Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Off to camp...

Today Maddie left for her first overnight camp. It's a Brownie Scout Camp not too far from home. She's been so excited the past couple days that she was barely able to stop the giggles and screams that kept blurting out her mouth every time we talked about it. We meticulously packed her bags and checked (and rechecked) her supplies-list.

Bill took the afternoon off to take her there since I had a class scheduled all day. I feel like I really missed out on something big, so I've been asking him questions all evening. He showed me these pictures he took and said she did "fine", and "acted kinda weird and clingy."

Hmmm...typical man. I need more details!

But anyway, I'm sure she is doing fine. She's a pretty mature and independent kid who loves new experiences. This is right up her alley.

And I can't wait to hear all about it Friday!

Another Meme...First, Last, and Now

First job: Kid job - babysitter; College job – Perkins waitress; Real job – RN
First screen name: huh?
First funeral: My Uncle Butch when I was about 8.
First pet: I think it was a poodle.
First piercing: Ears; after a piano recital in 4th grade.
First tattoo: none yet…can’t figure out what and where something so permanent could possibly go on my body.
First credit card: don’t know…maybe in college.
First kiss: A little kid named Stanton by the pencil sharpener in 1st grade.
First enemy: I was tortured by a little, cute blond girl named Kendra when I was in 6th grade. To this day, I cringe hearing that name.

Last car ride: home from the ATM to get money to pay the babysitter.
Last kiss: this morning I kissed Maddie before I left for a class and she left for Brownie Scout camp
Last movie watched: Finding Neverland a couple days ago. Watch it!!!
Last beverage drank: glass of water just now.
Last food consumed: strawberry yogurt just now.
Last phone call: My aunt Debbie.
Last time showered: This morning
Last CD played: I fall asleep to James Blunt almost every night
Last website visited: one of my favorite blogs: Confessions of a Pioneer Woman

Single or taken: "Taken" for almost 12 years…wow.
Birthday: August 31 – I’ll be 37.
Sign: Virgo
Siblings: 2 younger sisters, Jill and Gina.
Hair color: brown
Eye color: brown
Shoe size: can you believe 11!
Height: 5’10’’
Wearing: gauchos, a t-shirt and flip-flops.
Drinking: water, like I said.
Thinking about: how bad I’ve been at blogging lately.
Listening to: sounds from Bill mowing the lawn outside and Will and his friend starting up another Halo game on the X-Box.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Swimming Weekend

We spent the weekend in Rochester for the Orca's Invitational Swim Meet. We had such a great time and the Sea Devil's team did really well! This was the first time that Maddie and many of the newer swim kids had the chance to compete in a 50 meter pool - Olympic size! It was a little overwhelming initially, but very cool!

Despite sore butts and scratchy voices from cheering, it was a fun weekend for all of us. I think Will is looking forward to swimming next session so he can avoid the boredom of sitting in the stands! I surprised myself at how nervous I became before Maddie's races - I had tingling elbows and butterflies in my stomach each time. Crazy, huh?

Maddie gained a lot of great experience at this meet. She improved on her times in each event and even qualified for a couple C-finals...very exciting!

One of the club fundraisers at the Meet was an airbrush artist. He did a great job with our logo - and the kids loved the souvenirs!

This is me writing on Maddie to get her ready for the start of the meet...

...funny, huh? But this is how the swimmers keep track of their Event number - Heat - and Lane.

Here are some swim kids waiting around during warm-ups. Swim STMA sent about 24 of the 400 kids registered for the meet.

Maddie and her "sister" Emelia before the 400 m Freestyle Relay.

She agreed that it was pretty cool to see her "name in lights"!

Flingin' Dough

Here are the boys flinging a little pizza dough. We had dinner in a cute little pizza pub in Rochester with the Barthel family after the girls' swim meet on Saturday

No worries, the pizzas we ate were only handled by true professionals.

(this kind of looks like it's going to land right on his head, doesn't it?)

Friday, June 22, 2007


During Brenne's visit, we had some pictures of the kids taken together. It was a lot of fun and they turned out really cute!

Just last week, we took family pictures with Bill's side of the family. Stay tuned for those...

(Not bad for a family who hasn't taken a single "professional" picture for over 6 years)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

We're good...

It’s funny how some things can really make you examine (and re-examine) the things that you consider important in life. In the midst of the seemingly chronic craziness of our summer schedule, our very dear friends and neighbors, the Borchardt’s, are going through an amazingly difficult time right now. Little 13-month old Maggie, next door, just had a craniotomy (brain surgery) last Friday in order to remove a tumor that has been causing her to have seizures for the past several weeks. She’s done incredibly well and was able to come home from the hospital today. Oh, and did I mention that Stacy, Maggie’s mom, is scheduled to have their 3rd child delivered by C-section in 3 weeks?

