Category Archives: All in the Family

Too Much of a Good Thing

I love Halloween. Kids in costumes, glowing pumpkins, roasting seeds, raiding the kids’ candy stash. What’s more fun than that?

Last year, I loved it way more than Leo did. I forced / bribed him into his monkey costume. (Pro Tip: Saying, “Do you want candy? Yes? Then get in this costume!” is not bribery; it’s an incentive system.)

This year, I’m not sure how Leo feels about Halloween. But I know how he feels about his giraffe costume: Continue reading

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Right Here Where We Live

Image from page 82 of "Catalogue no. 16, spring/summer / R. H. Macy & Co." (1911)

Have you seen Meet Me in St. Louis? The story of a mother, a father, a grandfather, and four daughters, all of whom almost move from St. Louis to New York City, but do not actually leave their hometown?

It is a pretty weird movie, but I love it. Judy Garland. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Homemade ketchup. Magnificent millinery. The horrifying antics of Margaret O’Brien. It’s all there, people.

Mike and I often quote the final lines of the movie to one another, because that’s just the kind of wild and crazy pair that we are. Here’s what happens: The family has made it through another year–they’ve escaped the move to New York City, Judy Garland and Margaret Bremer have found love, the homemade ketchup has the right amount of sugar in it, and everyone emerges from the house wearing fabulous flowered and feathered hats. They’re off to the World’s Fair!

As the whole impressively-hatted bunch takes in the wonder of the fair, Margaret Bremer says rapturously, “We don’t have to come here on a train or stay in a hotel. It’s  right here in our own hometown!” And Judy Garland, eyes shining, says, “It’s right here where we live! Right here in St. Louis.

I totally get it. It’s wonderful when the amazing things in the great wide world come right to your hometown. Of course, the World’s Fair hasn’t come to Saint James (I mean, not yet). But other wonderful things do come, or are already here. And as fun as it is to head out of town to do something special, there’s something even sweeter about finding the fun right here where we live.

right here.jpg

The star of the historical show. Isn’t it pretty?

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Parenting in Public

 

Corn Valentine

It’s a vegetable Valentine. It is punny. The corn is crushing it, fashion-wise. This Valentine made my day.

 

I vividly remember Zoe’s first day care Valentine’s Day. When I picked her up, there were three or four Valentines in her cubby, with notes from her day care friends. As I looked at each one, I thought, “Holy cow. There are so many ways to fail as a parent.”

It had not occurred to me to make or buy Valentines for Zoe’s friends. This is probably because, on that first day care Valentine’s Day, Zoe was seven and a half months old. I’m sure that the other parents did not think I had failed (and probably had older kids who actually understood the concept and had a Valentine exchange in their own classroom). I know Zoe and the other babies were not at all concerned.

Last year, Sister Claire wanted to be prepared. She got some very cute Valentines for her daughter’s two-year-old class. And then, before she delivered them, she got a note from the school with the news that they don’t do Valentines for that age group. Wait till your kids are older, they said.

These are the hazards of parenting in public. Continue reading

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Known and Unknown

Seed packet for Paradise Evergreens

“I can’t do this again,” I said to Mike as I lay on the exam table. “It’s too much responsibility.”

I was 25 weeks pregnant with Leo. We had traveled halfway across the country for a friend’s wedding, and I had a little spotting. I couldn’t remember when I’d last felt the baby move, or at least I thought the baby ought to be moving more. I called the clinic back in Minnesota and they said, as they would say to any pregnant woman halfway across the country, “You should go in.”

So the day after we danced at our friend’s wedding, we took a cab to an unfamiliar hospital. They admitted me, asked me lots of alarming questions about what to do in case we delivered the baby then and there, and did an exam. I was fine and the baby was fine. We were released. We took the bus back to our rental apartment, thankful and relieved.

I loved being pregnant. It was such a blessing and such a gift. But it was also a huge and terrifying responsibility. If something felt weird or seemed off, I was the one who had to decide if it merited a visit to the doctor. I was the one who knew best, and much of the time, I simply didn’t know.

'Mother and Child'

Tuesday night, three-year-old Leo woke up screaming. We noticed he was clutching his stomach. Of course, we thought appendicitis. We called the nurse line, who sent us to the emergency room in Saint James, who sent us to the emergency room in Rochester. It was a long, anxious, exhausting night. Continue reading

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How to Wash Dishes with a Three-Year-Old

Image from page 75 of "The boy's camp book; a guidebook based upon the annual encampment of a boy scout troop; the second of a series of handy volumes of information and inspiration" (1914)

1. Set your three-year-old up with a snack at the kitchen table.

2. Fill the sink with hot, soapy water and dirty dishes.

3. Put on your dish washing gloves.

4. Admit, “Yes, I’m doing dishes!” when the three-year-old asks. Continue reading

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Minnesota Nice: Butterfield Threshing Bee

train waiting

Waiting for the train. Look at that lean of anticipation!

I was mostly in it for the train ride.

Sure, I love tractors and steam engines as much as the next person (Pro Trip: Depending, of course, on how much the next person loves them), but it was the promise of a train ride in the park that convinced me to load the kids in the car and head over to Butterfield for the 50th annual Butterfield threshing bee.

Well, the train ride exceeded my expectations. For seventy-five cents each, we got to hang out in the depot, tell the ticket taker our imaginary destination (Zoe chose Unicornia), ride through a tunnel, and take in the sights and sounds of the bee. I bought enough tickets for two rides and we loved each one.

But there was so much more: Continue reading

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Better Together

Look what popped up in my The Eye of Facebook Sees All (Pro Tip: “On This Day”) today:

pacifier

Caption from 2013: “She’s really good at giving him his pacifier.”

Caption from 2016: “My babies! They were so little! And now they’re so big! They are so beautiful! I need to give them the biggest hugs tonight!”

Anyway.

I knew that I wanted to have a second child for my own selfish reasons. (Including, but not limited to, getting people to stop asking, “When are you going to have another one?”) I knew I would love reading and singing and talking and playing with our new baby. I knew I would love watching him learn and grow. I knew he would bring more joy, more wonder, more crazy into our lives.

I did not know– Continue reading

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