No Words Can Describe

what I witnessed Friday night on Dateline.  I was at the gym, typing in my stats on an elliptical runner, and I looked up to see what we had for viewing options above me.  Win a Date with Tad Hamilton seemed like a nicer, more carefree option, but the Lord would not let me take my eyes and ears off this:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315386/

and

article here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26227040/

Things like this have moved me deeply my whole life, but since becoming a mother?  I could barely hold it together enough to stay on the machinery.  I walked in the door at home after working out and started sobbing.  Husband and Anja met me at the (baby) gate, and he said, “What’s wrong?”  I tried to squeeze out the story between sobs and continued to relay it to him as I showered and nursed our own precious daughter.

Despite what a hospital worker or government official has to say, isn’t there something within a parent that just screams, It is WRONG for me to give my own baby away, defects or none?  Perhaps this hits home so much because Husband’s brother has Down Syndrome.  He is fairly low-functioning, and could never live independently.  But to take someone that helpless and chain them to a bed in a scummy room with barred windows?  To administer strong sedatives to adults with mental disabilities just because you have nothing better to offer them?  To send your baby away to a life of essential torture because you will be looked upon unfavorably by your peers if you keep him/her?  Disgraceful.  Wrong.  Tragic.  So many words come to mind, but none do it justice.

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Though I haven’t looked into this organization much yet, the woman who spoke on its behalf during the show seemed kind, knowledgeable and determined.

To my darling daughter, who just turned one

My sweet little peanut,

You came into our lives after 9 months of not so much fun.  I was worried through the last several months of pregnancy whether I would love you or not (silly, right?).  Little did I know that God gives immeasurable love to mothers for their babies: His love.  I have never felt so protective, never knew I could have anxiety about such minute things, and never realized that my heart had the capacity it does.

You bring joy beyond imagination—I savor every smile, linger over every cuddle (those are few unless I have a book in hand—you’re not much of a cuddler), and take pride in each small huge accomplishment (SMILING!  SITTING!  WAVING!  TALKING!  CRUISING!  WALKING!).

May we be blessed with many more years during which to watch you grow and learn.  And we pray that you will come to know Jesus as your Savior and to strive to please Him in all you do.  He formed you and knit you together in my womb, and I can’t imagine a better first baby He could have given us.

I love you, sweetheart.  More than you know.

~Mommy

Minnesota, Year-Round Fun

I had an email a few weeks ago from a reader who is moving to Minnesota.  She was wondering what there is to do in the Twin Cities for fun.  I had so much fun writing her a response that I thought I’d post it here for y’all.

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A good resource for you would be momtalk.com, which will give you tips on fun things to do in the Twin Cities area.  I’ll list some of my favorites by seasons here.

Spring:
– Stroll along Summit Avenue in St. Paul and look at the historic houses.  There are several you can get tours of, including the James J. Hill house.
– Once it’s warm enough, dust off the bikes and grease them up for biking some trails.  There are good trail systems all around the Twin Cities, as well as some good mountain biking parks.

Summer:
– State parks!  Minnesota spends tons of our tax dollars on our state parks, so they are all quite lovely.  Great for cheap camping.  Some of our favorites: Itasca State Park, Frontenac State Park, and Temperance River State Park.
– Go to the lake.  If you don’t have a cabin, make friends with someone who does, and you’ll no doubt get invited to spend a weekend with them once or twice.  If not, there are some local lakes right within the Twin Cities–Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, Lake Nokomis.  And don’t miss Minnehaha Falls!  Boat rides, water skiing, campfires with s’mores, and lots of mosquitoes (it’s the state bird, you know) are the order of the day.
– Festivals.  The Great Minnesota Get-Together (a.k.a. State Fair) is known for selling pretty much any food you can imagine either deep fried or on a stick.  There’s also the Taste of Minnesota, Aquatennial, and countless other local celebrations.
The MN Zoo

Fall:
– The leaves!  Even though fall only lasts about 3 weeks in Minnesota before snow comes, it’s probably my favorite season in this area.  Drive along the St. Croix River (borders Wisconsin) and admire the views.
– Apple orchards, pumpkin patches and corn mazes.  All can be visited for fairly cheaply and are a TON of fun!  Most of them have special activities or even entire weekends devoted to children, too. Here are two of our favorites.

Winter:
– Sledding.  There are a lot of good-size hills in the area, and Buck Hill in Burnsville even rents tubes for the serious sledder.
– Ice skating.  I don’t have skates of my own, but since this is hockey country, there are public rinks everywhere.
– Snowmen, forts, angels, you name it.  Snow can stick around for up to 7 months here, so you must learn to enjoy it!
– Hot chocolate by a fire in a warm sweater and a blanket.  Though the Twin Cities is mild compared to the temperatures where I grew up (northern MN), it still averages in the teens to 30s 4-5 months of the year.

Some other fun year-round things:
The Science Museum
– Rice Park in St. Paul
– The many theatres (Ordway, Guthrie, Chanhassen Dinner, etc.)

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We took Anja to the State Fair for her birthday yesterday, so there will be an upcoming post with some more detail about that!

