Friday Five: <3 LOVE <3


Naturally, I’m Friday Fiving “Love” today.

  1. My girls think Valentine’s Day is akin to Christmas. They want to celebrate the whole day. Natalie was beside herself to learn Captain America did not have the day off. They found a heart shaped cookie cutter for their toaster waffles. Natalie used it again on her peanut butter sandwich at lunch. She’s also spent most of the morning making Valentines for everyone in our family. These girls love love.
  2. Captain America and I have never done much for Valentine’s gifts. Sometimes nothing. But, in my opinion, NOBODY writes on the inside of a card like him, and that’s what I care about. He’s good with the funny, he’s good with the sentiment, he’s good with words in general. I like words. I love them. HA! Love.
  3. I have loved Captain America for 6365 days. Our first Valentine’s Day together was 17 years ago. I already knew I would marry him then. We’ve been married for 5649 days. 807 weeks. 
  4. A year or two ago I forgot to pick up any little gifts for the girls for Valentine’s morning. So I found a heart shaped post-it pad and left little notes everywhere. Last night when I said goodnight to Ella she said, “I sure hope there are heart post-its tomorrow!” No pressure. I’ve used up the last of them after today, and I hope I remember to get more before next year.
  5. Some of my favorite love songs are When You Say Nothing at All by Alison Krauss (it was in our wedding!), Ho Hey by the Lumineers, The One I Love by REM, Your Song by Elton John (but also as it was in Moulin Rouge), Something in the Way She Moves by James Taylor, a bunch of songs by Sting, To Be Alone With You by Sufjan Stevens, You & Me by Dave Matthews Band, and Gone Gone Gone by Phillip Phillips.

Hearts and Flowers


Oh, friends. Last week I had Captain America out of town, an 8 year old down with a fever for days, and some winter weather that threatened my sanity. I think all of Facebook rejoiced when Captain America got back home. It was getting a little “Should we be laughing because it’s funny, or is she seriously snapping?” I was aiming to make light of it and get a laugh, but yes, I was also snapping. But it’s done now and life moves on.

It’s Valentine excitement all around, and I just had to share a story about my oldest girl’s heart. Because her middle name is Grace, but it could just as well be Compassion. The girls were really enjoying filling out their Valentines this year. “It only comes once a year!” “It’s nice to make people feel special!” It was making up for at least a few of those times where I’ve had to say, “Didn’t I already ask you twice to GET OFF THE IPAD?” They are givers, and I love it.

Ella has a boy in her class that’s diabetic. Every time Ella needs to bring treats of some kind, she wants to make sure there’s something he can have. “Twelve carbs or less, Mom. He can only have the treat if it’s no more than 12 carbs.” Usually kids bring cupcakes, and he takes it home so his brother can have it. Ella brought pudding cups, and made sure to bring some that were sugar free so he could pretty much have the same treat everyone else was having. Because she’s Ella.

So now she was packaging up Valentine treat bags. I hadn’t even thought of it, but then I heard, “Mom! The sucker is less than 12 carbs!” But the Rice Krispie treat wasn’t. She was so disappointed. So we figured out a plan where she could take a sucker from one of her teacher Valentines (Sorry about that, Mr. Bonnar, but we thought you wouldn’t mind), so her friend still got two treats but they were both something he could have. Then she cut out the nutrition label for the suckers, and put it in the bag so he would know for sure that he could have it.

I know Valentine’s Day gets over commercialized – I mean, it’s pretty much a Hallmark Holiday. Not a lot of substance to it. It’s obnoxious even. But I love it. I love the idea of taking a day to tell people they are special. Not everyone hears it as much as they should, or as much as they need to hear it. Even if it’s because the teacher tells you that if you do Valentines, you have to do them for EVERYONE. For one day, whether you’re the cool kid or the picked on kid – everyone is special and important. Ella thinks it’s sad that kids have to be told to bring a Valentine for everyone. I am so thankful for Ella and her big heart, and I hope I can be more like her.

**Edit** I should add, Natalie made sure her candy to give was completely peanut (and thus also chocolate) free due to the peanut allergy in her class. She checked labels as well, and following Ella’s lead, made sure the nutrition info was available on the items for her classmate. They both have huge hearts.

Friday Five on Monday: Leading Worship


I didn’t get as far as blogging on Friday, but I thought I’d catch up today. I got to help lead worship at our church yesterday, and I thought I’d do five things I love about that. I’ve been lucky enough to help out by singing occasionally since I was in college and going to InterVarsity. It was years and years before I realized it was actually a form of service – I thought “service” meant sacrificing and doing something you didn’t necessarily like. Like church nursery, particularly the toddler room. Surely worship team was too enjoyable to be “service.” I sort of forget about the time sacrifice, because I don’t mind it.

