If you're looking for Olson family updates, then visit our family blog, I Love You Same.

The rants and recipes found here are solely mine.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Can you Say Poop in Church?

"Well, honey, you just did."

My favorite moment at our first Confirmation small group last night.

It's gonna be a fun and crazy ride.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Good Reminder, A Good Balance

Taken by Young One on our vacation up the Gunflint Trail

I watch the clock. I'm Type A and somewhat proud of it. Ask me to get it done and it will and then some. I'm an overachiever, perfectionist, can't relax if the house is a mess kind of person. I can't sit down if there's laundry to do or beds to be made. I rarely just watch TV. I'll watch, but I'll be emailing, writing, folding laundry, sorting coupons.

D is the exact opposite. And it's good for me.

He reminds me that, for right now, good enough is perfection. And I need to hear that.

We were watching City Slickers on TV the other night. I was folding laundry. All three of us had our laptops up and running. Mine was closed so I could fold towels. Young One's blow out birthday bash trip to Dave and Busters had occurred that day. Five boys at an arcade had wiped all of us out. Young One had a sore throat.
I looked around and commented wryly about our "family togetherness". And D quietly reminded me that it was enough.

And he was right. We balance each other and I need that. It was fine just to be that night. Fine to be together and apart at the same time. It was enough.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

He is Not a Pig. He Just Sounds Like One.

The H1N1 media induced panic epidemic has got everyone going a little crazy.

Young One called about half way through his day yesterday. "You have to come get me." And then, click, the phone went dead.

Now, he isn't one to be in the dean's office for bad behavior. I turned the talk radio channel on the car stereo and couldn't find news of a lock down or school shooting. The ride to school took forever. Of course that's the day I get behind a construction trailer going about 10 miles an hour in a 45 zone.

I get to school and find he's in the nurse's office. He'd been snorting, sneezing, and blowing his nose all weekend. We're allergy people and ragweed is running rampant here in Minnesota. We're used to it. He's not feeling well, he tells me, and the nurse informs me that he has a 102 temp. Hmmm. Maybe it is more than allergies.

Then, she proceeds to tell me that without a signed lab report stating that he's negative for H1N1, he can't come back to school.

"Here's the deal," I said, "If he is positive, it's too late anyway because he's infected the entire school just by sneezing in here." And judging by the overflowing nurse's office, he probably isn't the only one.

This is parenting 101. Your day is hopping by just as pleasant as can be and wham, a curve ball. It's no wonder that people without children have trouble with interruptions in their days. They just don't get hit with as many bumps in the road as we do. Let's just say that after twelve years of daily curve balls, I've learned to just roll with it.

We head out to the car and I call his pediatrician's office. "We can see him right now." Well, that's rare.

He has to wear a mask in the waiting room. Secretly I know this makes for a good show, but I also know the real reason is to protect the really vulnerable kids, those with chronic illnesses that could be in danger from ANY flu, not just the current headliner. He doesn't want to wear a mask. It makes an already stuffed up nose even more impossible to breath through. I explain to him that not all kids are as generally healthy as he is, how lucky he is, etc. That the mask is a souvenir. "You can use it as a hat later or maybe one of the dogs will wear it."

Long story short, after talking with the doc, explaining the history of his "illness" and her examination, it turns out it's a sinus infection surely brought about by allergic rhinitis (aka a runny nose). I roll my eyes as I explain, though, that even though the symptoms of the flu are symptoms that almost every kid on the planet experiences at one time or another and that because our school district is panicking, that I am required to return with a negative test and a doctor's signature.

The test for H1N1 isn't very accurate and even if it was, we can't utilize it. Our state health department (and probably every other state health department) has decreed that unless your a. dead or b. in the hospital, you can't get the test. They're swamped. Thankfully, we don't meet the criteria for testing.

His doctor's office could do the standard nasal swab for Influenza A, of which H1N1 is a strain, so we proceeded with that. Negative. Let's check Strep. Negative. Signed, stamped, sealed and delivered. We have a relatively healthy boy who's got green boogers, is snorting pleasantly, and is carrying a pack of antibiotics.

