Thursday, May 28, 2009

Remember When...

Check out that beehive on Mom, would you? Check out that lack of beehive on Dad - sorry Dad. Bald really is beautiful. All in all a very handsome couple, if I do say so myself, and I do, and so did they, 41 years ago today.

I don't know that it was always easy. Don't know that mom always aspired to being a farmer's wife. Pretty sure Dad had no plans for getting Parkinson's disease. I do know they made it work when the crops were hailed out, when money was tight, when the arguments got heated, when babies were colicky, when the pies were burned. They didn't give up. Love is so often a choice, and somehow they have always chosen each other.

I'm real glad they did.
Love you both! Happy Anniversary!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

E is for Maren

She just can't help it. If three lines are good then a few more must be better. Maren lives the embellished life, as evidenced by the number of lines on her "E". We have talked it over, the whole "just three lines" thing, but this is what she prefers. This "E" is actually pretty mild. I have seen some papers come home with the "E" looking more like a fine toothed comb than any actual letter of the alphabet.

It is the Princess Maren philosophy - if one clip is good, then an added headband must be better. Skirts are preferred over pants, heels over flats, and can you add a dollop of lip gloss with that? It would be the right thing to do in her book.

We have made some progress. No extra "e" lines, but let's just add a nice little tree in the corner for good measure and well, "it looked sort of plain".

So, why don't you tell her? Why don't you tell that sweet little face not to add too many lines to her "E's"? Good luck. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Friday, May 22, 2009


The wind was strong. The door was stuck... and then it wasn't. It all happened so fast. In a split second that no one saw...until hours later. Definitely an accident that would fall into the category of freak.

The heavy beat beat of the helicopter blades brings a chill to your bones, even on a 90 degree day. You hope and pray it is no one that you know. But it is, as it so often goes in a small town.

The question was discussed, probably in a cramped room without windows, in the presence of cold, vinyl, antimicrobial furniture and commercial grade carpet as witnesses. Hang on, or let go. Sometimes you just have to let go. A boy, now a man, no longer has a mother. Grandchildren have lost a Grandma, and a husband no longer has a wife. An entire family has lost...Her.

Sometimes I just don't get it. Would it have mattered that much to let someone live a few more days, months, years. Surely there must have been a better candidate out there. Why?

Starkly, you realize there is not that much difference between that family and yours. Death, such as this, has no vaccine, no remedy, no treatment, no preventative measures to be taken. You get home and stare at your children, committing their faces in this moment to memory - for what if there is not another? You notice their shoes scattered at the doorway and pray their fat warm healthy toes will always fill them as long as you draw breath. You wish your husband was home.

I know. I know. "His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts", but that still leaves us swimming in a murky pool of gray, feeling our way through. We reach for the tattered ropes of our lives and vainly try to tie them nicely back together. We try to solve the equation and realize that faith does not equal knowledge or a life here on earth without despair. We can only pray that somehow faith will add up to hope and possibly someday to that peace that passes understanding.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


How clever are those people over at Google? What was life like B.G. (before Google)? Sort of like comparing an outhouse to having toilets and running water.

I happen to be very fond of Google. I am a Google Gal. I like the iGoogle application, the calendar, (which you can now add on a task list-did you hear that Honey?) and I especially like the artwork on the home page that they change periodically. Here's the one for today:

How is that for cuteness? Makes me smile everytime I open it. Very clever. And here is another one of my favorites:

Google, Google, what do you see? Everything apparently. (Whoops, wrong Eric Carle book.) And the very hungry Google ate through one Yahoo, two Mozilla Foxfires, three MSNs, and it was very SMART!

I think when something that was once a noun becomes a verb, then you have got it made. We no longer say, " I looked it up on Google". We say we "googled it". Maybe someday instead of saying "I did that like Shannon did" ( like everyone does right now), we'll just say we "Shannoned it".

I think my cold medicine is really getting to me. Sorry. Just go open your Google page about 5 times in a row and look at that cute little turtle and that will make you feel better.

P.S. 5-22-09: Look what they did today! Makes my mommy heart go thump thump. Yes, I am still taking cold medicine.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tulip Time 2009

I am exhausted. In a good way - like getting in a good workout and feeling happy with the results, like cleaning your windows and sitting in the recliner after you're done to watch them sparkle, like going water skiing and remembering why those muscles only let you do that one season out of the year - but man, is it ever worth it!

