It only took a year…

December 8th, 2010

My Christmas present from last year arrived yesterday.
New Piano
I’m super-excited about it.
New Piano

Milo thinks it’s pretty great as well. He kept telling me to sit down.
New Piano
I started campaigning for a piano about a year and a half ago.

Last year, my Christmas present from Kevin was a piano. We shopped around for used ones but never found one that was quiet right. We had a few people who wanted to get rid of pianos and give them to us but those fell through as well.

Summer got crazy busy. Then school started, one thing after another and pretty soon it’s Christmas time again.

I found a piano on craig’s list. The pictures looked nice. Basically, the people moved into the house and the piano was already there. We checked it out and yesterday had it moved into our living room.

As an added bonus, I now have a place to display my Nativity set in the living room, instead of on a shelf in the basement.

#22 Packing

November 22nd, 2010

This is basically a stalling tactic so I don’t have to pack.

I hate packing.

No matter how many lists I make or how organized I try to be, I always feel like I am forgetting something.

And packing for 5 people means I always feel like I’m forgetting at least 5 things.

#17 Things I’ve Learned From Parenting an (almost) Teen-Ager

November 17th, 2010

1. I’m embarrassing. Since I’m not like “everyone else’s mom” I’m pretty much one big ball of embarrassment.

2. I’m not as embarrassing as dad. So, I guess that’s points in my direction.

3. The little kids are loud and embarrassing. Sensing a theme here….

4. I should be more worried about what other people think of me. Sorry kid. I’ve spent many years trying to talk myself out of that, not going back now.

5. Moms are supposed to be fancy. I’m not.

6. I do get bonus points because I can sew.

7. I’m not that bad of a cook.

8. I’m pretty good at braiding hair.

9. Some days, the music I listen to is “cool”. (But not as cool as her music)

10. Oh yeah, and I’m mean.

#15 Hair

November 15th, 2010

Doing Twists

(Finger Coils – a 2 hour process)

Writing Love on Our Arms

(Braids – 2-3 hour process)

Writing Love on Our Arms

(Spirals – they just do their thing.)

I get asked quite a bit how I manage Yeshumnesh and Milo’s hair.

And before my kids came home, I wasn’t sure how I was going to figure out a hair care routine either.

Especially since the routine with my hair is wash it, brush it. That’s about it.

But I’ve learned that it’s not as hard as it seems. (And I’ve actually learned quite a bit about caring for my own hair from learning to care for theirs.)

Milo’s is really easy. Bath time – Wash it once a week. Apply more conditioner in one wash than most people use in two weeks. Comb it out. Rinse. Apply a little more conditioner and separate his spirals out so they are a little more defined. Leave the conditioner in. (And no fancy-pants conditioners. I use Suave or Herbal Essence or whatever was on sale.) Daily – wet his hair with a spray bottle. Add a little conditioner. Separate spirals as needed.

Yeshumnesh: Um…she’s 11. She washes, combs and styles it herself. There are some days when she wants a zillion braids put in or finger coils and then I get to do it. Or she’s tired and doesn’t want to comb it out so I do it. But she doesn’t wiggle or complain, so it’s easy. It takes 2-3 hours but it’s a good time to watch a movie or chat.

For both my kids, I have a couple of “fancy” products that I use for styling. We are big fans of Carol’s Daughter, especially the loc butter. I also like the hair milk but I’ve found conditioner has the same effect for 1/4 of the price. Coconut oil is another staple. The kind you buy in the grocery store. That gets put into hair and on skin at night time. Keeps everyone nice and soft and smelling like a coconut which is an added bonus.

And a few answers to the questions I get often:

1. No, I do not plan on cutting Milo’s hair or shaving his head anytime soon.

2. No, I’m not locking his hair. It may look like it, but that’s just what his hair does on it’s own.

3.  No, leaving in the conditioner and then having the kids lean on my clothes or on the furniture does not ruin it or leave spots.

4. Yes, Lexi gets just as much hair time as the other two – it involves me or Kevin chasing her around with a brush while she shrieks about not wanting her hair combed.

5. So, no, Lexi is not jealous of the time I spend on their hair.

6. I get Milo to sit still by sitting him on the bathroom counter and turning on the water. He floods the bathroom, I get his hair done.

7. Reruns of The Cosby Show on DVD make for good hair braiding television.

If you’ve got more questions, go ahead and ask. I’m no expert. But I’m more than willing to share my experiences.

#7 A short blog

November 7th, 2010

Today’s blog post is short and sweet.

It’s Orphan Sunday. More to come on that.

Tonight’s lack of posting is brought to you by 3 hours of hair braiding.

