a storm perfect for spousal discovery, that I learned my husband cannot bear an interrupted bedtime OR matching cutesy outfits.

Read this!!!!

18 Sep

Hold on to your bindings, folks – it’s time for a Book Recommendation.

My oldest says to me the other day,

“Mom, sometimes I DO judge a book by its cover.”

Well, guess what. So do I. Interestingly enough Owen and I were judging the same book in opposing ways. He thought it looked boring. I thought it looked quaint and adorable.  Here, I’ll show you. But I won’t let you judge for yourself. No way. You’ve got to read the thing in order to own that honor.

Okay, I know. I used my webcam. But it's real time. This is me. Now. Wow, right?

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry. This book is charming the collective pants off of our family. Right off. I really think you should read it. Wait. There are some things you should know. There’s a ton of negative energy spun in a bizarrely positive way residing within these pages. That sounds weird, right? Well, it’s true. If you want all lollipops and rainbows, look elsewhere. If you want children and parents plotting against one another, bad German, and an overuse of the word “dolt”, LOOK HERE! The humor is clever. The characters lovable (and odious). The plot diabolical.

Things crammed into this lovely little book:

  • Countless literary allusions (of good books – ones you want your children to someday read)
  • An annotated bibliography of said literary gems (that makes them sound super interesting and fun, thus peaking interest)
  • A gorgeous use of the English language (I have yet to find one dangling participle)
  •  A dynamic and unique vocabulary (this household is now using the word “obsequious” on a regular basis)
  • A glossary (that not only correctly defines words, but also procures giggles from my children)
  • Four worthy orphans with a no-nonsense nanny (That’s a direct quote from the text. In context it will make you guffaw.)

Soooo, are you curious? Oh, I so hope you are.

Love’s a Mess.

18 Aug

I’ve decided to start a new segment. This is it: Things I Love. Okay, okay. I know. Cliche!!!! (an aside: I don’t know how to add an accent mark. Please ignore that typo and pronounce the word correctly anyway. Thanks. Also, if you know how to add the accent mark, I would certainly listen to your advice. Aside over.) I get it, but maybe you’d like to know a bit more about my sister and I? Maybe? Can we shovel out just a little more? You bet. And to highlight the mushy gushiness of this particular cliched (ignore the  typo) segment I’ve decided on the addition of sacchariny  pink as it’s banner color. Not that there is ANYTHING artificial about the following sweetness. It’s all real, I tell you, and I LOVE it.

Today’s Thing I Love is brought to you by my Olders (I have “Olders”, “Youngers”, “Bigs”, “Littles”, “Middles”, “Talls”, “Shorts”, “Sillies”, “Whinies”, and endless other classifications for my children. Sometimes they’re just “Brothers”. Sometimes they’re just “The Children”. And sometimes I actually refer to them by their Christian names. It’s a mood thing.) So, this morning those two (the Olders) straggled into my bedroom and heaved their sleep-limp bodies onto my bed. Nothing abnormal here. There they rested for a brief moment before Owen’s head catapulted skyward, “Hey, Joe. Do you want to surprise Mom and Dad?” (I think they thought I was sleeping. I pretty much was. Only my ears had awakened.) Then they shot out of our room faster than I could say “Wha…?”. At this point I was certain that they were going to surprise us by getting dressed, putting their jammies on over their clothes, and then pretending that they refuse to get dressed. We’ve fallen for that one on more than 6 occasions. Timeless humor, that. We went on with morning routine. I pretended that my Littlest still needed me so that I could remain immobile for awhile. My better (and more responsible) half prepared for the day. We were then invited out into the rest of our home. For what? Did we see shirt collars poking out of Batman Jams? Nope. Not even. Those boys were fully dressed. Their room was clean. The kitchen was clean. The hallway was clean. The living room was clean. ALL OF THEM CLEAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Best surprise ever. I have assured them of this countless times and will continue to do so indefinitely.

I always love The Children. I rarely love the mess.

May I have some cheese with my whine?

10 Aug

I’ve been going back and forth about whether to write the following post. Do I? Don’t I? Do I? Don’t I? Well, I guess, I do. Here goes. Usually we attempt to inundate you with portions of our lives that are chortle eliciting. (“Chortle”, by the way, is a word invented by Lewis Carroll that combines the words “chuckle” and “snort”. It’s my favorite way to laugh.) But, I do feel like being pouty. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again. I am TOTALLY aware that it’s a choice. Oh, WELL! Seriously, what, in this world, could I possibly have to pout about!?!?! Well, the first happened today. My husband was abducted by the school system for another year. (Yes, he’s a teacher. A great one. Seriously. You should all send your children to his school just so that they can sing in one of his choirs and study music theory from him. I promise they’ll learn a ton, be challenged, and love every moment (almost) of their time with him. He’s one of those teachers. The really good kind.) Does my parenthetical explanation mean that I should release him to others every August??? NO NO NO! I WANT HIM HOME! I LOVE HIM HOME! HE IS MY FAVORITE!

The second reason for my pout? Well, on Monday I lose 2 more. My inquisitive, teasing, book-geek, mother-loving 2nd Grader and my silly, sweet, head-standing, mother-loving Kindergartner are leaving my grasp. I know. I know. I could homeschool them. But, those of you who know us well know that it’s not an option presently. SO WHAT DO I DO???? I WANT THEM HOME! I LOVE THEM HOME! THEY ARE MY FAVORITES!

