Saturday, December 26, 2015

10 year anniversary

For our 10th anniversary Bryce and I went to a pepper field project dinner in Decorah.  It was absolutely amazing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


In August we bought Karen Ito from Japan home to live with us.  She is fantastic.  She loves playing with the kids and hanging out with the family.  She also is her own person at school.  She has lots of friends, even those that don't hang out together.  She has more difficulty with English then the other students and it is sometimes a struggle to keep her grades up, but she is very studious and works very hard.  My favorite moments with her have been late night campfires where she and the boys play hide and seek in the dark and thrift shopping- she bought gorgeous homecoming dress at goodwill for $3.

Karen has taught us how to count to 10 I Japanese but hasn't talked much about her country.  In fact she doesn't even communicate with her family out of fear she will be homesick.  I'm worried about this but it seems to work for her.  Our biggest surprise has been her American appetite.  She is a size 1 and can eat three or four helpings of food.  She loves Everything unhealthy and refers McDonald's over our favorite restaurants.  Everyday she brings her own lunch to school of a Nutella sandwich, chips, and not sure what else.  

She has been a breath of fresh air for our family who has felt stress I entertaining our family at the same time errands need to get done, etc.  I wish she could stay forever.


Just came back from a three day vacation with the Dallenbach family.  

Day 1- children's museum, swimming at hotel, and a meal at Ella's deli

Day 2- Madison farmers market (cheered on paddle and portage racers), Capitol, zoo, swimming and birthday party with the giuntas, state street dinner

Day 3- mount horeb art fair, pizza at the grumpy troll, cave of the mounds

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Link- Age 6

1.  What's you favorite color? Blue
2. What's your favorite toy? Legos 
3. What's your favorite fruit?  Pears
4. What's your favorite movie? The Lego Movie
5. What's your favorite show? Ninjago
6. What's your favorite thing to dress up in?  Batman Pajamas
7. What's your favorite game?  Lego movie video game
8. What's your favorite food? Pizza 
9. What's your favorite animal? Cat
10. What's your favorite song? Everything is Awesome
11. What's your favorite book?  Elephant and Piggie Books
12.  Who is your best friend? Van
13.  Where's your favorite place to go? Lego Land (Even though I haven't been there yet
14. What's your favorite thing to do outside? Imaginary Play- Avengers
15.  What's your favorite thing to drink?  Juice
16. What's your favorite holiday?  Christmas
17. What do you sleep with? a bed
18. What's your favorite thing to ride?  roller coaster (never been on one)
19. What's your favorite number?  I don't have one
20. What do you want to do when you're older? Be a Ninja Jedi

Not much change from last year.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Link and the school age drama

Parenting is hard.  Emotions are hard.

Link has been having a hell of a time being the awesome kid he is around others. 
Today he told me at robotics camp recess he let everyone know that he needed them to wait for him to climb the ladder.  Then he told me they laughed and made fun of him for being scared and sliding on his belly.  Ugg, heart ache.  I knew he stopped playing and was cranky, but he never tells me the real story until weeks later.  Well, today we went to the ladder and practiced climbing until it wasn't scary and I told him how much I admire him for not making fun of others and knowing himself well enough to let them know he needed space.

That same group consists of this kid named garret, who honestly, I'm not a big fan of.  Link, Jameson, and garret are the older kids as brandys.  Link and Jameson get along great, but garret ignores him, rolls his eyes when he sees him, etc.  But the hard part is that Jameson chooses garret over link to play and goes along with not letting link in from time to time.   I have no idea what to do.  I've asked for advice.  I've told brandy.  My next idea is to pull my mom's trick and have garret to our house by himself. I hope this can happen before links birthday next week but I'm uncertain.  Link is so sad he dreads going to brandys, even has mentioned he sometimes wishes he was dead.  Seriously, 5 year olds say this?  What am I going to do when he is 15?  This is so different than at kinderhaus where link had a best buddy and lots of admirers.  I keep reminding him that there are people who adore him and try to set up play dates with them.

Now in addition to this or because of this, I don't know, link has had a major temper lately.  Seeing inside out has helped tremendously.  We are trying to cool anger as our first response.  

Good golly.

On the 18 month old side, Felix is doing great.  He has almost all his teeth in but the canines.  He is signing more, bye, all done, up, nurse.  He is saying mama, batman, ball, and pretty close on some other words too.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Thoughts and emotions on the 4th

This weekend I hung out with my cousin Amy and her husband John.

Amy's dad is a stout republican and she is not sold, but talks to him daily.  She called Jeb bush personable and even when she took a "inside with" test and sided with Hillary Clinton she said she would never vote for her.  Just then the future flashed before me.  I see the election being between Hillary and Jeb.  And unfortunately I see Jeb winning.  It is weird to say but I think more people dislike women in power then they care about other races in power.  I hope I'm wrong, but it is my prediction.

