Saturday, February 28, 2009

If the Sports Reporting is Wrong Tonight, Don't Blame Me!

Welcome to the Jungle...

We went to St. Cloud State University today to watch our Moorhead Spuds compete in the hockey section semi-finals. The boys "rocked out" most of the way down there.

Rick didn't have anyone to help him videotape the game today. He talked me into doing it by telling me how SIMPLE it was to do it. He set it all up on a tripod and hooked up the camera to a big monitor and told me to just follow the action of the puck. Sounds easy enough. But then they dropped the puck and actually started skating and holy crap was there a learning curve involved! For one thing they are fast, and the puck is tiny and trying to keep it all in the frame was no small feat. I can't tell you how many times I'd be following a player with the puck only to have him emerge on the other side of the rink... WITHOUT the puck! It had been stripped away and was already on its way back the other way before I caught up with it! Now all of this Rick told me how to prepare for, so I did catch on with practice.

What he didn't prepare me for was working alongside a sports reporter for our local news station. I recognized him instantly and he went out of his way to introduce himself and chit chat with me. But then Moorhead scored a goal. And I was concentrating so hard on capturing the play, the sports guy's question caught me a little off guard. He said "can you verify for me who YOU saw?" Thank goodness he didn't whip out the microphone on me, but he did lean over his pen and paper waiting for my response. He nodded when I told him what I thought I had seen.

Okay, this EASY job was coming with a little bit of pressure. He started asking me more questions. Was he mistaking me for a professional? I mean he had to have known in reality, I am The Wife of the guy who is the professional, right? Uh, maybe not.

Period two, another Moorhead goal. Colton who is standing next to me cheers for Braden, just as the announcer, tells us its Jordan who scored. Oh know, camera guy is leaning over my way again. It WAS Braden, right? I am now relying on the wisdom of my six year old when I tell him, yeah, Braden. Low and behold a few minutes later, the announcer tells us it was Braden, not Jordan who scored the goal. Finally Moorhead scores their third goal. This time I am ready. I not only have it perfectly on tape, but I have the name and number of the player. He smiles at me this time when he says "now that one, I saw clear as day, no controversies on that one." Figures.

I was somewhat relieved when the game was over and Moorhead wound up winning 4-0. I'm going to go and watch the sports soon. If for some reason, the sports guy doesn't get the names exactly right on all of the plays, don't blame him. Really, you never can tell these days just WHERE they might have gotten their information!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A boy's life.

Do any of you remember some of the early chapter books you first read when you were in grade school? Do you remember Judy Blume? I would read, re-read and read her books yet again because books were like the older siblings I never had. The education that could be had by reading one of her books! And I don't mean learning how to read. She had an edge, even when "edge" wasn't so clearly defined. She was comically vulgar, and yet poignant and spot on with her writing, from what I recall. Her characters could say and do things that would have ensured me being grounded for weeks. There was always something going on between a boy and a girl behind the A&P, and in my naive but imaginative mind, I was convinced that A&P was code for something forbidden and alluring. Imagine my chagrin at finding out A&P was the name of a store... a chain of grocery stores, to be exact. She should have just called it the Piggly-Wiggly if she wanted me to figure it out.

For Nolan, reading has not really been his chosen activity. Now he has been read to from since the day we first learned about his existence. But he hasn't been really fond of reading on his own. Until he discovered what must be the Judy Blume of his elementary school years, Jeff Kinney. Nolan, who is 8, has been swept away by the "Diary of a Wimpy Boy" series of books. He saved his money and took it all to the book fair and bought all 4 books this week. While I attended my first book club meeting this evening, he sat working on his first book called "Do-It-Yourself Book." Its like a diary of sorts with fill in the blank pages with writing prompts.

So on this page he very appropriately fills in the blank for his favorite animal which is a dog.  He then goes on to very appropriately fill in the blanks for 4 adjectives that describe why he likes them.  He wrote, nice, cute, cuddly, and smart!  That's my boy, I am thinking to myself.

And then I happen to view the next random page.  Its about inventions and asks you to write down your ideas so no one else can claim them. 

Now, to be fair, I can tell he did TRY to erase his answer.  But I can still see the vague remnants just enough to make out what he wrote.  It says... 

"My name is Nolan.  My brother picks his nose, today I saw it.  The end."  

I could only think, how very Judy Blume of him...   and clearly he is not my child.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Every once in awhile I venture out. I love a good read. Funny, smart, thoughtful, spiritual, you name it. I'm perfectly content to leave a thought or two and then be on my way. But sometimes you make a serendipitous find. You stumble across something that grabs hold and you can't help but go back time and again. It was just a couple of weeks ago that I happened upon this site called Robynn's Ravings.