Summer Plans

June 13th, 2010

This summer I’m determined to get out of the house 4 out of 5 days a week with the kids.
We are going to be busy.
None of this “I’m bored” stuff.
Some things will be consistent: On Tuesdays we’ll go to the library. Not sure if we’ll always go to the same library or if we’ll terrorize other libraries but on Tuesday we’ll be at a library.
We’ll do play dates once or twice a week (anybody want to come and play?)
We’ll go places – Como Zoo, MN Zoo, Children’s Museum, Wild Rumpus Book Store, Hyland Park Reserve, the beach, the park, Splash Pads
We’ve got scheduled activities – Swim Lessons, Great Adventure Club
We’ll also run errands.
Any other suggestions?

Oh, and the day I don’t take the kids out of the house? That’s my day off. I’m running away.

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

March 31st, 2010

(a guide for Global Leadership)

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:
Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

[Source: “ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN” by Robert Fulghum. See his web site at ]

Need to Kick-Start the blogging again.

March 7th, 2010

I was on a role for a while. Not quite sure what happened. Well, I do know what happened. I’ve been trying to spend less time on the computer. And that’s been a good thing.

Random things I’ve been up to….

….Milo learned to walk. He went from tottering between furniture to chasing Lexi and the dogs around the house in about 5 days. We now have a human tornado living in our house. He also likes to spin himself in circles until he’s too dizzy to stand.

….I got called for Jury Duty. It’s not a bad deal. I call in at night and they tell me if I need to show up or call in. I’ve lucked out and have only had to call in at nine and/or noon the next day, only to be told I’m not needed and to call in again tomorrow. Only downside is the two weeks worth of lesson plans I’ve had to write. But, really, not complaining about it. It’s been fun to do stuff like take the kids to the zoo.

….went to the Minnesota Zoo with Lexi and Milo. Milo learned a new phrase “See it!” or “See it?” depending on whether or not he spotted the animals. Both kids love the dolphins. We watched a short training session and then spent another 20 minutes just sitting in the bleachers watching the dolphins swim and splash around. Incidentally, the MN Zoo is a great winter activity. Discovery Bay, the Tropics Trail and the Minnesota Trail are all connected and it takes about 30 minutes to get through each one. And you never have to go outside.

….I taught myself how to crochet over Christmas break. And I really like it. It’s super fast and looks really cute when finished. So far I’ve made about 6 hats, a sweater, a blanket, a poncho, and about 30 headbands.. Only downside is it takes much more yarn than knitting so depending on the project, it can be a little pricey. I’ll try and get a few pictures up in the next couple days.

….I’ve made a few sales from my etsy shop. Oh, and I started making jewelry as well. I needed a lanyard for work and decided to make one and I had left over supplies so I made a few other things. Then when I raided all my craft stuff I realized I had a pretty big pile of beads and other jewelry making supplies so I gave it a shot. It’s not my favorite thing to do but it’s different than sewing or knitting or crochet, so I like it. Oh, and my etsy shop is also supporting charity:water.

A Long-term Dream

January 9th, 2010

When I was in college I wanted to travel. And I did, a little.

I spent a few weeks one summer in El Salvador and I spent a month in London, doing part of my student teaching.

I seriously considered joining the Peace Corps. I called them, requested the information, even sort of settled on going to Papua New Guinea or El Salvador (I really enjoyed my time in El Salvador and at the time I knew enough spanish to survive.)

I would go to Perkins and sit for hours with a friend who would listen to me talk about wanting to travel, to see the world, to join the Peace Corps, to just do something with my life. And he would tell me to make sure I sent him a postcard from wherever I was. At the time, I was 99% sure it was what I wanted to do when I graduated. I wasn’t in a relationship, I had no desire to go to grad school and I knew that come graduation day, all my friends would be scattering all over the  country so, why not?

But plans changed in an unexpectedly good way. That same friend is now my husband. We’ve got 2 kids, a house, a couple dogs. I’m a teacher and I love my job.

And 11 years later I still  can’t shake that need to travel, to experience living somewhere that is nothing like here. So I’ve come up with a plan. An exciting plan with a very real possibility of working out.

A couple weeks ago I noticed that AHOPE, an organization in Ethiopia that cares for children with HIV, is always looking for voluteers. They specifically request people who are social workers, nurses, doctors, occupational therapists, and teachers. A volutneer needs to there for a minimum of 6 weeks but can stay longer if they wish.

Guess which teacher wants to move her family to Ethiopia for a summer?

I don’t want to go this summer or even next summer. I want to wait until Milo and Lexi are older. If we are going to move them half way around the world for a summer, I want them to experience it, to remember it, to fully participate in the experience.

