18 months

Darling Anja,

At 18 months (today!), you:

  • Bite
  • Pull your socks off after every meal
  • Give very cute but patronizing hugs
  • Say many words and phrases
  • Count to three, sometimes four
  • Have a slight bit of waviness in the back of your hair, just like Mama
  • Have weaned from your paci, but still sleep with your “guys,” Douglas and Pooh
  • Have a favorite song: “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
  • Are obsessed with knocking on things
  • Sit on your potty, but you think of it as any old chair
  • Love cheese, yogurt and cookies, none of which are terribly good for you
  • Have a favorite toy: Sherman, a small beanie dog
  • Feed Sherman with a Juice Plus+ bottle filled with beans (a makeshift rattle from when you were small) and call it “milk”
  • Carry around a (old, dead cell) phone much of the time
  • Spit or shake your head no (while saying no) to protest things you don’t like
  • Have a penchant for standing on books, no matter how many times we tell you not to
  • Think it is great fun to climb on things, stand up and laugh riotously
  • Can name and point to most body parts
  • Never stop moving
  • Somehow learned how to play a CD on your CD player
  • Are attracted to TV screens even though you’re not supposed to watch them
  • Call Daddy “Dah-eee” and Mommy “Mama”
  • Like listening to music in the car, but if talk radio or books on CD are on, you cry very loudly
  • Get very wired from the smallest amount of refined sugar
  • Have an adorable smile and contagious laughter
  • Think you can say the ABCs, even though most of what you say is just random syllables
  • Bang your head on the floor or wall when you’re angry (weirdo!)
  • Have a strong will and a hearty temper
  • Love to throw and catch balls
  • Eat paper, but only when it’s business card-sized
  • Still have stranger anxiety, especially around kids
  • Are the recipient of 95% of my hugs (sorry, Husband!)
  • Have an incredible imagination

You are so special and sweet, my dear.  I want you to stay this age forever, but I can’t wait to see who you become.

    Pony 020409

    Flashback Friday: Small Town Life

    My nostalgia for times during which I have never lived is a bit odd.  I get “nostalgic” for the 50s, when moms could stay home and wear pretty dresses and aprons all day, stay perfectly-coifed through any trial, and tuck Jimmy and Sally in with a lipsticked smile at 7:30 sharp.  I get “nostalgic” for the riotous 20s, for snazzy cars, flapper dresses and long beads.

    However, all these decades are superseded by one actual nostalgia: for my small hometown.  It’s not necessarily the town itself that I long for, but for simpler, slower life.  Where I grew up, no one “went out” for coffee, they “came over” for coffee.  In the Twin Cities, it feels like an imposition to ask a friend over for coffee, because you know they have to drive 30 minutes to get to your house, and they would probably prefer their perfectly frothed Caribou.

    In my small town, I could bike across town to my friend’s house in 4.5 minutes (call me anal meticulous efficient, I timed myself multiple times on different routes until I found the fastest one, over the old wooden bridge that is no longer there).  Also, my parents didn’t have a problem with a 14-yr-old biking all the way across town on her own.

    In my small town, we made our own fun.  Bowling and one movie theater were about the only entertainment for a bunch of teenagers, so we got creative.  We made our own movies, baked crazy cakes and pies, built Lego villages, played sports in the summer (golf, tennis, softball, volleyball, soccer), and even made up our own sports (ice blocking, shadow boxing, wallyball).  We drove from train bridge to train bridge out in the country, sitting on gravel roads talking into the wee hours of the night waiting for a train to pass.  We rollerbladed, played cards, held luaus, car-stuffed, and drove in “posses” down the main drag.  A clump of 14 cars is a sight to behold in a town that shuts down at 10:00 p.m., let me tell ya!  We all had SuperPumper mugs that we could get filled with cappucino or hot chocolate for 29 cents at the gas station.  Sometimes we would sit there and drink it, but most often we would take it on the road with us.  I still have my mug.

    In my small town, we hung out at each other’s places of work.   We would go to the local pizza parlor or video store and loiter until our friends got off.  No one really cared.

    In my small town, I knew all my neighbors.  Here, unless I go knock on doors, we rarely see anyone outside.  I run into the occasional neighbor in a park, but we don’t know each other’s business.  At home, if someone’s grandmother died or they received some sort of award, you knew about it within minutes AND then you baked something for them.  There’s something to be said for a bit of anonymity (small town gossip can also be hurtful), but I miss being “known.”  Even in Fargo I would run into someone I knew almost every time I left the house.

    In my small town, people helped.  When we got hit with the big floods in 1997, everybody chipped in.  We were at the local arena filling sandbags, at people’s homes building walls, opening homes to refugees from surrounding cities who had been hit even worse.  Here I fear a type of Kitty Genovese syndrome, where people watch, frozen and heartless at their windows.

    I don’t mean this post to be a slam on the Twin Cities.  I know the Lord has brought us here for a reason, but I don’t think it is wrong to miss certain things.  I even hold out hope that someday we will again live in a town or neighborhood that is close-knit and involved.  Until then, I will cherish the memories I was able to make.

    How does your community/neighborhood/town function?  Is there anything you would change?  Anything you miss from decades gone by?

    Here’s a Thought for You

    Today, almost 18 months to the day after Anja was born, is the first time I have been alone in my house since then.  Isn’t that crazy?