If you are like me, you'll visit a site because the story telling and the writing is just that good or there is some other compelling reason to go back. Robynn's writing is just that good and entertaining. Hey, our favorite Pioneer Woman even commented on an essay she wrote. Hows that for an endorsement? But if that weren't enough to draw you in, there is a contest she is running this week. When she attended a writer's conference she had two magazines tell her nobody would find her interesting. So she set out to prove them wrong! Hmmm, I'll let you be the judge. Up for grabs are two 50 dollar gift cards from Amazon. Make sure you read through the rules for the contest and then decide if you want to participate. ( I am supposed to get an extra chance to win if you go over there and tell her I sent you, but in all fairness, just go on your own accord to keep our chances of winning fair :)

It just so happens to be hump day today too. So be sure to head over to Gitz's and leave her a comment for a chance to win one of her canvases.

Good luck everyone!

I am updating as I see PW announced a short contest herself... up for grabs is a 500 dollar Apple gift card! Go quick, go now!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Westra World Wordle

Just in case you are missing out. Wordle. Have you heard about it? Insert your favorite words, the feed from your blog, or a favorite poem, and out pops a word cloud. My friend, Amy, aka, Full of Whimsy, sent me a link yesterday. Give it a try. All you do is click on create. Then add your words or type in your URL. Ta da! Instant word cloud! For even more fun, hit the randomize button and watch the words shift, fonts change, and colors swap into a whole new look to your words. What does your word cloud look like?

The fun we found below are called Wikki Sticks. Nolan got them for Valentine's day. I almost mistook them for candy. I took them out of their cute bag and got one all the way to my mouth and caught a whiff... ewwww... WAX. But are they ever fun to twist and form shapes with. Wouldn't they be a perfect kids party favor?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Happy 9th Birthday Madison Leigh!

My younger brother, Lee, not only beat me to getting married first, it would follow that he and his wife Kelly would have a baby first. They of course had a little fun with the way they told us. We were all in Minnesota that summer on vacation, staying with my mom and dad. We were sitting in the living room when Lee broke out a stack of pictures showing us all the painting they had accomplished in their new home in Houston. Inserted in the middle was a black and white ultrasound strip. I was handed the stack first, and clamped my hand over my mouth as soon as I saw it. I didn't say anything and quickly decided mom should see it for herself without me giving the surprise away. My mom started looking, commenting on the colors and the rooms and then got to the strip. Without saying a word she skipped right past it. So I told her to go back. She did but I could see it wasn't registering with her. So I made some remark about the fact that maybe Lee and Kelly's dog Shelby was having puppies. Oh, she said, thats nice, and went back to commenting about the paint! Poor mom. After a still puzzled look sat on her face, I suggested that maybe, the picture was actually NOT a puppy... with a few more hints she finally got a surprised look on her face and said "really?"

Mom was much better prepared when I called home just two short months later to announce that she would be Grandma, again. The hardest part for me, was knowing I wouldn't be able to come and visit when Lee and Kelly had their baby as I would be about 7 months pregnant myself.

But we exchanged lots of phone calls and pictures. The night that Kelly went into the hospital to be induced, Lee called me. He was a little apprehensive about the name they had chosen. The problem wasn't the name itself. The problem was that although they did not know the sex of the baby they were convinced it was a girl. But if it wasn't? Could I help him go over some boys names just in case? Then abruptly he had to go. Kelly was having contractions closer together and he needed to get back to the hospital.

Madison Leigh was born the next day. I heard the news on my answering machine. I didn't get to meet her until she was already 4 1/2 months old and Nolan was 2 months old. They have been the best of friends ever since. Each time we see them they resume their friendships without missing a beat.

Madison is turning into such a beautiful young girl. She is a sweet and kind girl. She has a generous spirit and is very fun-loving. I can't believe she is 9 already. We can't wait to see all of them again soon.

Happy Birthday Madison! Your present is in the mail :) Be sure to share with Sissy and don't let dad get into it :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fargo Force Hockey "Suite" Party!