I think we need to step back and breath (preferably clean air). Put this whole H1N1 thing into perspective. The CDC has said, if you or your kids have had a respiratory illness recently, it's probably hit your home. And so, you've been exposed, hence "vaccinated". It's a flu. We get a strain of it every year.

We've become a society that media preys on. If it bleeds, it leads has become the motto and fair and accurate news has gone by the wayside. I rarely watch or listen to the news. If I do, it's the BBC on PBS or public radio. I'm so tired of sensational media, "studies say" without qualifying the study, and just basically "drink the Kool Aid" media. The news generates considerable advertising revenue. I wish that they couldn't. Perhaps we'd get real news then.

Be well, stay informed, and take your vitamins! :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

From the Mouths

I don't know why this struck me funny, but maybe it's because he doesn't realize that there are cliques, groups, or what have you.

"Mom, we sit at the same table every day for lunch. And, amazingly, no one else sits there. It's just there, empty, like it's waiting for us."

And so it begins.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mary Travers

Mary Travers, of the amazing group Peter, Paul, and Mary, has died.

Last year, I was to travel to Chicago with my mom to hear them sing. Mary was too sick and so the concert was cancelled. I was so disappointed and scared. Frightened that her strong voice was so suddenly silenced. I knew it had to be bad if Mary couldn't continue.

Her music meant so much to me. The rallying cry of peace activists, Peter, Paul, and Mary's music is timeless. I will listen, once again, today.

It's Young One's birthday, so I'm not going to post this until later. But, I will listen today. Mary's voice soothed my fussy baby, it calmed teething, and served as sweet lullabye. If I had a Hammer was one of the first songs my little guy sang. I'll never forget how he'd pound his fist as he sang it. We still listen in the car, on lazy Sunday afternoons, and when I'm feeling particularly political.

Their music, her music, has been a constant thread through my life.

My dad hummed, whistled, and sung Blowin' in the Wind throughout my childhood.

My mom sat with me after a terribly painful breakup of first love. We watched a Peter, Paul, and Mary concert on PBS. Their music helped me run out of tears. It healed me.

I stood up for myself for the first time, firmly defending my love of the group when it really wasn't cool to look beyond the hair bands of the 80s.

I feel, in a way, as if a close friend has died. I'm sure I'm not alone. Her strength, activism, and grace will be missed. Her music will live on.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The First Dance

No, this is not what he's wearing tonight.

Seriously. I'm not ready for this.

First, while waiting in the pick up line for Young One on Monday, I witnessed girls with cleavage and cell phones. Some had both, more were texting than slouching if you know what I mean. Apparently, there's been a lot of growing up going on in the sixth grade girls over the summer or these girls were much older. Like as in two years older. The dreaded EIGHTH GRADERS.

Second, there's been discussion of manly man shower gel and volunteer showering. I repeat volunteer showering.

Third, there's a dance this Friday. A dance. Suddenly, I'm picturing my own Junior High dances which consisted of giggling girls constantly reapplying Bonnie Bell lip gloss and traveling in herds. There were sweaty palms, slow dancing to Journey's Open Arms with much shorter boys, and rushed trips to the bathroom to discuss who liked who. Relationships were made and broken the same evening and much drama ensued.

I seem to also remember screaming You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC with all my friends. I was thirty years old before I knew what it meant. Good times.

How did we get this far so fast?

The middle school years were topsy turvy for me. I don't want to put that on him, so I won't share unless the time is right. I think girls are probably meaner, so perhaps his experiences won't be so bad. Speaking with my friends and their husbands, though, we've all been cringing with the memories and the awkwardness of it all.

The dances are from 2:45 until 4:30, which really cracked me up. The thought of a DJ and a glitterball at that hour seems harmless enough.

Newsflash, I've just been informed that there will be inflatable bouncing things and a climbing wall as well as a DJ. Guess where he'll be? Emergency averted for another day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Birthday My Son


I can't believe it.

I remember your birth day as if it were yesterday. You'll always be my baby.

Thanks for making me a mommy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ministering via Garage Sale

I spent the last couple of weeks getting ready for a garage sale, setting up for a garage sale, and selling the stuff.

I did it for a number of reasons.

  • We hadn't had one in ten years and we had a lot of stuff.

