Monday, September 21, 2009


Natalia was met at the airport on Friday night. It was BFF at first site. She is adorable and precious and we just may have to keep her. We've had a whirlwind weekend full of get acquainted activities and resting from her long trip. We've had very few language issues as she speaks much better English than we do Spanish and she is becoming more confident everyday.
Sunday we threw caution to the wind and invited both the 7th and 8th grade classes of girls to house for a party. There is another exchange student for Guatemala in our 8th grade class. The other exchange mom and I thought it would be fun to get the girls all together before our new girls started school on Monday. This way they would have some familiar faces on their first day.
We started by having each girl make a scrapbook page for each of the exchange girls; this got them talking and laughing and loosened things up quite a bit.
Food - the great unifier - and great conversation as to what things the girls should do and see while the are in Minnesota also brought the team together. Mall of America was voted the number one "must do" along with a pumpkin patch.
In preparation for their first school dance of the year this Friday, a little line dance lesson. Yes, it was the "Macarena"

And a trip to the playhouse. In case you're wondering, you can fit 17 girls and one mom in the playhouse. Not comfortably, but it can be done! Majo, (Maria Jose) third from the left, is the other exchange student, Nati, is second from the right. That's about as far away as she's gotten from Kathryn since Friday night.

And all of a sudden, I have two girls! And I love it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Big Reveal

We have made room in the closet . . .

. . . and emptied out the spare dresser drawer . . .

. . . and taken up more space in a small room to make more room . . .

. . . because on Friday night at 5:00 pm we go to the airport to pick up Natalia - Nati, for short - a 12 year-old girl from Guatemala who will be living with us for 12 weeks as an exchange student. She is blond-haired and blue-eyed; she speaks limited English but understands much more. She loves animals and basketball. She could be Kathryn's identical twin. They will go to school together and be sisters together for the next 12 weeks. Jon and I will be parents of two pre-teen aged daughters for 12 weeks. We are all insanely crazy excited over this idea. I am just a wee bit nervous.
But my hope is that this experience will give the blog a new lift as it will be a great way for me to keep the memories of the adventure alive! Stick around - see what happens!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A New Year

Seventh grade. A new year, a new attitude. On both our parts.

We wrote "new year" resolutions for ourselves, and each other, then sealed them in an envelope to open at the end of the school year. I'll share mine with you. I promised to try and give my girl more space. To grow, to try, to mess up (gasp!), to fly. I freely admit to hovering last year; to being "too there". But I did so for all the right (my) reasons. Her best friend had moved away, she had come off two years of school with bad "girl issues". I just couldn't stand by and watch the Middle School years start out on a bad note. So, I got involved - in everything I could. And then, I actually loved it. She and I made a deal that if it got to be too much, she'd tell me to back off. While she hasn't told me it's too much, I know it's time. She's ready to go it alone.

She came home from school yesterday as happy a girl as I have seen. The girls (the 8 remaining girls) in 7th grade got together at lunch. They all talked about how they need to make a much better 7th grade; they need to work at bringing their two cliques together and all getting along. She's on Student Council this year and is taking this responsibility seriously. I think she's turning into me....

So despite the sad faces on the two animals in the pictures - What? You can't see Tig trying to squeeze through the crack at the bottom of the screen door? - We are off to a great start this year. For the first time in ten "First Days of School" - I didn't cry!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Um - Hi!

Sorry. The break went a little bit longer than I anticipated. The blog and I were in a little bit of a disagreement as to which should come first - work or play. Ultimately I won. And while the blog thinks of herself as work (and at times, so do I) last week, it was all work for me. The blog thinks what I do is "volunteer" and thus, should not count as work. She thinks she should come first. It's an age-old battle between the blog and me. It makes me wonder how blog peeps with real jobs manage all this drama.

The blog and I will have to continue this battle as school starts tomorrow; I'm not quite ready for it this year as it's a full week ahead of schedule from years past. And while I realize that I am not going to school it does mean I'm really busy. Jon and I agreed once again chair the parish-wide Oktoberfest fund-raising event for the parish/school. And I continue in my capacity as hepard to the youth of the school in their fall sports endeavors. I love my volunteer jobs - well, you know the rest of that statement.

But I hope you'll stick with me here because there is a big change coming for the family. Some of you know it - don't give it away! The blog will take a slight detour while we undergo a little family detour; it'll be very exciting.

The last few weeks of summer had my family from San Diego here. It was delightful. A house full of girls is just a wonderful way to end your summer. Full of giggles and laughs and squeals. Every moment of it was lived to the fullest . . .

. . . from the beginning . . .

. . . . . to the end.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Time Away

My blue house is now . . .
. . . my brown house. And I'm ok with it because I got . . . . . . a red chair in the deal!
The California cousins (and their parents) return tonight from their 10 day scenic tour of Wisconsin. They paid a special visit to a certain mural (where my brother-in-law's mom was born!!) and I'm guaranteed my own personal slide show tonight! They also had smoothies at a local coffee shop in the same town that were "yummy"! I gotta visit there some time!
So, we're planning big things while they're here for the next 12 days. I'm taking a blog break until August 24 to enjoy the time with my sister and the three girls. It's hot and steamy here finally so we'll probably spend as much time as possible at the pool or inside the house - which is good. Then I won't have to look at the outside!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Product FAIL

Kathryn got it in her head that the cats might enjoy leashed walks outside. Sam passed on this idea immediately and for the first time in her kitty life, she actually cried. Tig's reaction was a bit more understated.
"I'm not moving a muscle, and no amount of jiggling that thing can make me move!"