We spent most of the day in Indy and then today went to the Manchester water park and backbone beach.  I wanted to rent a paddle boat but, gasp, I weigh to much.  I would have tipped link and I and with Bryce on to even it we would have been over the 400 lbs limit.  I have been denied things because of my weight before, but the fact that my weight affects my child breaks my heart.  If Bryce and I were both 175 I'd be fine.  😰

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Getting rid of it

My mind is leaving me and I feel like even if I would quit everything I would still feel overwhelmed.  
In order to help with this I have been trying to purge as much as possible.  Cleaning out the shed and bins in our house.  I did an "It's all free sale" and was glad to see almost everything go.

 A few months ago Bryce and I tried to make some hard decisions in our life.  One's I'm constantly going back and forth on.  One of those was staying in Elkader or moving to Decorah.  

Here's  our reasoning

1.  Elkader is closer to family and friends we already have, even if they don't live in town
2.  A stronger art community is developing in Elkader 
3.  More guys like Bryce are coming out of the woodwork. He's finding friends.
4.  Community theater in Decorah doesn't compare to the opera house in Elkader

1.  We have several friends with kids Links age who are homeschooling and would like to be in the network 
2.  They have a strong art community already and ArtHaus
3.  Pleasant valley and the events that we want to be a part of are there
4.  If we wanted to go live somewhere else for a year, we would have no problem finding renters

We decided to do the following
Stay in Elkader, move to a bigger house and make our house into an Art Haus.

So we started going on this path but it feels like the world is telling us wrong choice.

We found the perfect house and nothing has compared but it needs a TON of work and the bank (forclosure) won't go down on the price, even after being on the market for three years and no other potential buyers.  The bank won't give us a loan with Bryce's credit debt, so my mom was going to help, but they seriously won't budge an inch.  So no house, no art center.

That great art community that I saw growing is getting together to put on art in the park.  Then one of the board members started putting a lot of negative energy toward me to the point I quit.  The others freaked out so I decided I will still do marketing on the side, but I am not attending meetings anymore. They still include me in all e-mails and I find myself starting to get upset at some of the silly things, but then I remember I'm no longer connected and it eases my stomach.  But that community is fizzling.

I've also quit the Opera House Players.  This one still brings tears to my eyes, but after several years of playing itty bitty roles I was hoping for something that I could sing and act a little more on.  I auditioned for Shrek recently and I didn't get any of the three minor characters I "auditioned" for.  What makes me hot is that they all went to brand new girls.  The OHP has no problem taking chances on new people, they do have a problem however giving me a role I would like.  I often get the tiny remains.  Last year I slipped into a larger tiny role, but was originally only given the maid, pretty humiliating, and was the only person left out of a dance number I clearly could have been in.  This year lots of things seemed to be in my favor, a good last show, characters that didn't need to be skinny, proven dedication.  The fact that I didn't get anything has made me realize it truly is never going to happen, so I'm done.  The hardest part for me is that no one is even going to notice.  I've been fooling myself for years.  I caught myself thinking, if they need me someday they will give me a call (which they sometimes do when they don't have the right people), but then started laughing.  If they ever really needed me they would have given me a part.  I'm just not cut out for this stage.

So, here we are again.  Back at wondering if Elkader is the right decision.  I'm a little concerned with the housing market in Decorah.  It moves very quick and it is expensive.  I'm also uncertain about work, being that I am not near a stopping point yet with the extension, but do want to be home with my boys.  Friends also get me.  15 min to strawberry turns into 1 hour 15.  Naomi and Casey just moved back.  Nao and I have been having lunch together and we get each other so well.  I was a little worried we would start off awkward, but it was like the old saying.  We've also been hanging out with Sophia landis more, but she has decided to go back to school and is leaving next month.

Oh why does the world not revolve around me?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


My relationship with my dad is complicated.  I truley admire him.  He is an entrepreneur and someone who strives to do it all.  I adore that growing up our bookshelves were filled with books that were basically books on homesteading.  He can talk to anyone about anything and he rarely gets discouraged if someone says something rude in return.  He is humble about his intelligence but so smart.  One of my favorite things to do is work alongside my dad and just listen to him talk.  You can tell he is an observer of life and finds interest in the world.  He is tender hearted, prone to large amounts of tears when watching commercials.

But beyond this I don't quite know how to talk to my dad anymore.  He has changed a bit from when I used to live with him in ways that break my heart.  I truley feel I gained my trust in people and lack of harsh judgement from him and yet I've seen him become paranoid, putting locks on everything and feeling no one is to be trusted anymore.  I have heard him talk like there is no good in the world.  I often  believe he is depressed and though I have voiced this to a few people I know my dad trusts I feel there is little I can do then watch and hope he never opens his gun cabinet with the thought in his mind.  