My overly-committed and fully-packed calendar just doesn’t seem like such big source of stress anymore. It’s too bad that it often takes something heart-breaking or tragic to make us open our eyes to our true priorities.

So, if the house is a mess…big deal. If we just don’t make it to every soccer practice…no biggie. If there’s nothing in the house to eat but semi-sweet chocolate chips and pizza rolls…enjoy.

And that's why I thought I’d share this story with you as a reminder. Slow down…hold onto things that are important…and as for the rest, just let it slide – like “water off a duck’s back” as my mom used to say so often.

It’s humbling to realize how life, and your priorities within it, can change in a second.

Today is here…and we’re OK. Actually, we’re more than OK. We’re really good. And I’m enjoying it.

If your interested, check out Maggie’s Caring Bridge site.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Small Town Revisited

As I was writing I Was Born in a Small Town a while back, I was looking for some pictures of my hometown to post and I realized that I didn’t have a single one. So on our last trip back to South Dakota, I went armed with my little camera and random, artistic ideas about a sort of “ode to a small town” tribute.

To some of you, these photos may look vaguely familiar, as you may have grown up in a similar corner of the world. To others, this may seem a little desolate, foreign, Norman-Rockwell-ish, or even a little odd. That’s OK. It is what it is. And it’s my hometown

This is the view that symbolizes the entire 55 mile stretch of Hwy 10 leading into Eureka, SD (minus the 2 curves that you swing through around Leola). This is it. Horizon as far as you can see, from east to west and north to south. Boring to some, beautiful to others. Call it sentimentality, but I’ll choose the later.

This is one of the bigger hills in McPherson County. Within this county, lie 2 little towns – Eureka and Leola. These 2 towns exist a bit like the Capulet’s and the Montague’s. Or the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s…whichever you prefer. On road trips, it was tradition for teens from both towns to drive up this hill and rearrange white rock formations to proclaim either “EHS” or “LHS”. I’ve often thought how easy those Leola kids had it – they only had to throw a bunch of stones out of the way to create their logo, while we were the poor schmucks who had to rifle through the pasture downhill to collect the thrown stones and carry them back up the hill in order to transform it back to an “E” again.

They don’t do this anymore. I’m pretty sure that poor farmer got sick of stupid teenagers and white rocks all over his field.

Funny, huh? This palm tree is courtesy of a local farmer with artistic tendencies and a sense of humor.

Getting closer… This intersection is known as “New Town Corner”. There isn’t a new town in site. Or any town at all for that matter…just the little abandoned barn in the background. Rather strange name, don’t you think?

Eureka is located in the north-central part of the state; about 20 miles from the Missouri River and about 10 miles from the North Dakota border.

And about 350 miles from my home near Minneapolis.

There it is. Complete with a couple grain elevators, several church steeples and a water tower. Most of the residents of this little town are of German-Russian descent. And the majority have the last names of Neuharth, Opp, Mehlhaff, and Fischer.

If you notice the yellow yield sign on the highway to your left and the dirt-road approach after that – that is the road turning up to the house where I grew up and my parents lived for about 25 years.

This is “my” house. It is about 1 mile out of town and was built by my dad, my grandpa and my great grandpa, who were in the family businesses of construction and farming. We moved into it when I was five years old. My dad farmed the land around the house for many, many years. And do you see all those trees up there? I remember when my mom and dad planted them. Wow, I feel kind of old…

Even though strangers live in this house today, I will always consider it mine. That house holds the memories of my childhood, and that house will always hold a very, very special place in my heart.

Welcome to Eureka, South Dakota: Population 1,101!

Aside from the founder of USA Today (see sign), Eureka has produced several other people who “made it big”. For instance, one of our neighbors turned out to be a music executive for VH-1 and CMT, while the girl that lived next door to my Grandma and Grandpa now works for Oprah. Oh, and I think one kid I knew in high school worked on the Siegfried and Roy show in Vegas. This information has always proven useful in the game “Seven Degrees of Separation.”

Somehow, you know all this kind of stuff when you come from a small town.

OK, now look closely at the house above and picture this: camouflage paint, loud music blaring through the windows and doors, beer cans strewn about the uncut grass in the yard, cars lining the streets all around, young people filtering in and out at all hours of the day and night, and a female mannequins legs positioned out of the second floor window with an accompanying sign stating, “Don’t laugh. Your daughter might be in here.” Just imagine…

These days it’s merely a pet shop at the end of Main Street.

...with some really great memories.

And this is Main Street. It seems a lot more desolate now than it did back then. Only the Northwest Blade (town newspaper), the drug store, the bakery and the bank remain the same. Everything else is a little different - some new signs, several different names and a few more empty buildings. Unfortunately, this is the fate of many small towns in this area. Sad, really.

