Saturday, February 27, 2010

Embracing Winter

I apologize for the recent rash of winter posts, but my attitude towards winter is gradually changing.

Two winters ago Keith got a wild hare (hair?) and took us to Colorado for New Year's weekend. I love Colorado but we normally go in summer. For years he's wanted to go to the big hot pool in Glenwood Springs when there's snow on the ground
Hmm. I had my doubts.

So we drove in icky weather to get to Colorado, then double icky weather to get up in the mountains, had to stay an extra day because a snowstorm closed the interstate,

and as we're sitting with frozen hair in a steaming hot pool with outside temps in the single digits,

watching lifeguards waddle around in snowpants and parkas, I thought, "You know, this isn't so bad." Sort of felt like we had cheated winter somehow.

Last year Keith signed the girls up for 9 weeks of ski lessons.

So this former California girl, who rarely saw temps less than 40, noticed that Wisconsinites don't sit around complaining about weather.

They embrace it.
All five months of it.

So far the girls have tried:

Dog Sleds

Downhill Skiing

Cross Country Skiing
Ice Skating

Sleigh Rides

We still need to try:
Ice Fishing
Winter Camping
Ice Races
Ice Road
Ice Caves

Goodness, winter isn't long enough.

So build a snowman, grab a sled, and embrace what's left of winter.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Come on In, The Water's Fine

Lake Superior defines my life.

It’s the reason our town is so long, hugging the shoreline for four winding miles.

It’s the reason driving to the next town takes so long. We can’t drive straight across; we have to go around the bay.

It moderates weather, softening winter’s grip, and taming summer’s heat. It protects the area from severe thunderstorms.

It calls and confounds.

I cannot wrap my mind around its immensity. We live on just a tiny finger of this enormous inland sea.

It is 1300 miles to drive around it.

Lake Superior by surface area is the world’s largest freshwater lake. Statistics say it holds enough water to flood North AND South America to a depth of one foot.

Growing up in California, I never gave Lake Superior much thought. I knew it existed but never wanted or needed to know more.

Now I’m never far from the lake. I drive by everyday and familiarity almost renders it invisible. It is an afterthought, a big liquid mass in my peripheral vision. I know it’s there and many days that is the extent of my involvement.

Some days I go closer. I use Ashland’s lakeshore walking trail to walk dogs or ride bikes. Occasionally, I sit on one of the strategically placed benches to rest and think and enjoy the view.

Come summer, people, mostly kids, brave the lake’s cold water. My girls pay no heed to cold and swim and play with abandon. To be honest, I have never been in past my elbows. Swimming requires courage to be seen publicly in a swimsuit.

Kayaks get people out on the water. Motor boats take them farther still. Commercial ships venture out on the open lake. Divers explore its depths.

Some people have only head knowledge of Lake Superior. They know it’s there but it has no bearing on their lives. Some look and acknowledge its existence, but never get personally involved. Some walk beside it but never get wet. Some get their feet wet but don’t go all the way in. Some swim but stay close to shore. Some drive all the way around, and some dive in, fully immersed in this huge body of water.

In many ways, this is how we are with God.

It’s hard to wrap our mind around God’s immensity.

God defines our lives. He’s the reason our paths go here and not there. His will determines our direction.

God moderates weather in our lives. He protects us in life’s storms. His love takes their brunt so winters are not quite as cold, and summers not quite as hot.

Some people just have head knowledge of God but feel He has no bearing on their lives. Some acknowledge His existence but don’t get personally involved, while others watch from shore.

Some people never go past their elbows. They go to church, comfortable in its system, safe within its morals and values, without ever taking the plunge.

To know God, I can’t just stand on the shore. It’s not enough to get my toes wet. I must get out of the boat. I must go all the way in and lose myself in the hugeness of His unconditional love and forgiveness.

Jesus calls.
He wants me to know Him.
He bids me come and lose myself in His depths.
Total immersion. Cleansed from sin, renewed by faith, and buoyed by hope.

