Just Write {137}

May 27, 2014

My bare feet were up on the dash. The windows were open. No radio, no iPod, no talking, no thinking….just the night sounds of Minnesota. I got to sit where I am the most at home, engulfed in those night sounds and peace. At least for a few hours, the croaking frog chorus, the birds saying good night, the crickets and the back drop of a deeply still silence that makes all the creature sounds beautiful. A few days ago, in Texas, we turned on to our street and Miles pointed out the cemetery. He said, Whenever we turn that corner, or pass another cemetery, I get this weird feeling in my stomach, I don’t know why.    Yeah honey, I know what you mean.  Many might think of evil, of spirits or even zombies, but I think what we feel is grief, goodbyes and all the memory stories of lives left. Yesterday […]

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up in the air

January 18, 2014

My neighbor tried to put some bags of balloons in her garbage the other day, after a party. It was windy and there they went, up in the air and away before she could grab them. My Dad found a bag on a walk and brought the balloons home to the kids. They played “keep it up in the air” and made the balloons pop by having Nanny sit on them. BANG! Then I would jump and shout, STOP IT! I hate BANG! On another walk, we found more balloons. We picked them up, but not until I had taken some photos. Each of the kids carried a balloon on the way home and Bapa took over Miles’ scooter when he tired of it. So there he was, 65 and holding a balloon while riding a scooter.   I want there to be something soft about the world and there is when you […]

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Just Write {117}

January 6, 2014

We Tap Tap two times, hard. This is the way of our family and jigsaw puzzles. Tap twice, like Grandpa did, to brag about getting that piece in. We’re rebels like that. Take that! I am a Puzzle Guru! This is one of the ways a thread pulls through our generations, a sense of humor about silly things and lefse and pot roasts and casseroles. But we don’t call them that, we call them hotdish. Tonight we had a roast, mashed potatoes, vegetables. My parents and my Auntie K are here for a long visit and I feel like I’ve burrowed under a wing for a long winter’s nap. They are home. I mean, mine. My mom does a lot of bustling around, like me. Picking up and cleaning up and doing dishes, opening and closing the fridge. My Auntie Kay tells us stories and laughs her big laugh and she always understands […]

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I don’t need to tell you that it’s important to sit down together for dinner. Either we do it or we don’t, depending on our habits and schedules. So, right now, either you don’t feel guilty because you are sitting down together for meals as much as possible, or you do feel guilty because dinner has somehow become some sort of shifting chaotic short order cook phenomenon. Either way, I understand. We’ve done both over here. Life sometimes makes every hour of every day pretty messy, so go easy on yourself if you’re in the trenches. There will come a time when the baby is not crying and the toddler will grow into a child who sits still longer. I promise. That said, I’m sharing 5 things we do over here to connect (and stay) at the table:   QUESTION TILES: A couple of years ago I made a trip to speak at an event in Kentucky. While […]

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Just Write {106}

October 14, 2013

I have no idea what the date is, and I’ve had too much caffeine. So I’m dropping things and I’m craving protein. I’m on a plane and to get  here I took a cab. The driver went too fast and talked on his phone and we were zooming past the goldens and greens and rubies and oranges of the Minnesota autumn. Hold on. Slow down. The security line can wait. My Dad turned 65 during my visit home. I remember clearly when he turned 50. My nephew Zach was a toddler and on that birthday, he sat with Dad in the front of my parent’s split level home, in the sun. Dad had on a blue Harley Davidson shirt and he was working on the bottom of something, I can’t remember, with one tool or another in his hand. Zach sat next to him repeating, “I help you fick it, Papa.” I have […]

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Just Write {102}

September 16, 2013

The dryer stopped making heat a couple of days ago, while my sister and aunt are here for a visit. I set it aside, in my head, on the Later shelf. Now I’m sitting in a laundromat, green and white checkered floor, for men in a row on the bench behind me, waiting. They have no phones or computers to look at and when it’s time, they get up in unison, pull the laundry baskets on wheels to the dryers and empty dryers, move to tables, fold in unison. They don’t talk much. A lady with short hair like mine sits up on a folding table, criss-cross applesauce, reading something on her iPhone while baby sleeps in a stroller to the whir of washing and drying. I check my email, look up and think, make stories in my head and wonder if Auntie Kay and Sister Shelly are bored while waiting for me. […]