"Not even if you get down on your four paws and act like a kitty. Not for kibble
or whatever else you have hiding in you pocket. This is stupid."

"Hey! Is that the catnip over there?"
I'm sure the packaging made it look like a lot more fun for everyone!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Party On!

Last Sunday (not yesterday, because it took a week to recover) was the annual "Let's all gather at Deb's to celebrate whatever there is to celebrate" event. Included in the list of celebratory events was Dad's 80th birthday, Mom's semi-retirement, brother Dave and his wife Ann's birthday, twin nephew and niece's 19th birthday, and the summer arrival of my sister Diane and her family from California. For Kathryn - that's reason enough to throw a huge party as this last item includes her cousins, Dana and Andie.

However, the real reason for the gathering was to celebrate an even bigger milestone. The previously mentioned niece and nephew were both graduated from Wayzata High School in June.

Kathryn, being a veteran of one graduation party already, knew the routine and quickly brought her cousins up to speed. And in no time, all six hand, and arms were busy preparing the caps!

In the requisite Blue and Gold! I know this as a 1976 WHS grad. Endy's (my maiden name) graduated from Wayzata in 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 84. And now '09.

Who knows what the next generation will bring?

Congratulations to Maari Elizabeth who will head to DePaul University for winter term after first spending some time in France. She'll enter DePaul with her fall term completed having earned 16 AP credits in high school (I'm her aunt - I can brag!).

Congratulations to Dutch (Daniel Gilbert IV) who leaves for
The University of Minnesota (his father's Alma mater) this fall. He also attained college credits through AP courses but because he's a nephew, and doesn't talk much, I can't remember how many. Dude - sorry! I do know that his biggest concern is this : housing on the St. Paul campus. Housing FAIL!

I am enormously proud of my niece and nephew. They are the oldest of the grandchildren and have led the way for the "little kids". They've grown into remarkable young adults who have their whole lives ahead of them. So yeah - proud and jealous.

Dutch and Maari:
Do well, be happy, shine like the sun. I love you more than you know.
Aunt Deb

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Ahem - Mayem?

Things are getting a very hectic here, so to remind us to take some time out and treat ourselves like Princesses,

. . . . we're wearing our tiaras. But only momma gets to wear the furry pink one!

Isn't that right Holli?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Good Only Goes So Far

And then you have to 'fess up.

I hit another pole. Only this time I backed into it. Not as bad as the last time when I took out the whole front end of the passenger side, but bad enough to have the rear bumper waving at me all the way to the pool and back. And mildly embarrassing that the nice man at the repair shop asked Jon "Are we working on the same white Lexus?" Jon: "New car, same wife." Thankfully, nobody was injured, unless pride counts. It was a very quiet ride to the pool that day - even with four girls in the car.

Lesson: the newspaper mail tube of the VP of Circulation for the local newspaper is ALWAYS going to have his post planted in the ground in solid lead. DO NOT hit it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Now with More Goodness!

Brenda, of the Tuesday Morning Knitting Group, is just that kind of good person. The kind that does the good stuff quietly and never tells anyone that she's doing it , even when she's doing it right in front of you. You could almost not like her for that kind of good doing-ness, but then, it's Brenda. And she's just about the nicest person on the planet and you can't fault a person for being nice AND good AND not a bragger person - I mean - can you?

So, sometime a while ago - no one knows exactly when - Brenda started sneaking away to a memory care facility every other Wednesday. Her mission, to spend some time with the residents and to knit and crochet with them. The goal, to simply make squares. And they did.

OK - some looked like the upper part of the state of Minnesota . . .

. . . or hour glasses. But week by week, the squares grew (or shrank if they became unwieldy and Brenda had to rip them into submission). And our girl sat patiently with these ladies and listened, and learned; taught and was taught; laughed and probably cried (Brenda never cries so I'm just guessing here).

And for the past two weeks at the regular meeting of the TMKG, she's just been sitting over in her designated spot with an enormous crochet hook and big fat yarn (SO not Brenda - let me just say!) and playing with these weird squares of different colors and shapes and sizes. Finally, some asked: "What the hell are you doing over there?" And non-braggy, wonderful person, good doing Brenda shared the story with us. OK - I do cry and I did! She's crocheting all the squares together for a lap blanket to be used in the TV room at the memory care facility. See me - I'd keep it. After all - who would know?

Brenda - you already know that I love you like a sister . . . (OK - you know how I feel about my sisters, so I love you more than like a sister) . . . but this thing you do, it's just so . . . so . . . Brenda!

Thanks for being such a great inspiration.