  • I didn't want to have to haul said stuff to a charity drop off.

  • I had too much stuff for charity pick up service.

  • I wanted to teach Young One about marketing, the reward for hard work, and the value of a clean closet.

You can positively affect people's lives at a garage sale. And the one most affected? Me.


My philosophy is that you're not going to make a ton of money at a garage sale and if you ever figured out just how much you made per hour you would never ever do it in the first place. Money can't be the motivator.

The motivator has to be that you're willing to put your stuff out for all your neighbors to gawk at and judge (and the brave ones will sort through it and purchase). The motivator has to be that you're willing to put out your collection of 1970s Tupperware and hold your head high knowing that someone just might need it, crave it, want it.

The motivator has to be that you're willing to part with your stuff, for very very little cash, so that people who really need it can benefit.

Many people stock their homes, clothe their families, find their tools, gadgets, and entertainment through garage sales. They have to.

I'm lucky in that I don't have to be a thrift store or garage sale shopper (even though I love to be). I could pay, gasp, full retail, if I wanted to.

But, I'm wandering.

What I'm getting at is that there is a certain amount of pride in purchasing something for your family, however little you pay for it. I've always felt the welfare system doesn't work because there is no requirement of expenditure on your part. Oh yes, you pay with your pride, but after a few generations, that goes out the window.

A hand up instead of a hand out has always been my motto.

Anyway, I could go on and on about my thoughts on welfare, but this isn't the time and the place.

I always price things extremely low at garage sales. Everything was priced a quarter at my sale, unless it was marked otherwise. And people went nuts. I even had a couple of people buy my garbage. Well, they bought what I thought was garbage.

I'm a pretty good reader of people. I had many people attend the sale, the first morning, they were lined up and down both sides of my street. I had the obligatory antique dealer, looking for a steal. I had Lookie Loos and hoarder wannabes. I had a few weirdos, including a dude with his wig sewn to his baseball cap (he liked to "doff" his hat at the ladies, revealing his shiny bald head). And then I had those that really needed and appreciated my cast offs.

When someone who seemed to really need what I had to sell, I always threw in a few freebies. I'm particularly partial to little kids. I watched several eyeing toys they seemed to know better than to ask for. I watched parents scrounging together for the few quarters from their pockets to pay for their treasures. And then I'd throw in a free toy, a snowsuit, a warm blanket for the one month old.

The smiles, the joy, and the appreciation. Well, that's what it's all about, isn't it?

I made quite a bit of money off the sale, but I made much more than that. I got a chance to minister to a lot of strangers. As D said, I made a lot of people happy. The junk hoarders, the antique dealers, and the needy. They all left with smiles. And I'm still here, holding them close to my heart.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner~ RIP Patrick Swayze

I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer five years ago this Halloween. It's a horrible disease. Mercifully, it kills quickly. Sadly, it kills mercilessly.

For more information about pancreatic cancer and about how you can get involved to help fight this terrible disease, visit http://www.pancan.org/

Monday, September 14, 2009

Star Spangled Morning

The alarm sounds. Showers for all. Breakfast. "I spilled strawberry jam on my shorts." Empty dishwasher. Load dishwasher. Shut off lights. Pick up a stray pair of socks. Toss socks down laundry chute. Teeth brushed. Last minute backpack stuffing. Coffee. Feed the fish. Coax the dogs out into the foggy morning. Bed made. Hurry. Rush. Where are my keys? Get your cello. Kiss the hubby. Wave at the neighbor. Making a left onto a busy road. Balancing commuter mug on the steering wheel. In depth discussion on the merits of the latest video game purchase. Drop off, gorgeous sunrise. Star Spangled Banner being played on a portable keyboard by the school flagpole. Stand at attention, hand on heart. Giggles. "Have a great day. I'll pick you up at 2:40." "Don't worry, I'll be there early." "Love ya, mom."

It's going to be a great day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Scraping the Sky--Remembering September 11, 2001

Brilliant idea. Take a mother and her son to the top of a skyscraper in downtown Minneapolis. Take them to the observation deck and watch them grip the walls of the open air deck with their fingernails and hyperventilate. Watch while they hit the wall next to the entrance, freeze, and then slowly rush back inside without screaming.