Everything aligned in the universe for us Saturday night! Nolan's hockey team got the ultimate experience. And as parents we were only too happy to partake in a little of the festive moods ourselves. With the exception of only one girl, Nolan's entire team got to enjoy a night of USHL hockey at the brand new Urban Plains Center, in Fargo. Lucky for us, one of the families on our team worked for a company with a suite. Our fun hockey gathering was housed in the lap of luxury. While most of the parents stood in the suite the kids sat in the special suite seats down below. Mite team 3 was so into the game. They cheered. They danced. They clapped. They had big fun. And it was truly fun to witness their pure exuberance. The "fan cam" could not resist their enthusiasm and captured them on the big overheard screens time and again.

The "kissing cam" was a big hit as well. Especially when it landed on two other Moorhead hockey parents in the crowd that we all knew. We howled at the fun being had getting people to kiss on camera for everyone to cheer for.

Colton felt so included and was enthralled with watching his "coach" score both goals of the game in a big win for the Force. Andrew Taranto, #20 in dark blue down below, is living with Colton's hockey coach. Andrew comes in his free time to help coach Colton's practice. Colton was pretty impressed and fought for his front row seat.

Minutes before the end of our game there was a knock at the door. The Fargo Force mascot came inside for an autograph/photograph session. Kid bobble was a huge hit with the kids. It was a truly fantastic night. Thanks Fullmer family, thanks Connelly family, and thanks RDO! It was a "suite" time!

Andrew Taranto, #20 celebrating his first goal of the game.

Taranto scoring his goal.

Rick shooting across the rink back at our Suite.

We all loved the light blue jersey's of the Indiana Ice.

Checking out the beverage selection in the suite. There was something for everyone :)

Kid Bobble in our suite!

"On the edge of your seat hockey... our favorite kind!"

Our view out over the ice.

Nolan saying to Kid Bobble, "you have a really big head!"

Its okay, we love you anyway Kid Bobble!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Getting ready for MckMama's visit!

***** disclaimer ***** this entire post should be taken tongue in cheek!!! Meant only for laughs!!!

I'm in such a rush.  I have to get everything ready.  You see, I am getting a very special visitor soon.  Any minute really.  She said she'd be over in 20, but we didn't really discuss the EXACT time she'd be leaving, so, yeah, 20 minutes from who knows when, she could be here.  

You see, I commented on her blog yesterday... well, I do EVERY day that she has a new post.  She had the most adorable Zoom book she was showing us.  Her book was filled with all 4 of her MSC's (many small children or my small children).  I couldn't help but think that her book was so cute, (really, really cute) because she has mad photography skills and she took all the amazing photos of her kids.  Of course she was also giving a book kit away for commenting.  

Now I wasn't entirely sure I had the whole concept down for the contest, so I sought clarification from her and this was my comment yesterday:" Whats that you say? You'll come shoot super fun adorable pictures of my kids and turn them into a book as cute as yours? And I'll sit and hold Stellan and entertain MSC's while you work? Well shoot, count me in!"

Now with over 1200 comments, what are the chances she is 1. going to read all of them and 2. take the time to reply... Let me tell you when she says she reads all the comments... SHE REALLY READS ALL THE COMMENTS!

I know this because this was what she emailed last night, "why yes, vicky, that's exactly what i said! all right if we're there in 20 minutes?"

My jaw dropped and at the same time I flew up out of my chair... until I remembered. Well darn, I knew she lived in the midwest, but by car 20 minutes would be a little bit of a stretch. But I am not easily deterred. So I sat back down and replied "20 minutes should do it, do you have enough jet fuel for the plane you'll need to Minnesota?" And she wrote back yet again...

Now, I wasn't really sure when one of us would be completely stumped by the other one (or when one of us would have to go take care of our Mckmiracle baby)... but knowing MckMama (well, only her blog persona really) she is sooo clever I figured I'd bow down before she would...

But I'm not really sure either one of us expected this outcome? It seems that my visions of her living in either Michigan or Wisconsin, were a bit off. Actually, she assured me, she so wouldn't need to fly to see me, since really she is quite near!  

And I couldn't help but wonder if MckMama had read Angie Smith's post yesterday in which Angie wrote about discovering that one of her blog acquaintances (who she ran into at Starbucks), lived  precisely 3 MINUTES from her house! 

So, MckMama, I ran out this morning and got some steel cut oatmeal and threw it in the crockpot with some ground up flax seed.  The eggs are on to boil and there are fixin's for pizza later.  I'll just be sitting here watching our the window for you.  Oh, and one other thing, I'll let YOU bring the breastmilk!  'Kay? See you soon!  Can't wait!  

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Power of a Hug.

