Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sharpening Your Brain

It's no secret that reading is good for a person.  I always feel a pang of guilt when one of the boys asks me to read another book and I say no (because at certain point they're stalling and I'm exhausted) because I know how important reading is to their development.

Here's a fun little piece about 10 novels that will sharpen your mind.  I have no idea how the authors arrived at these particular ten titles, but having read 7 of the 10, they all provide a compelling read. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Glimpse into Cardinals Spring Training

Reporting from Jupiter, Florida, today are my folks.  This morning I got a call from my dad.  He started by saying "About 30 feet in front of us is Red Schoendienst!  And there's Yadi.  And Freese! And Wainwright."

I was instantly envious.

I've been saying to DP for several weeks now that next spring I want to take the boys to Spring Training.

For those of us who can't be there, Respublica gives us a little glimpse.  Check it out here.

It's David Freese!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Insults by Luther

This has been going around a lot today (at least in Lutheran circles) but it's funny.

The Lutheran Insulter.

Just click on the link and delight in the scathing wit Luther used.  Your friends won't know what to think.

A sample:

You are more corrupt than any Babylon or Sodom ever was, and, as far as I can see, are characterized by a completely depraved, hopeless, and notorious godlessness.

From The Freedom of a Christian, pg. 336 of Luther's Works, Vol. 31

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Time to Make the Donuts

We're becoming obsessed...

Last night Connor asked if I was going to make donuts.

Sure kiddo, twist my arm.

So he helped out.

This was fun.

Don't forget the glaze.
These didn't last long enough to get any photos of the finished product.

It's fun to have a helper in the kitchen.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Did You Know?

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to watch this video:

It's dizzying really.

As the video played, I found myself getting anxious.  Or maybe the anxiety that lurks in my mind came rushing up to the surface.

Everything is moving so fast.  The video gives a lot of statistics to show how fast technology is moving.  But it's not just technology.  Everything seems to be moving so fast.

I'm ready to get off the grid.  Escape.  Slow down.


Not a chance.

A dream?

Oh yes.

Something, somewhere is always happening.  Thanks to technology we all know about it--and are expected to react to it--almost instantly.

There is no time to slow down.  Disconnect.  And still keep up with the things that need to be done.

The question I struggle with is how to slow down...find more quiet...more time to disconnect.  Oh yes, and without guilt. 

But...reality sets in.  Working a full time job, plus being a mom, and keeping up with all that entails means that its hard to find that time to slow down. 

So, my question is, have you found a balance? A way to quiet the ever increasing speed of everything that we're constantly being bombarded with in every nook and cranny of life?

Do you know?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

Jesus, I will ponder now on your holy passion;
With your spirit me endow for such mediation.
Grant that I in love and faith may the image cherish
Of your suff'ring pain and death That I may not perish.

(LSB 440)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Today was a rather dreary day...if you find yourself having a dreary day, or just looking for a laugh, a good memory, or just to kill some time, try this:

YouTube Time Machine

You can pick a year, a category and travel back in time with the videos.  They have sports, music, cartoons, games, news, you name it.

This is fun.

Monday, February 20, 2012

President's Day

Many people (not all and not me:) had the day off of school and work today in recognition of President's Day.  Really, the day is supposed to be focused on the remembrance of President Washington.  Because it comes so close of the heels of President Lincoln's birthday, it's now commonly known as Presidents Day.

In DC we spent lots of time playing around the Monuments.   It was pretty common when the weather was nice (i.e. not crazy, sticky humid) to spend weekend afternoons on the National Mall roaming around.  It was fun to see the boys view the Mall as their playground.

So in honor of President Washington, lets take a look is one of my all-time favorite pictures of Christian, with the Washington Monument in the background. 

I took this picture in early January, 2007.  It was an unseasonably warm January day, so we headed for the Mall.

Let's look the other direction, shall we?

Ah yes, the Lincoln Memorial.

What a playground we had!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tackling the Ivy

I love our backyard.  When I came to our house for the first time and stepped out onto the deck, and then into the yard, I was thrilled.  It's huge compared to the little courtyards that passed for outdoor space at our townhouse in NoVa.  After thinking "Wow" my thoughts turned to "oh boy, this is a lot of yard to take care of."