Who's brilliant idea was this?

Um. Mine.

Why is it that I think, like a virus, that Acrophobia will just get better. Fear of heights is not cured by repeated exposure or a vaccine. You'd think I'd remember that.

Oh no, in the interest of playing tourist in my own hometown, I decide that we should go exploring a little piece of downtown. Not a great idea, but it was fun, except for the 20 seconds of sheer terror at the top.

Skyscraper observation decks are getting few and far between since 9/11. We have one in downtown Minneapolis run by the Minnesota Historical Society. Foshay Tower. The dream of a man named Foshay who built the skyscraper in 1929 right before the stock market crash. Back then, it was the tallest building in the Midwest. He built it to look like the Washington monument, getting skinnier the higher it scraped the sky.

D took the upstairs pictures. I preferred the view from below. Maybe being grounded isn't such a bad thing.

Education comes in many forms and while the displays about Foshay and the building of his tower were interesting, the conversation sparked by a man asking us for spare change was much more enlightening.

This day brings back so many memories for me. While our country was being attacked, my body was being attacked. I was downtown Saint Paul in a hospital with D and Young One having a battery of tests done. I still didn't know what was wrong with me, but I knew I was sick. As I lay on a radiology table, the tech turned the radio up. I was there for a long test and we were constantly updated with the confusing reports of the attack. "They hit the other tower" "They hit the Pentagon" "People are jumping to their deaths to avoid the flames"

I cut the test short, getting up from the table and pulling out my own IV. Nobody even tried to stop me. I reunited with my family, and we headed out of the metro area. We didn't want to be anywhere near big buildings. The parking attendant shared my tears as we left the ramp. Traffic was almost at a stop. It was like an end of the world movie, but real, stark in it's focus.

D was calm and focused. I could tell he was scared.

My parents, brother, and his wife were in Scotland. We couldn't reach them and didn't know if they would be stuck there or if the attacks were world wide. We couldn't fathom how we would deal with them being on such a long flight again. We didn't even know when they would possibly be able to make it home. We stayed glued to Peter Jennings (somehow his calm presence helped us deal with it all better.) Phone lines were jammed.

We sat, we watched in horror, and we waited.

What I remember most was the quietness of the streets. No one went anywhere. And when my family made it safely home from Europe, we couldn't begin to tell them what it was like. America at a standstill for a few days. Like nothing anyone had ever seen. People spoke in funeral tones. People shared and cried and called you up just to connect, to see where you were, if you knew anything.

The country was in shock and then mourning and then, understandably angry.
I didn't lose anyone that I knew, but since then, I've met people who lost friends and family. When we were young dumb kids, we stayed in the World Trade Center Marriott and visited Windows on the World and the observation deck. We were thrilled to stay (thanks to a cousin's employee discount) in a room overlooking the Statue of Liberty. The hotel was destroyed in the attack.

Those buildings! They were invincible, they couldn't fall. We walked like wide eyed country folk as we maneuvered the labyrinth of the basement "mall" of shops. We passed thousands of people on their way to work or appointments or visiting, just like us. We felt small in the shadows.

As the second tower came down, I thought of all those people. I thought of all those stores and parking garages. I thought of the kids, visiting like us, wide-eyed, from out of town. All, beneath the rubble.

It doesn't get any easier, the remembering.

The noise of the people hitting the ground as they fell to their death, this I will never forget. They quit airing it, mercifully, after the news casters realized what that noise was.

The flutter of millions of pieces of paper as it wafted away. Papers that so many people had touched, made, printed, composed.

The shocked faces covered in ash.

Rescue workers going in as everyone was running out.

Being on top of what is now a very small skyscraper and looking (albeit) briefly at the enormity of the fall. Well, I cannot imagine.

Peace and blessings and true remembrance today for those that were lost. You will not be forgotten.

This is not the day to criticize the mistaken war against a country that had nothing to do with this attack. This is a day of remembrance. We have several pictures from our trip and a couple of professional ones in frames, that feature the dominance of those towers over the New York Skyline. I can't look at them without remembering all of this.