  1. Our church has three services: Saturday night, Sunday at 8:30 and 10:30. Sometimes if you’re on for Sunday, you practice Thursday night. I haven’t done that yet. I’ve only been on when you practice Sunday morning. We meet at 7 am. Which means I set my alarm for 5:30 am. On a normal day, if Zoey gets up at 5:30 am, I will tell her it is still the middle of the night, and she should go back to bed. I’m more of a 7 am kind of wake up person. Or maybe 8. While it’s way earlier than I like to get up for anything, leading worship is something that can drag me out of bed at that hour with minimal complaining.
  2. I love practice. As long as we’re not having technical difficulties, it’s usually a laid back and fun thing. I mean, I get to worship twice (or if it’s a Sunday, three times). Plus, I’ve probably been listening to the songs we’ll do for a few days, so come Sunday I am READY TO GO. Can’t wait for them. I also love the collaboration of practice. I love watching musicians work, because it’s amazing to see how people just hear something in their head and suggest it and we try it – sometimes it’s just the coolest thing, and I love being along for the ride. I still remember singing at InterVarsity, and the bass player suggested the song start with an instrumental of a Sonic Youth song and then work into the song we were doing. I don’t remember what either song was, but I remember being in awe of how great it turned out.
  3. I love the view. I consider it an honor to be in front during worship at church, because I get to watch others worship. Whether it’s a group of 40 or 600, when I look out and see a person completely lost in a song and therefore lost in God – well. I just can’t even put it into words. It’s incredibly touching to see people in such an emotionally vulnerable state, and it makes my heart swell. In that moment they are communicating with God in a special way. I’m incredibly grateful to witness it, and I don’t take it lightly.
  4. I just love singing. I love it. Whether I’m in the car or in front of people, it makes me happy. It’s hard to feel sad and discouraged after singing. Music is the thing that God has always reached me with, and I’m really grateful for that, too. I like learning new songs, and I love having them stuck in my head for days.
  5. I love the comraderie of being a part of the team. I’ve been on many different teams, and some have been better experiences than others. The majority have been great, and I have some life-long friendships that came out of it. On occasion it’s been more like a high school clique. But when you can connect with other people who feel the way you do about worship, it’s incredible. One thing I really enjoy about the team I’m on now is the prayer time before church starts. It’s a pleasure to sing with other people that are sincerely there to serve and worship God. It’s also fun to discover singing chemistry with different people. It’s really fun when to sing with someone enough where we just know what each other will do and our voices blend well, and I’ve been lucky enough to have that connection a few times. It makes things really easy. If I’m leading I’m thinking about making sure I do everything right and in the right order so everyone can sing along easily.  On harmony, I just get to worship and sing what I feel. I like both, but I think I like harmony a little bit more.

Conversation with a 3 Year Old


We are on the way home from dropping sisters off at school today. This conversation was not related to anything previously discussed. The only helpful piece of information is that Zoey is deeply into knowing what every living thing might eat.

Zoey: “Natalie was a unicorn. She had a costume. It was a unicorn. And Ella was a witch. And Zoey was a monkey.”

Me: “At Halloween? Yes. You’re right.”

Zoey: “Monkeys like bananas. I would like to feed monkeys bananas.”

Me: “Monkeys do like bananas.”

Zoey: “What do unicorns eat?”

Me: “I guess I’m not sure, what do you think unicorns might eat?”

Zoey: “NO! What do UNICORNS EAT?!?”

Me: “Oh. Well, I wonder if they might like cotton candy.”

Zoey: “YES! And witches eat giant potatoes.”

Me: “They do? They eat giant potatoes?”

Zoey: “No! That’s silly. They don’t eat giant potatoes.”

Me: “Oh, ok. What do you think they eat?”

Zoey: “They eat small potatoes.”

Yes. Yes, of course.

Goodnight, Pete


Sometimes I think my entire youth was spent listening to Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, with some Peter, Paul, and Mary thrown in for good measure. There were rows of records, and then rows of tapes, and then rows of cds – but the only two that mattered were Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “10 Years Together” and “Precious Friend” from Arlo and Pete. Not only can I recall every word sung, but I know every bit of dialogue that was spoken as well. Yet I’ll laugh at the jokes every time.

Every road trip we took had those albums for a soundtrack. I guarantee my parents stuck those tapes in the car, no matter how long the trip. The thing about Pete’s singing, is the music isn’t about Pete. It’s not the Pete show. Pete shared his music with you, and invited you to sing along. The music was more important than him. If I know anything – anything at all – about harmony, I probably owe it to him. Even as a teen rolling my eyes, Arlo and Pete could always win me over. Much as I may have tried to not like it, one of the best concerts I’ve probably ever been to was Arlo and Pete at the Northrup Auditorium at the U of M.