I want my dad to be happy.  I know he struggles with self worth.  My dad was a state wrestler, he put a lot of value in his bodies abilities and he knows he has limitations now.  My dad was homecoming king, he had and has many admirers but he is more of an introvert than people realize, he would much rather alone for long periods than with others.  This doesn't keep people close and he notices this but doesn't realize why they don't stay.  

I also want my dad to think beyond himself like he used to.  I think this is something a lot of people with depression go through, a lot of self-centeredness because they want to be happy and they can't get there.  To this day my dad complains about a father who never told him he was loved and yet, he doesn't see that he himself has become this father.  Every "I love you" I mutter is answered with "yep".  That feeling I had as a child that he would throw himself in front of a bus to save me is gone.  Sometimes I think if I was hit by that bus he wouldn't be thinking about me, but how awful life was for him that a daughter died before him, but also "she didn't really wasn't around much anyway, except when she needed something."  It's hard to feel like this is the way he thinks of me and not know how to change it.  He isn't interested in just hanging out with so much on his to do list.

I guess one major thing I am really saddened by is his role as a grandpa.  I was expecting more.  Today I was realizing how I'm sure he doesn't really know how to be a grandpa.  My grandpas both died when I was very young so he never saw one in action.  And I don't think he was raised with much contact with his grandparents.  So I shouldn't be surprised that he is constantly more worried that he will scare them than he is in noticing how much they adore him.  He keeps his distance, refusing to hold them as infants and saying "he doesn't like me," when they cry.  I always hoped my kids would feel the same love I had felt as a child from my dad, and even more.

I love my dad.  I hope I see him rise out this behavior, that he doesn't become that grumpy old man that I never imagined he would become.  I hope he finds happiness somehow, trust in the world again. I hope he says "I love you." sometime, to one of my kids.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Nyc/DC vacation

Bryce left for nyc two Saturday's ago and for one week I plowed through life as a single parent, he'll bent on changing life as we know it when Bryce gets back.  Needless-to-say life with two kids has somewhat distanced Bryce and I and we were not slowing ourselves down to enjoy one another.  

Then came the following Saturday where we did just that.  I went to nyc without the boys to spend 5 days with just Bryce.  It was just what we needed.  We found so much joy in one another's presence and less and less fault in ourselves and each other every day.

Here is the run down.  

Day 1:  I got to NYC around 2.  We hung out with Ted and Mason.  Mason went swimming and we took delight in watching our 6-year-old nephew swim and cannon ball and be just an amazing little boy.  Then we went out to dinner with them for some more family conversation.  Ted is such a great dad and it showed while we were there.  Bryce and I finished the night by going to the Broadway musical "a gentlemens guide to love and murder" suggested to us by cheri and Jonathan.  We had fantastic seat, the kind where you see the sweat droplets and Broadway suddenly seems so real.  The show was hilarious!!!  Totally worth seeing if you ever find yourself in NYC.  

Day 2:  We started with breakfast at the apt with Ted and Mason.  I really wanted to go boating so we walked across Central Park with Mason on his scooter.  However the boats were not yet out for the season.  So we looked at the Alice in wonderland statue, watched some toy sailboats and walked back.  Then we went down to Goldman Sachs where Ted works and he showed us his office area.  It was pretty impressive with a smart elevator and great views.  It was right beside the new World Trade Center, which will open for visitors at the end of the month, and the memorial which we visited after getting lunch.  Ted and Mason then went to the park and we tried to decide what to do eing it was Mother's Day.  We decided to go to another show, Wicked.  Our seats were not bad, but far enough away it seemed more Broadway.  The show was great though.  Prior to the show we also went to Rockefeller center and couldn't resist the lego shop, even without link.  We ate at rosa Mexicana, a favorite or ours near their apt and then got to see Lori when she came back from California that evening.

Day 3: We took off early to hop on the bolt bus down to Washington, D.C..  The bus ride was about 4 hours, but nice.  There was some wifi and lots of time to relax.  When we go to union station, we went to our hotel, the w.  The w is a kind of rock star hotel.  We stayed in one if san fransico once and there were funky Buddhas everywhere, in DC, it was funky presidential things.  The hotel was right next to the White House and the rooftop bar was open and the view of the mall was fantastic.

Day 4:  We met a high school friend of mine, Tyler Lechtenberg, at the White House for a private tour.  He is a speech writer for the Obamas and actually could only accompany us half of the tour because he had a meeting with the First Lady that afternoon.  There were no pictures and it was a work day so the west wing was closed, but we got to see the east wing and the main floor of the White House center.  Tyler's tour was casual and one do funny.  "This thing is cool" etc.  

We had a little more time before we had to journey back so we walked to the mall and popped into the American history museum.  We weren't sure what was there, but we were delighted to find the Washington God statue and Julia child's kitchen.

