Thursday, April 29, 2010

Overdue at Over the Rhine

So Tuesday night, Leah, Anne & I drove to Hopkins to see Over the Rhine. All three of us are pregnant and Anne was 3 days overdue. It was a small kind of funny venue to see OTR so Linford Detweiler and Karin Berquist stayed afterwards to talk with everyone. I was happy to hear half a dozen of the new songs they are recording in a few weeks. They formed as a band in 1989 and I've been listening to them since 1992 (beginning of college) so it was fun to get a picture with them and my daughter before she's even born (-:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Preschool Fire Fun!?!

So things I do with Atticus that Brad would never let us do....Yes, I let Atticus play with fire. In my defense it was naptime for the younger two and this was a closely supervised activity. Also, I did not let him light the match. And I gave him a fire safety mini-seminar. So...I tried to impart some wisdom into this. The short of it is that I always loved fire and he made little play-doh birthday cakes which just cried out for candles. So we sang "Happy Birthday" to just about everyone he knows and then he sang songs he made up just so we could light the candles again. It was very fun -- for both of us.
(p.s. notice his stylish wristwatch -- He and Dietrich were playing an elaborate game earlier in the day which required them to be carrying suitcases with important documents and to be armed with bows and arrows. They needed to make a certain train -- the couch -- so they could catch the airplane -- the bed -- in order to "get the bad guys". They NEEDED watches or how could they successfully accomplish their mission? Really. So they both received high-tech wrist-watches from "headquarters". I like to think of myself as the "Q" to their "Bond" (-:)

Oh So Pretty!

So here is the fabric for the baby quilt my mother-in-law and I are making together. Isn't it so perfect!!! This is so fun!!!!! It is all from Anna Marie Horner's Little Folks cotton voile line.

This piece is for the binding and backing.

This one I bought extra for to make a baby dress (-:

Friday, April 23, 2010

So Runs the World Away, Album Review

By Guest Blogger Bradley Johannsen

Who is it circles round you?

Do you circle round who it is circles round you?

I am in love with my wife. I know what it is like to relentlessly circle someone, to obsess and fawn and be joyful. My joy is increased tenfold by her simultaneous circling of me with the same fervor.

The ghost around the one it haunts
The want around the thing it wants
The way the mind just wanders off and then returns to the thought around the second thought
Love or gravity or law -
Whatever name it's got it's got me circling round you.

Josh Ritter has a new album - So Runs the World Away - and his song "Orbital" (quoted here throughout) captures this aspect of our marriage. The inlay which accompanies the CD includes next to this song's lyrics a sketch of an atom. That's how it feels, like we are electrons dancing around each other - now a particle beam, now a waveform, now a spherical nano-charge. Separate yet co-dependent. That's electricity, folks. That's light and energy and e=mc^2. That's a good life.

The hawk around the field mouse
The love around a lover's mouth
I find my mind is settling down in circuits around you.
The angels round their crowded pins
The amber-waved electrons spin
In planetary transits round the ones they're bound to.

Thank God we have a Nucleus around which to spin, a kind and mysterious creator who attracts us and gives us meaning and brings us close to bask in his infinite-ness without swallowing up our individuality. If there is anything more difficult to comprehend than spinning electrons and Einstein's theory of relativity it would be God's giving grace and life to these dry bones. Difficult to comprehend, yes, but the fact of it remains.

Ritter is a romantic, poet, and kick-ass folk-pop songwriter. Sarah and I are music junkies, and he has been at or near the top of our "favorites list" for three years now. So Runs the World Away does not disappoint. It is a strong album, with recurring themes of a ship at sea and searching for a home. Ritter recently married fellow singer Dawn Landes, and this album catches something of a newlywed summer - walking through lush gardens as they burst forth with berries, thunderstorms gathering too quick to reach cover. It is rejuvenating to relive those times through the songs of such a gifted artist, and to be thankful that I have a home. I need a home.

The wheel, time
The wheel, fate
The light that bends itself through space
The light that with it carries time
Which also bends in the same line
Relative to a point of view
So when I catch a glimpse of you
Every time you come around
The room lights up
And time slows too.

"Orbital" (new song):
"Rattling Locks" (new song):
"Lark" (new song):
"The Temptation of Adam" (old song):
"Mind's Eye" (old song):

On Monday morning, April 26th, NPR will be streaming the entire album on its website. Go to to hear!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Two Good Albums Recently Out

So I've been enjoying two new albums out this past month: Josh Ritter's So Runs the World Away and Jakob Dylan's Women and Country. Maybe I should have Brad write up a good review on them -- I like the way he explains music.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Walks and My Awesome Bucket Stroller

Last year my mother-in-law Nancy found this bucket stroller at a garage sale and brought it up for us. At first I was wondering what to do with it since we only have a single garage and can only get our van in it with a shoehorn. The poor thing sat outside all winter in the snow banks with nary a tarp over it (I totally forgot to tarp the outside toys until we were three feet under and it never melted until spring!). Still, once again I am enjoying this piece of equipment -- easy to push, cozy for the boys. I love it. I can't get the three kids in it, but Brad and I will often take our single Graco (my parents bought us for Atticus and we still love) with this one and enjoy our evening walk much more than with our useful but monstrously heavy quad stroller. Anway, these photos are from two sequential days of walks...the boys slept in this stroller like this for at least half an hour or more.