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There’s too much to say and nothing to say. There’s pain and a heavy heart in watching my parents drive away on Saturday, Nanny and Bapa and Auntie Kay riding away in a white car, and the five of us–our little King family–standing on a new-to-us sidewalk, waving back. There’s not enough time to say any of all that’s changed and happened and there’s all the time in the world. Ryan made dinner  last night. Asher said the dinner was burned and he was sitting there not eating it while Miles was trying to convince him that it was awesome. They’re both exhausted. They play and play and play and play with new neighbor friends. They play everything and nothing, as many hours as they can fit inside one day. Like it’s their job. Later in the day, after our family left, we went to Goodwill. On the way in, a woman told […]

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Just Write {87}

May 27, 2013

There are two apple trees in the backyard. They stand watch over the chicken coop. Their blooms are a soft pink, almost white. This year they will grow more fruit than our family can keep up with. We will leave this home before those apples are ready for picking anyway. Someone new will pull them down (or pick them up off the ground, hundreds of them), and I hope she knows how to make pies or crisps or something. The grass is littered with petals, like snow and the chickens peck at them and then drop them back down. Not tasty. We’ll soon say goodbye to our three just-over-one-year old feathered friends. The kids are struggling with this and I am too. We can’t take every part of life with us. We’re talking a lot about the good things, the very most important things, like each other. We’ll be there together. On Sunday […]

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Just Write {79}

April 1, 2013

It was a long day with so much sugar in it. Jelly beans, pastel ones, everywhere and chocolate eggs and Peeps. The boys landed flat on their backs on the couches when the company started to leave, head and stomach aches totally taking over. Elsie zipped around, bouncing off the walls, with her cheeks full of stolen jelly beans like a little chipmunk. At bedtime it was a crash and burn situation. There were several requests for more water, more hugs, more stories, more time. The sugar needed to finish doing them in. The two youngest fell silent first, which is almost always the case. Miles has these big blue eyes that stare into the dark longer, with all kinds of activity behind them, his mind zinging and zapping. His synapses are more active than all three of my sugar-over-dosed kids combined. He went to the bathroom, again. He came to get me […]

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Just Write {78}

March 25, 2013

We pulled things down from the shelves in the storage room downstairs, holding them out to Grandma, What’s this? Do you want this? Goodwill? Do you want to give it to someone in the family? She answered over and over and then went upstairs for a while, to sit down and watch basketball. Her name hit the top of the list of all who are waiting to live in apartments at a lovely place in a city nearby. Two of her sisters live there now. My Grandma, she is too well to go to assisted living and ready to not have the whole house to herself anymore. It’s time to move away from the house. We found a box of things Grandpa used to have at the lumber yard, back when it was his, years ago. The guys would come and hang out there. I remember sorting nails in little containers all in […]

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December 28, 2012

My Grandma hopes to move into an independent living place that is attached to an assisted living place. We checked it out last spring and loved that it had a movie theater and yoga classes, but mostly we love it now because two of my Grandma’s sisters live there. For now she’s on the waiting list and the waiting list isn’t budging. That means she stays in her home of so many years and doesn’t really get to know when things will change. Maybe this was the last Christmas Day in that house, maybe it wasn’t. We don’t know yet, and still I tried to decide if I should cry or not. I went downstairs, to the basement with the ping pong table, by myself at one point and stood looking around. I could hear the mumbling of conversation above me, through the floor. An occasional burst of laughter and the stomping quick-feet […]

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September 26, 2012

I’m sad. Which makes very little sense considering I’m excited and happy. I spent the day with my cousin and her groom on Saturday, taking pictures. Their wedding took place at a beautiful camp on a beautiful lake surrounded by beautiful fall leaves. My cousin, she is almost strangely similar to me. She’s creative and sensitive, giggly and anxious, friendly and maybe a little scared. Her eyes are the brightest blue; they matched the lake in the background. She is many years younger than I, and her youth shines from her skin and her smile and her hair is the most beautiful blonde flowy hair.  When I was her age, I downed Dr. Pepper like it was water and furiously chewed the left over ice cubes. Amby does the exact same thing. I’m working on editing some of the pictures from her day so I can send them to she and Michael before […]

