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November 2009
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January 2010

update on the niecephew

first, and i'm sure matt and becca would say this as well, thank you thank you thank you to all who have been praying for them and the baby. they ended up back at the hospital this morning, and by early afternoon it was decided the baby needed to be born today. long story, and I'll share more when I don't have to type it on a phone, but my nephew, Wyatt j., was born at 5:57 p.m. At just under 34 weeks. he is5 lbs 8 oz - a good size for a small not. he seems to be fine and hopefully we'll get to see him soon! More info and pix when I get home!!

calling all prayer warriors!!


my sister could use some right now.

her father-in-law passed away tuesday morning, and by wednesday morning she was in the hospital for exhaustion and cramping/contractions.

the niecephew needs a few more weeks to bake, so we'd appreciate any and all prayers you can spare to help them through this tough time. right now, my brother-in-law is torn over who needs him and when - his mom, or his wife and unborn child. he needs strength, becca needs rest, baby needs good, strong, healthy vibes, and we all need the wisdom to know what to do to help them.

thanks. we all appreciate it.

a year of faves

the holidays have come and gone, and now 2010 is upon us.

wasn't it just y2k?! where did the decade go?? 10 years ago, i was horrendously pregnant with my first child, working as a reprint editor at a curriculum/children's book publishing house, living in an adorable bungalow in south minneapolis, driving an old grand am that hated me, marc still had hair and worked for american express ... the twin towers were still there, new orleans was still intact, saddam hussein was still in power, we weren't at war, there hadn't been a whole slew of natural disasters ...

what a difference 10 years makes.

as 2009 draws to a close, it's time to reflect upon the top 10 things that made me happy happy happy this year.

10. the ladies: betty white and jane lynch.

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rose was always my favorite golden girl, but between her visits to craig ferguson (whom i also adore) and her crazy indian dance and even crazier lap dance from oscar from "the office" in "the proposal," my love for ms white is strong. and jane lynch? is there anyone funnier? sadistic cheerleading coach sue on "glee" steals the show, which is very hard to do given the other characters, but playing julia child's sister in "julie & julia" pushed her over the top onto my faves list.

9. the gentlemen: david letterman and john stewart. smart, snarky, and honest. what's not to love?

8. my new uniform: land's end cardigan and scoop t-shirt, and old navy sweetheart jeans. throw in some wool merrell clogs, and there you have it.

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7. studio calico. enough said.

6. "mad men," "big bang theory," and "community." more specifically, joan holloway, sheldon, and ahbed. great writing has finally returned to television.

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5. "zeitoun" and "columbine." amazing reporting, writing, honesty. horrifying reality of what humans can do to each other. tragic look at the lack of empathy and listening and awareness of the people around you that we suffer from in this world.

4. brandi carlile's new album. have mercy. other '09 favorites: sufjan stevens, crooked still, rogue wave, sea wolf, lisa hannigan, and regina spektor.

3. door county. it was everything i knew it would be.

2. taking steps into a new phase of my life and a new career. baby steps still, but the excitement is growing.

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1. the hope of even better things to come in '10!! specifically, maybe we'll finally decide on a lot and house plan so i can start putting my obsessive planning to work!

happy new year's, friends!! christmas photos to come soon ... as well as an adorable maternity shoot of someone who may or may not be my sister ...

water is the new black

i'm sure many of you (especially the scrappy types) have seen a lot of chatter around the interwebs lately about water. specifically, clean water for places which have none, for children who have to bathe and drink from the same puddles that the animals use. tara whitney has had a water drive, cathy zielske has had a water drive, and i'm sure there have been others. i just don't get out much.

here's the thing: i have a little water push with an upside for you.

last-minute gift-giving, support of a rising artist, AND water.

how could it possibly get better than that?

see this hottie?

image from this is my cousin, luke. luke recently graduated with a degree in ceramics and he's doing what so many of us would love to do: he's trying to make a go of his own studio, with his own products. amazing.

here's the water connection: in his family, there is a strong connection to service, and water seems to have stepped to the forefront. his brother, abe, and his wife have traveled to africa to dig wells for villages. abe is an engineer, and used his brainy skills to provide something for people who otherwise wouldn't receive this most essential building block of life and health.

and luke's way of helping? through his art. this mission of his goes all the way through to his studio name: mudlove.

the clay he throws is mud. the mud is created by adding water. water makes dirt into something beautiful.

water makes villages something beautiful, too.