Still, I love our yard.  What I don't love is the ivy.

And do we ever have a lot of ivy.

We have ivy here.

And here.

And here.

And here.
Until today, we had ivy here, but this is where I was standing when I decided that it was time for the ivy to go, it is was the first section to get yanked.
If you squint and look on the other side of the fence at the top you see...more ivy.

We had a conversation some time ago with our neighbor and it was obvious from that chat that he wasn't going to miss the ivy.

Darren helped out by starting to cut it from the fence.
On the other side of the fence is our neighbors ivy-free yard.  Our boys love hopping the fence to play there when the neighbor's grandkids come to visit.

One big reason I want the ivy gone is that it will more than double the useable space in the yard.  With two boys who have energy to burn, I need all the yard space we can muster.  I also don't like wondering just what is creeping and crawling under the ivy...I want useable space where I can see what I'm dealing with.

Thankfully the only things I discovered when pulling out the ivy today were unhappy worms and rocks. Actually what looked to be broken pieces of old stone pavers.  Who knows how long they've been hidden away under the ivy.

It's definitely exhausting work, yanking out that ivy.  I'm a bit wary to stop and sit still for fear my back and leg muscles will revolt and keep me from moving again today.  On the other hand, I'm not feeling so bad about making/eating those Old Fashioned Sour Cream Donuts anymore.

Goodness only knows how many years this ivy has been spreading...invading all the corners of the yard, encroaching on our neighbors yards...taking over.

It's days are numbered.  It's going to take a long time, but now that I've started, I'm ready to get rid of it...all of it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Party Time for the Con-Man

We had Connor's birthday party this morning with some of his friends.  I always think doing these types of things are a good idea...then when I look at Pinterest I say, "hey, that would be cute/fun/easy/awesome to do, I should do that for the party.

Then reality and time constraints kick in.  Pinterest pressure starts to make me feel guilty.  I should be doing....

But, at the end of the day, all a group of little kids really need is an open space and their friends (a little sugar doesn't hurt) to have a ball.  And this morning was fun.  Connor agreed, it was a smashing good time.

We had the party over at the Seminary in a big, bright open classroom. Perfect for little legs to run around. 

We got the table ready.
There were treats (and fruit/cheese) out for snacks.

Most importantly, there was cake.  Not just any cake, but a Kruta's Cake.  Yum.  I'd been planning to make a cake, but when Mom offered to pick one up from Kruta's, I thought, how could we not.  The best cakes around, and I could cross something off my to do list.   Score!  Seriously though, Kruta's is the best.
After playing through an obstacle course I rigged up, we headed over for a hike up Luther Tower.

Connor, and his friends, looked up and thought--we're going to climb that???
The parents probably thought that too.

When we got up, Opa helped the each of the kids ring the massive bells that are in the bell towel.  The neighborhood probably wondered what was going on with all the ringing.
On the way down, everyone stopped to get a button that said "I climbed Luther Tower."  Oma passed them out.
Then it was off for cake and snacks.

Christian was there.
 Connor got silly while his friends sang Happy Birthday.
And finally, the whole (hopefully tired out group).
For another view of the morning, see Oma's blog here.

  It was a fun morning.  We've been napping and lazy since we got home.  Yay for naps!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mmmm, Donuts

We've had a long, long tradition of Saturday morning donuts in our house.  It wasn't until recently that I decided to try and make them for myself.  My favorite donuts are the old fashioned sour cream donuts, but they are some of the hardest to find.  Not only hard to find, but hard to find good versions of them.

So I tried to do it myself.

Boy, these are so good when you make them at home.  Even better, they're easy to make.

I've made them a few times now.  After the first time, Connor, our donut critic, held one up and said "these are awesome."

They made the cut.

I made them tonight, so they'll be ready to go tomorrow morning.

In process...
Update:  Here's the recipe.  I found this on line here, and only adapted it very slightly. I really only messed with the glaze--for my taste just a simple powdered sugar, milk, vanilla glaze works beautifully.  Here's the recipe with my minor changes:

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Donuts
Makes about one dozen donuts and holes

2 1/4 cup (255 grams) cake flour (I've also made these using a combination of cake flour and whole wheat flour, and they worked great)

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter 
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) sour cream
Canola oil, for frying

In a bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the shortening and sugar together until sandy. Add the egg yolks and mix until light and thick.

Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream, ending with the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl down as necessary. The dough will be sticky. Spoon it into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

On a floured surface, roll out the chilled dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Use a donut cutter or two differently sized biscuit cutters to cut out as many donuts as possible, dipping the cutters into flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

Pour the canola oil into a heavy bottomed pot to at least 2 inches deep. Heat to 325 degrees F. Add the donuts to the heated oil a few at a time, careful not to overcrowd the pot. Fry on each side about 2 minutes, but watch to make sure they don’t burn.  Keeping the temperature right at 325 degrees is key to this, otherwise they'll burn quickly.

Let drain on a paper bag to soak up the excess grease.

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
A few tablespoons of milk 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until smooth. Dip each donut into the glaze, making sure they are covered completely. Place on a wire rack above a sheet pan to catch any excess glaze. Let sit for 20 minutes until glaze is set.

They'll keep for a few days properly covered, but in our house they haven't made it much beyond 24 hours.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spring is in the Air

Last night I was getting dinner ready and it dawned on was 5:30 and still light outside. 

This morning when I left for work, it wasn't dark.

I'm hearing  more birds chirping outside.

And, the Cardinals have reported to Spring Training.  Fox Sports Midwest will be airing five of their spring training games.


I can feel my spirits lifting.

We may still get hit with a cold, messy March, but I've felt enough glimmers of spring in recent days that I can see my energy being revived.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Slow Down, You Move too Fast

According to Trapster, St. Louis ranks 6th in the nation for the number of speed traps it has.

We were used to speed traps and traffic cameras in DC, which is ranked number five, but it feels like STL has many more red light cameras. It seems that nearly every light you come to has a camera snapping away at offenders. 

Be aware when you're behind the wheel because you're being watched.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday Connor!

Our sweet Connor is celebrating his fourth birthday today.  Four years ago, we headed to the hospital early, early in the morning to welcome this little guy into our lives....As it was Valentine's Day, DP said something to the effect of "Well, guess I'm covered for Valentine's Day from here on out."


We love this little guy.

Last night, before we got the ruler/growth chart hung up on the wall, Connor found it.  One of Connor's very favorite things to do is to race (crash) cars.  So it came as no surprise when he saw the board and said "Hey this can be a race-car set-up!"

So he played contentedly for a long time...
Wanted us to play with him...but really we were supposed to race the cars up the board so that they would crash.

Come on guys!
 After a time, he needed more action and height to race.  So he improvised.
We love you Connor!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Snowball Fight

 After a warm winter to date, the snow arrived.

There's nothing like a post-dinner, pre-bathtime snowball fight.
Even inside, you aren't safe.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Kindergarten Chargers took to the basketball court for their final game of the season today.  The kids had a lot of fun learning about basketball.  The progress from the first practice to today's game was tremendous.  The team was blessed to have great coaches who were patient, flexible, and understanding of kindergarten boys. 

Warming up.

As always, Connor was there to watch.

He entertained himself by tying DP's shoelaces together.
One more high five and good game.
And the whole team smiles for the cameras.
Great season boys!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Viral Videos

Millions of people have watched the YouTube video of the dad who put eight bullets into his daughters laptop.  He did this as a consequence for her  I can only imagine how she felt when she saw his video.  If you haven't seen the video, you can find it here.

There's been a lot of discussion and commentary over his actions.  I've read through a lot of the comments both on a news article and on his Facebook page.  Overwhelmingly, the response has been positive--people are applauding him for the tough love stance he took.

What I found really great was how he found the rant his daughter had posted.  If you've followed this story at all, you've probably heard that he found her "Dear Parents" letter posted on her Facebook page, but the parents were supposed to have been blocked from seeing it.  But...

Turns out that it was the dogs fault. 

Yep.  That's right.  The dog is responsible for the daughter being found out.

