Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Santa's helper: On tweens' big hearts

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I've been finding myself sharing posts on my Facebook page about how big kids are sweethearts, too. About how we often attribute malice or disinterest to the gangly tweens and teens with the earbuds in and the cool scowl on their faces, and we don't look further to see the tender, thoughtful souls beneath.

Living with a sweetheart of a 12-year-old who's now wearing men's shoes and is about to outgrow his aunt by height, I know firsthand that appearances can be deceiving and that the warmest hearts can beat beneath the pulled-up hoodies of adolescence.

Leading up to Christmas Eve, Mikko had been making jokes about staying up all night to ambush Santa. He thinks Danny Gonzalez's take on the movie The Santa Clause is hilarious, and he bought the single of Danny's song where he states his intention of murdering Santa so he can take over.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry to you!

Wishing you and your family all the best
this year and always!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Family mad lib theater for the holidays

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In the category of Things No One Asked Me For, I bring you a family Mad Lib to act out. Wondering what family activity to settle into on Christmas Eve? Trying to head off political arguments when relatives are over? Break out this little giggle starter.

I was inspired by Jimmy Fallon's Mad Lib Theater and thought: We definitely all need this in our very own living rooms. Because this is not just any Mad Libs. This is a DRAMA. Stand up! Emote! Bellow to the back of the theater!

Print the doc out from this link.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Easy DIY fingerprint holiday ornament

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It's just a couple days before Christmas.
Want a last-minute craft for the holidays?
Here's a simple and meaningful keepsake that's
so easy and inexpensive to make
that you can keep one for you
and send a bunch off to loved ones.

Start with blank ornaments. You can use whatever you have around,
or you can find some at craft stores or online. 
Round ones work, but I preferred the ease of use
of these flat wooden ones I found here.

Next you need at least three colors of paint. Easy peasy!
I went with tempera because that's what I had.

Red, yellow, and green are nice and bright,
but of course you can choose whatever you like.
Don't forget your paintbrushes.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Commemorating the end of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding the third and final nursling

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After eleven years of breastfeeding three babies, with part of a year off for one pregnancy, I have officially weaned: myself, my babies, my body. I no longer lactate. I have no nurslings. I am done with my breastfeeding time.

Of course, this is bittersweet. I thought a lot about what I did and didn't want to do to commemorate this change in my life. I didn't want to know when the exact last nursing was, for instance. Karsten petered off around age three and a half, and I let that be vague in my mind. I didn't want to know: This is how it ends. I didn't want to worry it wasn't the bestest nursing session ever or wonder if it would repeat. I don't know when the last time was, and that's fine by me.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Brothers by the autumn tree

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Every autumn, we take photos in front of
a sweet maple tree outside our home
as the leaves change colors.

Mikko: 12 years
Alrik: 8 years
Karsten: 4.75 years

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

What I learned about parenting from my midlife crisis

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I might as well have put it on my calendar. I turned 40 and immediately fell into a funk about who I was and how little I'd accomplished with my life. Maybe it was the contemplation of (unattended) school reunions when I could see on Facebook that former classmates were now doctors, lawyers, nurses, professors, scientists, and successful business owners. Maybe it was watching blogging disintegrate after I'd poured more than a decade of myself into it. Maybe it was all those unfinished and unpublished manuscripts hidden but not forgotten across various hard drives. Maybe it was that my husband had slowly, as we added each new child to our family, taken over more and more of our mom-and-pop business to where it was mostly pop.

I started assessing who I was and what I had done with my four decades on this earth. I saw a lot of titles that were currently in the past — student, blogger, musician, writer, business owner, leader, friend — and not much to speak of from the present: mother, wife, homeschool parent. Mother is not an exclusive title. There's no glory there, particularly if you feel like you're not doing much special and are average at best. Wife is easy when you're married to Sam, believe me. I didn't feel like I was pulling my weight there. And I'm sure everyone homeschools more assiduously than I do. We are at heart lackadaisical. Throw in some learning disabilities we've been navigating, and it's prime territory for fretting I'm not doing enough or the right things.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The jolt of genetics

This makes me laugh.