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these two photos were taken almost exactly one year apart.   we had a birthday party for EJ yesterday and she had the best day of her life. So much attention and cake. My girl, she loves to be the center and she now knows that most every girl is bound to love cake. She ate that stuff like it was her first and last meal. One thing I know for sure about her? She doesn’t hold back. we had a bounce house and she had no fear about the whole thing, she just laughed and laughed her deep guttural giggly laugh like Asher’s. then Daddy bounced her up and down in our small pool and she slipped around and laughed even harder, bare naked and splashing so hard everything everywhere was getting wet. then she crashed super hard at 6:45pm and then woke up four times in the night. I’ll take this […]

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“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris   All last week I was slowly and sporadically preparing for a garage sale. (In other words, for five minutes here and there while juggling children (literally, in the air) I went through closets and put price tags on things that we haven’t used. That always adds up to a lot.) Then a friend of mine came over the day before the sale and couldn’t believe how giddy I was.  She said she could see how happy I was to be having a garage sale in my face. Yes. I’m a giddy garage sale-having big nerd. It’s a combination of things, my friends. Purging. Cash. Purging. And the psychology of garage sales. You know, the fascinating people and conversations you have that can only come about because of strangers entering your yard, […]

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November 26, 2011

sometimes there’s something about a picture that just speaks to you and you just love it so much. I don’t care that there was too much light in the background, I think it gives it the perfect glow for the way Auntie Kay is loving Elsie… OWL BUTT! and then when the cousins are walking, there’s just something about watching them from behind, keeping up, listening, loving… Asher said, When I walk, my booty shakes!!! Elsie’s tongue-ish grin and my Dad’s hand. Enough said… I was being blinded by the sun, my eyes watering in the most perfectly warm-ish Thanksgiving day ever… Pumpkin pie and then sale ads from the paper. There are so many things in there that we don’t need for like half off. (Pssst…black friday is not my favorite thing. no offense.) They named the neighbor’s horse Dixie and then they fed her a lot of grass. It was heaven… […]

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Just Write ~ The Sixth

October 17, 2011

She doesn’t fit her age, I think. She’s still a sprite of a thing, fast footed through the hall of the house.  Her body is aching these days though, all over she says, but she makes it look easy.  I know it’s not even close to easy. Her arms swing a little at her sides and her posture is better than mine. She heads to the kitchen to get apple crisp ready for us.  I wonder if it hurts her knees or hips to walk and her fingers and wrist to serve up the crisp. My Grandma, she makes the best apple crisp. And lefse, for the record. We sit down and look out the window and she tells the story of her half sister, the one she didn’t know until later in life. How their mother had her very young, before she was married, and she was a blue baby. She says, […]

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July 18, 2011

he won’t be the bad guy. Miles asks, can you be at least half bad and he says emphatically NO. I’m good. he is. he is so good. he wants his sister close and he takes each of her knuckles one by one those teeny tiny knuckles between his fingers and he presses softly smiling his cousin gets hurt and he brings it up all day wasn’t that sad when that happened, mama? yes it was, sweetie that’s him. he is sweetness. He is four. We got to keep him, despite every fear and he is so much more than the boy who had brain surgery when he was one and the boy who has a shunt and tubing through his body and the boy with the adorable glasses. He is The Noggin but of course he is Asher. Everything about him is simply who he is, just parts making up the most […]

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Batmen and Superman Girl

February 3, 2011

They went back and forth. Asher said their sister was going to be Superman Girl and Miles tried to correct him with, No Asher. It’s SuperGIRL. He’d say, OH! and then say it “wrong” again. Superman Girl. I love eavesdropping. Yeah, we’re all over here just trying to figure this out. The beautiful reality is slowly settling in…There’s a girl cooking in my belly right now and there’s no way I don’t know that because the ultrasound tech kept saying “See that little hamburger bun?!?” over and over and over… (I will never hear “a bun in the oven” quite the same way ever again. Just saying.) Yup, there’s the girl anatomy! WE GET IT! WE GET IT! I mean, we were already so surprised and we just wanted to keep looking at each other saying “WOW” and “WOW” and “NO WAY” and then she just kept saying hamburger bun. Anyway… That is […]