20% of luke's profits go directly toward providing clean drinking water in africa. that is a huge pledge on the part of a young artist just getting his footholds in the arena, with students loans to pay off, studio space to cover, etc.

i know there are only a few shopping days left ... maybe consider it a gift for yourself after the holidays for a job well done? ... but the next time you have a present to buy and you want something unique, perhaps consider supporting not only a young artist taking a leap, but also young children in a land far away who have never had a drink of clean water.

getting something and giving something back at the same time is such a great way to go, don't you think?



first ...

my car is finally back. yes, it was the full $3,000 toyota promised me, but it wasn't any more than that. and now it runs just fine. and my clock actually worked for about 12 seconds today ... it hasn't worked in more than five years! so, yay toyota.

secondly ...

christmas shopping is, essentially, DONE! i had to finish it with chatty cathy harper along for the ride, and we hit four different places in a three-hour span, and i'm exhausted. but it's done. woot.

thirdly ...

christmas cards will go in the mail tomorrow. more on that next week.

and lastly ...

remember my baby sister? the one who does the photo-a-day things with me now and then? well, this is her, doing her job. my only complaint: camera guy was on her too tightly and i couldn't see my niecephew. oh well. soon enough.


almost a no-go, but not all the way.

remember when i found a house online with 20 acres and a barn? well, we saw it yesterday. spent an hour going through the house, the pole barn, the barn barn, the chicken coop (i know, right?? chickens!! heaven!). while our love for the land and outbuildings was deep and strong, the house brought us back to reality.

here's what we'd be up against:

we drove up to the house, and the first thing i noticed was the garage door. it looks ... dead. house = not a good first impression.

but wait ... then we walked out into the yard ...

are you kidding me? look at the trees! the space!!

then we walked over to the pole barn. the space was H.U.G.E. and the potential was definitely there. along with all the flotsam left over from an estate sale ...

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(homemade apple wine, older than we are. letters from 1918. paper dolls from 1955. an old boat. an old metal desk. a barrel full of clothes made from fabric of colors not found in nature.)

we could definitely envision it divided into marc's space and my space ... with an exterior wall of windows, painted concrete floors, a small bathroom and kitchenette area, an enclosed server room ... even though it would need a ton of work to get it to that point.

then we headed over to check out the barn barn.

the barn barn seemed solid, as did the loft (apartment for guests? henry when he's in college??).

we walked over to check out the chicken coop and admire the view from the back yard ...

(noticed the neighbor has horses! sqeeee!!)

then we headed back to see the house, where reality came crashing in on us.


first we passed all nature of strange things in the yard ...

then we saw the wasp nest growing next to the garage ...

then we walked in the house.

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the place has been vacant for 17 years. on the market for the past 18 months, but who knows how many times it's been on and off before that. the remnants of an estate sale linger, and the disclosure states the owner passed away in '93. looking around the house, none of that information was a shocker.

the fireplace and beamed ceilings have potential for being so very cool ...


but the fact that every window was covered with frost on the inside was so NOT cool. contrary to the science of the heat value of frost.

but still ... there's that view! of the land!!


we looked at the bedrooms and saw some atrociously bad wallpaper ...

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then we walked toward the bathroom. or, bathroomS. as they were literally right next to each other. and which was worse? well, you tell me:

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yes. that's a sink full of mouse crap. and a cup of soap with mousy bite marks.


wanna see the kitchen?

IMG_0610 the pantry ... directly off the second bathroom.

well played, person who put up the shelves.

you can't even open the door from the bathroom all the way.


kind of like the 4" opening into the kitchen from the pantry.

maybe if the fridge was scooched all the way over to the counter. that might help.



one more random discovery ... a linen closet full of linens. still.

and then we headed to the basement. i'll let the photos speak for themselves ...

