Monday, June 23, 2008

A couple new favorites.

You just might want to try these new Coffee-mate flavors: Italian Sweet Creme and Hazelnut Biscotti. I just can't wait to get up in the morning to have my coffee these days with these tasties hanging around!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"Lazy" Saturday.

I think I've mentioned before how much I love Saturdays. For us they're usually project days. Today we woke up to the sun streaming in our window around seven o'clock and puttered downstairs for coffee. Winn drove to town to pick up our new Husqvarna (no more push-mowing six acres of thick grass, three passes over each spot, with a manually-propelled mower that we got for free several years ago--it served us well, but it was high time to say goodbye), and I emptied and swept the front and back porches and taped off all the windows to get them ready to paint with the sprayer. When Winn got home, he made us a yummy French toast brunch. Sometime in the late morning my New Zealand friend Ursula and her daughter Anna delivered our chickens, three beautiful laying hens. Red leghorns, she said they're called, and they won't start laying until this fall. She said she has a rooster we can have too. We said we might take her up on it if we're successful in keeping these hens alive.

We spent the afternoon spraying the porches and doing yard work, stopping periodically for ice water and snacks of multigrain Sunchips and apple slices with peanut butter, and later we packed Sajak and some Freezie-pops in the car and headed to town for a visit with Jonathan. He was thrilled to see Sajak and walked him on his leash pretty much the whole time we were there, aside from the time he was having contests with Winn to see who could jump off the swings the farthest or get down the slide the fastest. His hair was wet when we arrived, and I asked him if he had just taken a shower. His grandma said, no, it was because he was in front of the mirror fixing his hair before we got there. :) Melt me.

Tonight it was a birthday party for my sister Peggy at my parents' house, with chicken alfredo that was dee-lish and, of course, cake and ice cream. Now I'm beat. Unfortunately, I've got a test to take and a paper to write for school. So what on earth am I doing blogging...

Credits: We'd like to thank Mom for supper, the Grebe family for the chickens, and our friend Chris for the use of his paint sprayer and his wheels (Winn has truck-envy now, by the way) to transport the lawnmower.

Friday, June 20, 2008

One month.

It was so good to hear your voice on the phone yesterday. One month ago today you went back to live with your mom. Don't worry, I understood your mixed feelings about it, your desire to be with the one who brought you into this world, your loyalty to her and fondness of her, and yet your fear and uneasiness about going back. When I picked you up from school that last day to take you there, you quickly brushed away a couple tears with your fists, wanting so badly to be a brave boy. You are brave. You've been through a lot in your short life, growing up much faster than you deserve. You are one of the brightest six-year-olds I know, and I pray that that will always shine through your circumstances, that you learn to follow your dreams and that you grow up to be a man with integrity and purpose.

Sometimes when I walk by the door to your old room, I just lean on the doorframe and grow lonely, wanting to hear your giggle, wondering what you are up to this summer. People always ask about your chameleon painting on the wall, and I tell them it was made by a cute and talented little artist. I miss your toothless smile, and I miss your dinnertime prayer that you always so innocently ended with "This is me, Jonathan. Amen." I miss watching you and Winn race to see who could buckle their seatbelt first whenever we would get in the car, and I miss passing your bedroom door at night and seeing you sleeping soundly, with Sajak on the floor by your bed, your hand dangling down and burried in his soft fur. I think he misses you, too, and sometimes I still find him sleeping on the rug next to your bed. You changed our home, changed our lives, and taught us many lessons in the short time you were here. Thank you.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Uncle Paul to the rescue.

Thanks to Uncle Paul, the master plumber, the gas burners on our new range are now up and running! We've had it for over a month but were waiting to have the gas line hooked up before we could use it. Thankfully it's dual fuel, so we were at least able to use the oven. It called for a little creativity (or a lot of eating out) to find things that didn't require a stove, but these German pancakes that Winn made last weekend while my aunts were here are an example of how we've adapted. They were scrumdiddlyumptious cut into quarters and smothered in butter, boysenberry syrup, and whipped cream!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Today I got the trim in the stairwell painted white...well, off white. "Crumb cookie" is the color. There's still lots of trim to be painted, around windows, doors, baseboards, you name it. But we've just got to tackle it little by little. More yard work today too. Winn got our chicken coop almost finished. We'll hopefully be getting our three laying hens this week. I hauled another truckload of brush to the burn pile and trimmed a tree that was hanging over the driveway. I also washed the sheets in the guest room and hung them out on the line to dry. They smelled so fresh and felt so crisp when I brought them inside. It's been so long since I've used a clothesline that I forgot how nice it is. While we were outside, Winn spotted a Baltimore Oriole, a brilliant orange one he said. I'll have to hang some citrus out on the tree so that she keeps coming around and maybe brings her friends too.

It was after supper by the time I remembered to get the mail. I thumbed through it under our big black walnut tree outside, and there was a fun surprise for me. A long letter and a colored-pencil drawing from my artist friend McKenzie. Mac's the best. Even though she emails me now, she's never said goodbye to the practice of letter-writing. Good ol' snail-mail. She always sends surprises when you least expect them. I've never received a dull piece of mail from her. Somewhere in the envelope there's always artwork or a charm or a photo or a coupon for a free tube of lip gloss at Victoria's Secret. In this note she told of plans for adding on to their little cottage in the woods, of teaching her daughter to ride a bicycle without the training wheels, of an upcoming art festival at which she's showing this weekend, of taking her parents to a gallery to see a display of hers, of the uptown gallery where Winn's sculpture of me is being shown as a part of her display, and how she drank a glass of pinot grigio in our honor at the opening. I'm so proud of you, Kenze. You've come a long way from when we were little elementary-school girls trying to sell our artwork for a quarter at a table in the church basement during potluck dinners. I've always admired you. You've never tried to be someone you weren't, just always yourself, your pure and undiluted and beautiful self.