But it’s more than singing along. Pete’s music means something. It’s supposed to make you feel something, and drive you to action. It taught me that the world is bigger than what I can see. Pete spent his entire life trying to make the lives of others better, and it made me believe that’s what we’re supposed to do. Not just by sharing his music, but by his activism. He wasn’t afraid to be thrown in jail for his beliefs. He didn’t have Facebook or Twitter, he had music. If he wanted to influence people’s feelings about war, he wrote a song and got people singing it.

I’m quite sure that this upbringing is what draws me to music so strongly. When I don’t know how else to express myself, I know I can find it in a song. It’s cathartic and healing to me, and has – no doubt – saved me thousands in therapy.

I know how grateful I should be for the way Pete Seeger changed music, and all the songs he gave us. But I’m more grateful for the way he changed my outlook on life.

Goodnight, Pete, and thank you.

Friday Five: Random


I’m going to be honest. Zoey’s probable Influenza shot my week all to pieces. I’ve got nothing to show for the week except a slightly better but crabby child, and some serious sleep deprivation. Between that and the constant Arctic temps, I can’t form a coherent thought. Severe lack of sleep and permanent cold has broken me. So today, five random thoughts. And then I’m going to dig out the vitamin D supplements and consider a second cup of coffee.

  1. I’ve recently become obsessed with All Things Tudor. I think everyone in court was insane then, and no wonder. They never drank anything but ale or wine since everything else made them sick. All that inter-marrying. All the diseases they probably had from bad food and sleeping around and general uncleanliness. The crazy “doctor” remedies. Good gracious. It’s like an accident I just can’t look away from.
  2. I’ve gotten to that point of cabin fever where I NEED to get out and see people, but it’s so cold I just want to curl up and watch movies (or sleep! sleep would be awesome!). It’s hard to be an extrovert in Northern winters. Usually I can buck up, but the sick kid did me in.
  3. Apparently I look so defeated, that this morning Natalie asked me to leave the clean dishes in the dishwasher so she could put them away when she gets home from school. I have sweet girls. Of course, they also told me I looked terrible and asked what was wrong with me. But I’m going to overlook that. Sweet girls.
  4. The plus side of a sick kid and uber cold temps is I think we save money. Who has time for Target? Who would leave the house? I’m not going out to pick up any kind of dinner. I’m not going anywhere I don’t absolutely have to, so I’d be saving on gas if I didn’t have to warm the van up for the sickie. Of course, all that money and then some is just going toward heat. It probably balances out.
  5. One of the best purchases I did make this month was a fake fireplace space heater. Our tv room is an addition that’s on stilts, which means all that cold is right under the floor. The space heater makes it quite a bit cozier out there. If you don’t look too closely, you can pretend it’s a real fire. Plus it’s actually warm, which is fantastic. And the flames remind me that I turned it on, and should turn it off again before I go to bed. Where I don’t sleep. In any case, I’ve been so glad we went ahead and got it.
  6. Bonus #6! How fantastic is American Idol this season? I didn’t watch last year’s, because I didn’t think I could stand that panel of judges. Harry Connick, Jr this year? Ah. Maze. Ing. He’s a brilliant musical mind, with some serious technical feedback. But he’s also hilarious. He’s honest without being cruel. It’s a whole new show. I’m a big Phillip Phillips fan, but I didn’t care for that season in general. And I love the rest of the panel, too, but especially the chemistry between all of them. The auditions have been great, and I love that they’re showing more behind the scenes, more of the middle ground singers where we don’t know if they’ll make it or not, and much less of the bad/crazy people that we all know aren’t going through and have just wasted everyone’s time. So, so good.

Sickness. Day….what day is it?


Little Zoey is still down for the count. No one sleeps. I don’t know. Maybe her sisters are sleeping. I know Captain America and I aren’t. There’s so much coughing. No, it’s not a barky croup cough. The fever comes and goes. Poor baby is just absolutely miserable. I don’t know how her itty bitty little body can manufacture that much snot. Gross? Tough. You aren’t living with it.

Today she has mostly cried. The cough makes her cry. Her poor little throat must be just raw from a full day of coughing yesterday. When she cries, it makes her cough. You see where this is going. She’s the kind of pitiful where she calls to me from the next room to say her feet are cold and she needs a blanket on her. The blanket that is right next to her, three inches from her feet. Her little nose has been rubbed raw, so every nose wipe leads to more tears.

A sick preschooler is just SAD. She doesn’t want water. SHE WANTS WATER!! She wants applesauce. SHE DOESN’T LIKE THIS APPLESAUCE! She doesn’t need to go potty. SHE NEEDS TO GO POTTY!! It’s not even frustrating, just sad. I spend most of my time just trying to calm the cough. And preparing every space she’s in for a possible…over productive cough. Oh, and not sleeping. I’m doing a lot of that. The saving grace right now is that her sisters are largely able to care for themselves. They set alarms and get up and ready for school. They do what they need to do. And then we all sit around and lament about Zoey. “It’s so sad…”

I want to be optimistic, but really, I’m sitting around waiting to see who goes down next.