This is the movie theater and bowling alley. We went to movies here every weekend when I was a kid. (And no, it didn't look this bad back then...) The bowling alley is still open - and I hear the lanes are pretty cheap - if you're ever in the area and interested in a game.

There is also a restaurant inside that used to be called the Borscht Kettle. I think the name comes from the German name for vegetable soup: borscht. I've never been a big fan of the German cuisine featured in many of the local diners. I'd have taken a pizza from the Cenex gas station over strudels, dumplings, sour kraut, cheese buttons, halupsie, and fleischkeichla any day...and still would.

This is the alley behind what was once know as the Midway Cafe. Most of the weekend nights of my high school years were spent here. Sure, we all hung out inside sometimes, too. But outside was where all the action was. (And yes, it did look this bad back then...)

This is Lake Eureka. Isn't it a beautiful view? My friends and I spent many a summer day lounging on our beach chairs at the edge of the water while smearing on as much Johnson's baby oil as we could. My sisters and I all learned to swim in this lake, but I don't think there is much swimming there these days -it gets a little mossy and stinky mid-summer.

Ahhh...the hallowed halls of good old EHS. This is where I went to high school. And this is where my parents went to high school. Yes, my roots go very deep in this little town.

I had 24 kids in my graduating class. And I wouldn't trade those years for anything. Sure, we didn't have soccer teams, Latin classes or field trips to the zoo; but where else could you be the editor of the yearbook, play basketball, run track, be on student council, be a cheerleader, and write articles for the school newspaper. I think small towns definitely have the capability to produce very well-rounded people.

And here’s another “Claim to Fame” in a neighboring town. Remember him?

I bet your grandparents do.

I hope you enjoyed my little tour.

Until next time...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Fun at Cub Scout Camp

Will and Bill went to Cub Scout Camp on Friday and Saturday. They came home exhausted and filthy dirty with lots of stories to tell. They got to run through the "Confidence Course", shoot BB guns, do archery, tie knots, weave ropes, sleep in a tent, sing campfire songs and tell ghost stories.

But the thing Will was probably most eager to tell me about (besides the joke told by one of the older kids about two guys named Harry and Dick - you'll have to just use your imagination people, this is a family blog) was that he was awarded his "Whittling Chip" license for safely using a pocket knife. He demonstrated it's use, took an oath, and signed his name - very official. As a reward, Bill stopped by Cabella's on their way home and let him pick out a little pocket knife of his own.

They both had a blast. And Will's been teaching me knife safety all afternoon.

He's always been a stickler for the rules...

The house is so quiet...

Well, our guests are all safely back in Seattle, I've recovered from a crazy busy weekend at work and as I'm sitting down to blog for the first time in a week, I'm realizing how quiet the house is.

We had such a great time with Gina, Jill, Leif and the kids. I was really bad about taking pictures during their visit, so I'll direct you to Jill's blog to get filled in on some our happenings the past couple weeks.

The pictures are all great, but you really must watch the video of the two boys playing on the tire swing. Yep, the cute little one in the swing belongs to me...

We miss you guys! Can't wait until next time...


Will and Maddie are absolutely crazy about their cousins. Here they are with Finn, Christian and Campbelle. They would actually prefer all of them to live in our neighborhood.

There's a couple houses for sale down the street. hint...hint...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

My babies are nine!

Will and Madison are nine years old today. Amazing. How can nine years go by in the blink of an eye? It's astounding to think about how much life has changed for us since June 3, 1998 at 4:05 pm...and then again at 4:12 pm.

...and then every day since.

I think becoming a parent somehow engages warp-speed in this journey of life. So many things to see. So many things to do. So many things to learn. So many hugs and kisses to exchange.

It's truly been an amazing nine years. Full of laughter, tears, trials, tribulations, belly laughs, major dramas, minor traumas, many diapers, even more baby wipes, and countless precious memories. They have grown into really terrific little people. And it seems like yesterday we were at Babies R Us deciding what model of Diaper Genie we should put on the baby registry.

This post was really fun for me. Looking at these picture makes me want to laugh and cry...all at the same time. Today I vow to stop and smell the roses a little more often, to remember the seemingly mundane little details of daily life, and to "memorize" these little nine-year-olds as often as I can. Because, before I know it...they'll be 16 and wanting to borrow the car keys.

Happy Birthday Will and Madison!

Five Six

You might notice that all of these pictures are taken while the birthday kids are sitting on the kitchen/dining room table. It's a tradition that my parents started with me. In all the birthday pictures I have, I'm seated on the dining room table - when I was one and when was 21. And all the years in between. It's been a really fun little tradition to follow.