According to a post on the Dad's Facebook (his profile is open to public to view), their family dog has a Facebook page.  Someone in the family had posted a picture of the dog, and the next day, the dad logged in as the dog to make a comment on that picture.

Well, turns out the daughter had tried to keep this vent from her folks by blocking family from seeing it...but, the dog wasn't included in the family list.  So, when the dad logged in as the dog, he saw his daughter's letter in the news feed.


Lesson:  If you don't want what you write to be plastered on the Washington Post (or pick your paper), don't put in on Facebook, or in an email, or in writing...anywhere.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

In Case You Missed It

Ted Drewes is open again after their winter hiatus. I think Darren may be making a run up the street tonight for some custard.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

So, Where Did You Go To School?

Not too long after we moved back to STL, DP and I were at a parent social organized by the school parent-teacher committee. While we were there, DP asked someone where they went to school. He meant, where did you go to college. The answer he got? South. He was confused. I'd forgotten to warn him about the most common STL question. "where'd you go to school" means where'd you go to high school. Turns out a Professor at SIUE is researching whether that question is giving STL a bad reputation to transplants to the area. The scope of the research, which is funded by a grant from the Urban Institute, looks at the experiences of transplants to the area. To read a bit more about the research, go here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Church, Curling, and City Lights

I'm up in Minneapolis for a conference this week.

Things got moving pretty quickly today. First sessions, opening worship service, dinner complete with Curling demonstration, and finally a view of the nighttime skyline from the hotel.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sports Saturday

Today was a busy morning for sports...kindergarten sports that is. 

Today was the first game of a new session of indoor soccer.  Originally, I'd thought that we'd take this session off, but at the last minute we enrolled Christian to play again.  He loves it, and its a good way to burn off energy in the winter.

Today's game was at 8:10 am.  Ugh.  According to the coach, Vetta Sports was trying to schedule games so as not to interfere with the Super Bowl.  It could have been worse...we could have had the 7 am time slot. 

As it was, both boys were up at dark o'clock this morning, so getting to the game on time wasn't a problem.

From the soccer game we had to head down the road for a 10 am CCLS basketball game. Christian woke up ready to roll for this game.  

Even though the boys lost in a close game, 1210, Christian had his best offensive game of the season.  He scored three baskets, two right off the bat in the first three minutes of the game.  

After getting pulled to a soccer game and a basketball game that he wasn't playing in, Connor started to get grumpy.  I need to find him a preschool rugby team.

Only one more basketball game to go in the season. Stay tuned for the end of season recap.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Piling on the Pinterest Bandwagon

I love Pinterest.  It's an addicting, time-sucking escape.  It's now the hot new social site that everyone is jumping into.  Not just people (women), but I'm seeing more men, companies, organizations, and local news media outlets. Everyone is on Pinterest.

Curious about Valentine's Day options in Affton or Chesterfield?  Pinterest has you covered here and here

Want to check out the Fair Trade options (including dark chocolate hearts) that Lutheran World Relief has?  Pinterest has you covered here.

Love Lands End Canvas (I do)?  Right here.  HGTV?  Of course, right here

St. Louis Craigslist?  Sure, right here.

Want to see all things for men?  Check out the Board of Man here.

The options are endless.  And now, companies are all trying to figure out how to best market on Pinterest, which no doubt means the advertising on its way.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

To Sleep...

There are lots of things related to current events swirling around in my mind tonight, the Komen topic for one, but after snuggling and reading with my soon to be four year old, none of that matters.

He is too sweet for words.  Usually.  When he's not being stubborn.

Today happened to be a day when his silly button got turned on early, and lasted

Now, he's tucked into bed, with lots of stuffed company, though I'm not confident he'll stay there.  Lately he's been afraid to be alone.  "But I'll be alone in here" has become a common saying for him.
Have no fear, Blankie is here!
Good night, all.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

He Can See Clearly Now

Christian has had glasses since just before his fourth birthday.  He was due for a check-up, and as his previous Ophthalmologist was in the DC area, we needed to get set with a new doc.  Today was the day. So off to the Children's Eye Center we went.

Happy to be in the "Captain's Chair."
He did great.  A tweak to his prescription, and a plan to check back in in a couple of  months.  All in all, a good first visit with a new doc.