There's a baby in there. With a heartbeat. Due date: January 19, 2008. (Which is why we did the ultrasound today and why I was waiting to make the announcement. My body never returned to "normal" after the miscarriage in February, so we had no way to date this pregnancy until today.)

I'm excited -- although the yuckiness of the first trimester always dampens my mood.

Off to have more fun! :-) And a few more crackers and cheese. And naps. LOTS of naps.

Too Much Fun

When I was young, my Mom would often comment after a particuarly busy weekend, "Looks like you've had too much fun."

Too much fun. It was incomprehensible for a sanguine like me. Too much fun? That's like saying too much laughter. Too many friends. Too much sunshine. Too many s'mores. It can't happen.

But I'm here to report, dear friends, that I am nearing the limit on my fun 'o meter. These are just a few of the things we've done this weekend.

My daughter graduated from kindergarten. The graduation ceremony included a 45-minute show with songs, dances and skits.

My youngest brother also graudated from college. (No pictures; I let others handle picture-taking duty here.) His ceremony involved no dances or skits, and it was considerably more than 45 minutes in length. But it was still fun. Partially because....

...the kids and I got to sit with my sister and four-month-old nephew in the overflow room where we didn't have to behave, be quiet or even pretend to care about anyone else once our brother's name was called.

This is Natalie holding Silas as my sister reads them a book during the ceremony. I think my daughter is in love.

I somehow managed to get my entire garden planted and weeded last Friday, before we left on a four-day trip to the North Shore with my family.

Once we arrived at the North Shore, we threw on sweatshirts (temps were in the upper 40s) and hit the paved trail to see a few of our favorite state parks. The waterfalls are usually our favorites, since they have lots of water to admire ...

... and lots of rocks to climb!

One night of our trip, we stayed at a hotel with a huge indoor water park.
I think our parenthood popularity ranking just hit a new high.

And on our way home, we snuck in a visit to our favorite (free!) zoo. The kids were also nearing their fun quotient for the weekend by this time, so we didn't stay long. But we enjoyed watching the polar bears try to break into a large plastic barrel.

Oh, and because I promised more than a week ago and failed to deliver, here's a picture of the baby sprinkle. We used Ahnnalie as a centerpiece. Could there be anything better?

Official "news" tomorrow. Until then, I'm off to take a nap, which will hopefully reset the fun meter so I can start again. My sister, brother-in-law and nephew arrive later today for a three-day stay. Viva la fun!

Dazed and Confused

Ever have one of those weeks when you just can't get it together?

I'm in the midst of one right now.

It all started with a major change to my weekly schedule. For the past three years or so, Mondays have been my Cleaning Day -- the day I forgo all other activities and stay home to clean the kitchen, dust the bedrooms, vacuum the carpets, Swiffer the hard wood, change the sheets, do the laundry and generally let my OCD tendencies rule the roost. It's become such a deeply ingrained part of my routine, I actually look forward to Mondays, simply because I like having one day each week that's predictable and quiet and I'm not running around.

But. But. This week, my dear friends, I did not clean my house on Monday. I cleaned it on Wednesday, in preparation for a 10-day visit from my family.

(Pause here for Kelly to regain her bearings.)

And ever since, I've been off my game.

So please forgive the light blogging this week and what will surely be even lighter blogging the next few days. I'm just dazed and confused.

Plus, I might be pregnant. Stay tuned.

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

I love summer. Always have. Always will.

And here in Minnesota, it doesn't last long. So summer-lovers like me have to squeeze every ounce of pleasure out of the four months or so we have to enjoy the sun.

Which is why I love my vegetable garden.

It's a fairly new hobby for me. I took it up four years ago, when we moved to The Country from Suburbia. It's proven to be a delight -- both to my soul and to my stomach. There's
nothing quite as peaceful as spending a few hours on a sunny Saturday afternoon walking my plot of dirt and watching God unleash His creativity. "Really?!? That's how you grow a broccoli, Lord? That's crazy!"

It's also easy to love a hobby that makes you look good. And thanks to this garden, my thumb has appeared very green the last few years. Every plant I have planted, every seed I have watered has come up green and lush and laden with produce. That has everything to do with our soil. I mean -- look at it! It's jet-black and so rich in nutrients I could grow a car by planting a spark plug.