I leave shore and He welcomes with open arms. He loves unconditionally, forgives the ugliest of sins, and promises eternal life. He showers me with tender mercies and amazing grace.

And no matter how far out or deep I go, I only graze the surface.

His blessings abound and overflow.
Superior God.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why Your Mother Should Never Chaperone A Youth Event - By Erica

Because she worries over things like this...

And then goes down the hill herself, almost giving me a heart attack...

And she liked it so much she went down again!

Winter Fun

A family from church raises sled dogs. They had the youth group over to dog sled this winter. Dog sledding is sort of like snowmobiling without engine noise and exhaust fumes.

The dogs are amazing. Beautiful, energetic, and chomping at the bit to run.

If you ever get the opportunity to watch Dog sledding or go on a dog sled, take advantage of it. This is a fun and unique experience.

Harnessing the dogs
Girl on the far left is my daughter.

Now grab a cup of cocoa, curl up on the couch, and watch the movie, Iron Will.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why Mothers Shouldn't Chaperone Youth Group Events

These kinds of things make me nervous

Some things are just better not to know

Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter Trivia

It's official. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Groundhog Day so there will be six more weeks of winter. Since Northern Wisconsin is an overachiever, we will most likely have more than six more weeks of winter.

Test your winter knowledge with the following quiz:

1. Which of the following is not effected by wind chill?
a. person
b. radiator
c. dog
d. bird
Answer: (b) Wind chill has no effect on cars or other objects

2. What is the coldest temperature ever recorded in

a. -10°F
b. -7° F
c. 0° F
d. -55° F
Answer (d) On Feb. 4, 1996 a record temperature of
-55°F was recorded in Couderay, WI.

3. True or False. It must be 32°F or colder for it to snow.
Answer: False. Temps are below 32 up in the clouds
where snow forms.

4. On the average, one inch of rain is equivalent to how
many inches of snow?
a. 10 in.
b. 1 in.
c. 5 in.
d. a foot
Answer: (a) 10 inches of snow melts down to about an
inch of liquid rain.

5. If the air is cold and dry, what kind of snow is made?
a. wet
b. blue
c. icy
d. powdery
Answer: (d) powdery – warm, wet weather produces
better snow for making snowmen and snowballs.

6. Which country has hosted the Winter Olympic games the most times?
a. Russia
b. Canada
c. France
d. U.S
Answer: United States

7. Where will 2014 winter games be held?
a. Italy
b. Russia
c. Japan
d. U.S.
Answer: (b) Russia

8. Where is the world’s largest ice fishing contest held?
a. Russia
b. Finland
c. Maine
d. Minnesota
Answer: (d) Brainerd, MN on Gull Lake

9. What is mixed together to make a blizzard?
a. snow and rain
b. wind and rain
c. wind and snow
d. hail and rain
Answer: © Blizzards are dangerous to drive in as
visibility is often zero and roads are icy.

10. When snow falls, it muffles sounds. True or False?
Answer: True. Everything seems still and silent after a

How did you do?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Do I Know My Husband or What?

A sweet eight-year-old girl from across the street stopped by and asked if I wanted to buy Girl Scout Cookies.

I told her, "No, I don't, but I know who does. If you ask Mr. Vik, I guarantee he'll buy some. In fact, I'll show you the ones he'll choose. He'll want the Shortbread. He'll order two boxes but you tell him that his wife said he could only order one."

She raised her eyebrows, "O-kay."

When Keith came downstairs, she popped the question and sure enough, he ordered Shortbread. (Third in the bottom row)

The little girl informed him, "Your wife said you could only order one box."

"She did, did she?" Keith huffed. "I'll take two."

The girl smiled at me and I winked back. He's so predictable.

(My favorites are Samoas. What's yours?)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Thin Places

I don't know if you like to read book reviews or not, but please consider reading this one. This is good stuff. Thin Places by Mary DeMuth is about as real as it gets.