Love ya,

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We Done Some Good

Yesterday, Kathryn and I joined about 40 other friends from school for our second annual summer service project at Feed My Starving Children. In case you decide not to click over there, I'll tell you that this organization does just what it says, all through volunteers, it prepares, packages and ships nutritionally healthy meals to children throughout the world.
After a brief overview you arrive at your workstation and quickly decide who will do which tasks. There are scoopers, and weighers and sealers and packers, and plastic bag holders (I suck at that job!) Our team decided to rotate jobs every once in a while to keep things fresh! Only grown-ups can work the sealer. I was awesome at that job!

Once your bag is on the funnel, in goes: one scoop of vegetarian chicken flavoring and one scoop of dehydrated vegetables. We were able to recognize broccoli and something red in the vegetables.

After that comes a coffee cup scoop of soy nuggets and a coffee cup scoop of rice. I also rocked in the soy and rice scooping. The younger girls had a rough time with the handles on the cups and their knuckles.

From there, the package gets weighed (380 - 400 grams). When 36 packets are completed, they go into a box . . . in a very.specific.order. Kathryn did that job for the longest period of time as she was the only one who could be counted on to remember the "very.specific.order".

We occupied 14 of 16 available the packaging stations for 1 1/2 hours.

If you were an overflow person, you got assigned to putting labels on the bags. Not as much fun, but you get to sit.

Each package of food makes 6 meals. Our pod packed 14 boxes. That's 504 packages of food, or 3024 meals. In total, our group packed 61 boxes for a total of 13,176 meals. This will feed 36 children for 1 year. The cost to FMSC of the ingredients for this amount of food is $2240.

I love this event for so many reasons but primarily because it gives the children a chance to "do" something; to get their hands dirty (so to speak). They know that each package they prepare, seal and pack will be going somewhere so far away, to someone who desperately needs it. Even the really young kids can grasp this concept. Sometime when the boxes are packed on the pallet, there is an opportunity to write messages or draw pictures on the outside of the boxes. The little ones always write the best messages. We didn't get a chance to do that this time because the boxes were being readied for shipment at that moment. We we did get to bless the boxes before their long journey. I heard one little one say what must be her family's dinnertime blessing, of "Grace" over the boxes. And me without my Kleenex.

Monday, July 27, 2009


At her last check up, Kathryn was reminded of the need to eat more fruits and vegetables. Note that I put this responsibility on her, not on - - say, her parents. No matter what fruits I buy, I eat some, but the rest usually sits around until it's time to toss them. Except for bananas. So yesterday morning I decided to try a new way to entice her with my own version of a fruit smoothie.

Fresh strawberries, raspberries, orange juice and mint blended with ice (no yogurt here!). If it was dessert, I might be inclined to throw in some ice cream.

Truth be told, she might have preferred the yogurt and didn't like the mint, but she persevered and drank it all. Later, after she left for an afternoon at the racetrack with her Nanee and Poppa (an annual occurrence; alas, she lost $6.00) I came upon a great idea on how to use up the left over smoothie.
I added more raspberries, more strawberries, some fresh frozen blueberries, more OJ, ginger ale, more mint. I had a vague notion of adding the Ruby Red Vodka to the concoction; but cooler heads prevailed. I just didn't want to ruin all the goodness - of the vodka.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sad, not Blue

For more than 14 years I have lived in a blue house. I've always wanted to live in a blue house. I love my blue house. Love, love, love my blue house. It looks perfect in every weather condition. On sunny days, it looks happy; on cloudy days, it seems to brighten things up; the blue just shines against a snowy backdrop in winter; in the fall, this color blue looks gorgeous with all the fall colors. I have always given directions to our house based on the color "Follow that all the way to the end; it's the blue house at the bottom of the hill."
I guess it's time for a change. The old girl needs paint and some one's we've decided to go more neutral. Sometime between now and the time she'll need to be painted again, we hope to sell her and build again. The reality is, neutral will help her sell better. Conceptually, I understand this. I also understand that painting her again in this time frame would be a waste of money.But, I'm a blue girl. Actually, I'm anything but a neutral girl. I'm going to have a hard time telling people "Follow that all the way to the end; it's the house that looks like all the other houses in the those subdivisions that all look alike which is so not what we wanted when we built this house and painted it blue but now looks like that - or - it's the last one on your right."

On closer inspection - nope - I don't even really like the new trim color either. And the painter wasn't even cute.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Longer than Life

When last looked upon, Larger than Life bag was complete - sort of. The outer, crocheted portion of the bag was complete; the lining was complete. All that remained since June 12, 2007 was to join the two pieces together. Yeah - I'm that lame. The problem was that the lining was just a smidge too small for the bag, or so I thought.

I finally decided that defying the laws of physics was not in my nature, gave up and after two years of having it sit in the studio, turned it over to a goddess. In the hands of my good friend and trusty seamstress Pam, who can make anything work, the two pieces came together (something about "easing"?) Silly me, I was prepared to give up the two darling fabrics I had found and everything.

I love how the flower side of the double-sided lining peeks through the holes in the crochet! She even found a cute, third coordinating fabric for two pockets I hadn't considered!

So no more hanging around - it's time to get this out in the real world to show off!