Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Bjorn's favorite shows are Wheel of Fortune and Masterchef Junior.

He now fancies himself a word guesser extraordinaire, shouting out his guesses, groaning when they hit bankrupt. He's getting pretty good.

He has begun helping us prepare food, making his own sandwiches and requesting new and different foods to try for dinner. Last week he helped The Hubs make scrambled eggs, and tonight he helped me do the same. From getting out the right pan, to breaking the eggs to (as he calls it) "flipping the eggs", he made himself scrambled eggs.

These are two shows I have no problem letting him watch.

My son is growing up. And I am so excited for him to make me dinner.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bjorn and Hansa

On Monday when Bjorn came home to a house with no Hansa, he was sad and asked if he could draw her a picture.

"An H," he said."I'll draw an H and put it on my wall so I will always remember her."

He grabbed the crayons and some paper, drew a big block H, and began coloring it in, each block piece a different color. All different shades of orange, until he got to the last block.

"What's Hansa's favorite color?" He asked.

I wish I had asked her. I wish I could've asked her. 

"I think it's brown." he said, holding up that crayon, carefully coloring in the last piece.

Brown. The color of West Texas sky after a dust storm. The color of mud and ducks and dirty pond water while hunting. The color of steak and hamburgers. 

I think he's right. Brown was her favorite color. 

Monday, February 9, 2015


14 years ago, on our one year anniversary, my boyfriend drove across the state, and came home with a dog.

I don't remember how we celebrated that year, although anniversaries were so very,
very important to me, and I had never had a one year anniversary before. But I do remember that dog.

I didn't know he was getting a dog. For years after, I joked that this dog was mine, that he had bought her for me as an anniversary present. We gave her my middle name, and my maiden name. When she was in trouble - which was a lot of the time- we used all three of her names.

My boyfriend named her after a beer.  Typical.

He had just returned from a semester abroad in Norway. So he chose a Norwegian beer.


Just a pup.

She was most definitely his dog. When she wasn't outside with his roommates two hunting dogs, she was jumping on counters to steal a chicken, rummaging through bathroom trash cans or sleeping on a pile of his dirty clothes in a corner of her closet.

She continued doing all of these things for 13 years.

She went hunting with him, running and leaping and swimming with ease. She never tired. We took her to countless dog parks and lakes, both of us tiring before she did.

A swimmer at heart.


I used to dress her up, in Harley Davidson hats and bandannas. I will never live down the time I took her to the groomer mere days before she went hunting with the boys and their dogs. I set her up with a green camo bandanna and bright orange nail polish - in my mind, the perfect hunting combo. The guys still call her their "cheerleader".

Cool girl.

I married that boyfriend, and the three of us - husband, wife and dog - moved into a townhome with no yard.

I was the one with more time off work, so I was with Hansa more. I took her for runs around the neighborhood to stave off energy. I rarely put her in her kennel, although she was kennel trained, and opted instead to move all the trash cans into the pantry, and clear the counters and accessible areas (anything under 4 feet) of food.

It didn't always work. Like the time she ate two weeks worth of homemade blueberry muffins, saran wrap and all. Or the time she went through the garbage and I found garlic cloves and onion peels scattered and half chewed, two things to which dogs are deathly allergic. Or that one time she ate half a gallon of plumbers putty. The girl had a stomach of steel and could withstand any food - or non-food, for that matter. I called the vet a few times that year before she finally told me that my dog could pretty much stand to eat anything, and I didn't need to bring her in.

There were other things she ate: my leather shoes and leather jacket. Two packages of $20 gourmet jerky. Countless chicken legs and cupcakes and loaves of bread that were kept on the counter just a little too close to the edge.

Before we had kids, we paid a doggie day care to take care of her. They had a kitchen in the daycare, and they were baking cookies one night with the dogs all around. With the sitters back turned, Hansa jumped onto the counter and in one swift move ate a stick of butter, wrapper and all. A frantic call was made to us, where we eased the sitter's conscience. She loves butter, we said. Next time, watch your back.

