Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Maddie and Will had a fun and successful weekend at C-finals. In fact, it was successful enough for both of them, that their season will continue on for 1 more week!

Here's a few pics and videos...

Will's 50 Freestyle

Maddie's 50 Freestyle

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jill's "Easy" Blueberry Cake

For those of you that know my sister Jill, you know that she is an excellent cook/baker. For those of you who don't now her - trust me, she's awesome! In fact, she's so talented in the kitchen, she makes me look like a 6 year old with an Easy Bake Oven.

She makes gourmet foods with ingredients that I've never heard of, would have no ability to identify, and wouldn't even begin to know where to buy. She has cooking utensils and tools that look strange, foreign, and dangerous to me.

On Friday, I wanted to try a new dessert recipe. Heck, I was actually attempting to make a half-way decent meal...why not add a yummy dessert? I thought of Jill's recent post featuring a Blueberry Cake. So, I took a deep breath, printed the recipe, got personalized telephone instructions and reassuring advice from her, and headed to the grocery store.

In all honesty, I'm usually extremely leery of trying Jill's recipes. Jill's scale of difficulty differs greatly form the difficulty-scales of most other people. Well, except for Ina Garten and Martha Stewart. Her version of "pretty easy" is a normal person's version of "wow - that was kinda hard". Her version of "kinda hard" is a normal person's version of "turn back now, for God's sake!"

Do you get the idea?

But she swore to me that this one was different.

Uh huh...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It's a good day for happy thoughts

Happy thoughts...

Happy thoughts...

Happy thoughts...

Happy thoughts...

Happy thoughts...

Happy thoughts...

Happy thoughts...


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What's your point?

I have a question for all you bloggers out there: What is the point of your blog? Do you do it to document your life? Do you do it to entertain your readers? Do you do it to provide information? Do you do it to stay in touch with people? Do you do it so you can Google yourself and get a bunch of hits?

I’m just wondering. I really don’t have a firm answer to my own question. I guess mine is mostly to document my existence in this world, stay in touch with family and friends, and maybe once in a while try to make somebody laugh.

I guess I find blogging a good alternative to scrapbooking and journaling – since I have never attempted either. Well, that’s actually not true. I did scrapbook one little book from a trip to Florida we took back in 2003. It was alright albeit a bit juvenile. But it’s just not for me. And I did have a diary from 6th to 8th grade that’s so painfully embarrassing to read, I can hardly bring myself to do it. In fact, I think eventually I may have to actually destroy to protect myself from posthumous humiliation.

I’m planning on having my blog printed in book form, but I haven’t quite figured out how to do it? Maybe 1 book for each year. I found this site but haven’t looking into it too much yet. I’d love to hear from someone that has done it before.

There are some entries I’ve written, like this, this, and like this, that I’m really proud of and that are really special to me. And this fairly recent one is pretty clever if I do say so myself. They truly document my life and my family – who we are and where we’re from. I hope that someday they might be special to my kids and grandkids as well.

My favorite entries mark a spot in time. I especially love this one, this one, and this one.

But then there are entries like this. Or like this. Or, wow. Like this. I’m really not sure what my mindset was when I wrote them, and I’m not convinced they’ll serve a purpose for anything other than to take up space on a page.

Oh well. You take the good with the bad, huh?

So, what's your point?

Just curious…

Monday, February 18, 2008

Barbie World

Playing with Barbie Dolls was one of my favorite things to do when I was a kid. My sisters and I actually had a whole closet dedicated to these little ladies. The closet was right off our kitchen and occupied the space above the stairs to the basement of our house. The walls and floors were covered with carpet-remnants that my dad strategically placed into room and hallway segments. So, you can imaging that this 3-level loft was like a dream-haven for these dolls. And us kids.

My mom has told stories of us playing in that tiny confined space for hours and hours on end, day after day after day. 3 little kids, 1 hot light bulb, closed door, 87 barbies, and countless accessories. You can almost smell it, can't you?

Maddie has never exhibited signs of Barbie-love like I did at her age, but lately her and her BFF Clare (their words...not mine) have been playing like crazy. This is the sight that I came home to yesterday:

Me: Wow...what's all this?
Maddie: Clare and I are going to play Barbies again today.
Me: Cool. What's with the little papers and the dolls in such a, a...organized fashion?
Maddie: Oh that. I just gave them personalities.
Me: Personalities? Really?
Maddie: See - she's a doctor, she's a fashion designer, she works at McDonald's, this is her sister, she is really smart, she likes to read, her favorite color is green, she lives in Chicago...
Me: Personalities. Good idea. Hmmm...some of them look like they have really short hair
Maddie: Yeah. I thought they needed a makeover.

