Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I hate Blogger!!

I have tried way too many times to upload pictures of jack-o-lantern carving and Halloween decorations and it keeps telling me it can't do it ...

I HATE BLOGGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Birthday Ty!

Today Ty turns 9. Yes, my baby is nine years old! Here he is with his presents ... he was so excited to open everything! Posting these pics made me think about his early years, so I thought I would put some from his past on here, too.

Here are the two of us just hours after his birth.

He was born at Abbott Northwestern, on a beautiful day - the weather was similar that year to this. My parents were staying with Ben and they rushed Steve & I out the door even though we knew it was not nearly time to go ... so instead of heading to the hospital, we went to Minnehaha Falls and had a lovely walk, stopping every so often for contractions! Finally it was time to go in, and after a couple more hours it was decided Ty was not ready to come out - so our wonderful doctor, John Nadeau, ended up doing an unexpected C-Section. All went well, and we had our boy.

Here he is a bit older ... discovering the joys to be had using simple items found around the house ... He was always such a happy child! Here are two of my favorites, one where he is helping out in the kitchen and one where he has discovered the fun to be had in the bathroom!

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Book Reviews

While at Disney, I read Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. It was profound and the story line kept me awake nights, thinking about what I would have done had this occurred in my life or in that of someone close to me.

The premise of the story is that a young couple are expecting their first baby - which ends up being born during a freak snowstorm, and the dad, who is a doctor, has to make the delivery in his office with a trusted nurse there to help, as opposed to getting to the hospital. Well, surprise, surprise, there is not one baby but two in there. A boy is born first, and he is perfect and wonderful, but then a girl is born with Down's Syndrome - and this is taking place in the time when children with Down's did not live long as they were thought to be too retarded to even take home or really even provide care for. The doctor makes a split-second decision about the baby girl which changes everyone's lives forever. The book is about their lives for 25 years following the births, and how his one decision affected everything in their world.

It would be so easy for the author to have taken sides, and convinced us that any one of the characters was making really bad choices and decisions, but instead she is able to provide readers with insight and understanding in to each character's personality and psyche enough that we end up seeing all these people for what they are -- good people at heart, but faced with impossibly difficult situations and emotions that they just don't know how to handle.

I highly recommend the book, it's a fairly fast read but it stays with you for a while.

Another book I read (on the way back - Memory Keeper's Daughter was on the way down) was The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, by Brady Udall. This one was quirky and very strange! It's the story of Edgar, a young boy whose head was crushed when he was 7, by a mail truck running over it. The ground was soft enough, though, that he ended up making a miraculous recovery (thus the title), and the book is a cross between his "autobiography" and a story he is telling. He alternates between using first person and third to tell the story, sometimes switching voices several times in one paragraph. It's a bit disconcerting at times but you eventually get used to it. The book tracks him from the age of 7 until he is an adult, and his life is, well, just weird. I read it for a new book club I am considering joining - this will be the first meeting I have with them, and I am curious to see what others think of the book. I liked it, I really did, but it is, pardon my repetition, weird!

This new book club I am maybe joining is a serious book club - which is a bit of a change for me, as my regular neighborhood book club is much more focused on social aspects of meeting, rather than literary. This new group actually has three books assigned for the November meeting. Yes, three.

Edgar Mint was the first one I read. Now I am working on Obsessive Genius, by Barbara Goldsmith. It's a biography of Marie Curie, and I am really, really enjoying it. (I have a picture of the book cover but blogger won't upload it ....) I am not finished yet, but it is a fascinating look at the life of this incredible woman. I admit to being quite ignorant about her and all she accomplished in her life. Goldsmith states in her foreward that her goal with this book is to show the human side of the scientist, and portray Marie Curie as a real and whole person. Her writing is masterful - she fills many pages with detailed scientific descriptions of the work Marie & Pierre Curie did, but it somehow doesn't get too dry for me (a non-scientific reader!) I had always known Marie Curie was a pioneer in the world of women in science, but I did not understand just to what extent she was shut out, judged, and mistreated because of her gender. I also did not understand what an astonishing feat it was for her to be the first (and actually a few years later she was the second, too -- and the third was her daughter) woman awarded a Nobel prize.