    And it’s only for half an hour.  We got let out of work early because of the blizzard (and it has to be BAD for that to happen–we got about 4 inches in an hour and a half), and I had to stop home to change clothes (soaked from brushing off my car) and get my snowboots before the trip to daycare to pick her up.

    A half hour of solitude every year and a half…is that what motherhood is really like?  My instincts tell me…yes.


    That’s what Anja says these days when she hears music of any kind. Here’s a photo of her plinking away on the ivories as my entry to this week’s I Heart Faces theme: Black & White.

    Song 012809

    Do pop over there if you’d like to play along! Or just to view all of the other spectacular entries.

    I have needs, too, you know…

    I borrowed this meme from Lori.  What you do is google your own name followed by the word “needs.”  For instance, I googled “Heidi needs.”  Then you write down the first 10 returns and your responses to them.


    Heidi needed someone to love her and accepted this kind of treatment because she was so desperately trying to fill her unmet emotional needs
    It’s true!  I only accept Husband’s unconditional love and offerings of cookies because I’m so desperate.  Sigh…

    Heidi Needs Attention Too
    Yes, so come on, people.  Give it!

    Heidi Needs More Privacy, Please Respect That Photo
    Don’t be sneakin’ in ma bushes, takin’ ma picture.  R-E-S-P-E-C-T

    Heidi needs to finish her latest novel, and make it very very good
    “Latest” implies that I have other finished novels.  Where did I hide them again?

    Heidi Montag needs a gun as a toy
    First off, that is not my last name.  But I’ll take a gun.  Make is a 22, because that’s about all my weak shoulder can handle.

    Heidi Montag Needs to Stop
    I am a little perturbed that you keep screwing up my last name, so YOU STOP.

    If Heidi was going to make it in the business, she was going to need a trainer
    And everyone knows if you want to win Best of Show, you have to find the TOP trainer.  Since she didn’t have fingers, dialing the number was slightly difficult for Heidi.

    Heidi & Spencer Suck, Need to Shut Up
    Aw, leave Spencer out of this.  I will gladly admit to my own suckiness and shut up…right after this.

    Unknown designer calls Heidi Klum fat, needs glasses
    ‘Nuff said, because if he’s calling her fat, um…what does that make me?

    Heidi Montag Needs One More Drink


    That was some serious fun.  I could have done 20, or maybe 79!  Try it and let me know if you do.


    It’s been a little over a year since I first picked up a DSLR. I can’t believe that’s all the longer it’s been, since I am so in love with photography now.

    Back in the day, I was always the kid with the camera. I got a nice little point-and-shoot from my parents in 10th grade, and from then on I had it with me almost everywhere. I went through about two rolls (24 exposure) a month, which costs a LOT to develop. Patient, loving parents that they were, they nurtured this obsession, and I got doubles to give away to friends, too.

    My point-and-shoot skills were just that–the ability to point and shoot. I never thought about framing an image (other than getting everyone in the photo with no heads cut off), and I always used my flash.

    Fast forward to this time last year, when my husband was forcing me (yes, forcing, because I was lazy and didn’t want to learn) to use the Rebel in manual mode and focus manually, too. As soon as just a month later I was glad he had done so. I saw definite quality discrespancies on photoblogs between those who shot in JPG and those who shot in RAW. So I was sold early on.

    Best for last, here, now that you’ve made it through all my drivel. I though it might be fun to look at some of my favorite images from last February and re-edit them now. Enjoy some before-and-afters! And my, hasn’t Anja changed?

    Baby 8 021108

    Baby 013008

    Baby 5 021108

    Baby 012508

    Anja 9 021108

    Baby 2 013008

    And one that is still one of my favorites I’ve ever taken…
    Baby 3 021308

    Baby 021208

    The Letters – Sunday Sunshine 02.22.09 (a little early)

    I’ve been doing a little spring cleaning as of late, and today that included going through a folder of old letters and cards. Those pieces of paper are such treasures to me, and it is hard to part with something when you know the memories of that person and that time will fade with its disappearance.

    I held in my hands fragments of the last ten years—encouragement from scripture, tender words of appreciation, daily happenings, birthday and anniversary wishes—blessing upon blessing heaped on my heart. A quick note scratched by a friend from high school on a magazine page reminded me of an inside joke. A fat envelope spilled forth artwork and trinkets of expressed love from a 3rd grader whom I counseled at summer camp. A love note from Husband (pre-marriage) praised my beauty inside and out. Shaky, scrawling letters on lined paper from my grandpa reassured me of God’s love during his battle with cancer. Note after note from my closest and dearest of college friends thanked me for friendship, encouragement and sharpening (Oh the grace of God to have them in my daily life! I wish it could be so again!). All these sang from their pages, “You are blessed! You have been influenced by many and had influence on many!”

    Sometimes I talk myself into thinking that my life has no meaning, that God has never used me, that I could die and no one would be worse off. But these letters, these graces, have cheered me. Even if I feel un-useable or rather, un-used, I know that in some small way in someone’s life, I am a part of God’s sovereign plan. Or I wouldn’t be here.

    So take heart! If you are feeling low, take your eyes off yourself for the moment and cherish the opportunity to bless someone else with a hand-written letter. It could be that God uses is to cheer them now and then again years down the road.