Tulip Festival is always an enjoyable, but hectic, time of year in these parts. All of us wholly (not to be confused with holy - although some may argue) Dutch, partially Dutch, or not even remotely Dutch people here in the NW corner of Iowa, dust off our wooden shoes and throw a little party known as the Tulip Festival. We are in our 69th year actully of carrying out this feat. Most every one gets involved, and we usually put on a pretty good show.
This year was no different except that it was way MORE enjoyable and just a bit more hectic. We were honored to have the Nieburhs (The Captain's sister and family) and Gordons (the Captain's mom and step-dad) visit. That meant 7 more warm bodies in the house. Better find yourself a piece of floor and stake your claim type of deal. I think the whole Tulip Time thing gets a little redundant and hum-drum to those of us who have experienced it since childbirth. It is a really neat thing to see it through the eyes of someone who hasn't been there, done that. Makes you appreciate it all the more. We made our list, and checked it twice, and think we got everything accomplished in due order.

Sam, Will, Max, Marissa and Maren had more fun than there is almond paste in an almond pattie. The girls are still in a state of shock and despair as they wander about forlornly looking for their cousins. Not that they didn't love have their Grandma and Papa Joe here too - because they sure loved that too.
So , I don't really know how to tell you all we did. I'll just let the pictures do the talking. Also go check out my SIL's blog, KimNow, for more great photos.

The tulips were just the biggest show-offs this year, don't you think?

Speaking of show-offs, ever since the Captain saw this bike, he has been hankering to ride it in the Tulip Festival so he could show off his biking skills. I think he would agree, it was a bit harder than it looked. He did a great job though and did us all proud...

...except when he nearly took out his mom (the lady in the striped shirt crossing the street) on his Dutch Big Wheel. She did take the time to offer him a cheese curd though, so no hard feelings. Oh my, I am still laughing.
So, we are taking reservations for next year. Kent? Ready to slip on those wooden shoes? I know you miss them. Kim? Wanna scrub some streets? I think it is our turn next year. Mom? Joe? Can you HANDLE another year? Breng ons een bezoek! Pay us a visit!!

P.S. Thanks to my MIL Pat for some of letting me take and publish some of these pics. I have camera envy.

P.S.S. Baloney, if your out there, Flat Baloney got lost in the shuffle (or the shuffle, clomp, clomp of the wooden shoes more precisely) somewhere, but there is always next year!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Just Sick

Grandma did real well with her surgery. We are all relieved. See, she has been dealing with a sore toe for about two years. Sounds pretty innocent on the surface, but really gets much more complicated upon closer inspection. Closer inspection of her toe specifically showed a really nasty looking ulcer that looked more dead than alive, but the more serious issues under the surface were poor circulation, borderline diabetes, osteoarthritis, and lungs weakened by years of second hand smoke exposure. You take nothing for granted in an 84 year old undergoing general anesthesia.

My Grandma has four children, one of which is my mother who is the oldest. This is not a huggy touchy feely family. Never have been, never will be. Hugs and spoken "I love yous" are saved up for the most dire of situations. When things get stressful and a little too close for comfort what usually gets squeezed out is inappropriate humor. So my two aunts and my mom and uncle were all able to be there for Grandma's big event. Many hugs and "I love yous" were exchanged.

So they swept Grandma and her gangrenous toe off to surgery and sent her children off to a nice private waiting room to await the outcome. I was not present and only heard second hand accounts, but I can imagine things sounding something like this. I am sure they kept up the appearance of a normal and loving family a bit until my uncle checks his watch looks up and says, "Well, the toe should be in the bucket by now." My aunt hits him for being rude, but the giggles erupt. That transitioned into a glass jar containing her toe that Grandma could display on her coffee table for the next time the ladies came over to play cards. The kind nurse that gave updates about Grandma's progress thinks they sure are a noisy bunch. Next, my aunt would quip. " I sure hope mom is not too "defeated" about all this". More giggles and guffaws and generally things start to go downhill from there.