At Union Station that afternoon we boarded the Bolt Bus again.  I'm not sure if he told me then or not that a bolt had caught fire that morning or not, but either way I'm glad we got on because our other option was Amtrak.  Midway through the trip Bryce saw on the news that train had jumped the track and people had died.  So weird having just passed them hours prior s they lined up to board.

Day 5:  my birthday.  We stayed that night with Bryce's editor, John Biggs and family.  We talked a little with his wife, Asia who had just left her job and then went to park slope to meet Bryce's friend Laura, who had just left her job.  Later that day we realized these two worked together and quit together.  Small world.  Before meeting Laura and her adorable, two-year-old Wade, we took breakfast at this cute chain restaurant or Belgium quinine.  We also went to a couple of toy stores and I picked out a push puppet for my birthday present.  We went to a book store and when we entered Bryce told me he knew the cashier.  I told him he didn't, but he decided to introduce himself anyway.  Turns out they did know each other, though this was the first time they ever met.  Phillip is a write Bryce has illustrated for, he even writes limericks for "wait, wait, don't tell me".  When Bryce introduced himself, Phillip jumped up and gave him a hug.  After those small shops where I was in heaven (I should open a children's book and toy shop, I adore them so much) we walked around prospect park and then up to a pie shop to meet Laura.  I had birch beer float pie which was great.  Bryce had a lemon chess.

Then, we went home

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


LI must have been a pagan in a past life because when I read anything about holidays and such I'm like, yeah, I know.  I asked a Wiccan friend of mine for some references for festivals and such and she gave me the title, circle round.  I love this book.  And one line that I resonated with were the most important holidays being Halloween and May Day, which just happen to be my two favorite holidays.  

Beltane is another word for May Day and the Mother Earth and green man (Robin Hood) are celebrated as spring arrives and fertility is among us.  This year to really celebrate link and I made May Day baskets and snuck them on doorsteps, read the story of the maypole, did flower identification, left milk out for the fairies and went to a fairy festival with pleasant valley villagers.

Link and his fairy teepee

Building the winter effigy with Daniel rotto

Liz leading the children in songs.  She has a natural talent for this.

The maypole dancers lying under,diamonds in the sky formation

Felix decorated in face paint

Chasing the green man

The daffodil crown I made for myself

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April fools eve

What a great evening full of jokes and Link was in on all of them this year and it was fantastic.

The Bruxvoort Colligans came over for dinner.

First we offered them tea.  That was stuck in place.  Some got tea, some got Jello.

Next we pretended it was Sam's 10th birthday and baked him a cake.
What, no meal, just dessert?

With trick candles.

And the cake was meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

We followed that up with dessert.

Yum, brownies!

With nuts!

They loved them, we finished the whole pan.

After great conversation, Sam and Link playing in the backyard and some video games when it got dark they went to put on their shoes. That no longer fit.  Tissues in the toes.

And a text on their way home makes me know they saw the final prank.  "Just married" on the back window!  

Such fun!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

You're a good man Charlie Brown

Happiness is a sweet gift from the cast, filled with slips of paper with favorite memories.  Oh and that one awkward note that read "despite what my face looked like, I don't hate you."

Felix-almost 15 months

This poor second child.  They're right, milestones become less noted.  Sometime this month Felix started walking.  He's really good now.  He babbles a lot but still doesn't say many recognizable words.  He's very stubborn, but very cheerful as well.  He loves to play peek-a-boo.  He also adores his brother.  So kids toys really are of no interest when Legos are around.  He has lots of uncontrollable curls that I can't bear to part with.  He is super energetic and keeps us on our toes.  His fine motor skills are superb (even able to assemble some Legos and take toothpaste lid off and on screwing it) and he shows so real smarts with recognizing when writing is upside down or sideways.

Mainstream holidays and religion

When Link used to go to Joan's house to daycare someone's favorite movie was Jack Frost and Link has this mainstream view of holiday chapters now that I don't really like.  And he thinks they all look like they do in that particular movie.  So he believes in the tooth fairy, but he says not other fairies.

I don't combat him, but I ask a lot of questions and share a lot of stories.  This year I emphasized the saints of St. Nick, St. Valentine, St. Pats, and now that it is Easter, Jesus.  The story he mostly gets is that we celebrate people teach us to love one another.  The same goes for Buddha.  His favorite song right now is Mason Jennings, "oh Jesus I love you, and I love Buddha too".  He likes to argue Easter is really about the Easter bunny and st. Pats is about leprechauns.  I'm trying not to squash that magic, while also helping provide him with some magic of closer to life legends.

Nevertheless here is out leprechaun trap.

The gold was stolen but we didn't catch a leprechaun.

We had a great St. Pats day this year mixed with library, green eggs, cookies, a fantastic parade, shamrocks, wearing green, homemade corned beef and cabbage, etc.