Now I just need to get my baby tomato, pepper, pumpkin, zucchini, squash, bean, peas and basil plants in the ground.

If only the rain would stop.


I love summer. Always have. Always will.

But in The Country, where I live, summer comes with an creepy-crawly side dish of bugs. Lots o' bugs. Thousands of bugs. Bugs, bugs, bugs. Bugs like I thought only existed in horror movies.

On a recent night, I accidentally left our front porch lights on after the babysitter left. I returned two hours later, after putting the kids to bed, to find a swirling vortex of nastiness outside my front door.

If this picture doesn't make your scalp crawl, I don't know what will. (Don't make me post the video clip!)

Reminds me of the night our first summer here. My husband and I were driving home from The Cities, about 90 miles away, when we suddenly ran into a rain shower.

"Pop, pop, pop, pop," went the front window.

Puzzled, we both leaned over to see a full moon gleaming down at us, not hidden at all by clouds.

And then, it occured to us both at the same second. "Honey, those aren't raindrops. Those are bug brains."

And yes they were. So many of them hitting our windshield at once, it sounded like a downpour.

Please, Lord, hasten the arrival of fall. Or at least an early summer killing frost. I can replant my garden. But I can't stand these bugs!

I Do Not Miss School

Do you remember the feeling?

The days are getting warmer, the sun is setting later. The nearness of summer is agonizing. School is almost out. But not quite.

Maybe because it was such a strong emotion for me, I remember it like it was yesterday. (Which is most certainly was not.)

I remember sitting in geometry class my sophomore year in high school and staring at the clock , willing the second hand to tick faster, while the flies buzzed at the window screen and small planes droned overhead. "Move faster. Move faster! I can't take it anymore!"

I was so desperate for summer, I was practically drooling. Desperate for freedom. Desperate for sleeping in and sleeping over. Desperate for the chance to spend 14 hours a day at the beach and to eat nothing all day but Skittles and Mountain Dew. (Or maybe M&Ms and Coke. Those were the two best flavor combinations.)

And then, as if the waiting wasn't excruciating enough, we had finals to overcome.

Which is why this comic made me laugh out loud this morning. LAUGH OUT LOUD, I tell you.

I'm so thankful I'm not in school anymore. I love learning, but May takes all the fun out of it.

Sugar and spice and tank tattoos

My husband and I traveled to a nearby town last weekend for a little adult-only rest and relaxation. It was a great trip. We biked nearly 20 miles -- I can just now sit down without wincing -- and ate amazing food, including a slice of blackberry pie my taste buds will dream of forever. The weather was perfect, the waitresses were sassy and the gift shops sold funky jewelry.


Being gone most of last weekend meant we were gone the morning of Mother's Day. Which is a Sunday. Which means our babysitter -- whom we adore and is practically a member of our family -- had to get my children off to church on a critical morning. You can hardly beat a Mother's Day for a "Let's see who is really a good mother" contest at church.

And apparently, to my sweet little five-year-old daughter, nothing says "I'm a cutie!" like a tank tattoo on one arm and upside-down sergeant stripes on the other.

And her dress was on backwards all morning. Because she decided to put on a new outfit on Mother's Day Sunday all by herself. And the babysitter didn't notice. (I'm sure the fact that she was trying to keep my three-year-old son from pooping in his underwear had nothing to do with it.)


Good thing I have a lot of self-confidence. Becasue I'm pretty sure my ranking on the list of Proverbs 31 Women at church just dropped a few notches.


I've felt guilty for more than week now over the fact that many of y'all have asked questions in my comment section that I've neglected to answer. I'm not trying to ignore you. It's just -- I wasn't sure how to get in touch with everyone!

Then Military Mommy posted this wonderfully sweet reminder about how to get more replies to your comments. I left her a hearty "Amen!" in her comment section. And she gently e-mailed me back to let me know even my e-mail wasn't enabled the right way for her to respond directly to my comments. (Confused yet?)

Both shocked and horrified, I did some research – because I know I had enabled this setting in the past. Lo and behold, it seems a few bloggers had this particular option toggle off when they made the switch from old Blogger to new Blogger. So let me add to Michelle's plea: Go to your profile and check your settings. (Click "Edit Profile" and make sure the "Show My E-mail" option is checked.) Then we can communicate face-to-face in the future.