I was inspired by Pete's post yesterday about hugging. He told a funny anecdote about something he had done. You can find it here at Without Wax. I couldn't help but think of Ruben. Ruben was a 15 year old Native American boy that I worked with at the Psych. hospital in Idaho. He was coming for a three week stay. He had a reputation on his reservation of being involved with gang-like activity. We were briefed and warned to watch out.

I was scared of him the second I laid eyes on him. He was heavy-set with dark hair and eyes. He had a hair net on his head, black leather looking biker gloves on his hands and he had the most stoic scowl on his face. He looked menacing and mean. I was shakin' in my shoes as he slumped into his chair. But I was all business too. I think fear has a scent all of its own, and I shuddered at the thought of him finding me out. It took me two days to work up the courage to sit down with him to administer his achievement test. He had the academic skills of a second grader. From what I could tell he had developed some kind of an inventive spelling that he used for most words. I caught just the tiniest glimpse of how vulnerable that must make him feel. I truly felt a pang of compassion as I realized I had been giving him work to do that must have felt like it was greek to him. My comfort level with him grew.

One day I noticed, his hair net and those awful looking gloves were gone. On a whim I had given him some oil pastels to use and some paper and asked him to spend some free time drawing. I'd like to think, that was the day we met the real Ruben. Man, could he draw. He drew pictures of thunderbirds and other native symbols and scenes with such detail. He spent hours learning to blend the pastels and how to create shadows. As his passion emerged, his defenses went down. One of the nurses started teasing him about tickling him if he wasn't careful, and he laughed out loud.

Every once in awhile a patient would walk through the doors of the hospital and connect with us in a way that allowed us to help them. Whether we coaxed the child in him to play, or the learner in him to learn about drawing, or told the tough guy he could relax and feel safe, we each in our own way connected with him. It was a combined effort, but we saw visible signs of the changes occurring in him almost daily. So many times we were given empty promises of change from our patients. Ruben was walking the talk.

Before we all knew it, three weeks was approaching. Ruben was going to be transferred to another facility. I was impressed with the commitment of the reservation he came from which supported residential treatment and agreed for Ruben to get long term care.

Here is where the hugging comes into play. As staff we weren't allowed to hug our patients until their last day of treatment and only if both parties agreed. We had teased Ruben relentlessly that we were all going to make him hug us as a requirement of him moving on. I was the first of the day shift to leave and found Ruben sitting in his room. His bag was packed. He sat somberly on the edge of his bed. I gave him my usual pep talk and told him we'd miss him and that we would always be there for him. As I turned to go he stopped me. He asked if I'd forgotten something. No, I assured him he was free of me. He then said, well I am ready now for my hug. I laughed and said "Oh Ruben, we would never make you do something you didn't really want to do..." "But", he said, "I really want to."

It was a memorable bear type hug to be sure. The mental health worker and the gangster wannabe tough guy, with the big heart. I heard the next day it was a tearful good bye as Ruben made good on all of his hugs. And then we got our final report card from him. Much like what happens at most hospitals patients were allowed to rate us and give us feedback. Ruben's was simply this... in his inventive way he had written "Its the most love I ever felt."

We never truly know what happens to most of our patients, unless they return. Many of them do. Some don't. I don't know what happened to Ruben. But Ruben, if you are out there, I hope you are still feeling the love!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Can you guess...


Yes, they were supposed to be bowling. We wondered why we even bothered with getting them all shoes and finding the rights ball... they were much more enamored with the arcade games !

... where we went yesterday with the boys? School was out and we had restless boys. So we loaded two of ours up and threw in a couple of others and went to find an activity. But it seems they were distracted by a few other things and not the actual activity we intended. Oh well. We had an errand to run before we got to our destination and I almost lost my hearing. If I closed my eyes the boys sounded like giggling girls, with shrill laughs and high pitched squeals intermixed. What's a little parental noise discomfort when it comes to laughing with your friends?

I'd give a prize if I had one, but can anyone guess what our intended activity was? I'll post the answer later.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


For Valentines day I got to watch a lot of hockey. Come to think of it a majority of my weekend was at the rink. But, have I told you how much I love our hockey program, lately? I know I say it all the time, but it is just worth repeating. Our young hockey players look up to, admire, hero-worship and want to be just like our high school hockey players. So while Colton got to go and skate in-between the periods of a high school game, Nolan's age group got to skate with the high school players. Rick brought his camera and it wasn't until I saw some of his photos later that I really SAW the hero-worship. Taking into account the younger ones have to literally look up to hear what is being said, I assure you it doesn't matter how tall some of those coaches are, those boys are not nearly as intent on their words!