So the surgery is over and they are all ushered into a conference room where they will meet with the surgeon to get his report of how everything went. He walks in confidently with a big smile on his face... and a small box in his hand. My aunts, mom, and uncles listened intently to the better than expected results and are eternally grateful, but all eyes were on the box. As Dr. Kelly was about to leave, Auntie Lea just had to ask, "you don't have Mom's toe in that box, do you." The Dr. is cool enough to find that hilariously funnyand explains that no, the box contained his glasses he used for surgery - just in case you were wondering. Once Grandma got back to the room and was awake, they let her in on the joke too. She thought it was the funniest thing she had heard since being NPO after midnight.

So what do you call a man with no arms and no legs hanging on a wall?

What do you call a man with no arms and no legs floating in the water?

What do you call a man with no arms and no legs lying by the door?

(Sorry, I know, not very PC, but that was not passed down in my gene pool.)

What do you call an 84 year old Dutch lady minus one stinky toe?
My Grandma, and I love her very much. ((HUGS))

Sunday, May 10, 2009

This One's For the Girls

This was sort of a different Mother's Day - not necessarily bad - and certainly much good - but yet different. We spent it in the hospital room of my Grandma. My mom's mom. My girls Grandma GiGi.
She is in a larger hospital in the area and it took about an hour and a half to get there. My mom and I and the girls drove up to see her. I almost didn't go - thought the girls would not do too well on a three hour long round trip where in the middle, they would be required to sit somewhat still in a cramped hospital room using quiet inside voices. Just didn't know if I wanted to deal with that. This is day five of the Captain being gone and my nerves start to wear a little thin. But, the girls were great. They did so well. They gave Grandma GiGi lots of loving and sang her a silly little song that had her laughing her little blue hospital booties with treads on them off.

I love the last picture of my Grandma holding Maren when she was a baby. The smiles say everything don't they? The thing is though, every single one of my cousins probably has a picture exactly like this of Grandma holding their babies. She does love her Great Grandchildren - all 20 of them.

My mom and I had three hours to talk on the drive. You would think that living in the same small town we would be all talked out, but in the day to day rush of living life, seems like we don't have time to say the things we should, but today we did. I miss those kind of talks with my mom. Ironically, we had more of those when she lived here and I lived in Tulsa.

So, I was given the time to be a mom, to be a daughter, to be a grandaughter, all in good portion. Really a perfect Mother's Day, I would say. The circumstances were a little less than desirable, but isn't that what often seems required of us as Mom's? We find a way to make it work - and it often works out so much better than we thought it would.

P.S. Please pray for Grandma on Tuesday. She is scheduled to have surgery that day. Thanks!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Cheshire Giraffe

Title: The Cheshire Giraffe

Artist: The Princess Maren

Subject: Favorite Zoo Animal

Medium: Colored pencil and a whole lot of preschooler imagination

Cost: Priceless

Friday, May 1, 2009

Finding My Way to Highway 10

Today I sent Maren Faith to her Kindergarten "sneak peak". Just to try it on for size. It fit like a glove, I'd say. Her excitement and joy could not be contained.

This was a preview for me too, I think. I have the whole summer to get used to the idea of my baby going to Kindergarten. I have always promised myself that I would not be one of the sentimental, frothy moms - oh believe me it is there waiting to be poured out, but I am going to hold it in check. I think part of that sentimentality is my own selfishness. When your baby is a baby you are so needed, and so unconditionally loved. You have your place in their world. And suddenly you are staring down a four year old with a different idea of what to wear for her Kindergarten preview day. When did that happen?

By the time I left school and turned on to Highway 10, I was okay. I just finished a pretty good book called the Myth of You & Me and one of the characters believes that "all times exist simultaneously". I had a moment like that today. Memories paraded past one by one and I applauded every one. It is a celebration, you know. As moms isn't that what we want most... to see them grow, to see them flourish, to see them find and become the person God meant them to be? I also had visions of her in high school, college, marriage and maybe a family of her own someday. Or maybe not. Maybe my life is not the life she will choose. And that's just fine.

I think the thing that struck me most is how fast it all happens, and did I really appreciate each moment like I should? I have heard people say time goes even faster the older you get. How can that be? But I believe it.

So, here's to preparing for next fall. Just stay out of my way as I leave school that day. Might have a few tears blurring my vision. I'll be fine by the time I get to Highway 10...