OK. Guilt absolved. Now, to answer your questions:

1. I was nominated for an Emmy when I was producing the 5:00 PM news broadcast for NBC in San Diego. It happened to be the year El Nino came in and decimated the Southern California area. (Read: It knocked over our patio furniture.)

No. Seriously. The rain was bad. The day of my Emmy-nominated newscast, a huge sinkhole opened up on a nearby freeway. Homes on the beach were being pounded into smithereens by large waves and high tides. Highway 1 was closed in Encinitas -- again -- because rocks had covered the road. It was crazy.

And the Emmy Committee likes crazy. Hence, I was nominated the first year I was producing.

Like I said, I didn't win. But I do have a big certificate with gold lettering and a picture of an Emmy statue that's pretty cool.

And like they say: It's an honor just to be nominated.

2. Several of you asked for the recipe for the Cajun turkey burgers pictured in this post. I'm happy to oblige. They've become sort of a signature dish for my husband and me. Try them with pepper jack cheese and guacamole. And prepare to fly right to heaven on the sweet wings of yumminess. They are that good.

1 beaten egg
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 cup seasoned fine dry bread crumbs
1 lb ground turkey

In a large bowl, combine egg, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and red pepper. Add bread crumbs and ground turkey. Mix well. Shape into six 3/4-inch-thick patties. Grill or broil.

(Oh, and if you make his often enough, you can make a "Cajun turkey burgers spice mix" by mixing equal portions of salt, garlic powder, onion powder and red pepper to have on hand for your next cooking adventure.)

3. And yes, the photo on my header was taken by me in my backyard. Stay tuned for the next few months, and I'm sure you'll see quite a few more to rival that one. Summer is glorious here.

Sprinkles in the Forecast

In honor of my friend Sonjia and her new baby girl Ahnnalie, I'm throwing two baby showers this weekend -- "sprinkles," if you will, since celebrations for a second (or in this case, third) baby tend to be smaller affairs.

But while we are toning down the gifts, we are not toning down the party. Because this is a brand new life that's entered the world here -- and a female at that. Ahnnalie is a true answer to prayer.

So here's where I could use a little help. I'd like to make a CD for Sonjia
-- a collection of lullabies and other sweet songs celebrating girls and the mother-daughter relationship. (Can you tell I grew up in the 80s when making a mixed tape for a friend was a true sign of friendship?!?) Do any of you have song suggestions for me? Right now, my short list -- and it's a short list -- includes "Hold On To Jesus" by Erin O'Donnell and "You're My Little Girl" by Go Fish. I also love "The Keeper" by Geoff Moore; I just need to find the version where he says "watch over this little girl tonight" instead of "little boy."

I've also considered the whole "Sing Over Me: Worship Songs" CD. But Sonjia goes to a pretty traditional church and isn't as familiar with contemporary worship songs as I am. Does anyone out there have personal experience with this CD?

I'm also open to other baby shower ideas -- especially cupcake recipes for an over-the-top pink "sprinkle."

Thanks in advance for any ideas you might share! I'll be sure to reciprocate with pictures next week.

Wow. That's High!

My daughter Natalie and I were swinging side by side earlier this week, on one of those perfect Minnesota spring evenings. We were having a "swing race" to see who could pump their legs faster and make their swing sail higher.

The following conversation then ensued:

Natalie: "Mom, I'm going so high, I'm touching the clouds!"

Mom (not to be outdone): "Oh yeah? I'm so high, I'm touching the stars!"

Natalie: "I'm so high, I'm touching the Lord!"

Seeing as she's never used that particular phrase before, I almost doubled up with laughter. ("What's so funny, Mom?") And I think I lost my edge in the contest from that point on.


You are the first
You go before
You are the last
Lord, You're the encore
Your name's in lights
For all to see
The starry hosts
Declare Your glory

Glory in the highest
Glory in the hightest
Glory in the highest

I took this picture tonight standing in my backyard. God's glory in nature is overwhelming to me. Why do we not see it more often? Remove the scales from our eyes, Lord. Tune our ears to hear Your song. You are breathtaking.

Just the Facts, Ma'am

I was tagged by Diane with this seven random facts meme. She's a fellow Minnesotan, and I really can't refuse a comrade in snow boots. So here goes.