By our second Christmas together, we had moved halfway across the country from family and friends, so we took our first family Christmas card picture together. Just me, my husband, Hansa....and a cactus.

Our first Christmas card.

We took her for hikes in the desert. One time we let her stray a little too far from the path, and she fell into a patch of jumping cactus. Five years later, our daughter did the same thing. Because of Hansa, and the experience I had picking prickle after prickle of cactus from her paws and fur, I knew how to take them out of my daughter's leg.

She had cancer, and had two different surgeries.  She was seven. She was so tough, and it was so heartbreaking to know that she didn't have any clue what was happening to her. She was used to sleeping on our bed every night, all 50 lbs of her directly on top of my legs, and although her entire side was done up in stitches, she somehow jumped (when our backs were turned) and made it onto the bed, whimpering once she got there. Fearing moving and hurting her more, my husband slept on the floor beside the bed that night.

After we had kids, my husband bought a 60 pack of granola bars at Costco. Taking one out, he left the rest of the pack on the table, ensuring that it was in the middle of the table, for she would never be able to get to that package from that far away, right? Two months later we were still finding granola bars hidden in holes throughout the yard. At last count, over 30 of them were missing.

She was a smart dog. At five o clock on the dot she would start to pace. She would run from the doggie door to wherever we were, and back again. She would shake and paw at us. She knew it was dinner time, even if we hadn't noticed the time.

I rarely had to sweep under the table, even after my toddler and baby children would eat rice or peas. She did not have a discriminating palate, and would inhale any bit of food dropped on the floor. She didn't always wait for it to hit the floor, either. Often, when Peanut was young, Hansa would take her favorite snack -string cheese- right out of her hand, swallowing it in one gulp.

Hansa was Bjorn's first word. "Anga", he said. "Anga." And soon, "Hansa." There was no introducing Bjorn to Hansa, no having to condition her to be nice to the baby. They were buddies from the start.  She let him pretend to ride her around the house, and when Peanut came around, she sat patiently while she had her try on necklaces and hats.

His first word, and his first friend.

She would smile when we came home. Her lips would pull back, almost in a sneer, but happier. Then she would dance around your feet, whining and puffing, sneezing and snorting. It was her "I'm so happy you're home!!" smile and routine.

I'm a crier. She would find me when I was crying, and snuggle up to me. I can't count how many tears I have wiped on her fur.

She let me wipe them on her fur today, for the last time. She licked me, and put her paws and head on my lap, letting me know that she loved me, but she couldn't go on any longer. The cancer was too much, and her body was giving out on her.

Good-bye Hansa. I miss you already.

Hansa Marie.

She liked to ride in the middle of the car, with the rest of us.


Our first Arizona winter trip.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Playing Catch up

It's been crazy around here, and I keep telling myself that when it slows down, I will write about all those amazing and exhausting and wonderful things that have been happening around here.

But it never slows down.

And it won't.

Because the next time it does start to slow, I won't want to sit in front of the computer. I will want to play one of the many board games the kidlets received for Christmas (Seriously, one of the games is all about putting scoops of ice cream into a bowl. The first to get the cherry on top, wins. Best game ever. Always makes me hungry.) or we will head out to the science museum to take advantage of our new membership, or I will just sit and read that fabulous new Christmas gift book.

So this will be my jumbled list of December events. I have a Notes section in my Iphone specifically for this blog, and when I get an itch to write, or have a great idea, or see something amazing, I write it there. So, this is my notes.


On a last minute whim, we took off to Texas for Thanksgiving to see my in-laws. Best idea we had in a long time. This trip to the country was just what we needed to recharge our batteries, relax and enjoy spending time with each other.

Also, Bjorn learned how to ride a bike.

 His PapPap brought a bike to the log cabin, and while Bjorn had never been on a bike without training wheels, and there was no paved road in sight, he went for it.