...and then we proceeded to have a little photo shoot.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day, bucky

It was Valentine’s Day 1978.

She was in 3rd grade.

She thought she had the coolest Valentine’s Box ever. A pig made from a coffee can! Ingenious!

She thought that turtleneck shirt was really cool, too.

But she wasn't so sure she liked her straight, shiny, wedged Dorothy Hamill-style hairdo.

Thank God she turned into a relatively well-adjusted adult.

...and that she got braces.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The "Rewards" of Swimming

Wow!! What an exciting weekend! My voice is still scratchy, my throat feels swollen, and I can’t quite wipe the smile off my face!

The STMA Seadevils had their final home meet of the season – and it was a good one! I was so proud of all the kids, the coaches and the volunteers. This was the biggest meet we have ever hosted, and we pulled it off beautifully! And to correct my previous post, it was not 19 hours that I spent at the pool – it was 23.5. But I loved every minute of it!

Maddie finally reached her goal for the season – she achieved a “B” time! Yay!!! For a several weeks now, she’s been hovering near the 45.89 seconds required in the 50 backstroke. Yesterday, she dropped nearly a second and a half to get her time. So, that means that she’ll swim in 7 events in “C-finals” (kind of like first-round finals) in a couple weeks, and then swim the 50 backstroke and hopefully a few others that she is now within reach of, during “A/B-finals” in 3 weeks.

And our little "newbie", Will, nearly gave me a heart attack yesterday. He dropped time like crazy and compiled 5 “C-finals” times – amazing for a first time swimmer! So, going into his last event, the 100 freestyle, he was a little bummed that he hadn’t been a heat-winner yet. It was not so much the “heat winner” title he wanted as it was the little ticket that the heat-winners earned. The tickets could be traded in at the awards table for your choice of a cheap, little, Happy Meal-type toy. But even cheaper. And even littler.

So, just before his race as he was scoping out the other boys’ seed-times in his heat, his little eyes just lit up and he said, “I think I can win this one, Mom” and off he went.

He shot off the starting blocks and raced through the water. When it all was said and done, my little man dropped about 11 seconds and got a B-time!!!

He got hugs from Coach Michelle and his mom, flashed a huge smile, and then quickly headed out to the heat-winner toy basket to reap his reward.

A pile of pink goo.

He’s a nine year old boy. What more can I say.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Inside my head...

1. I really should go dust, or clean toilets, or vacuum…but I’d rather blog…but I really don’t have much to blog about…so I’m just winging it. You are all the recipients of the random thoughts flooding my mind this morning.

2. Look at the new trick I learned in Photoshop! I found this really great on-line resource for digital photography. It has great tips for taking photos, settings on you camera, and some stuff on Photoshop. I really need all the help I can get with this new hobby of mine!

This is the picture we used for our Christmas cards this year...actually they were New Year's cards. Notice how it really makes us "pop"? I might have gone a little too far on the saturation, but you get the idea, right?



I think this trick will come in very handy for Minnesotans during the winter months as we all look a little pasty and dull.

3. My nephew Finn is coming today! Yeah! Maybe we’ll go pick the kids up from school – they’d all get a kick out of that.

4. It feels so cold in our house. All the time. Guess where thermostat is set?

Nope. Even colder. Try again...

My hot-blooded and frugal husband whom I love dearly sets ours at 66 during the day and 62 at night. The past couple days, he’s “accidentally” left it at 62 all the time. I finally figured out what was going on after I discovered frostbite on my big toe.

What is the temperature at your house?

5. I love LOST!!! Who else watches? What is going on? Who are the 6 survivors? (I guess we know its Hurley, Jack, Kate…who else?) Why do the “rescuers” want Ben? What's with that cabin?

OMG – I can hardly stand the suspense!!

6. We’re going to have an incredibly busy weekend. It’s our club’s final home swim meet this season. It is also the last meet prior to C-finals, so we have tons of other clubs attending. Actually there will be over 530 swimmers – twice as many as have been in our meets before.

As usual, the kids will swim both Saturday and Sunday mornings – 8 events total for each kid. Will has 3 qualifying times for C-finals and is close in a couple others. Maddie has qualifies in 8 events and is on the verge of A/B qualification in about 3 others. For me, as a parent, volunteer, and board member, it means that I’ll be at the pool at least 19 hours over the next 2 days.

Wish us all luck!

7. Our insurance finally took effect last week. With Bill’s job change, we were without health insurance for about 2 weeks. Phheww…that made me really nervous. Speaking of insurance? Anybody see "Sicko"? We just watched it a couple weeks ago and I'd encourage you to check it out. Absolutely enraging.