I heard Mary speak at a conference and found her to be sincere, intense, and faith-filled.Two years ago, Mary sensed the need to write a memoir. She’d come a long way in her healing journey, enough to write without bitterness, with a view toward God’s intervention.

According to DeMuth, thin places are “snatches of time, moments really, when we sense God intersecting our world in tangible, unmistakable ways.” When she encountered Jesus at a Young Life camp in high school, Mary’s life trajectory changed. God reassembled the pieces of her emotionally fragile self, which initiated true healing and peace.

I was given a complimentary copy to review, but I promise, I wouldn't say I liked something if I didn't.

That said, I loved Thin Places. I cried reading the first chapter. I couldn’t stop reading.

Mary describes Thin Places as, “The story of a little girl who faced sexual abuse, neglect, drug-using parents, fear, death of a parent, and a host of other malevolence. And yet it’s a hope-filled story, where the bright light of God’s climactic redemption outshines the dark places.

It’s a story of God’s nearness when I thought I’d nearly lose my mind and will to live. How grateful I am for the beautiful love of Jesus, how dearly He chose frail me to shame the wise. It’s really His story after all.”

The back cover description says it well,

“Mary DeMuth’s spiritual memoir traces the winding path of thin places in her life, places where she experienced longing and healing more intensely than before. Mary’s story invites you to a deeper understanding of your own story. She calls you to discover new ways to look for God in the past so you might experience him more profoundly in the present…A God ready to break through any ordinary day or extraordinary pain and offer you a glimpse of eternity.”

Mary writes with great courage, sharing painful things that happened to her and things she did or thought that she’s not proud of. The book’s premise is that God was there all through her life, even in the hardest of times. As she explores her painful past, she sees how God held her hand and carried her through.

On the pain of losing her father at a young age, Mary says,

“I am Jacob in times like this. Wrestling with God over my lack of a father. He injures me so I limp. The limp reminds me of God’s God-ness and my frailty—the most humbling thin place. Yet it’s in this daddy-less thin place that reminds me that He is big enough to fill the need I’ve buried inside. Though I ache and will probably always carry a limp, I’m thankful the injury leads me back to Him.”

In trying to make sense of her life, Mary writes,

“We try to piece together the picture of our past like master puzzle doers. But some pieces are forever missing, and the remaining picture stares back at us, jagged, unfinished.

“As a storyteller, I love happy endings, plot points tied up neatly, relationships resolved. I’d like to think that heaven’s beauty comes from God finishing our stories there. This world is unraveled; but perhaps in the next world, we’ll finally see a rhyme and a reason for our seemingly chaotic lives. It’s my hope that He will complete my puzzled picture with pieces that suddenly make sense in light of eternity.

“In the past I needed all the fragments of my life place just so, like diamonds set in a tennis bracelet. The older I get, the more I see that Jesus wants me to trust Him for the missing pieces, the broken clasps, the counterfeit baubles—to relax in the unknowing, to be a peace with the tangles, to learn the art of living with the mystery. He is more than capable of handling all my questions, and someday He will make things right.”

God blessed me with this book. I seriously considered using it for a giveaway, but decided not to because I need to read it a couple more times. Sorry, you’ll have to buy your own, which can be done at or

To view the Thin Places book trailer click here.

Mary’s other books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God; Building the Christian Family You Never Had; Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture. Mary lives with her husband Patrick and their three children in Texas. For more information on Mary, check out her website.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Anna's Prize

Mom: Hey, Anna. I want to take a picture of you with your prize for cleaning up dog puke without being asked. (Click here and here for background history)
Anna: Camera's out of batteries.

One week later.
Mom: Anna, can I take your picture?
Anna: Not now, I need to take a shower.

Two weeks later:
Mom: Now?
Anna: Camera's out of batteries again.

Three weeks later:
Mom: Anna!!!
Anna: Braid my hair first.
Mom: Could you change your shirt so it matches the prize?
Anna: You're kidding.
Mom: Nope. Fact, while you're at it, move to the left so we don't get the lamp shade in the background.
Anna: Hurry up. I think the batteries are almost dead.