This day was Sunday morning -- the first time we WALKED to our new church. It only took us about 40 minutes (one way) and we took the last part of the walk through Powderhorn park by the pretty lake watching families playing and dogs cavorting in the sun. It was a perfect way to prepare for Sunday morning fellowship and worship service. And on the way home, Brad and I talked about our church family and the sermon and all sorts of other things. The boys all fell asleep and all three of them napped in their strollers while Brad and I sat in the sunlight on the back steps and talked some more and admired our beautiful children. Ahhh...sweet life. God is so kind to us.

Just because my kids are cute...

On Tuesday mornings and sometimes Thursdays after dropping Atticus off at preschool I get some extra time with my two youngest boys. We end up watching Sesame Street most mornings but I am hoping to get in some playground time with them as it's warming up. I love cuddling or drawing or reading with Dietrich while Lincoln gets an occasional morning nap (poor third child).

Blurry picture but I love this little face...

Easter Sunday

Every Easter we've been going down to my folks. Easter is probably my favorite holiday -- mostly because of the absolutely beautiful truth of Christ's rising to life and reigning forever in beautiful, atoning splendor!!!!! Because I love this holiday so much, I really love spending it with with my mom and dad. It reminds me of sunrise church services in the graveyard and the over-the-top twirly Easter dresses my mom made or bought me every year and seeing my brother in a new suit (he always loved suits) and malted chocolate eggs (my favorite!) and early breakfasts in the church basement with funny egg casseroles and little sausages. And an entire church service of just singing and music -- the yearly Easter Cantata that my cousin Carolyn Ackland always (in my memory) orchestrated and joyfully (in my memory) brought to us each year. And the perfect feast my mom always seem to have magically appear on our table for lunch (and she was with us at church!!! -- amazing magical mother!). This year, though, Brad and I decided it would be best to stay and celebrate with our new church's first Easter together as a congregation.

I thought that Brad and I would need to get together Easter baskets, but my crazy and generous mom came up for Lincoln's birthday party in March with these three individualized "baskets" to save for them for Easter morning. Wasn't that so sweet of her? (-: Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Tom sent a card and fun-money for summer toys -- which we've "squirreled away" for warmer squirt-gun weather. Still Brad and I couldn't resist -- We bought the boys the
Fantastic Mr. Fox DVD to share and a couple small treats like cloth frisbees and stickers. The not so festive part of this day was that Brad was deep into the stomach flu and couldn't come to church with us or join us for Easter dinner. Because of this sad turn of events, I really didn't get pictures of the boys in their Easter outfits (too difficult to corral them all and keep them clean enough to get a photo). We were able to still have Liz and Eric Berget come for lunch though because they'd already had the plague go through their house and Liz and I were too disappointed to not celebrate together and share the food we had already prepared. Still it made the day weird -- I just don't feel like things are right unless Brad is right there full-tilt experiencing life with me. Oh I love that man!!!

My only picture of just two of the boys dressed up

Easter egg hunt in the back yard later in the afternoon after naps

My sister chose to work Easter Sunday but later I gave her a fancy pretty set of bug chocolates...for fun.

Something to share with you...