Monday, June 16, 2008


We clean and rake and burn and mow and weed and clean some more, and it doesn't seem to make a dent when you've got 10 acres to maintain! Today it was beautiful outside, and I spent all afternoon shoveling debris into the wheelbarrow and taking it back to the burn pile. These two kiddos just didn't think it was right that the wheelbarrow was being left empty on the way back and decided I needed a little more exercise. After several rides I finally had to beg them to go and hunt for treasures in the barn and give my back a break.

(my niece Caitlyn and nephew Joel)

And the toad we found in our basement...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tag, you're it.

I was tagged by Andrea quite a while ago, but better late than never, right? :)

A Attached or Single: married for almost 6 years
B Best Friend: Winn
C Cake or Pie: definitely pie, warm cherry to be exact
D Day of Choice: Saturday
E Essential Item: chapstick
F Flavor of Icecream: Graham's chocolate-vanilla twist
G Gummy Bears or Worms: neither thank you
H Hometown: Warroad, MN
I Indulgence: DrPepper
J January or July: July
K Kids: nope
L Last movie I saw at a theater: Bucket List
M Musician: Johnny Lang, Michael Buble
N Number of Siblings: 3 brothers, 5 sisters
O Oranges or Apples: both
P Phobias or Fears: getting my foot caught in the lawnmower blades
Q Quote: "The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark." ~ Michelangelo
R Reason to Smile: coffee, the country life, and our dog Sajak
S Season: spring
T Tag: Jessica K., Carrie, Polly, Peggy, Esther
U Unknown fact: I have Raynaud's Syndrome.
V Vegetarian or oppressor of Animals: gotta have the beef
W Worst habit: I know I have worse habits, but sometimes I catch myself interrupting people and finishing their sentences for them (and I'm sure it must be terribly annoying!).
X Xray or Ultrasound: Huh?
Y Your favorite food: fresh pineapple, warm french toast with butter and brown sugar and real maple syrup
Z Zodiac sign: I think it's Taurus, but whatever.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More Alaska pics.

Scott just emailed a few photos that they took of our trip, and this one was among them of Winn and his parents and brother and sisters. I'm so blessed to be a part of their family.

Our head waiter Shree and his assistant Rudy, who are from Indonesia. They were both lots of fun and did a great job serving us each night. Rudy has an infectious laugh.

Just a sample of all the beautiful scenery that we saw.

The cold and rain was a common occurrence throughout the week.

Bald eagle.

One of the many humpback whales we spotted.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yamaha reunion.

I was starting to have withdrawals after a month without my piano, so it was exciting to have it come home the other day. Our friend Case was so kind to offer to store it in his shop during our renovations to protect it from all the dust and debris. He even came to pick it up at our old place and drop it off at our new home. What a guy.

Now that our vacation is over, the projects continue around here. Tonight I'm planning on painting the pantry and repainting the stairway (to match the living room color), and Winn is continuing the process of hanging kitchen cabinets. We still need to finish the cabinet doors and have the countertops installed, and there's lots of trim work to be done, a little tiling to finish in the bathroom, backsplash tiling to do in the kitchen, new windows to be installed, a basement to clean and paint, and a bathroom and walk-in closet to start and finish upstairs. Not to mention the attic, mudroom, garage, siding, and porch...those might have to wait until next summer judging by our progress thus far, and judging by our pocketbook. Living in this construction zone, it's easy to get overwhelmed with everything, so I just have to make a conscious effort to go to bed feeling satisfied and happy and remembering how extremely blessed we are.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Home sweet home.

We made it back in one piece from the rugged Alaskan tundra. It was a fun trip, a seven-day cruise along the inside passage, through Ketichan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and College Fjord. Winn's parents, siblings, and siblings' spouses were along, as well as a dear family friend. After a hectic winter and spring, Winn and I were determined to take advantage of this vacation and had promised ourselves that we were going to just relax and not feel obligated to do anything in particular. Despite all the ribbing from the rest of the group, we held true to our promise, sleeping in, going back to our cabin for naps throughout the day, lazing around for hours in the ship's library with a coffee and a good book, looking out the window every once in a while to see a glacier or a whale passing by.

We took in a lumberjack show in Ketchikan, went on a glacier and whale-watching tour in Juneau, and explored the museum, cemetery, waterfall, and shops in Skagway. In the evenings we enjoyed leisurely five-course (or six or seven-course, depending on how gluttonous we were feeling) dinners with family and usually headed to the theatre for a comedy show or a movie before bed. We saw a grizzly bear, several mountain goats, bald eagles, sea lions and otters, humpback whales, killer whales, and Winn even spotted a moose.

I hear that Kendra took over 2,000 photos, so I'm eager to get copies of those so that I can post an album to share with you. Until then, I have a couple favorite shots that we took...

Our hike through Skagway...

A piece of the Mendenhall Glacier...

Sea lions sunbathing (minus the sun)...

A panoramic glacier shot that Winn took...

All dressed up for dinner, from left to right: Winn's dad Gary, Winn, brother-in-law Scott, brother Tim, and brother-in-law John...

And the gals: me, Winn's sister Kendra, our friend Judy, Winn's sister-in-law Dianna, sister Kim, and mother Sherill...