I’ve already contacted AHOPE to see if this is even a possibility and got a resounding “yes” so now, we just need to make things happen on our end. It will be a lot of work to make this happen, another reason why I’m not trying to plan the trip for anytime soon, but I really think this will happen.

I’ve also got a second plan that involves staying in Ethiopia for a year but we’ll just stick to the plan of going for a summer to see how that works out for us. Then I’ll start plotting a longer stay.

It’s exciting to think about. It’s scary to think about. It makes me happy that we will be able to take Milo back his birth country and Lexi will see probably the most important piece of her brother’s life. I want this to happen.

50 by 50…still chipping away at the list.

January 1st, 2010

I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions a long time ago. But several years ago I did make a list of 50 things I wanted to do before I was 50. Since it’s the first of the year, I thought I’d see how far I’ve gotten on the list. Anything in bold is something that I’ve completed.
50 things I want to do before I’m 50
In no particular order
1. Travel to at least 2 foreign countries I’ve been to Mexico, England, El Salvador and Ethiopia.
2. Become fluent in ASL
3. Finish grad school I didn’t actually finish but I finished all the parts I wanted to get done, so we’ll call it good.
4. Get a second dog
5. Read all the books I own (if this is going to be accomplished I need to a) stop going to the library and b) stop buying books)
6. Hang curtains in my house I’ve got curtains in both the kids’ rooms. Our room is next on the list.
7. Get my dog his CD or CDX title (HAHAHAHA. Speak has joined the Dog Union and has decided that all union breaks will be taken during either training sessions or competitions.)
8. Earn my play therapy certificate
9. Take a pottery class
10. Participate in the 3 day walk for breast cancer (seriously considering signing up this year – need to find someone to walk with me to keep me accountable)
11. Take a photography class
12. Learn to knit (and as an added bonus, I taught myself how to crochet this Christmas)
13. Eat fruit 4 times a week
14. Go to Hawaii – I don’t know if I really want to do this anymore…maybe I should change to “dream vacation”
15. Build a bookshelf (does assembling one from IKEA count?)
16. Learn to play guitar or piano (one step closer to this one…got a piano for Christmas!)
17. Work towards clean water
18. Go camping in Colorado (again)
19. Go horseback riding on the beach (see notes on #14)
20.Take a cooking class
21. Learn self-defense
22. Make a new quilt for our bedroom – I haven’t done our room yet but I’m counting Lexi’s quilt and the quilt for the baby.
23. Help build a Habitat for Humanity house
24. Visit the 5 continents I don’t live on. (I’ve got 2 of the 5 covered. Africa? Check. Europe? Check.)
25. Train a dog to be used for pet therapy (See Dog Union) Although, later on, I may get a dog that would be better at this. There’s also the possibility of puppy raising.
26. Teach my children sign language
27. Stop worrying about money
28. Write letters to friends (instead of e-mailing) on a regular basis – I was so much better at this a couple years ago.
29. Join a book club
30. Go to Disney World
31. Plant and maintain a garden (Maybe I should start small. Something like keeping 1 houseplant alive)
32. Be able to say I never owned a cell phone (I’ve owned 2 since I wrote this list. The responsible parent in me won out.)
33. Finish building my Macquarium (I sold this at a rummage sale)
34. Work as a dog trainer I’ve taught Level 1 & 2, Canine Good Citizen, & Junior Trainers
35. See Kevin’s book for sale at Barnes N Noble
36. Go to Alaska
37. Stop procrastinating I’m getting much better at this.
38. Keep up with my blog (did you see the month of November?)
39. Get 8 hours of sleep a night (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)
40.See U2 in concert (again) – we were so close. They are coming to the Twin Cities this summer. Kevin was sick when the tickets went on sale and so we missed our chance. D’oh. Next time around)
41. Go to the Olympics
42. See a show on Broadway (Saw Stomp)
43. Volunteer at the Humane Society
44.Start a Kindergarten program at my daycare I don’t work there anymore. I’m counting this as done because I teach kindergarten.
45.Figure out a way to get that damn Arby’s ovenmit off television I didn’t do it but he’s been gone for a while now.
46. Adopt (Have you met Milo?)
47.Watch less T.V.
48. Continue to own only 1 car We had 2 for about a year, maybe less, but we are back to just 1.
49. See a Red Wings game in Detroit
50.Own a house with a fireplace. Our house has 2.


Okay, so 21/50 items are completed. And 31/50 years are done. However, I made the list when I was about 26(?) so it’s not a bad ratio.