And passed with flying colors. The first time.

It was awesome to see him ride across rocks and pinecones, falling into a bed of leaves and sticks after a minute or so. He had no fear, and immediately asked to have his training wheels taken off his bike at home. Fast forward to now, a month later, and he rides up and down the street, turning and braking, only occasionally falling off. He has now asked to ride his bike to school when it begins again in January. My big kid really IS a big kid.


I was lucky enough to be able to chaperone Bjorn's field trip before school ended for Holiday Break. It was to the children's museum, and I was a bit worried (that place is HUGE), but it turned out to be really fun. I had such a blast following Bjorn and his friends around room to room, playing with any and every thing they could find.

The best part was when we went into the art room, and Bjorn immediately sat down to the table, grabbing a marker and piece of construction paper.

"What are you making, Bjorn?" I asked after a few moments. I picked up the stamps from the table. "Are you drawing something to stamp?"

"I'm writing a letter." he said.

"Oh, really? To whom?" (And, yes, I actually do use "whom" in real life. I cannot tell you when and why it should be used, and when to use "Who" but I do know when it feels right to say. Even to my 5 year old. )

"To my sister." he replied, painstakingly writing all the time.

This piqued my curiosity, so I looked over his paper.

"Dear Peanut," it said," You mak me hapy."

My heart swelled.

Oh, Bjorn. YOU make me happy.


Both Bjorn and Peanut have been playing sports this season, and sadly, (or not, depending on how you like to spend your Saturday mornings), both have decided not to play again next season.

Mine's the little blondie in blue
MVG Most Valuable Goalie

Bjorn was goalie for his soccer team, a position he said he wanted because "then I don't have to run". He had an absolute blast at first, but I think the last couple of games, against very competitive, very skilled teams had him rattled.

He asked to play baseball again next season instead of soccer, which I must admit - I loved. I love baseball. But I'm not sure he has the attention span for it. The Hubs and I had to spend his soccer games standing right behind the goal so we could make sure he paid attention to the game, and not to the police sirens a few streets away, or the plane flying off into the distance, or the wind blowing the dust into the trees or.....well, you get the idea. He tends to wander. He was a damn good goalie, though.

Peanut began ballet at a local studio, and I was so impressed with all she learned at her classes. She began "passe-ing" around the house, and moved furniture out of the way so she could somersault and twirl and, as she says in the voice of Angelina Ballerina, "Dawnce and dawnce and dawnce."

Her recital was the most precious thing I have ever seen in my life, and I would take her to a hundred more dance classes just to see her dance again. Like her brother, she also wants to play baseball, and while I have told her that the uniforms aren't nearly as princess-y as ballet's, she still wants to play. It's bittersweet. I want her to follow in my second baseman footsteps, but I truly enjoyed watching her dance.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bedtime Stories

As a reader, there is nothing more exciting than your son learning how to read. Seeing his face when he correctly reads a sentence in his book aloud. Discovering new words and ideas together through books. Reading. 

It's so exciting to see his vocabulary grow, to see sentences formed by his own hand, to hear chapters read out loud.

But as a tired mother, there is nothing more exhausting than the bedtime routine of a new reader. The wanting to read a book all by himself, but needing me there to guide him. Through all ridiculously loooooong 15 pages. Discovering new words that take 5 minutes to sound out, and he must read, and re-read and re-read again in a silly voice just to show that he does actually know it.

So while I am so incredibly thrilled that he is learning to love to read.......I really just want to go to bed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fantastic Five

Parents of toddlers, rejoice. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you can get past the Terrible Twos, if you can manage to withstand your Three-nager, if you can make it through the F*&king Fours.....there is hope.

When your son is five, he will say things like "Please, Mommy, can I have a grilled cheese?" and when you make him that grilled cheese, he will sigh with contentment. "Thank you, Mommy, for making me a great dinner."

