Sunday, September 30, 2007


Last Thursday Brad and I went to see this film by the courtesy and insistence of our friends Liz and Eric Berget. They wanted us to see it so badly they not only offered but pursued babysitting Atticus for us so we would go. This movie is my favorite movie since....well it is now in my "lovely papered cigar box" with The Secret of Roan Inish, America, Amelie, Mostly Martha, and Babette's Feast. Really one of the most cohesive, surprising, beautiful little films I've ever seen. There have been other films where I was delighted with the story and filming and script and acting...the concept. I love this one because it is "quiet" and "real" and hopeful. Because it is clean. Because it has weight -- it has sorrow and consequences and kindness and "connection" and, always what I long for, redemption. But it doesn't preach or throw about tidy platitudes or try to be anything other than what it is: a story about a friendship born out of music and a need for companionship, but also a need to sort through some of the stagnation that both characters find themselves having fallen into. The film is a musical, of sorts, by the Irishman Jim Carney. He asked Glen Hansard of The Frames, to write the music for the film and then decided that both Hansard and his musical collaborator, Czech Immigrant, Marketa Irglova, should play the main two roles, "guy" and "girl" respectively (never named in the course of the story). So surprisingly, this story doesn't try to say that two people "save" one another. But neither is this a nihilistic post-modern story where there are no answers so aimless wandering is our only option. AND neither is it a modern pollyanna humanist morality 'play' where the answer to all things is to believe in oneself and think positively. I hope if you have a chance to see it, you will.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gorilla, Bedtime, Things that Go, and Nice Guy

Yesterday Atticus wanted me to read Good Night, Gorilla three times in a row. Then he tumbled down from my lap and started rummaging through his toy tub. He found his stuffed Gorilla and came over to me, pointed to his book, and showed me his Gorilla. He is obviously brilliant.

A couple of nights ago Brad was putting Atticus to bed. The two of them have quite a set routine for bedtime. After they had said goodnight to the things in Atticus' bedroom, Brad turned the lights off and put A. in his crib to sing him a song. Atticus rolled over onto his back and grabbed his Daddy's hand and began rubbing his tummy with it. He did this for the entire song, happily content. Isn't that too sweet for real life? Sometimes I feel like life with a child is too much like a Hallmark special, but when those moments happen, they somehow transcend insipid cliche and become some of the most real and satisifying things I've ever experienced.

Last night we were at a family's home for dinner. Atticus loved playing with their kids, Grayden (4) and Karissa (2). He was laughing and "doing happy feet" and just had gladness gushing out of him. He kept taking toy vehicles out of Grayden's toy box and squealing the silliest sound we'd ever heard. This morning he was doing the same thing with his trucks and cars. He adores vehicles. If he sees a bus go by, he has to make sure I see it and must watch it noisily pass by. Motorcycles and bicycles are equally as exciting for him. We live in the path of the Minneapolis airport and so airplanes are regular traffic for us. Atticus always hears them before I do and scans the sky, finds them and watches them until they disappear. For a few weeks there was construction on one the streets we pass on our daily walking path. He was able to watch back hoes and skid loaders and all manner of tractors digging and filling holes. The construction guys were so nice -- they'd wave and smile and acknowledge Atticus every day we stopped to watch. Other moms with toddlers in the neighborhood would often be out there too. Nice community feel going on there. (-: We also have a fire station down the road from us, so Atticus can hear the fire trucks and ambulances coming from blocks away. He always jumps up and has me take him to a window or the front screen door so he can see them pass. And, lastly, there is the weekly excitement of the garbage truck. Those garbage guys are great -- they really get into waving to Atticus and being manly civic servants with really big worker machines.