One of my favorite passages is the reporting of a discussion between Marie and Pierre after they have discovered radium and are exploring the power of radioactivity, and they are talking about how best to control its release to the world. They are very aware of the power accompanying the control of radiation, and fear the havoc that could emerge if the wrong people gained control. Since I am often so cynical about so many things, I loved learning that here were scientists ready to discuss and ponder the right and wrong ways to use their discoveries, and make plans to try and ensure proper use and development of their world-changing experiments. I can only hope that today's scientists have somewhat the same conscience and are not always only ruled over by the almighty dollar. (Even Pierre and Marie did, however, even back then, make many decisions based on who would pay their way. Somethings, I guess, never do change.)

Finally, I am also reading Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld (and that's a female Curtis, BTW) the story of a young girl from Indiana who ends up at an elite boarding prep school in The East. It's really not that great. The story is somewhat predictable, although actually I am impressed that the author is not going for cheap thrills or gags and is not exaggerating the story to make outlandish points. She doesn't do that so much, though, that the book is rather boring. Last night I was tired so I skipped to the last 3 pages to see what happens at the end, and now doubt that I will actually finish reading the third of the book that I jumped over. Ho-hum.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Disney Part 2

This picture proves both Steve & I were on this vacation -- seems I have the same problem as my father, in that I take most of the pictures so it is rare to see one of me during the vacation. I don't remember which child took this one (though I am sure they could tell you!) but it turned out pretty good! This was on our first day at Magic Kingdom. Now, this next picture is from our day at Animal Kingdom. The guys are looking from a bridge towards Mount Everest. The Everest Expedition ride was the only ride in our entire vacation that we didn't get to go on due to the lines. The day we were at Animal Kingdom (AK) it was incredibly hot. In fact, the area was having record-breaking heat for many of the days we were there, but this day was the worst. The way the park is structured there are many areas with very little air flow due to the barriers in place to keep the animals separated. Plus it was our third day of hard park-hitting (who knew that having fun was so exhausting!) so we all faded fast. We got to the park at noon and left at 4:00
As we walked around, though, I found myself appreciating our home state. We saw Komodo Dragons at AK, and we were able to compare them to the ones at the MN Zoo. When we saw the gorillas at AK, we thought of the gorillas at Como Zoo. When we saw dinosaur bones, we remembered the Science Museum of MN. As I watched other families ooh and ahh over the exhibits, I watched Ben & Ty view them with the background of having already been exposed to them. I realized the resources we take for granted in Minnesota are not the norm for the nation, and I felt grateful to live in an area with so many offerings for children (and adults) to learn from.

This is probably my favorite part of our day at AK -- the Lion King show. It's not quite the same caliber as the Broadway show, no incredible puppetry costumes, but the show was wonderful all the same. The 5 "monkeys" were amazing with their jumping, flipping, and general comic acrobatic routines. The songs were wonderfully familiar and brought a lump to my throat as always. Plus, it was so well air-conditioned that we actually got a little COLD while in the arena!Now on to Epcot for the next two photos ... Ty drumming in an African exhibit.
We spent two of our five "in park" days at Epcot, and still didn't see everything. The majority of our time there was spent in the front half of the park, exploring the sections devoted to the land, the planet, and space. We didn't ever get to fully see all the international areas - we got a German beer, some French bread, and our beloved Norwegian chocolate (and I got my fill of speaking Norwegian with the native workers there!) but there were entire countries that we barely glanced at. I guess there has to be something left for next time!

Here's one of my favorite pictures from the trip. Before we left, I chatted with our piano teacher about missing lessons and she shared that another of her students, from a family we know, would also be in Florida. We had no idea where they were staying, which days they would be at which parks, and in fact, it sounded like our entire vacations would really only overlap by a couple of days - but, you guessed it, we did run into each other! Walking through Epcot we suddenly heard Sharon's voice call out to us, so we quickly nabbed a nearby tourist and made her take photos of the 8 of us with both our cameras!

Their two girls are almost exactly the same ages as Ben & Ty. Sylvia is older than Ben by about 2 weeks, and Ty is older than Stephanie by a few months. Nothing that Sharon & I are about the same size, and that the two Steves are similar in height, compare the heights of the girls vs the boys. Hmm. Hopefully the boys will catch up soon!

I had this entire post done yesterday and then eBlogger ate it ... hopefully it will go through this time, and then I will continue with more stories tomorrow. Still working on getting laundry caught up, and strugling to get back into the routine of school (and I just realized with a jolt of adrenaline that we have 18 minutes to get Ben to his trombone lesson! Better sign off now!)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Disney Part 1

Well, we are back from our travels and it was a WONDERFUL, MAGICAL vacation!