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where I’m from

September 26, 2010

I am from the wooded countryside, Little Debbie snacks and Grandma’s homemade toast with cinnamon and sugar. I am from a gray split level with a basketball hoop and a crunchy gravel driveway. I am from The Cosby Show and The Smurfs. Dad and Grandma – two weeks ago (Kensington school) I am from lilacs and sunflowers, oaks and pines and crawly things. I am from where the lakes begin and Runestone country. I am from lefse and lutefisk, but I never eat the smelly lutefisk. I am from cribbage players and golfers, ice cream lovers and hot dish makers. I am from Colleen and Dale and Helen and Glenn. I am from humor with loud bursts of laughter and long naps in the recliner. I am from work hard and overcome and trials that make you stronger. Mom’s childhood home I am from pull yourself together and you always belong. I am […]

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punchy i are

August 12, 2010

On Friday morning at BlogHer there was a 5K through Central Park, honoring Tanner of Tutus for Tanner. Tanner himself saw us off from the hotel lobby, and then as you can see, we sprinted the entire way. I am so in love with this picture. It is friendship and connection and it is spreading the word for a good cause. I have my hand on Allison, my fellow Minnesotan blog friend. She is one of the kindest people I’ve ever had the honor to know, so I’m really glad my hand is on her. Hopefully her goodness wore off, adhering itself to my palm a bit. ~~~~~ For the rest of this week through next Wednesday my family (extended and immediate) has the use of a cabin on a lake. We’ve already been making use of it this week. I have to show you some of the photos from out there because […]

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*this just in: I wrote something new for Mama Manifesto and it’s up over there today. It hopefully paints a picture and sends a message and resonates. If not, it’s just about my own bouncy brain and crap television. See you there. I mean, if you go over there. Nicely. And also: Miles and Asher had a combined birthday party recently. Both sides of the family were there, so people who don’t know each other that well from either side were all there. (And yes, it was quite redundant of me to explain that.) Above, you will see Cousin O, to the right, with the squirt gun. And at the far left is Cousin M. Cousin O and Cousin M have rarely been around each other. Which brings me to this conversation between Cousin M (left) and an adult family member. Cousin M – Is O a boy or a girl? (see long-haired […]

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Modern June Cleaver, no? We’ve been busy with birthday parties over here, one last night for my mom, as she turned 60 (and holding, as she likes to say) and one for our boys, because their birthdays are just two weeks apart. I’ve got some great photos for sharing here another day. Tonight I’m just too exhausted for the uploading. In the past I handled the stress of having company, lots of company, and trying so hard to keep everything impossibly perfect, by drinking. Sometimes I’d drink sneakily, and sometimes I’d drink right after the sober company left, to cope with my insecurity and need to people please. Without that option, I’m learning not only new ways of coping, but to accept and relax. To expect less of myself and simply live the moments, believing it’s all good enough simply because my intentions are good, even if there’s nothing close to perfect.I cleaned, […]

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Miles – 4th of July parade R & S – 4th of July dinner at Nanny and Bapa’s our very own fireworks show it was obviously quite riveting {These photos are brought to you by You Capture at I Should Be Folding Laundry} And now for your Asher update:First of all, thank you all so much for your comments and emails, your thoughts and your prayers. We feel them.Asher hasn’t had much success with that whole clearing out thing, despite our dietal (totally a word) efforts. So we’re giving it until the end of the day, hoping for a fireworks-like explosion. *ahem*Hopefully that will solve the issues with his valve tube, things will start flowing as they should, and his headaches will disappear. If there’s no luck with the clearing out, I plan to call the doc in the morning.The first thing Asher said this morning when he woke up was that when […]

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January 3, 2010

Sunday~January 3, 2009 My Grandma turned 80 on New Year’s Day. We had a party for her yesterday in the basement of her church in her small Minnesota town. I had prepared some words to say but found it hard to get them out after my cousin read something before it was my turn. I was all weepy because I heard a story about my Grandma I had never heard before, one that moved me and reminded me what family is all about, what unconditional love looks like. The words that were shared were written by my cousin, Brent. On her 80th birthday, he described Grandma and thanked her for something that I’ll always remember when I look at the people in my life, especially my boys…no matter what. Brent was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his early twenties. He has lived through the nightmare of mental illness ever since, trying to overcome the […]