Okay. We've finally got our ducks in a row.

For doing the dirty deed, I gave Anna, Piece de Resistance, a book she'd been wanting.

She really likes Sandra Byrd's christian fiction French Twist Series. She'd read Books 1 and 2 and had to wait a WHOLE YEAR for #3. It's a fun series about a lady who learns how to be a French baker and pastry chef. The series makes you want to run to the nearest French bakery and eat something decadent. You'll never want a Wal-Mart donut again.

Book #1
Let Them Eat Cake

Book #2
Bon Appetit

Thanks Anna for your servant's heart. If you can clean up dog puke, you are well on your way to acquiring essential motherhood skills.

Happy Reading!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Erica's Photo Album Pt. 2

Pity the poor people who walked into our house
this week, and were asked,
"Do you want to see Erica's photo album?"

This was an 8 X 10 hardcover album from Shutterfly.
Someone asked about the cost.
Costs vary by size and type of cover.

My first 20 pages were $30 and each additional page was $1.
Shipping is $6 extra. Shutterfly runs specials all the time.
Photo books are often 20 % off. I had a coupon
for a free 20 pages, caught a 20% off and free shipping
special. So this 100 page book cost $65. For all
the time and mess it saved, it was worth every penny.

Here are a few more pages.
Double-click picture to see it larger.
Few of these pages look like people's heads or feet are cut off.
It's just the upload, they aren't cut off in the real book.

Camping Trip to Palisades State Park in Garrettson, SD

Hiking two weeks later at Palisades

Another camping trip with friends

Homeschool class

Skiing at Mt. Ashwabay in Bayfield, WI

Misc. Family Shots

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Take a Look See

I'm so excited. Erica's photo album came in the mail yesterday and I'm so pleased with how it turned out. I want to put the whole album on here but don't want to load 100 pages, so I'm just posting a few of my favorite pages.

I made the book on Shutterfly. It is so easy to do. Choose layout, click and drag pictures, pick a background, and label pictures. The hardest part is choosing layouts and background paper because there are so many options. These pictures here don't do the book justice. The cover is nice, the pages are nice, the color is great. I could do ads for Shutterfly.

Digital scrapbooks cost less, are less messy, and take up less room than conventional scrapbooks. I still like to do regular scrapbooks but this is fun too and has its place. Especially when you're years behind and need to get a lot done fast.

I don't know how to do the really creative digital scrapbook pages some people do. I just used the templates on Shutterfly so these pages are basic.

We have to leave shortly for a volleyball game, so I'll post a few more pages tomorrow.

So without further ado:

Field trip to a Children's museum

Valentines Tea Party

Families are like fudge: mostly sweet with a few nuts

Omaha Zoo

Lake Pajoha - Inwood, IA

Camping with friends in Brandon, SD

Kayaking on Lake Superior by Washburn, WI

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Love Note

Dear Rachel,


Monday, February 1, 2010

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

“God, this isn’t fair. Why can’t I have daughters who don’t fight?”

Amy and Lani had just had their third fight of the morning. My patience was fried and we hadn’t had lunch yet. I sent them to separate rooms to calm down.

Suddenly I realized, I sound just like my children when I complain to God.

“It’s not fair.”
“How come I have to do this and not them?”
“You give me all the hard jobs.”
“Why do I have to do this every day?
“Why do I have to do this again?”
“It’s too hard.”
“It’s too much.”
“I can’t”
“I don’t want to.”
“Could I do something else instead?”
“How come they get that and not me?”
“If only…”
“But why?”

No wonder my children whine and complain. I do the same things on a regular basis with my heavenly Father. No doubt God is as tired of my whining and grumbling, as I am of my girl’s complaints.

God wants me to trust that He knows what’s best for me and my family. He wants me to obey Him even though I don’t always understand why.

Oh for a heart that listens better, obeys more, and complains less.

Do everything without complaining or arguing.
~Philippians 2:14~