The longer I am a mother and a wife the more addicted to my children and husband I become. What, dear friends, is the solution? Please, offer me words of comfort and advise. But also, please ONLY SAY THINGS I WANT TO HEAR. That’s my mood right now. I’m sure you can empathize.

One more thing, I refuse to sell short the countless women who live their lives with husbands deployed. What you do is mind-bogglingly brave. I cannot even begin to imagine…

Ach! I miss them already!

Lessons from Angry Birds

19 Jul

This is a confession. I might be guilty of overplaying Angry Birds. Might. I might have been congratulated by the game on over 30 hours played. That might have been over a month ago. I might not have yet stopped playing. I’m afraid that I might even have Angry Birds induced carpel-tunnel. I accept this. I own this. So I’ve decided to use it to teach my oldest a lesson in tenacity. Good idea, right? Lemons, lemonade, that whole thing…

How? First, some background. For those of you who have never stepped into Angry Bird land I will explain the game. One takes a bird (an angry one) and slingshots it at pigs (green ones) in retaliation for some attack that the pigs have launched against the birds’ eggs. I think. To be honest, I’ve never really locked into the story line. Anywho, in order to defeat these verdant porkers one must destroy whatever housing, scaffolding, or protection normally offered to swine such as these. The birds sacrifice themselves in this retaliatory act. How selfless. As all of the pigs in a given level are exterminated one is rewarded a score and stars based upon their completeness of destruction. 1,2, or 3 stars are available. Obviously 3 is the best. And this is where the lesson begins:

 As I stated before, I play a lot. I’ve “beaten” the game. BUT, not with 3 star scores. I’ve just skated through, accepted the bare minimum in effort, let mediocrity reign. That’s what I’m supposed to do, right? Once again I will resist the urge to say anything that might offend, but suffice it to say I will not be buying myself a trophy just to reward completion of a task. (As I was asked to do to celebrate my son’s 2 month t-ball stint! Imagine…)  Owen’s been watching my progress like a hawk (an angry one). See, I’ve gone back to the beginning of the game and am replaying every level in search of 3 stars. I’m doing this for my son. Do you see? See the lesson he’s getting from this? It’s all about stick-to-it-iveness, self improvement, hard work, tenacity, you know.

It’s not at all about how much I love to knock things down and blow things up…..

Use Your Imagination (but for Mom’s sake, not too much)

8 Jul

While at my parents’ house a scene unfolded that I desperately wanted to share with you.  So, I rushed to my camera to grab a picture so you all could enjoy the moment as much as I did.  But alas, the battery icon flashed and then the whole thing went black.  No picture.  Only memories.

So, instead I had my Mom take this photo of their patio. And together, you and I can reconstruct the moment.  Are you ready?  Okay.  Here we go.

Here’s the scene.  Mom and Dad’s patio.  Notice that window in the center?  That’s my Mom and Dad’s bathroom.  Their only bathroom, but I suppose that’s another story.  It’s a beautiful June day – no heat, no mosquitos, no rain and so the windows are all open.

Now, see the little ladder under that window?  It’s an old splinter-in-the-toe three-step model.  We’ve had it forever.  I don’t know why it sits there, maybe for instances just like the one I’m about to describe.

Okay, here’s where you have to put your imaginations to work.  Imagine that in the center of the patio is a folding table where the five big boys are coloring Star Wars pictures.  They’ve been at it for a while because Gramma Jan set up an incentive system to promote coloring within the lines.  When they have completed a picture they may bring it to her for analysis.  If the picture has no colored wax escaping its borders the artist earns two stickers.  For those pictures where the crayon is contained for the most part, but could have used a little more fine motor attention – one sticker.  And those who rushed to bring a picture for grading without completing all sections, or scribbling are sent back to try again.  It is serious business.

All this occurs as we were trying to prep Mom and Dad’s house for a surprise party and 38 guests, so time is of the essence.  Mom just got to a point in her delegation and accomplishments where she feels it is okay to leave us all to our own demise devises and shower.

So, now you’re up to speed.  Do you have everyone in their places?  Boys at the table coloring.  Mom behind the window attempting to shower.  Ladder innocently taking up it’s space in the universe.


Owen gets up from the table, freshly colored artwork in hand, and goes over to the ladder, climbs up two steps and says,  “Gramma Jan?  Excuse me, Gramma Jan?  Are you in there?”

And instead of ignoring him, which I’m certain is what any of the rest of us would have done, Mom replies, “Yes, Owen?”

“Gramma Jan, how many stickers for this picture?”

Then my mother, who’s patience I did not inherit, peaked through the curtains and said something like, “Um, just a second Owen, I need to get my glasses back on.  Can you hold it a little closer?”

“Is it worth two stickers, Gramma Jan?  Is it?”

Mom, still undaunted by her probable nakedness or the trivial nature of the request, goes on to analyze the picture while holding the curtains around her face like some medieval wimple.

But then Abraham came to the rescue, and brought this whole ridiculous scene to a close with the following advice, “Owen, you can just go in there.  The door’s not locked.”