Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reformation Celebration 2010

Last night we had our fourth annual Reformation Celebration at Mission OPC. A fun night, as always.

We started with food. Can't go far wrong with that! Add some authentic Reformation food and it's perfect.

I know there was something about a Diet of Worms in that history book. Boy, they ate some crazy stuff back then.

I read the story of Katherine Luther to an enthralled audience. (I think Johanna was actually sitting on Sam at one point to keep him still.)

And we had some gorgeous music from these two lovely grad students from the U.

We ended with some games, including the famous "Pin the 95 Theses to the Church Door!" Sam won this year.

Really, we just wanted an excuse to sugar up the kids and trick-or-treat is out because it falls on Sunday night this year. So, the kids were well and truly sugared by the end of the night!

Amazingly enough, both Sam and Micah had about ten bites of apple apiece before gorging themselves on candy!

So, another fun night of celebration and a good way to commemorate the start of the Reformation so many years ago!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Keepin' It Real

This is our kitchen in its natural state: groceries waiting to be taken downstairs, garbage waiting to be taken outside, every available surface covered in school papers, empty pretzel bags, half-empty cups (or half-full cups depending on whether or not I'm feeling optimistic that day), broken art projects, spare Lego parts, etc. And this is what it looks like when company's coming:
When I was little, I famously incurred my mother's wrath by noticing the family effort to clean the house and then asking, "Who's coming?" And now my kids ask the same thing, only with more just cause than I had for asking.

It's true. I confess. I clean more vociferously when company is coming than when it's "just us chickens."

Contrary to popular belief, though, I do clean in between times, too. I do!

It's just more fun when I know that someone will actually see and appreciate my efforts, rather than running in the front door, tracking mud on the carpet, dropping backpacks around the living room, shoving into the kitchen, strewing snack projects all over the kitchen floor and table, seeming only to appreciate my efforts in so far as it makes more room for them to make a new mess! (Sometimes a run-on sentence is more satisfying.)

After all, making the mess is where all the fun is.

Don't worry. I do put my built-in cleaning crew to use quite a lot. I had children so that someday I wouldn't be needed when it's time to clean up.

I'll go and put my feet up and watch me some Lawrence Welk.

In the meantime, I live in the already/not yet world of training my crew to put me out of a job.

And I do that by "keepin' it real."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Girl

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Favorites

These are my three favoritest boys in the world.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gooseberry Falls

On our way home on Wednesday, we also stopped to see Gooseberry Falls. It is probably more spectacular in the spring but was still very pretty.

We considered this trip a sort of scouting trip for our family camping excursion next summer. We are now armed with at least a little bit of knowledge about where we'd like to stay and where we'd like to go.

Forewarned is forearmed, or something like that.

(But not four-armed. That would be creepy.)

It was nice to visit these places and know that next summer when I'm not hobbling from a grueling 6-mile hike, we will be back to enjoy the views.

(John is talking about taking the two older boys hiking up Eagle Mountain, but Johanna, Sam and I will find a quiet little beach and hang out there for the day!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Up North

Thanks to the help of a bunch of people, John and I were able to spend Tuesday and Wednesday up north.
We had beautiful weather for both days.
Tuesday, we hiked into the Boundary Waters and climbed up Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota.

Above, the view from the heights of Eagle Mountain.

Wednesday we celebrated John's birthday with a leisurely drive along the lakeshore. We stopped at the Split Rock Lighthouse (the view above is from the lighthouse). We also stopped at a quilt shop, Gooseberry Falls, and Betty's Pies.

When we got home, we retrieved kids from their host families and went out for a birthday dinner to Red Lobster.
A wonderful two days, all told. And I'm still enjoying the aching muscles from our hike up Eagle Mountain - six-miles round trip and up-hill all the way!

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Crafty Fellow

Now that poor Sam has been abandoned by all of his older siblings for most of every weekday, he has had to turn to other sources for his entertainment. Of course, his first choice is TV, movies and video games. But, occasionally, his mean 'ol mom puts a moratorium on the screens and forces him to do something else. One of his favorite activities has been these tiny neon beads.

The kit comes with four templates and a gajillion little beads. Sam spends a long time, often in silence, sometimes explaining some video game to his half-listening mother, putting these beads onto the little spikes. When all are in place, mom goes and irons the whole thing so that the beads melt together and we get shapes like...

Sam enjoys the work and is proud of the product. I like the quiet and the fact that he's not ruining brain cells in front of a screen. Happiness reigns. And all for the cost of a bead kit! It's no substitute for siblings, but it'll do.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010


I am happy to say that the older I get the more I appreciate poetry. Poetry, apparently, takes more wisdom, perception, or perhaps an openness that I simply didn't possess when I was 16 or even 25. And even now, in my wise old age, I still don't sit down and read volumes of poetry for fun. But certain sights and experiences sometimes make me wonder what the poets have had to say about it. And, almost always, the month of October makes me feel particularly poetic. Here are some gems I found when I looked up October poetry:

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." - George Eliot

"Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter."

- Carol Bishop Hipps; In a Southern Garden

"O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hourOctober's bright blue weather."

"I know the year is dying,
Soon the summer will be dead.
I can trace it in the flying
Of the black crows overhead;
I can hear it in the rustle
Of the dead leaves as I pass,
And the south wind's plaintive sighing
Through the dry and withered grass.
Ah, 'tis then I love to wander,
Wander idly and alone,
Listening to the solemn music
Of sweet nature's undertone;
Wrapt in thoughts I cannot utter,
Dreams my tongue cannot express,
Dreams that match the autumn's sadness
In their longing tenderness."

- Mortimer Crane Brown, Autumn Dreams

"When gentians roll their fingers tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;
When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;
When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;
When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;
When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October's bright blue weather."

- Helen Hunt Jackson, October's Bright Blue Weather

And that's not even including Robert Frost and other great ones!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pretty Good Food

A week or so ago I caught an episode of Nigella Lawson's show on the Food Network. She was making these darling little cupcakes and they looked so easy, so yummy, and so pretty that I found the recipe on-line and hunkered down to wait for just the right occasion to serve them. That occasion came today when we hosted our Mother/Daughter book club here at home.

The cake part is vanilla and the icing is Royal Icing so it's beautifully smooth and glossy as well as being decadently sweet. I bought the little flowers at Michael's in the Wilton aisle. There were not quite enough flowers to top all twelve of the cupcakes, so I topped the extras with candy pumpkins from John's stash in his office; not quite as pretty but equally yummy.

The cake part was, I confess, a little bit dry, although the flavor was quite good. I made them on Friday, though, so I wonder if they would have been a bit moister if eaten on the same day. Still, I'll keep the recipe; they're worth a second try!

The taste and the appearance elicited many appreciative "oohs" and "aaahs" from our guests.

Here's the link: so you can try them yourself!