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and speaking of carpet, look at this vision of vintage loveliness, along with some quality built-ins:

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after poking around the house for awhile and discussing all the possibilities and potential, the amount of work and money and questions we had also had to be brought up.

the price for the property is so good, and given the state of the house and how long it's been hanging around the neck of the family, we could probably get it for an even better deal. however, the house is a gut job at best, a tear down at worst. who knows what the state of the well and septic are after being unused for nearly two decades. the questions of where would we live during a reno, how much would it cost, how much would it cost to reno the outbuildings and get water and electrical to them, and how long it would take to do that and our get our offices up and running, etc., are big, big questions.

we haven't totally written off the idea, but as we discussed it last night, we realized that for essentially the same price or less, we could carry through with our original plan to build the house we want on the lot we want and get work spaces in the house. suddenly, our first option is the cheaper and more logical option.

smittenness aside, this is going to be an expensive endeavor whichever way we choose to go. and we have to keep practicality in mind. and at this point, this place is not the practical, cost-effective option.

but that barn and land will haunt my dreams ...

the back of henry's head was on tv today!

a fifth grader at henry's school won an nfl contest to bring a football player to school. so there was a school assembly, and tarvaris jackson made an appearance and hung out for awhile, and the local news crew was on hand. if you watch the clip, there's a part when mr jackson pits the fourth graders against the second graders to see who is loudest. just after he says that, there is a shot of the back of a group of kids sitting on the floor. in the bottom center is a girl in a light blue shirt. just above her and to the right a little is a round little head with sticky-outy ears and a bright yellow t-shirt. that's henry's head, for about 1.5 seconds.

how cool is that?

for those of you who don't want to watch the clip ... here:


i'm not going to whine.

or cry. or bitch. or throw a sarcastic little fit.

i've done enough of that already.

suffice it to say, all the trouble with the cat and then the car ... ? well. cat decided friday to just eat and be fine. $300 down the drain, maybe? car = $3000. can't drive it safely until next week sometime. marc = out of town three days this week, four if he gets trapped in wisconsin's snow storm, and two days next week, leaving me with two kids, a snow storm on the way, no groceries, and a car that is sort of jerry-rigged together until a part comes in next week. today = big steaming pile of crap with a cherry on top. travel plans for xmas? amended to delete four days with family due to external complications, including canceling something of the shower persuasion for my little sister.


why is it every year i look forward to the holiday season, for the spirit and the charity and the family and the quiet ... and every year that christmas spirit gets dragged behind the schoolhouse and has the crap beaten out of it?

i'm letting it go. i'm not going into details. it'll all just make me cry again. but seriously, enough is enough. bring on january and let's just be done with it.

in trying to be a good sport, though, i'll continue with the december daily. it just might be the most ranty, depressing december daily in the history of december dailies.


i never should have looked.

one of my biggest flaws is that i just can't wait. i can't sit still until the time is right. i just have to think about what's coming next and what the possibilities are, and then my brain goes, "hey ... let's just check it out NOW to pretend what you might do THEN."

that's sometimes a very, very bad thing.

case in point? today i decided to poke around on a realty web site to see what is on the market in henry's school district, and came across what would be a seriously perfect place for us. and now my brain and marc's gears are spinning, dreaming of the potential in this property.

why why why do i do this??? we've just started getting comfortable with the idea of building on the lot we like, and i've completely restructured a floor plan to be perfect for us. and now? now i'm daydreaming about a property that's almost as old as we are, needs lots and lots and lots of renovating on the inside, and would probably be a bear to keep up with. initially.

but those brains and gears of ours? they are looking 10 years down the road, when everything is done. and it would be heaven.

here's the ugly house:

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it isn't pretty. not even a little. but look at that property!! 20 acres! and it includes a pole barn and a horse barn. 10 acres are wooded, but 10 are not. we can't stand it; it's so, so close to our powerball dream: we win lots of money (obviously, we're missing this step), build our perfect house in the country, build our office/studio space away from the house so we can walk to work every day, have space for family to stay when they visit so they aren't sleeping on the couch.

well, hello, walk to work ...

