Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Backseat Driver

On a recent car trip, we pulled up next to another car at a stoplight. Max looked out his window and asked, out of the blue, "What is that white guy doing?" We were both taken aback, seeing as neither of us in our memory has ever referred to a person as a "white guy". "What??" we asked him, as we noticed that the person in the next car over was indeed a man with white skin.

"That guy, up there! What's he doing?" Max pointed past the car to the "Walk" signal on the light post. Suddenly we both understood... and we explained to him that the "white guy" is the one who tells us it's safe to cross the street.

That was the kickoff to a new hobby for Max. He has taken to examining road signs and asking what they mean. "What does that circle with an X and a P mean?" And once he learns their meaning, he explains it back to me every time he sees it. "There's the sign with a circle and an X and P. That means cars aren't supposed to park there." In the mall parking lot last week, he saw a No Parking sign near a valet stand, and he got very distraught that cars were parked there. He shook his finger at them as we passed, saying, "You aren't sup-posed to park there!"

I think he'll be a good driver someday. He reminds me to stop at every stop sign, and he tells me whether the stoplight is green-GO or red-STOP. He has even begun interpreting signs for himself. When he noticed a "right-turn only" sign (arrow curving right and the letters ONLY underneath), he postulated that the letters must spell "TURN" since the arrow was telling us to turn. And just today, we drove past two detour signs that had been moved to the side of the road, the big arrows pointing the direction we were currently driving. "Those two signs mean KEEP. GOING." he informed me.

Honestly, if his feet could reach the pedals, he'd probably be a better driver than me! He's at least got me beat in the attentiveness category. I've never run a red light, but it makes me feel good knowing that my three-year-old is looking out for me.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Both of my sons have the ability to let most anything roll of their backs, but they reserve the right to unexpectedly fly off the handle. Normal toddler/preschooler stuff. With Max, when the world gets to be too much- say his grapes fall on the floor or he can't draw a shark the way he wants to- and he starts to stress out, we remind him to take some deep breaths and he can usually calm himself down.

Awhile back, I was working on making dinner and the kids were underfoot, so Paul corralled them into the living room. Something happened, I don't know (or maybe I've chosen to forget) what it was, and I heard the beginnings of a meltdown. I peeked around the corner to check things out, and I witnessed Paul convincing Max to sit on the floor and try some Yoga breathing. Neither of us actually knows what Yoga breathing is, but whatever Paul taught Max seemed to work, and everything was smooth sailing very quickly.

I couldn't resist grabbing the camera to capture the moment, so here you go: Yoga time with Daddy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011


It's not every day that you find yourself married for five years. In the scheme of things, I sure hope it's a tiny percentage of the years to come, but at this point I think it deserves some major recognition and celebration... emphasis on the celebration!

For our anniversary, Paul surprised me with a gift card to a Bed and Breakfast of our choice, and my parents agreed to keep the kids overnight so we could have a whole twenty-four hours to ourselves. We decided on a B&B in Hudson, so we got to town in time for dinner, then made our way to the huge old Victorian mansion. It was a three-story masterpiece! We wandered around admiring the place for a little while, noting the pool table room and the den full of board games, but how did we end up spending our evening? We went to sleep at 9:30! The two night owls who never hit the hay before ten couldn't even keep our eyes open to play a game of cribbage.

Now you know me, I judge every experience based on how good the food is, and this was no exception. Thankfully, breakfast was delicious: stuffed french toast, fresh fruit, currant scones, sausage, orange juice, coffee, served in our room overlooking a huge oak tree with fiery orange leaves. A great start to a beautiful fall day.

After checkout, we decided to work off some of the massive breakfast with a hike in the state park. What an awesome day it was, hiking to and from a beautiful waterfall, making our way up zillions of stairs for an incredible view. A friend of mine referred to this trip as "an investment in our marriage", and I really like that way of looking at it. We spent the entire three mile hike talking- not about bills, home repairs and schedules, but about the Really Important Stuff that often gets lost in the shuffle of raising kids and being an adult.

We had lunch at the "Fifth best German restaurant in America", and I must say that it was pretty tasty! ...Although their Apfel Strudel wasn't quite in the same league as the stuff we had in Austria with Tony and Catherine. We wandered downtown Hudson for a little while and hit some garage sales on our way back to the Cities to pick up the kids.

It was a great way to celebrate our first five years, and I am so looking forward to the many more to come!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Full Moon

My children were wild yesterday. So wild, in fact, that when Max's classmate came out of tumbling class, she marched up to her mom and announced, "That Max is crazy, crazy, crazy!" During class Lucian was a total nut as well, climbing and standing on chairs, running around like a chicken with his head cut off. I jokingly asked one of the mothers, "Is there a full moon coming soon?" and she informed me that yes, in fact, the full moon is October 12 - TODAY!

Do you think there's something to it? Everyone I've talked to that works with kids notices a marked difference in the classroom vibe when a full moon is imminent. I've always been tempted to write it off as people looking for a difference, since full moons are predictable. But now I'm not so sure. I don't follow the movements of the moon, so I was not looking for changes, but my children were definitely on a different page yesterday and today.

After tumbling class the boys and I took a road trip with my mom to visit my grandma for her birthday, and the car ride was indescribable. My mom would probably say it wasn't that bad, but Lucian was anti-car from the moment we started the trip. Even though we planned to leave at his nap time, he refused to fall asleep until the last five minutes of the two-and-a-half hour drive. The trip home was no improvement; by the time I got back to St. Paul this afternoon, I had to shut myself in a quiet room for fifteen minutes before I could function normally again.

