Thursday, March 31, 2011

Downtown With the Kiddos

Yesterday my kids and I went 'downtown' to run some errands. Not 'downtown' in the big city, just 'downtown' in our little city of about 5,200 people. I am not a city girl at all, and I love living in a little city, with an old downtown. It is the perfect place to take the kids when we just need to get out and move a bit, when the yard is soggy and the park is muddy.

One of our favorite places to go is the meat market. The kids love to put their faces up to the glass and ask about all the yummy things they see. Our other favorite place from April to October is the Farmer's Market. It's not huge, but you can find honey, eggs, jams/jellies, veggies, breads/baked items, activities for the kids, grilled foods, musicians, etc... I LOVE it!  The market only runs on Saturdays, and my hubby works every Saturday, so it's just me and the kiddos. I can't wait to go this year; we can ditch the stroller now that my little guy is a year older!

So...yesterday we were walking around downtown and a couple people, seeing my kids, asked "are they twins?" It's a pretty common question that I get almost everywhere I go. They are 14 months apart, but size-wise there is not much difference. We walked to City Hall to check out the Library Link Site, and as we were leaving with books in hand, the kids were stopping to look at old pictures and such. I noticed the ladies that work the reception desk were kind of watching us. I should mention that these ladies are great - they have always been very helpful when I've had to do business down at City Hall. Turns out they were trying to figure out which one of my kids was the older one. One of the ladies asked "is she the older one?" I smiled and said that she was. I thought it was cute. They really love when the little kids come in, especially when they are having fun exploring City Hall.

I remember when it used to be such a big deal to take both kids out and about by myself. Both of my kids were late walkers (17 months, and 16 months) so it wasn't as easy as getting everyone out of the car and walking into the store. It was trying to find a spot next to a cart corral so I could grab a cart and get the kids loaded up, and hope that they wouldn't want to get out. Now, we unbuckle, hop out, each one takes one of my hands, and off we go!

Just a Quote...By Me

"Everything happens for a reason...I truly believe that...and what has led us here, will carry us on..."


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Finnish Friday

In an attempt to blog more often, I am creating "Finnish Friday" where I will blog about my fascination with Finland. It will be in the form of a story, a poem, a photo journey, a recipe, etc...

Today will be a short story with some background information regarding my interest in Finland.

My mom's mom was 100% Finn. She was born in MN, as was her mother (whose parent's came from Finland), and her father was born in Finland (he came to the USA when he was 16). I was always pretty close with my grandma, and had taken an interest in our family history.

While in 6th grade, I was in the Gifted & Talented program at my elementary school. One of our activities was to submit our names to an organization that matched up pen-pals. Naturally I chose Finland as my country of interest. I received notification that a girl in Finland received my name and address, and I also received hers.

I can still remember that day in June of 1992 that I opened the mailbox and found this:

That letter started a lifelong friendship that continues to this day. It is hard to believe that it has been nearly 19 years since we 'met'. Through letters, and later on emails, and now even through FaceBook, we are able to stay in touch. It may not be as often now that we are both raising families and such, but advancements in technology sure help to keep it more often. There is nothing better than a handwritten letter, although to find the time to sit and write, and then take a trip to the post office, is a bit more challenging than it was when we were childless, single, and had all the free time in the world :-)

I have been fortunate enough to have visited Finland twice. My first trip was in 2002, and my second in 2010. My first trip was 10 years after we had started writing and it was amazing that we knew each other so well, even before meeting in person. My second trip was just as amazing as the first, but in a completely different way. I have many stories to share, in future blog posts.

I will wrap it up here...and do my best to keep up with my writing in between Finnish Fridays.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Early Evening Snack

The kids and I had an early evening snack...which ended up being dinner because the kids weren't hungry even up until bedtime. So simple, yet it was the best Wednesday dinner we've had in a long while. Wednesday is my hubby's late night at work, so it's just the kids and I. Usually dinner gets hectic, then it's the bedtime routine, and then I'm spent. But not tonight.

Air-popped popcorn and homemade smoothies (yogurt/milk/splash of 100% juice/ice/fruit). Banana for my little girl, and pineapple-strawberry-banana for my little guy and I. I filled my little guy's 16 oz cup half-way full...twice! No wonder he wasn't hungry for a 'real' dinner! The three of us sat at the kitchen table, eating popcorn, sipping smoothies, laughing, and enjoying our time together.

The best part was afterwards when he got the shivers. Ok, so maybe that's not the best thing, but it usually happens after he drinks an ice-cold smoothie. The best part of the shivers was grabbing his hoodie and putting it on, hood and all, and then pulling him up into my lap for a little snuggle time. Eventually he warmed up and wanted to get down to play, but not before a few tickles to his tummy. I wish I could 'bottle' his laugh and take it out whenever I am stressed or feeling blue.

It was a really great day. My daycare family is on break until April. I didn't worry about the house much. The kids and I spent a lot of time playing, coloring, eating, etc... There was no arguing or fighting or whining. It felt good to just relax and have no worries...

Power Outage Dream

Just before 6 this morning the power went out for a few seconds (most likely due to the freezing rain and snow storm in the works). I was going to stay up, but decided to cozy back up for a bit...since I could. I fell back to sleep for about an hour, and I am so thankful that I did.

My dream started in Wisconsin. I'm not sure who I was with, but we were driving out to see the "Eighty" (the old 80 acre property that my maternal grandpa grew up on). We started down Hilltop Road, and soon discovered that the old farm house was gone, and a newly built house with a large detached garage was in its' place. I was surprised that I didn't feel sad about the old house being gone, but rather happy that someone was able to make a new home on the land.

Side Note: The "Eighty" has always been fascinating to me; I've taken many pictures and even got brave and drove up the 'driveway' one time (seemed the No Trespassing sign was missing that day) but I was too nervous to get out of the car since I was alone, with no cell phone service, and wild animals could have been anywhere (bears, etc...). Oh, and then my car started to overheat because it wasn't really a drive way, just two tracks with 2 foot tall grass down the center. I've never been in the house, but it has always been a wonderful photo subject.

Back to my dream... As soon as I felt that sense of happiness, my dream changed and I was at a home doing laundry. It could have been my parents, although the basement seemed a bit different. My (maternal) grandma came downstairs and said she was going to be heading home. We hugged and said 'I Love You' and as she started to walk away I noticed she had lost quite a bit of weight, although her face still looked the same. I didn't say anything to her about it, but as if she was reading my mind she turned and said, "My doctor says I should be eating more cabbage, but I just want to eat eggs and stuff like that."

And that was the end of my dream. Huh? I'm not sure how the cabbage and eggs fit into things, but a hug with my grandma means a lot, since she passed away in 2007. It has been a long time since she's been in my dreams...we've had some challenging times lately on the home front so maybe this was her way of saying that everything will be ok. Ok, maybe not 'literally' (cabbage & eggs???) but just that she was 'there'. :-)

I've always had very vibrant dreams, and the ability to remember most of them. Some have been written down, some are still in my head from years and years ago, and others are lost. I've had many unusual and crazy dreams about the "Forty" (that'll be another blog post; although my family will understand) and many dreams after my grandma passed away. I wish I would have written them all down, because I've lost quite a few, but I guess I won't worry about it too much...there will always be more dreams to come...