My hair is so thick, I have a hard time working shampoo through it. And when I shower in the morning, I pull out all the loose strands and paste them on the shower wall like so much modern art. It keeps my drain clog-free. Plus, I get to throw the resulting gigantic hair ball at the nearest spouse when I'm done with my morning routine.

2. Growing up, I never wanted to be a mom. Never. It just wasn't my dream. Married? Absolutely. A great career? I'm working on it. World traveler? Now you're talking. Children? Ummmm. I don't think so. Don't they require diapers?

But thankfully, God knows so much better than I. My children are the greatest gifts I've ever been given, and being a stay-at-home Mom is my favorite job to date.

3. I am Emmy nominated.


But I didn't win.

4. I am a certified Jazzercise instructor, although I'm not currently teaching. And yes, I sleep with my thong leotard and leg warmers.

5. I think I’m in love with Alton Brown. "Good Eats" is the only TV show I watch. (Other than the "Stargate" shows on the Sci-Fi channel Friday night. But we've already discussed that.) (And truly, I mean it's the only show I watch. I don't watch "24" or "Lost" or "American Idol." I'm much too busy supporting my Internet addiction to have time for TV.) (Which is somewhat ironic considering I used to work for NBC.) (It' also ironic that I used to be a paid writer, and now I can't write a paragraph without parantheses.)

Anyway. Where was I?

Oh yes. I think "Good Eats" is brilliantly filmed, and Alton is hysterical. And I love that he teaches me why it's necessary that I brown the roast before I braise it. Because if I don't know why I'm doing something, I usually won't do it. And that's doesn't always make for good eats.

My maternal grandmother is a published poet. So it was natural, when I was a child, to follow in her literary footsteps. To wit:
Love people, love them.
Bring them out of the storm.
Love people, love them.
Make them feel warm.
Obviously, the force is strong in this one.

7. During college and in my early married years, I worked as a “food server” for TGI Friday’s, Chili’s and Olive Garden – the trifecta of suburban chain restaurants. My favorite by far was Friday’s. And I always made a killing on tips. I took a major pay cut when I got a "real" job working for a newspaper. Sad but true.

<bigfatgreekwedding> So. There you go! </bigfatgreekwedding>

And if you think I'm interesting, you should meet my husband. Because compared to him, I'm totally vanilla. But I'll save his story for another day.

I tag ... well, I don't know who to tag. It seems everyone I know has already been bitten by this bug. So just leave me a comment with a few of your oddities, and we'll call it a day.

And remember: God made you special, and He loves you very much. Even if no one else appreciates the fact that you know every "Northern Exposure" episode by heart. (Except for Carolyn. Because she's weird like that too.)

Random Bits

1. I love how kids use what they know to communicate concepts they aren't sure how to verbalize. For example, a few weeks ago my daughter said, "Mom, my muscles are so big. They are like ... 100!"

But even better was this past Wednesday, when my three-year-old son, who is potty training, insisted he wanted to use the Big People Potty in the restroom at Olive Garden -- a device he'd never used before, even at home. Both shocked and proud, I helped him complete his mission. He slid off the toilet and flushed (with his hands covering his ears; "IT'S SO LOUD, MOM!"). Then he stopped, reached behind himself and said, with a strange look on his face, "Mom ... my nose is running down here."

And sure enough, there was a runaway drip that had escaped the toilet paper.

2. As mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I celebrated 14 years of marriage on May 1. He came home that night with this bouquet of tulips - one for every year. That man
does know the way to my heart.

This is my favorite post of the last few days. It made me laugh right out loud. And truly, you must read it to get it. Big Mama is a great writer, and I can't duplicate her magic. To wit: I've tried to re-tell the story to at least five of my friends this past week -- and every single one of them ended up staring at me as I fell into hysterics, slapping my legs and wiping my eyes, and saying something like, "Ummmm. OK. If you say it's funny, Kelly, I believe you. But truly. You're weird." So read it for yourself, OK?

4. Have you noticed my new blog design, by the way? It unveiled quite mysteriously before my very eyes a few weeks ago, the product of a very talented Jules over at Everyday Design.

In honor of Mother's Day, Jules is giving away -- for FREE -- a blog makeover for the blogger of her choice. Just click the button. It will take you to her page where she has all the 411 about entering.

Happy Monday!