I wish they'd turn those big beams of light back on as a permanent tribute. The skyline doesn't look right without the towers and not seeing them isn't enough of a memorial.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Strength in Numbers

So, is there really strength in numbers or is it really just happy speak for codependency?

I'm finding myself really struggling with the whole weight loss thing. I've been disillusioned with weight loss this summer. I think it's mostly been that I've been so stressed and crazy busy that I haven't had one moment to think about counting Points and I refused to beat myself up about not working out as much. Summer in itself has been a workout.

I'm making excuses, though, and I hate that. In fact, it starts a self-destructive cycle of guilt and self-loathing that just doesn't end. So, I'm going to stop that right now and get on with it.

I'm thinking about going to attend Weight Watchers Meetings with a girlfriend. It is more expensive, which has held me back in the past, but it also forces you to be more accountable, so probably worth every penny. And maybe that's just what I need. It's hard, though, because it feels like admitting defeat to me. Well, just a bit. Maybe it's good to admit that you can't do everything on your own?

I have a feeling that making weigh in and meeting a social outing would be fun, as long as we just didn't get caught up in post weigh-in coffee breaks at the Scandinavian bakery!

I'm just in the thinking stages of this, but I'm leaning towards doing it. I've stalled out, plateaued or whatever the Weight loss word of the week is for becoming stuck in mud or was it Texas sheet cake? No, no, that's not fair. I've just ignored the scale and still tried to be relatively healthy, aside from a week of diving into a donut bag that happened on vacation.

This year is all about getting myself back. For the first time since becoming a mom, I'm starting to see Me again.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm Not a Twit

So, I twied to Twitter, but it just didn't work for me. I mean, really, shouldn't you just be living your life and not sending little blurbs out to the world? Like we care if you're getting coffee or using the bathroom. Also, there's something about the word that could be utilized to describe the past tense of to twit that I just know would slip into my vocabulary at some inopportune time. Like say, at church. (Think hard, think really hard, and then if you still don't get it, slip an a where the i should be in twit. And then thank me if you had a little laugh.)

So, if I was a Twit, this is what you would have seen scrolling past my screen:

  • Buying school shoes for someone who just doesn't want to go back to school

  • Standing outside the barber shop while the boys get their hair cut. I am not allowed in the man cave. Apparently, the high levels of testosterone made apparent by all the male patterned baldness present, would knock me into oblivion. That and they couldn't scratch themselves, talk about killing animals, or contemplate the perfection of a field goal in front of me. Man rules, who knew?

  • Last minute emergency back to school laundry.

  • Cleaning, yet another, closet for our garage sale.

  • Cleaning out the attic, but not really. D is cleaning out the attic, I'm catching the refuge and refusing to climb the rickety stairs.

  • Marking stuff for the garage sale while counseling Young One about the realities of home school ("If you want to be home schooled, your first project would be cleaning out the attic. That would be gym, health, and history.")

  • Chasing various 11 year old boys as they go through the revolving door that is now my home.

  • Answering the phone, it rings endlessly these days.

  • Contemplating just why I'm having a garage sale around back to school time.

  • Avoiding having to chaperone a middle school dance.

  • Trying to hide the items that my generous mother has given me amongst the garage sale stuff without her seeing them. Sorry mom. Love ya to death, have too much stuff.

  • Inhaling permanent marker while making signs.

  • Celebratory back to school girl's brunch. Ahh. Adult conversation.

  • Neighbor chat in the street while the kids are playing.

  • Waiting for the first day of school bus, which came only after we got in the car to self deliver our new middle schooler! (25 minutes late, come on!)

  • Trying to convince said bus driver that he could deviate from the middle of the block drop off when the two kids he drops off on our street live at the end of the block. grrr. Maybe cookies will help tomorrow.

  • Listening to new school lingo like, "Chip"(slang for the school's name), "Deans", "Locker combo", "I had a pass."

  • Realizing that I am completely and utterly embarrassing no matter what I do, say, or look like to my child. Realizing that at one point, this too shall pass.

  • Chasing a sleepwalker. For the love of God, this child has never slept through the night.

I could go on and on, but this is such a busy time. It is for every mom.

Garage Sale tomorrow through Saturday. Hope all the work was worth it.

Happy Back to School Parents!

Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!