10-Year Reunion

I think I said I would post some stuff from my 10-year reunion and then promptly forgot about that promise. You see, I’m getting old…

Anyway, here’s what happened. I went to a bonfire at a classmate’s parents’ home that was dubbed “family friendly” (we later decided that people without kids might have felt left out), but it was basically a nicer way of saying “minimal alcohol,” for which I was thankful. Anja played with some babies of my classmates, while Husband sat in a chair and tried not to act awkward (Because seriously, how awkward is it for spouses? Very.). I visited with people who looked like older versions of my classmates about their TODAY lives. It was weird. The whole weekend felt like a time warp, I kept saying. Here’s some babies:

After that we all dropped off our babies and went to a bar, where about 4 times the amount of classmates showed up. I sat by the door, talked with a couple friends, drank a water (they didn’t make mojitos, pretty much the only alcoholic drink I like), and left before 11:00 to go watch the Olympics. 🙂

The next evening was a class photograph at our high school, dinner, a parade and a dance (at which very few people actually danced. It was like 8th grade all over again.). Here’s my class (well, about 1/4 of us) at the Eagle’s, a very classy place. As you can see in the second photo, they have Christmas lights up YEAR ROUND! And despite having lived in said town for 18 years of my life, I had to ask my mom for directions to the Eagle’s.

These are some of my closer friends from HS. I just noted now that we all have blue eyes. Lotta Swedes and Norwegians up der in nordern Minnesoda.

Sunday my guy friends took me golfing with them, which was very nice. Even though there was a softball game and picnic scheduled, I happily accepted their invitation. I didn’t know how much more mingling I could handle. See, I’ve changed since high school. I’m not the confident, outgoing person I once was. Sometimes that makes me sad.

A New Way to Feed Your Baby

Anja has been eating a lot more “big person” food these days. Tonight her dinner was chunks of cooked tofu, yogurt, banana, tomato, soy milk and water. She’ll probably have more of the same with us when we have dinner. She ate the tofu fine yesterday and the day before, but tonight she decided she would have none of it, and threw almost every piece on the floor.

Being the good, attentive mother that I am, I left it there. Knowing her proclivity for things from the floor, I figured she would be back to eat it later. And sure enough, as I type this, she is noshing on tofu. What is it about the floor’s “seasoning” that makes it so much more desirable?

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Anja has developed many new “skills” over the past few months (assuming one can call mischief a skill). Here is a list of my new favorite and not-so-favorite things she does:

  • Getting food into every possible orifice on her head as well as in her hair while she eats

  • Paging through mommy’s journal and other “don’t touch” books
  • Talking in a “language” all her own (I should try and post a video—it’s priceless. But I’m sure it’s much the same as any other baby’s babble. It’s special, though, because she’s MY baby.)

  • “Reading” books using that same language
  • “Sorting” the recycling

  • Pulling up to standing and walking around furniture (she mastered this one in one day’s time—I was astounded). Now she’s standing on her own, too. I told her to take her time with walking…
  • Calling numbers on the phone whenever she can get her hands on it (oddly enough, one started with 555-, as if she knew she shouldn’t be dialing real numbers)
  • Tipping over chairs

  • And my personal favorite: looking fantastically cute. But she mastered that one long ago…

Some Favorite Deep Thoughts

Because back in the day, I loved me some Jack Handey…

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Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis.

It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.

What is it that makes a complete stranger dive into an icy river to save a solid gold baby? Maybe we’ll never know.

Sometimes when I feel like killing someone, I do a little trick to calm myself down. I’ll go over to the person’s house and ring the doorbell.
When the person comes to the door, I’m gone, but you know what I’ve left on the porch? A jack-o-lantern with a knife stuck in the side of its head with a note that says “You.” After that I usually feel a lot better, and no harm done.

If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is “God is crying.” And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is “Probably because of something you did.”

Contrary to what most people say, the most dangerous animal in the world is not the lion or the tiger or even the elephant. It’s a shark riding on an elephant’s back, just trampling and eating everything they see.

If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I’d say Flippy, wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong, though. It’s Hambone.

If you’re a young Mafia gangster out on your first date, I bet it’s real embarrassing if someone tries to kill you.

When I was a kid my favorite relative was Uncle Caveman. After school we’d all go play in his cave, and every once in a while he would eat one of us. It wasn’t until later that I found out that Uncle Caveman was a bear.

My First Bit O’ Bling!

Albeit slightly strange-looking (it was started by an Uruguayan, Arte y Pico), I’m pretty excited to get my first blog award!  I can’t vouch for the rest of the content on that blog, since I can’t read it, but here’s what this trophy means:

What is the meaning of the expression? And basically, ironically, it translates into a wonderful phrase in Mexico, “lo maximo.” LOL! It will never find its counterpart in English, but if it HAD to, it would be something like, Wow. The Best Art. Over the top.

The lovely Wife and Mommy gave me this, and I’m very flattered!

The rules for this award are:

  1. You must pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award, based upon creativity, design, interesting material, and that also contribute to the blogger community.
  2. Each award must have the name of the author with a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.
  3. Award-winners must show the award and put the name and link to the blog that awarded it.
  4. Award-winners and the one who has given the prize must show the link to the Arte y Pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.
  5. These rules must be included in your post.

My picks:

Mck Mama at My Charming Kids

Jenni at One Thing

Veronica at Toddled Dredge

Jamie at Oh Be Careful

Beck at Frog and Toad Are Still Friends

You guys are all great writers and some of you take great photographs to boot!  You inspire me to blog regularly and attempt to come up with better content myself.