I think next month I will keep track of the moon so that I can prepare myself for the storm before it hits. If nothing else, I'll shut us all up in the house for two days so my little werewolves won't be seen in public. I know I'm probably my kids' toughest critic when it comes to behavior- I do have high expectations. But when another four year old points out their shortcomings, I have to wonder what's going on. Could it really be the moon's fault?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

American as Apple Pie

Do you remember me writing about that caramel apple lattice pie I was going to attempt this fall? Well, believe it or not folks, this weekend presented itself as the perfect opportunity to make that pie happen. Paul's mom came to visit us on Friday, and we were blessed with beautiful August weather in October! What a perfect weekend to check out the apple orchard!

We visited Emma Krumbees on Saturday and armed ourselves with two plastic bags to fill with baking apples. Up and down the rows we wandered, picking the best apples for our pies. Max was pretty good at choosing apples, but he tended to keep the best ones for himself.

Louie had a grand old time taking a few bites of many different apples, focusing on one until he saw another that caught his fancy. The path behind him was strewn with apples missing one bite.

It was a nice relaxing day, and we ended up taking home a haul of 25 pounds of apples! And that doesn't include the ones we consumed as we worked. I hope to get these guys back to the orchard again before the season is over, it was such a fun time!

On Sunday, the real work began. Paul entertained the kids all afternoon while Maureen and I slaved away in the kitchen. Actually, that's not quite true. We ran to the store to pick up a few ingredients we were missing, and when we returned, Max had already peeled and sliced nearly 20 apples! Did I tell you I purchased an apple corer-peeler-slicer? Yeah, these pies would not have happened without it. That thing is GENIUS, I tell you! Max can literally use it single-handed; all we have to do is stick the apple on for him. Awesome.

The filling was the easy part, but I was super nervous about making my own pie crust. I've never done it before, and in fact my rolling pin has been gathering dust in our drawer because of disuse. Thankfully, Maureen has made her share of pies before (World Youth Day fundraisers, anyone?) and had some words of wisdom for me. By the end of it, I think I had it down pretty well. Now I'm ready to do it all over again!

Pretty soon, we had four pies ready to go- three into the freezer and one into the oven. Paul got his caramel apple lattice pie after all, and if I must say so myself, it was pretty delicious. Thanks Maureen for all of the help! Four pies isn't such a monumental task with an experienced mother-in-law.

We thoroughly enjoyed our pie, and I felt a deep sense of accomplishment. Now that I can make a pie crust, I can probably do anything!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall Colors

We decided on Saturday to venture out into the bluffs for a beautiful fall hike and to capture some moments on film. Paul brought his tripod and camera, we put Louie in the backpack and off we went! Although Lucian was in a terrible mood the moment we hit the trail, we managed to get a few keepers.

We've done this hike many times since moving into our home, but we actually discovered a new trail this time! It lead down a steep, root-covered hill to the ruins of an old brick oven. At least that's what I think it was. Max is convinced it was a castle. At any rate, it made for some great photos of my two princes.

Sometimes, the sweetest moments come when they're not even looking at the camera
"Live Life."

I know. I know!

We definitely stole this idea from The SD Daniels

So, even though I just ranted about having no good pictures of the two boys, I realize that I might have over-exaggerated. Now that I look at these again, I'm falling in love. I don't need a posed photo of them sitting perfectly still with huge smiles, when does that ever happen in real life? Real life is climbing on rocks and throwing leaves in the air. Real life doesn't stop for a photo op.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Photo Conspiracy

I have an ongoing struggle with my two children to try to get a picture of them together. It is nearing an obsession on my part, and I really think they're plotting against me. I know for a fact that my children are adorable, and I have countless photos of them individually to prove it. But when they get together in the same frame, chaos ensues. I kid you not- they go totally batty.

So to ease my frustration, I have decided to share with you some of our best outtakes from the last three months of photography frustration. They really are quite fun, but none of them qualify as framers... and that's what we're really looking for, the Holy Grail of pictures, the frame-able photo of both children smiling into the camera. Oy, does it even exist?

Great location, great lighting... but what are they doing??

Max's rendition of "Cheese!"


There's that tongue again... and in true pirate fashion, Max developed a squint-eye

Cute and artsy, but Louie wanted nothing to do with it. Can you see the annoyance on Max's face?

Smile! Please, just smile!

That's not exactly what I was looking for...

So the hunt will continue. To be honest, I do have some pretty cute pictures from all of these attempts, but it always seems as if something is amiss. If the kids are both smiling, the photo is blurry. If the photo is clear, one or both are doing something silly. Or they're not standing close enough. Or there's something weird in the background. Or there's a booger hanging from someone's nose.

This may be a problem of our generation. With digital photography, we can take a thousand pictures every time we get out the camera... and keep trying until we get the perfect one. When we were kids, our parents snapped a photo and didn't know what they were getting until they got them developed. There was something more real, more authentic about that. Even so, I will continue to snap away in search of The Perfect Photo. Yikes, just wait til we add more kids to the picture!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hop To It

The day finally arrived- we harvested Paul's hops! Max was a big help, taking the buds off of each vine and putting them in his very own brown paper bag. He even made up songs to entertain us while we worked: "Buds are my favorite thing to drink! Buds are my favorite thing to drink!" and "We're going to make beeeer with our hops!" and so on and so forth. I wonder what our neighbors thought?

We had a great season this year, harvesting almost as many hops from one vine as Paul got from all four last year. And they smell soooooo good. I can't wait to taste brews that come from this crop! We'll have to invite you over for a cold one when it's ready.