Prayers for Heather

I suspect most of the people who read my blog are familiar with sweet Heather and her story. (If you aren't, you can go here to learn about it. And grab a tissue before you hit the link. Heather's story is full of real emotions and an unwavering faith in our God.) She's having surgery today at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota -- which is about 45 minutes from where I live -- to remove a brain tumor which was discovered just a few weeks ago.

I'm writing this both as a reminder and a request: Pray like crazy for Heather and her family today. I know I will be. God has placed her heavy on my heart.

And if you're looking for something tangible to do, there's a great idea here (hat tip to BooMama) that actually fits with the title (and purpose) of this whole blog. Love well. Live each day with that goal in mind. Love your children, love your spouse, love your God, love your life. If, at the end of the day, you can say to yourself, "Today I didn't get everything done on my to do list. I burned dinner, and I forgot to buy shaving cream at Target. I meant to call my Mom, and I didn't. I meant to journal about that funny thing my daughter said, and I ran out of time. But gosh darn it, I laughed with my son today. I stopped to accept the dandelions my daughter picked for me. I hugged my husband when he got home from work. And I spent time basking in the presence of the One who made me and loves me more than I can comprehend."

If you and I can say something like that, then, my friends, we will have loved well. And that's a good day.

"Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly." (I Corinthians 13:13, MSG)

What Spring Means To Me

I love spring. Especially when it's right outside my window. Which it is today. The green things are greening, the flowers are flowering, the buds are budding.


Obviously, words fail. (Although I think I did a better job here, when my creative edge wasn't being lured outdoors to bask in the sunshine. The hope of spring is better for one's writing than the reality of spring.) So here are a few picture of What Spring Means To Me:

Nothing says Spring Has Arrived in Minnesota like a closetful of coats and mittens and boots and snow pants washed and ready to be put away. (Of course, nothing says "Ha! Now you're getting five inches of snow this weekend, sucka!" like this either. But I'm choosing to ignore that thought. Because it's evil.)

This past weekend, it was 89 at our house. We haven't seen temperatures like that since about ... oh ... July 31, 2006. (Not that I'm keeping track or anything.) And when the mercury goes up, the grill lights up. (Wow! I've got it goin' on today!) For our inaugural BBQ of the season, we had some of our favorite summer fare: cajun turkey burgers with monterey jack cheese, amazing bell peppers and other assorted veggies, chips and guac (not pictured for the sake of poor Sarah and all those who read her blog) and a fresh pineapple that tasted as if the Goddess of Hawaii grew it herself. Just for us.

After dinner, we took the boat for a spin on the lake. One of the cool things about our lake (to be known henceforth as The Big Lake, until mid-summer when it will become The Green Slimy Lake) is that the entire north side of the lake is a state park. Meaning it's nature as God intended it. These are a few of the trees, gracing us with their spring attire.

Does anything say spring more than baby horses? I think not. (And just to be clear, there are now five ponies in that field. FIVE! Each and every one is so stinkin' cute I can hardly stand it.)

Wait! What's that doing there?!? That's not right. (Although -- true story -- I did take this picture early in April. When I was ready to gnaw through my veins with my teeth rather than endure One More Day in this noxious state. But spring in the Upper Midwest is like the pain of childbirth. It's all howls and screaming -- until the soft sun caresses your skin and the robins sing outside your window and you are all, "Winter?!? What winter? It can't be
that bad.")

To make up for the cruelty of my last shot, here's a slice of God's glory for y'all. The sunset as seen from my living room Sunday night.

And my final spring picture? This old (really old) picture of me and my husband on our
wedding day, which was 14 years ago today. (And in case you're wondering, yes, I was 13 when I got married. But I was born in Kentucky, and that's how we do 'em thar.)

I could tell you that our marriage has been a storybook romance, full of laughter and friendship and love. But that would be a lie.

What I can tell you is that I've seen God's grace and love burst through the giant holes in our marriage and make something beautiful out of something ready to fall apart from bitterness and neglect. I can tell you that there is no earthly explanation for the fact that we are still married -- and what's more, deeply in love -- after all we've been through. I can tell you that I've never known intimacy with God or understood His mercy until I tasted them these past few years.

But that's our God. He's like that -- a miracle worker, who is beyond comprehension. He truly makes all things new.

It's just like spring.