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would this not make a wonderful office/server room for marc? and potentially be a great shared space with my studio?

then again, i think i'd rather make THIS my studio ...

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and finish off the loft space as a guest apartment of sorts.

and behind that pole barn? we can put those wind power turbines we've always wanted, and marc can have whatever ham radio antennae his little heart desires. and when we rip apart the inside of the house? geothermal all the way. we could be off the grid; our dream!

the kids could run in the woods. they could build a tree house. we could get a dog. we could put in a lap pool. marc could go shoot at trees.

oh, the possibilities are endless.

of course, we'd have things like this to address, and that wouldn't come cheap or quickly:

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but i love the challenge of a raw space. love it. though i'd want to tear down the whole structure and build something like this in its place:

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the hardest part would be holding my horses and taking it one project, one budget at a time. that would kill me. because like i said, i just can't wait.

(and, seriously, i just emailed the realtor for more information. we must be nuts.)

so much for that.

holiday spirit, that is. a december of peace and joy.


i'm not ready to throw in a "bah humbug," but seriously. we're four days into december and it sucks so far.

our cat, mario, stopped eating much of anything last week. we attributed it to marc buying a new kind of food, lots of chaos getting ready for thanksgiving, changes in the home environment. then mario peed in the laundry room twice (which, sadly, is not a new development), which i chalked up to all the cleaning and rearranging i did in there the previous weekend. mario has always been finicky and touchy, so changes in his world seemed like a logical explanation.

jump to this week: he's not eating at all now, not drinking, sleeping all day. he's not himself. i took him to the doctor on monday ...  six hours and $250 later, we know his blood work is normal, his liver function is normal, his kidneys were slightly off but within normal limits. he received some fluids and an appetite stimulant and sent home.

wednesday, he was still no eating, not taking the meds, not letting us get food into him. another hour and $150 at the vet, and we're no closer to an answer.

so what to do about mario? spend the money we really don't have right now (more on that in a minute) to keep testing? keep watching him and hope it leaves his system? something worse? and if he doesn't get better, how can we leave him alone as much as will be the case over the holidays? and do i really want to make him the responsibility of the 12-year-old cat sitter?

yesterday morning, on top of mario, i was driving out of the neighborhood to get henry to school, and my car didn't stop. at a stop sign. turning onto a four-lane road. my car slid into the path of an oncoming car who, thankfully, had the presence of mind to swerve away from us. my traction control has been getting dodgy for about a year, but we had brake work done, got new tires, figured it was all okay now. apparently not. we had a dusting of snow, so i thought maybe there was some black ice or something and tried to turn on the car's four-wheel drive. it blinked and blinked and blinked ... and never engaged. and the rest of the day it blinked and blinked ... and wouldn't turn off. in the afternoon, when it was time to pick up henry, i got in the car, the light was still blinking, and i tried to back out of the driveway. as soon as i started to turn, the wheels locked up and i couldn't go anywhere. i couldn't drive, marc was on a conference call, so i had to call henry's school and tell them to hold him until we could get there. sigh.

marc took his call on the road and got the kid, and i called the dealer, explained the situation with the car, and that evening when marc got home we took it in. prognosis? something in my front alignment is screwy, the part won't get here until monday afternoon, it may *also* be anti-lock brake-related, and so far the estimate is $800.

so far.


so the cat is sick. i'm without a car until monday night or later. marc leaves for wisconsin for several days on monday. not sure how i'll get kids to and fro. and the money ... three weeks before xmas ... and we still don't have a diagnosis for what's buggin' the cat.

holiday cheer, my ass.

so far my december daily entries are as follows:

harper decorated her tree, and the holiday spirit is among us.

mario starts dragging the holiday season downhill.

then my car kicks us over the edge.

IMG_9551 upside? henry won a life-sized greg heffley cut-out at school yesterday and decorated him for the holiday season.

his excitement over that, and his creativity getting the wimpy kid all holiday-ed up, remind me that it's the little things that make the season bright.

we just need to focus on the little things. the big things are too big right now.