So, I am having a daughter and I have spent tiny pockets of my last few days having little whirling dervishes of gladness and letting myself daydream of what I would like to prepare for her and also trying to let it seem real -- It's been such a long-standing desire that having it put in my hand I can barely believe it is really there. Meanwhile, I've had big sections of the last few days spent in crying. What?! No really. Let me explain a little:
Many of you know this, but at the beginning of this pregnancy I found out that my thyroid's not working right -- I've got hypothyroidism. Since then I've been taking Levothyroxin (synthetic thyroid hormone) in increasing dosages to regulate the levels back to normal. I have since found that it is not uncommon if you have a genetic predisposition to thyroid abnormalities (my mom takes the same hormone and my grandmother did as well) to have problems arise during pregnancy, especially when pregnant with a girl, strangely(?). Anyway, it is a long process since you have to wait 6 weeks in between increasing dosages and taking blood samples and re-adjusting. I've been so ill from this. I am thankful that I haven't had to experience this with the boys' pregnancies and that I don't have gestational diabetes or edema or any of the other awful things so many women have to go through during pregnancy. God has been so gracious to me in this. These last few weeks though have been so rough. I had 16 weeks of what was, for me, the worse all-day "morning sickness" I have had of any baby. Then I started to feel relief from that but this thyroid nastiness just seems to go "in and out" giving me a fairly good day and then a stretch of yuck days with a few insane ones thrown into the mix. The really bad ones feel like something has taken over me -- not just a sheer exhaustion/lethargy but also this heavy, thick, dark "thing" pressing hard down on me -- I can objectively know that the sun is shining and it is summer-like outside and my children are wonderful and my husband is loving and involved and smack-awesome and I am having a healthy baby girl! and I am so so so happy in my life and yet I spend the entire day between crying and emptiness unable to think or make decisions or interact with my children in any rational, healthy way. Sin is sin -- there is no excuse for it. I've been just pushing myself back and back and back again to Christ's full mercy and atonement . I have no other plea for the way I have been responding to this trial. I've been thinking of Paul in 2 Corinthians, "I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it [the hard trial 'thorn in the flesh' he was being given] should leave me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses...For when I am weak, then I am strong." Well, I am not at the point of boasting gladly about my weaknesses -- I'd rather be going about my day with a joyful, sunny disposition despite my physical/mental smog; I'd rather treat my children cheerfully and patiently and gently; I'd rather be singing as I go -- rather than weeping in a confused frustration. BUT I will be glad that any tiny victory I have in this is from, in, through Christ's strength -- I hope I am closer to Him in my deepening dependence on Him and I hope His strength is somehow made brighter and famous-er because of my need for Him.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Daughter

Oh, Everyone-Out-There, my heart is overflowing in thanksgiving -- "Overflowing" is not even the right word -- It is bubbling up and sloshing everywhere in gleeful gratefulness that God has said "YES!" and given my dear boys, husband, and myself a SISTER and DAUGHTER! It will be so so fun to experience the rich fullness of male and female. I know that it will be difficult in different ways than four sons would have been. I have spent three years praying hard for a daughter. This past week four of my close friends and I have been praying very intently to ask God to graciously and lavishly (I am so so blessed in a zillion ways already!) to give me a daughter. And this morning He declared "YES!" Oh, thank You, thank You, thank You. I oh I love being a girl. I really do. Over the next few days or weeks I hope to share with you some of the deep, rich things God taught me this week while I was praying. I am so thankful that God brought me to this place of deep longing so that I did this praying with these four women. (I know there was more of you out there who have been praying with me -- and I don't minimize your prayers and am so thankful for you, and for you caring.) My heart and mind and spirit is full, full of gladness not only for my daughter but for so much else -- especially how very intimate and kind and gentle God showed Himself to me this week. I am a skittery and intensely earnest sort of a person and He sees me and does not despise me but loves me so very perfectly. Isn't it unbelievable that the Creator-King-God of Reality not only "bothers" with me but knows me so well that He takes the trouble to be involved in every tangly, ridiculous "fold" and "crinkle" of my existence?!!? I am in awe.

(Which is not a word usually accompanying a photo of labia, eh?

Saturday, April 03, 2010


Beautiful light & cheerful flowers from Lincoln's birthday celebration

Grant's First Birthday!

Our nephew Grant turned one (all the way down in forlorn Laredo, TX) just a bit before Lincoln's birthday.

Grant & my brother Aaron

My enthusiastic sister-in-law Lindsey with Grant, her niece Adrianna, & my niece Lilly

Happy Birthday, Grant!!!!

Big Zoo on Good Friday

On Good Friday Brad & I took the boys to the Minnesota Zoo ("The Big Zoo") & used some combined birthday gifts to get a year-long family pass. Lincoln is so aware of everything around him -- He loved the animals & crowds of people & big rocks & being allowed to walk all around with his brothers. I enjoyed having Brad with me to tag-team keeping track of the kids & allowing them individually to have a little extra time looking at an animal if the other boys were ready to move on.

Enjoying his new shoes -- thank you, Grandma Nancy & Grandpa Tom!! (I'll get better pictures later.)

Dietrich LOVED the leopard. This is actually an Amur Leopard -- There are only 300 of them left in the wild in the world. Dietrich was just fascinated with him. Brad was behind him and heard D. talking with a little girl next to him. She, apparently, was also a big fan and had seen this cat before. Dietrich said, "Cheetah." and looked at her. She said politely, "No. That is a leopard. But it does have spots like a cheetah. And it is a big cat like a cheetah." And then they were quiet for a long time just watching the cat. Dietrich is so sweet & watchful.

The groundhogs

Seeing some baby animals at the Farm exhibit before the big storm rolled in
(Brad was watching the sky & heroically got us back to our car just as the first
drops of rain started falling before the deluge. How's that for awesome-ness?!)

Dietrich loved petting the goats
(And just so you know, Atticus loved the animals too,
I just didn't get as many photos to turn out with him.