I will try to post some good pictures and share some good stories, but it may take me a few days to really get it all down online. There are so many thoughts to share, so many details to mention. I'm not energetic or organized enough right now to write it all.

This first picture is the boys on our first night there. We flew down Tuesday afternoon, and by the time we got checked in at the hotel (Disney's Magic Express is fabulous - we got off the plane in Orlando and didn't have to think about anything until we left our hotel room for dinner. The luggage, the transportation, the directions - everything was taken care of for us. Love it!) it was dinner time so we headed over to Downtown Disney. Of course Ben & Ty made a BEELINE for the Lego store. Here they are with some Lego tourists ... in heaven, as fas as they were concerned. These pictures are all out of order ... oh well! This is Ben at Epcot, playing with the jumping water fountain. One of the best parts of our trip was the total lack of crowds. Here we were on a sunny afternoon, enjoying this fountain area with only about 2 other families near by. It was incredible. The boys had an absolute blast trying to catch or stop or interrupt the streams of jumping water. Here (above) Ben is aiming ... and (below) he was off just a little bit.
He adjusted accordingly, and here (below) was a direct hit!

Both boys were absolutely soaked by the time we were ready to leave that area of the park. If there had been crowds, they never would have been able to get so close, nor run between the "pools" the water streams jumped to and from. They would have had to wait their turn as others caught the water, they would have had to share their time in the direct streams of water, they would have had to jostle their way around parents, strollers, kids, and wheelchairs, and probably would have tired of it in about 2 minutes, instead of loving it for as long as they did. It was delightful!

Then, another day, we saw a close second to the real thing, pictured below ... Made my day, even if it wasn't really Johnny :-) Ty actually got to participate in this mini-show, just outside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and he has a "Certificate of Piracy" to prove it.
There, now you have a little taste of our trip ... more will come tomorrow, promise!

Monday, October 16, 2006

12 hours and counting

12 hours from now we will be on our way to the airport ... I don't think I can sleep ;-)

Probably no more blog entries until we are back home ~ I am delighting in my excitement :-)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ben's October Campout

Last weekend, I went on a Boy Scout Camp out at the St. Croix River. There were 12 boys and 5 adult chaperones. Some of the campers slept in a building, but I personally slept in a tent - it was cold, but my sleeping bag kept me warm.

Here is a picture of me and Luke, eating some instant oatmeal and drinking hot chocolate. I had apples & cinnamon flavored oatmeal, but I'm not sure what flavor Luke had. This was the first time I had oatmeal that I liked it.
Here, I am learning from Mr. Waters how to use a camp stove. We were working on earning our Cooking Merit Badges. Mr. Waters showed us how to refuel and operate different types of camp stoves. Before the camp out, we had to plan all our meals, do the grocery shopping, and then at the camp out we had to do all of our own cooking. We also learned about healthy eating, and different diseases associated with food that you can catch (not all of them are 'in' the food.)

In this picture, I am trying to eat some "yummy" stuff (it actually was quite burnt.) It was supposed to be foil cooked potato stew but the people wrapping up the packets did it pretty flimsily and so we couldn't flip it in the fire. One side got barely cooked and one side got very, very burnt. The adults felt sorry for us and shared their dinner with us. I learned not to let someone else cook my supper for me! (except my Mom or Dad!)

Here we are around the camp fire, using "Pudgy Pie Makers" (my mom calls them Hobo Pie makers) to make grilled cheese sandwiches, and mini apple pies. I made a min apple pie, but then someone bumped into me and all the apple filling slipped out, so I threw the rest away. What I got to eat was actually pretty good! (I usually don't like apple pie very much)
On Saturday afternoon, we went hiking and climbing. This is me, climbing through a large hole in a rock outcrop. At first I thought it was a deep cave, but it came out on the other side, about 2 or 3 yards long.
This one shows me and two other campers climbing below a large rock, on the edge of a cliff. The drop was about 6 feet, then there was a gentle hill after that. It was kind of freaky, but I liked it a lot!
When we began to descend the bluffs, there were two ways. You could either climb down a rocky part, or you could slide down a dry creek bed. I chose to slide down!

In this last picture, I am half-way down the slope waving to Mr. Behnen. In the background, you can see Chris and another kid climbing down. I got very thirsty and drank a lot of water when we got back. We had a great time!

The Most Magical Place in the World, HERE WE COME!

In two days we board a plane bound for Orlando!
These pictures are just ones I found online, but in a couple of weeks they will be replaced by our own photos of us doing all kinds of fun and exciting things!