One last thing we've been fascinated by is the consistently good reports we've had about Atticus in the church nursery. Three times now, nursery workers have stopped us as we pick Atticus up after church and say how much of a helper and how kind Atticus is with the other kids and the grown-ups. He helps pick up toys. If he wants a toy another kid has, he goes and brings a gorwn-up over to show them what he wants and see if he can make a trade. I hope it continues. At home he's not quite so helpful. But still sweet when he's not being wildly percussive with his toy hammers and anything else he makes into a weapon.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Apple Orchard

Saturday afternoon the Bergets invited us to an Apple Orchard outside of Stillwater, MN. Haralsons and Honey Crisps were in season. We bought a few pounds of Crisps, and a dozen apple donuts and a half-gallon of Cider. It was crazy busy and had an odd county fair feel to the place, but we enjoyed our afternoon. Half of the orchard was a vineyard which was interesting. There was a petting zoo, hayrides, and an area with John Deere kids' riding toys. Atticus spent most of the time in his red wagon eating two apples at the same time.

Eric & Liz say "Apples"....

I love finding Brad looking at our son this way...

Liz taking pictures of Atticus

Uncle Danny & Aunt Donna Visit

Uncle Danny & Aunt Donna were on their way back from Montana and stopped by Thursday night. We talked them into staying Friday night so Donna could come with Leah Miller, Melody Oaks and me out for dinner and a "girl movie". We had so much fun. Brad and Uncle Danny put Atticus to bed and watched "Wild Hogs".

(That's Calvin Miller on "Rock" Recorder in the background)

Look at this picture! I got out my glasses from before my laser surgery and put them on Atticus for fun. Doesn't he look an awful lot like my Uncle Danny? Look at Danny's school picture below...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


My niece Lilly

A beautiful photo of my new cousin Ellie

Ellie's brother Ian & Mommy Lisa

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Folks and World Domination with a Pawn

My mom and dad came to visit Sunday evening. They made it in time for our cook-out with our new small group from church. Monday we took Atticus to Choo Choo Bob's Train Shop over in St.Paul. We'd never been but our friends the Millers and Rodriquez' had talked about how fun it was. Atticus was a little young for it but ended up having much more fun than I had anticipated. Grandma and Grandpa bought him a neat Melissa&Doug wooden train that's also a block puzzle. He's been playing with it all day (-- even after Grandma and Grandpa left this morning). Monday afternoon my mom and I went to Mall of America for her to use her birthday J.Jill gift card. She found a very pretty sweater and skirt. That night after dinner all together, just Brad and I went over to 'our' coffee house and talked and played some chess. Amazing of amazing things I beat Brad at chess -- for the first time ever. I must downplay this unthinkable defeat by admitting that Brad who has been my chess teacher was teaching me all through this game. I will here defer to Brad to explain what happened:

Brad: "I overlooked her pawn. I taught her how people frequently overlook pawns in the endgame, and she exploited this to my deep humiliation. Everyone at Anodyne was laughing at me. Then I looked down and saw I wasn't wearing any pants. I opened my mouth to say something and all my teeth fell out. I may never play chess again. The end."

Hm. Interesting explanation, Bradley.

So this morning my folks left by 9 am because my mom had work this afternoon. I enjoyed their visit so much -- Atticus and I ended up spending the entire afternoon at the Como Zoo because I was sad about my family leaving. We had a lovely blustery cool day at a nearly empty zoo.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Minnesota State Fair

On Monday we visited the Minnesota State Fair with Brad's Folks.

Brad & Atticus on the Giant Slide

For Atticus, the trucks, tractors, & ATVs were the best part of our day.

All of us loved the Little Hands Farm Exhibit. Atticus wasn't sure at first, but as we walked through he got more and more into it.

A wooly sheep

Planting seeds with Grandma Nancy

Feeding the chickens & Gathering eggs

Milking a cow. Water came out of the udders when you squeezed them right. It was a really cool fake cow. I was impressed.

They had these neat wooden trees where the kids could "pick" apples. I think I should build one, but if I never get to it, I am so happy they exist. I kept thinking of that kids' game, Hi-Ho Cherrio -- the one with the plastic trees and little plastic hooked apples. Remember?

Atticus tried to eating the fake peppers and kept throwing them on the ground and trying another one out of the basket. Maybe he thought one of them would be real.

Inside the big barn there were live insects and a wall full of insect collections.

Grandpa Tom

Grandpa Tom & Grandma Nancy