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Wednesday~August 5th, 2009 I have this amazing friend. I met her right here in my kitchen almost two years ago. She is one of those people that has this way about her, a grace and charm I wish I had the words to describe. She inspires, that’s what she does, not only with her paintings and writings, but simply by being who she is. She’s beautiful, with her radiating smile and heart. On top of all that, she’s the kind of woman that is so down to earth and real, you can’t even hate her for all that other stuff. She just gets you, with her open mind and sensitive spirit. I’ve gotten to know this woman through her words, and even though we’ve never met outside the computer in my kitchen, I love her. I want to tell you (and show you) what she did for my family. I go out to […]

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July 13, 2009

Monday~July13, 2009 This one is for my Aunt Elsie, my Grandpa’s lovely sister, and my friend… We walked over hills, following a path of dirt and rocks. We wore flip flops and sandals and watched our steps closely in the minefield of cow pies. We were on a tour, sightseers of our own history. I could feel my Grandpa there, in the place where he grew up, on this beautiful land where his roots were planted. I could finally see all of the stories he used to tell me of the beauty and simplicity of this place. He would say that my Great Grandma, his mom, would call him in from the yard for dinner. She’d say, “You’ve got ball in the head!” And he did. Oh, how he loved baseball. Even as his memory left him all those years later, his vacant eyes still lit up with news of a Twins win […]

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Monday~June 1, 2009 We had a really good time on our trip, see? (That’s me, having a really good time.) Anyway, moving on…. What? You’re confused? Let me explain… I said I wanted to do a puzzle on our short little vacation. AND I said I wanted the puzzle to have a lot of faces on it. I came across this puzzle (while out searching for facey puzzles), and my wish was granted… Yeah, lots and lots of faces. (I was possibly entirely too excited about this.) I would like to say here (for the record) that my sister Shelly and I did this puzzle almost entirely on our own. My Dad can pretend that he had a really big hand in it and all that, but he did not. He simply held a puzzle piece in his hand as I was about to finish the whole ginormous thing, and then plopped that […]

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40 years

February 14, 2009

Posted on Saturday~February 14, 2009 My Mom and Dad~ 40 years ago Mom Dad Mom and Dad~40 years laterMy parent’s actual anniversary was in December, around the time of Asher’s surgery. So we’re having a belated party tomorrow in their honor. As I made a DVD filled with pictures through all the years, I got to thinking about what an amazing thing it is to spend 40 years with someone, sharing so many memories and holding the same experiences in your heart. I’m so thankful for the years my sister and I have had with our Mom and Dad. We’ve hit our inevitable bumps in the road, but my parents have always been there on the other side of everything life brings, in their beautiful house in the country, the door always open. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!(late.) Mom, please forgive me. How could I not share this one?(hee hee hee)HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! […]

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Beautiful Little Surprises

December 27, 2008

Posted on Saturday, December 27th, 2008 I love having kids for many reasons. One of them is that, like most people, I love to be entertained. There’s nothing more entertaining than children, no? Life is full of surprises with these little crazies in my life. With them, Christmas travels and festivities never ever have a dull moment. (Even if I would really really like a dull moment every now and again.) For instance, right before we were leaving for Christmas at my parent’s house, bags packed and boys in the car, I was running around looking for pacifiers. I’m a wise mother, and I knew we would need at least five for the car trip. That way, when Asher threw the third one on the floor just for kicks and then cried, I’d still have two pacifying pieces of plastic up my sleeve. Or in my pocket. But I couldn’t find any, of […]

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He just keeps growing!

November 23, 2008

Miles went on his first solo trip this week. Well no, not ALONE. (Picture that-Miles off by himself, seeing the sights in New York City, hopping on the subway and grabbing a hot dog from a vendor.) But he did go on a little trip without Mommy and Daddy. My sister brought him home with her after she was here for Asher’s appointment on Thursday. He stayed one night at her house with his cousins and another night at Nanny and Bapa’s with cousin Max. He had a great time. When he got home yesterday, I was so excited to see him, I had to hold myself back from running to the car, snatching him out, and hugging him for the rest of the day. Oh, how I love that boy. Being away from Miles was a totally new thing for me. The whole time he was gone I kept thinking I forgot […]

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