Seriously. That happened.

He will put on his own jammies so you can have three minutes to load the dishwasher before bedtime routine begins and when he is done putting on jammies, he will help you with the dirty dishes. He will remember to brush his teeth in the morning and at night without your nagging. He will still want to snuggle on the couch on Sunday morning.

You will have a child who, when you tell him no TV tonight says, "Ok, Mommy. Can we play a game instead? I'll go get Yahtzee." There is no tantrum. A boy who loves homework and school because words are "tricky" and tricky things are fun. You have a boy who can read street signs and sight words but still doesn't know what you're saying when you spell D-I-S-N-E-Y-L-A-N-D.

He can wipe his own butt, but he still wants to hold your hand when he crosses the street. It truly is the best of both worlds. A little big boy. Or a big little boy.

So hang in there, Parents of Toddlers. Stay strong. If you can get past the ages where you wonder why on Earth you ever thought having kids was a good idea, you will see. Five is a magical number.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Thankful Tree

This year I wanted to try making the holiday season more meaningful to Bjorn and Peanut. They are, as the cliche goes, such little sponges. I don't want them to soak up the all the commercialism and Christmas songs 24 hours-7-days-a-week without also realizing that there is a lot more to Thanksgiving than turkey and Christmas than reindeer.

I decided to start a "Thankful Tree", which is exactly as it sounds -a place to hold all the things we are thankful for.

The acorns were actually in another decor setup, but Bjorn keeps moving them onto the tree. Because that's where acorns go. He's so logical.

I happened to have an extra tree jewelry holder. Yes, an extra one, don't ask me why I have so much stuff. And, yes, that is the same tree we draped in spiderwebs and hung bats from to decorate for Halloween! Reduce, Reuse.....

Throw in some fake acorns and a few decor leaves, and you have yourself this year's Thankful Tree.

I explained it to Bjorn as a place for us to write down all we are thankful for, a new one each day. We would write the word on a leave, put it on the tree and watch the tree grow thick with leaves.  I hope for them to realize just how much we already have in our lives to be thankful for, little bit by little bit. 

Day One. I meant to do this every day during November, but as it usually happens, time got away from me, so today was Day One. And only because Bjorn grabbed a leaf and reminded me. "Hey Mom, can we start our Thankful Tree now?" Ummmm, yes. Yes, we can.

I expected one of them to say their favorite vice, TV. Or on the heels of Halloween weekend, their second favorite: candy. Instead, I got this.

My son is thankful for the Marines. Yesterday, at dinner, he prayed for the military. Each branch* got its own little prayer, as he stated "Thank you God for the Army and the Marines and the Air Force and...what's the name of the ones who are in the water? Oh yeah, the Navy. Thank you for all the military."  Thankful for the Marines. I can't write much more about it, for I feel it says it all....that, and I'm tearing up as I write. He makes me so proud.

Peanut is thankful for our dog. Our 13 year old, slightly insane, always hungry dog that steals string cheese from her hand as it is en route to her mouth, breathes so loudly the TV volume has to be turned up to 40 so we can hear it over her, and hasn't played a game or fetched in at least five years. She is still thankful for her. She does not see a curmudgeon of an old dog, breaking doors and stealing stuff from the trash. She sees a soft doggie that lets her hug her, and dress her in tiaras and necklaces, holding a Tinkerbell wand in her paws. She sees an animal that is scared of thunderstorms, so comes to sleep in her room. She sees love.

I thought maybe this Thankful Tree would teach my kids to not be motivated for more possessions, but to love what they have. It has already, on day one, taught me so much more.

I am thankful for my kids.

*I just looked up military branches because it felt like one was missing. The Coast Guard. I'll have to show him pictures of the Coast Guard. I honestly didn't know that they weren't a subdivision of a different branch. I feel ashamed that I don't know my own country's military better, but I guess that's the first step? Feeling a little ashamed and then learning?