8. I just scheduled a hair cut for next week. What should I do? Go shorter? Let it grow longer again? Opinions please!

9. I’m going to paint my family room and kitchen area.

This is my color scheme now:

And this is what I want to do:

I have a dark brown couch and half-chair, a red chair and ottoman, and mostly espresso-toned wood furniture, and maple woodwork. All I really need to do is paint the walls (this blue-grayish color) and get some new throw pillows. This really freaks me out - but I'm soooooo ready for a change!

What to you think?

10. My toes are still cold. Really cold.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Go vote!

Just a reminder to get out and caucus tonight! Regardless of who you support, this is your chance to let your voice be heard.

Here are a few details and rules that will help make the caucus process run smoothly (rules apply to MN). Make sure to share these with your friends:

  • You can cast a ballot starting at 6:30 p.m. for the DFL and 7:00 p.m for the GOP. The balloting will close at 8:00 p.m. unless people are still registering at that time.

  • You do not have to be registered to vote to cast your ballot.

  • You do not have to show ID of any kind to vote.

  • If you'll be at least 18 years old by Nov. 4, 2008, you can vote.

You can use this guide to find your Minnesota caucus location.

I guess there is no way to hide who I support by attaching this amazing video... but check it out!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Bill's Band Meme

So, Bill wanted a piece of the action too. And since being in a band has always been a dream of his - he just couldn't resist.

Yeah. I know. His looks way better than mine.

Show off...

Fun Band Meme

Jenny posted this fun meme.

Through a random search, you come up with your bands name, the title of your album and the album cover photo.

You can't keep refreshing the link. Ya gotta work with what you get. :)

Let's make a band:
1. Click here. The first article title is the name of your band.
2. Click here. The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.
3. Click here. The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
4. Take your photo, add the band name and title, then post it.

Here's what I got out of the mix:

Hilda Van Stockum:

To use it well

Political musings

Who else is excited about Super Tuesday? To be honest, I’m more excited about tomorrow’s political competition than I was about the Giants vs. Patriots face-off yesterday. Although I will admit that I was really cheering for those Giants in the last 2 minutes of the game.

Up until the past 10 years or so, I’ve never been a huge fan of politics. It wasn’t something that my parents ever talked about with us sitting around the dinner table. It was never a topic that came up in casual conversation with friends. I wasn’t the least interested in debates, the caucuses, the elections, or any of it. In fact, the first time I took any interest in politics was during the 1992 presidential election when Bill Clinton played his saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show. After that, I remember posting a big “Clinton/Gore” sign in my college apartment window.

That Bill…he was so cool.

Then I started listening. Then I really started paying attention. I also was in my mid-20’s, starting a family, having a career, choosing healthcare, paying taxes …you know – becoming a full-fledge contributing member of this American society. It was a time in my life where I formed strong opinions based on my personal experiences and the world around me. I loved to hear the debates. I loved the way other people's thoughts made me analyze my own. I loved the way I could strengthen my own resolve by discussing ideas with someone else.

I liken this pre-election presidential race of 2008 to the summer break right before school starts for a new year. Do you remember how excited you were to find out who your new 3rd grade teacher was going to be? That’s just how I feel! Well, kind of.

I know that it’s almost becoming too cliché at this point, but I am definitely ready for change. A big change. Really big. And I’m thrilled by the thought of it.

In my humble opinion, I believe that all 3 front-runners: Obama, Clinton, and McCain, would make a good, effective leaders of this country. Although my heart and mind is with the Democratic candidates, I truly hope that McCain gets the Republican nomination. Not only because he is moderate, rational, experienced, and intelligent – but because it would truly irritate and utterly rile the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

And that would make me happy. Very happy.

So, anyway…you can bet I’ll be fervently watching the polls, faithfully reading the political stories and blogs on MSNBC, and just eagerly waiting to see how it all unfolds.

Anybody else excited about this all?

Or are you just rolling your eyes at the computer screen?

You can tell won't hurt my feelings.

Friday, February 01, 2008

My Smarty Pants

Warning! Warning! The following is a brag entry from a very proud mom.

This is an excerpt from an article in the Big Woods Elementary February Newsletter:

Big Woods 3rd grader William G. recently won highest honors in his first of three Word Masters Challenge - a national language arts competition.

3rd graders competed against 549 teams and a total of 25,420 students. The median team score was 114. Big Woods median score was 171. William's perfect score was a feat managed by only 85 third graders in the nation.

Woo Hoo, Willy! That's my guy...