I haven't really explored Disney since I was a kid, and this is a first trip for the rest of the family, so should be very exciting for everyone. Now I'm off to pack!

Friday, October 13, 2006

School Photos

Here are Ben & Ty's 2006 Fall School Photos. Can you tell they are brothers or what? As alike as they are, I see so much Holt (my side) in Ben, and so much Peterson in Ty ... I need to find a picture of Steve from that age so you can see the similarities.

It's been interesting this fall learning more about the company of LifeTouch, since Steve has been working there as a consultant for over a year now. When I hear about the individual attention given to orders, and the special perks the company offers to customers, my heart is warmed. In this day and age it is so nice to learn about a family-run company that truly believes in doing the RIGHT thing even if it is not the most profitable thing. It's a good company.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mid-life crisis?

OK, I am detecting a pattern here. It only had to hit me over the head (hey!...)

I have been writing about not being like Jill Ker Conway, not being active enough in causes I believe in, and tonight I saw the movie "The Guardian" (despite it starring Kevin Costner, although he did pretty well here) which is about the rescue swimmers of the Coast Guard, and I came out thinking I need to do something like that -- not spend hours in stormy Alaskan seas, but do something which DIRECTLY and IMMEDIATLY helps others' lives or makes a profound difference in the world.

OK, OK, I may be slow but I am seeing the pattern now.

I turn 45 in a couple of months, seems as good a time as any to have a mid-life crisis. Hopefully this time of crazed thinking will turn into some solid action and bring me some peace ...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tattoo, anyone?

With only two kids, I can probably get by (although I do want another tattoo ... ) but for those of you with more ...

Mum's permanent birthday reminder

A Welsh mum who kept forgetting her five kids' birthdays has had the dates tattooed on her arm.

Vanda Jones, 49, said she now knows exactly when to buy pressies and cards for Alwen, 18, Grace, 16, Rhian, 14, Lowri, 13, and 12-year-old Vernon.

The housewife, from Penygroes, near Caernarfon, said: "Whenever I took my kids to the health clinic, I could never remember their birthdays off the top of my head, so I had their initials and date of birth tattooed on my arms.

"It's much easier because I just have to look at my arm and I don't forget."

She also has the Welsh dragon and the words Wedi'i wneud yn Nghymru ('Made in Wales') across her chest, reports the Daily Post.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Powerful Words

"You can rationalize inaction by deciding
that one voice or one vote doesn't matter...

or you can make the choice that inaction is unacceptable"

--Christopher Reeve

I just found this quote on another blog, that of a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania.

It's hitting me hard, resonating deep within me. I'm not sure yet what to say about it. I recognize myself in the first half of the quote and I am ashamed. (and Carla, do NOT write a missive about the things that I do do. I know I do a lot. But I know there is a lot more I could do. This is entirely a self-evaluation, not a fishing expedition for reassurance or compliments.)

How often do I say to myself that it really doesn't matter if I don't act on something that bothers me. I recently got an email that said something to the effect of "I don't want to wake up the morning after the election and think, 'oh if I had just tried a little harder' - do you?" And that hit me - hard - yet I did nothing.

If I wake up the morning after the election and the candidates I support lose, the way things stand right now I will know that I did not do my part. (Of course if they win I will be off the hook. )

Inaction is unacceptable.
Inaction is unacceptable.

I'm off to act.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Cool You Tube video

I don't know how other people have time to find really cool videos on You Tube - I know they are there somewhere but have no idea how to sift the good ones out of the bad. Thankfully others do (or maybe their random searches are just luckier than mine) and here is one that someone else found. It's called "Free Hugs Campaign" and it's quite touching.

Enjoy - and consider yourself hugged!

Walking Wounded

I got an owie today. It was so dumb, and I was lucky I hit my eyebrow and not my eyeball! We were working in the yard and I was tossing leaves down into the gully, using an old garbage can ... that had a chain attached to one side. When I emptied the can the chain whipped around and hit me! I was very brave at the Urgent Care Clinic, though they didn't give me a lollipop or any other reward after I got my two stitches!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The 2-A Choice

We're trying something new here this week. It's called the 2-A choice -- it is basically a reminder to think how to react when someone does or says something you don't like or don't agree with. You have two options:


You can argue why they are wrong and you are right, or you can try and figure out - analyze - why they said or did what they did. The hope is that if you can figure out their motivation, you might be more likely to respond with understanding and respect, even if you still disagree, thereby averting a fight.

Hopefully it will make a difference in our home lives!