It was fun to see our little boys try to mimic the moves of the older boys. They skated with passion and gusto doing what they could to either beat a Spud in a race or keep away from a Spud trying to catch them. Afterwards they lined up with their sticks and jerseys to get autographs from the both the girls high school team, and the boys high school team. Go here to view the photo of the entire group and for more images.

We asked Nolan when he got older if he would know what to do if younger kids looked up to him. He said, "yeah, dad its going to cost YOU a lot of money, because I'll probably have to keep giving my sticks away." I think we both groaned when we heard that. Its the right idea, but at 150 dollars a stick, we hope he finds other things to give away.

Friday, February 13, 2009

C'est La Vie, Colton.

Can you guess the name of this delightful little girl? Yes, her name is Sami and there is NO question she is a GIRL.

Fishing for numbers.

Crafts by Colton

Nolan's gym squad took first place in his class in their bowling tournament yesterday. Yea Nolan!

I had a wonderful morning helping in Colton's Kindergarten classroom for their valentine's party. Some days I really miss teaching preschool and working at the daycare center as I have always loved working with young children. I keep those thoughts tucked away for future reference.

I laughed when the now famous Sami came and sat at my station.

Colton, honey, this is your mommy talking. I say this with love. Other than her name, Sami, she is nothing but cute and pink and princess-y and yes, sweetie, Sami is a girl. Clearly, a girl. So sorry this confuses you. One day I trust you'll know the difference. Although by that time, sadly, girls will still probably confuse you. C'est la vie, Colton.

There are days like this day, when being in the blogosphere is sooo rewarding I can hardly describe. Posts just sing with meaning and richness and beauty. The most loving thing I could possibly do is send you to two such posts today. For your enjoyment, really you should visit Robin and Sara. It will be abundantly clear why I am so honored to call them friends.

And when you are done you should check out one of my new favorite places to read, Lilly's Life. She hails from Australia and has a clever wit and wonderful distinct way with words and stories as well. And I encourage you to check out her George link too for a fun read and some laughs. Happy reading everyone!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentines and boys.

Its an oxymoron at best. It provide some much needed comic distraction yesterday. At Target last week I started looking for the perfect ones for the boys. Here are the requirements... no pink. No pink or purple, too girly. Flowers, teddy bears, hearts in general = bad. Yes, I realize, I am pretty much in search of the anti-valentine. But a really nice one! After much searching, I finally found the perfect one for each boy.

Luckily for me, Target so understands my little boy plight. So for Colton I found Star Wars. And for Nolan, the animal lover that he is, I found one with dogs. But then there was the whole way that they went about picking out each valentine for each friend in their class. Colton picked by matching up his favorite characters with his favorite friends. So if you got a General Grievous, you should know you are in with Colton... and try not to feel too badly if you wind up with a droid. And for the girls in his class? He just couldn't do it... no girl should have a Star Wars valentine from him at all, except maybe Grandma, cause really, Grandmas are not girls. He giggled when I implied she was. Nolan also matched type of dog to the personality of his friend, or the kind of dog they had. Again, you should be over the moon if you got a chihuahua from him... but I'm so sorry Mrs. Morlock for the poodle. He really DOES like you for a teacher I assure you.

But Colton gets the prize for the moment that left me without words. He had one name left on his list and could not figure out which valentine to use for Sami. So I tried to help him out. It looked simple enough to me. He had enough valentines of each kind to choose from. So I picked up one from the "girl pile", and he shook his head no. Well thats it then. Pick one from the boys pile I told him. But no, he shook his head again. Mom he explained I don't really know if Sami is a boy or a girl! The teacher says he is a boy, but I think he might really be a girl! He doesn't like even like Star Wars, and all he really wants to do is play in the kitchen with the girls! Thats a girl, mom. Girl.

Thank goodness Nolan had a couple of his puppy valentines left over. We found one that seemed to satisfy Colton, this time the purple poodle seemed just right. Gotta love little boys!

While we fail at overt creativity when it comes to valentines, we excel at all things hockey! I thought I'd share some creativity... boy style !

The boys set up the basement like a hockey rink and play knee hockey down there. This is the net against the doors to the office.

Here is the coffee table turned bench for the players and their collection of hockey sticks.

And these are the fans inside the doors of the office, looking through the glass. These must be some wealthy webkinz/fans as the seats behind the nets are primo! Notice the penguin is given top position as Nolan is quite the Pittsburgh Penguins fan.

More fans.

Number 1 fan... especially when she is safe from flying pucks behind the glass of the office door!

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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