Category Archives: Your Moment of Leo

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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Filed under All in the Family, Your Moment of Leo

The Gift of Getting Stuck


When was the last time you got stuck?

For me, it was last Thursday morning: Leo and I dropped Zoe off at school on the north side of town and made our way south on Armstrong Boulevard to drop him off on the south side. We were running late (even later than usual), and so we ended up on the north side of the train tracks when the crossing gate came down.

Usually, when something like this happens, I can feel my blood pressure rise. My heart beats faster and I stare down the clock, calculating what the delay will mean for the rest of my day. But this morning, even though we were late, we didn’t really need to be on time. Leo didn’t have preschool and I didn’t have an early meeting. We still needed to get where we were going, but not urgently.

So, I listened to the sound of the rain beating down on the car and the train thundering down the track. I watched the glow of the signal lights and the beading of the raindrops on my windshield. I chatted with Leo (who, as we knowloves trains) and soaked up his joy and wonder. In short, I enjoyed being stuck.  Continue reading


Filed under Thankful Hearts, Your Moment of Leo

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


Filed under All in the Family, Thankful Hearts, Your Moment of Leo

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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Parenting Unvarnished

Check out my cute little bunnies, Easter 2016:


Adorable, right? Perfectly captures the idyllic family egg dying activity we had just completed.

Except, of course, that it wasn’t. It was crazy, chaotic, and shouty. It was cracked egg shells, and spilled cups of dye, and probably one of the more stressful egg dyeing experiences of my life. (Not to be dramatic or anything.) But I posted the adorable picture on Facebook, because the one idyllic and adorable moment is the one I want to share with the world.

This, though. This is the photo that really nails it. Easter Monday:


Everything that can be upside down is upside down. Both children are weeping and wailing. It is chaos. It is exhaustion. It is Easter Monday for a pastor and her children. Unvarnished. No filter. Just the real parenting deal. Did I post this gem on Facebook? I did not.

Here’s the thing: parenting is a both / and experience. It’s both wonderful and terrible; boring and exciting; hilarious and heartbreaking; sweet and sour. Our children fill us with pride and joy one moment, embarrassment and guilt the next. Continue reading


Filed under All in the Family, Your Moment of Leo, Your Moment of Zoe

Never Had I Ever: Thomas the Tank Engine Edition

I don’t know how it happened.

I don’t even know how it started.

Was it the set of books from Uncle Paul? Was it something at day care? Was it just in the air somehow?

I don’t know how it happened, but our Leo is an absolute Thomas the Tank Engine devotee.


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Filed under Movies and TV, Never Had I Ever, Your Moment of Leo

Lutheran Lullaby

pregnant maggie

2013: Mama and Zoe (and Leo), six weeks after his in utero Beautiful Savior dance party.

Three years ago, I was at a worship service with about 600 other Lutherans.

It was the closing worship service of our Southwestern Minnesota Synod assembly. (Pro Tip: Once a year, people from all the ELCA churches in a given area get together to learn, worship, and do the business of being church together.)

I was seven months pregnant with Leo. And as we sang Beautiful Savior, that baby danced along with great in utero joy. (Pro Tip: I mean, I assume.) Surrounded by the heavenly sound of all those Lutherans singing in harmony, swaying to the music that my baby was dancing to–it was one of those moments. Lovely, and holy, and sweet. Continue reading


Filed under Ministry Matters, Music!, Your Moment of Leo

Books + Kids = Top Ten Tuesday

Good morning, team! It’s Top Ten Tuesday time!

This week’s topic is pretty open: “Top Ten Things I Love About X”. Read my list, then click on over to The Broke and the Bookish to read lots more.

When my parents were new parents, they worried like all new parents do. However, all new parents might not share this particular worry: What will we do if our child doesn’t like reading?  It’s true. My parents were concerned that if I did not turn out to be a reader, I wouldn’t fit into the family.

Clearly, they had nothing to worry about. I have always loved books and always loved reading. One of the great joys of becoming a parent myself has been sharing that love with my own children. So, for this Top Ten Tuesday, here are ten things I love about Books + Kids:

1. Sharing old favorites. I never stopped loving children’s and young adult books. So it’s a delight to share them with my children. Zoe loved But No Elephants, the absolute favorite of my three-year-old self, almost as much as I did. More recently she has laughed as hard as I did at The BFG.

2. Discovering new favorites. My kids also give me a great excuse reason to explore new children’s books. I love checking out a stack at the library, browsing online, and receiving children’s books from family and friends. Some of our newest new favorites are Max the Brave and Bear Is Not Tired.

3. Books at bedtime. I treasure this time of snuggling and reading together, even if we’re just reading Construction for the one thousandth time (Pro Tip: I’m looking at you, Leo). I also love watching my kids share this time with their dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other beloved adults.

zoe and papa

Zoe and Papa: bedtime book buddies since 2009.

4. Books any time. Sometimes Zoe will stop talking / moving / watching TV, grab a huge stack of books, and ask me to read them to her. And I do. And it is Just the Best.

5. Library time. The first thing we do when we move to a new town is get our library cards. Both the Litchfield and St. James libraries have been havens for us–we’ve spent countless hours at story times, library programs, and just hanging out, reading, playing, and browsing. Leo knows right where to find the Thomas books. Both kids walk in like they’re coming home.  Continue reading


Filed under Book Report, Your Moment of Leo, Your Moment of Zoe