I'm on the right in each collage,
and Karsten is on the left.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

On raising children as an introvert

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Before I had my first child 12 years ago, I worried about how I would balance my need for quiet alone time with the care of a baby. I have my skepticism toward those personality tests that purport to tell you who you are for all time, but I will say that every time I've taken one, the slider is always the full way over toward introversion. There are few people I feel wholly comfortable around, people I can sit in a room with and feel my batteries recharging rather than draining. By the time I had Mikko, I was down to one: my husband. How would a child fit into this system?

As it turns out, things were fine — for a while. Babies don't require a lot of back-and-forth. You can still have your thoughts while cooing their direction, nursing in long moments of stillness, changing diapers and giving baths.

It's more once they talk that you have to weigh how your conversational styles mesh. Do they enjoy long pauses? What toddler or preschooler does? Do they need time away from YOU? Very few little kids would voluntarily choose so.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Keep your kitchen scraps in the freezer: Prevent fruit flies & odors

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I was lamenting fruit flies on Twitter several years ago, and Teacher Tom stepped in to save me.

Seattle had decreed that all food and yard waste needed to go in the compost bin rather than the garbage. This was a change I could get behind as an eco-friendly ideal.

But the small kitchen waste bin the city handed out for collecting our kitchen scraps had two distinct problems: The smell of rotting food seeped out into our kitchen, and fruit flies gathered to feast. It didn't seem to matter how often we emptied the little container, and we even bought a fancier one with a locking lid and filter, with no accompanying improvement.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Another snowy day

Monday, February 18, 2019

My experiences on an anti-inflammatory diet to help hidradenitis suppurativa

I'm going to talk about health and food here. I am not a medical professional, nor do I play one on this blog. Please consult a medical professional before diagnosing or treating any conditions you may have.

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It started, or so I thought, with persistent ingrown hairs. They were red bumps in my bikini line that often grew swollen and painful, but every search result told me to be more careful about shaving and to try warm compresses. No matter that I barely ever shaved the area, I took it as fact that these were just a nuisance, even as they grew larger and numerous.

Then I had an open wound on my stomach. It was during hot weather, so I wrote it off as some sort of reaction to the heat and sweat. I felt embarrassed, really, that apparently my stomach folds weren't letting in adequate ventilation, and pledged to keep the area drier.

Then I got a small open sore in one armpit. That sent me Googling. I didn't have a knee-jerk reason for wounds in my armpit, even tiny ones like this.

It was that small sore that connected all the disparate symptoms. I didn't have ingrown hairs and severe heat rash and mystery sores. I had an autoinflammatory skin condition known as hidradenitis suppurativa, which I will abbreviate as HS for ease of reading. (You're welcome.)

HS was initially considered to be an inflammation of the sweat glands that caused leaking wounds (hence the mouthful of a name, if you want to consider the root etymology of hidra/sweat + aden/gland + itis/inflammation + suppurativa/weeping). It's now more accurately considered to be obstruction of the hair follicles, but tomato-scientific-jargon-tomahto. Whatever the internal workings, externally HS presents as painful swollen cysts that ultimately break to the surface and expel pus and blood, recurrent open wounds, and resulting scar tissue. To avoid traumatizing you further, I won't post any photos, but feel free to do an image search if you haven't eaten recently.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Snow day!

We're not used to snow around here, so we've been snowed in.

We're trying to enjoy it while it lasts.

Snow is yummy.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Do math & tickle Mama: A sneakily educational game

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Here's a fun game you can use to help your kids practice their math facts, such as addition or the multiplication tables. They probably won't ever notice they're doing drills!

First, have them make some flashcards. You don't need anything special for this, just whatever paper you have around. We folded ours in half lengthwise and then fourths the other way. I think. Just do whatever looks good. I won't check.

Have your kids copy out a selection of math facts at their skill level. If you have a printed version, they can copy from that. Otherwise, you can write some out or dictate if they can't figure it out on their own. Have them print one side with just the problem and the reverse with the whole dealio or just the answer. Don't worry about how messy or goofy the writing is. As long as you can all decipher it, you're good to go.