Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of Another Year

2009 is coming to a close. As with most years, there were good parts and bad parts. What's important is that we learn from our mistakes and strive to make ourselves better in the year ahead. It's important to own our attitudes and strive to make them better. It's important to look at missed opportunities and strive to take advantage of them in the year ahead. Many people make resolutions for the new year. I think resolutions often lead to disappointment; it may be more helpful to strive to grow into a better husband, father, person each day.

It's also important to remember all the good times. It's important to remember how God provided in the past year. It's important to see how God was present through everything. And it's important to remember that for the year ahead; no matter what comes your way, God will be there with you.

We often focus on our own reflections, but I haven't done much about it with my family before. I think it's a good opportunity to help our kids remember and learn. So, I'm going to go take a few minutes right now with my boys and reflect on the past year: starting Kindergarten, family trips, camping, outings, church events, friends from the neighborhood, etc.

Many blessings upon you and your family in 2010. May your find the rewards of parenting in the past year and strive to be an even more amazing parent in 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Bakken

Yesterday the boys and I went to the library to grab a museum pass (after we had gotten the car's oil changed). We decided we'd try the Bakken Museum (knowing we could go to Como Park or somewhere else free if we didn't want to spend much time there).

The boys weren't necessarily interested in the history of electricity or electromagnetism, but there were enough hands-on exhibits that they had a lot of fun. And they did surprisingly well at behaving while we were there. That makes any outing worth it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Kid-Friendly Oil Change

We took my wife into work today so that we could have the car. The first item of business was an oil change. Since we don't have a decent garage to work in or all the tools I'd need (not to mention I'm not very good with cars), I take our car to where ever has a good deal on an oil change. Often that has been at the Quick Lube at my local Lupient Dealership across the road from us (I know--a dealership of all places--but they've been reliable in my experience and reasonably priced).

Today I had the boys with me when I went. I must say that it's a great place for kids if you have to wait for an oil change (my 2-year old and I have waited at other places with little to do besides sit and look at a car magazine). They have a windowed waiting room for kids, partitioned off from the regular waiting areas, with toys, books and magazines. Their waiting area has a case stocked with fresh doughnuts and cookies (my kids never get doughnuts, so it was a special treat), coffee and a soda fountain (as well as clean restrooms). My boys also like to look at the cars housed inside the building (especially the four older classics). As we were getting ready to go pay the cashier when our vehicle was done, one of the employees brought my boys paper bags filled with all sorts of little toys and trinkets. They've been playing with them ever since we got home a while ago. It's great to find a place that is affordable, reliable and family-friendly.

Let me know what you've found.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

May the gift of God's love be the greatest gift you receive, knowing He loves you as a perfect Heavenly Father (and covers up all the mistakes we make as earthly parents).

I hope you're able to develop wonderful Christmas traditions with your family as well. We're still working on them, but our morning consisted of eating Swedish pancakes, singing Christmas carols, reading the Christmas story and opening presents (yes, in that order--the kids were wonderful about waiting patiently).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Funny Faces

The company who created this website sent me the link to share on my blog. I don't always give into such fishing, but the boys and I played with it some and had some good laughs.

It's not an educational site, nor does it have much content, but it's good for a few minutes of play and a few laughs. At least I thought so.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Faux Toffee Bars

A friend requested this recipe, so I thought I'd post it here. My boys enjoy helping with it. My youngest likes to line the crackers in the pan. My oldest helps put the butter and brown sugar in the sauce pan and stir. And, obviously, they like to eat the finished by-product. Here's what you need:

Graham crackers (approx. 12)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line graham crackers to fill a cookie sheet.
Melt butter & brown sugar in a saucepan on the stove. Stir until bubbly. Pour over graham crackers. Spread evenly over crackers.
Put cookie sheet in oven. Bake until sugar/butter bubbles (just a few minutes--don't let it go too long).
Remove from oven, sprinkle chocolate chips over the top (won't take the whole bag). Spread melted chips evenly over the graham crackers. Let cool & serve.

Notes: some recipes call for soda crackers instead of graham crackers. Either can be used. Some recipes also call for 3/4 cup of butter and brown sugar. I usually use the 1/2 cup since there's plenty of sugar as it is. They can also be topped with chopped walnuts.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Deena = Code for Clean Up

Since our firstborn was old enough to help pick up toys, we've sung the "Clean Up" song whenever we do it. You maybe know the one:
Clean-up, clean-up
Everybody do your share.
Clean-up, clean-up
Everybody, everywhere.
I don't know where the song comes from--perhaps some children's program that I would be chagrined to watch. But my wife sung it, and we've all been singing it ever since. Except that our firstborn used to sing, "Deena, deena" instead of "Clean-up." And so for almost five years now, we've all sung "Deena." I'm not sure if our 3-year old has ever heard the right words.

Our boys have actually moved beyond using it now. Now they say that they're "clean upping." The funny thing is that my wife and I still call it deena. "Boys, time to deena your room." "Let's deena before we do something new." I suppose each family has their own words like that--words their kids made up and everyone still uses. My wife and I even catch ourselves using it around other adults. It's probably just a phase--we'll grow out of it someday.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wintertime Outing (Our Best Kept Secret)

I hesitate to say this here for fear of my best kept secret being overrun, but I also know I don't have a huge readership, so I'm safe to share this. Our favorite place to go in the winter is the Como Park Zoo (especially since it's free--donations welcome). We get there more in the winter than we do in the summer. It's a great place to go on a cold afternoon that isn't hospitable for sledding. Most of the animals (with the exception of a few like the bison and reindeer) are inside buildings in the winter. And if you don't want to walk between buildings, you can spend a fair amount of time in the main center which houses the rain forest exhibit, a small are for kids to play and the conservatory (along with the gift shop and restaurant). The boys enjoy the plants, flowers and koi in the conservatory. Hopefully that won't change for a while. Thankfully, they haven't gotten tired of the exhibits yet. It helps that we don't drive over too often; I'm sure it would be a different story if we lived closer. Plus, the conservatory and rain forest usually are around 80 degrees inside (my glasses and camera always fog up), so you can get a little tropical warmth.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Snow Play

We finally had some warm weather since the last snow fall so that we could get outside and enjoy it. We put on snow pants and got the sled and snow board out of the garage and made our way to the park next door. Winter days like these are great. We get out of the house, we enjoy the snow and the boys get some exercise. This is what winter is about. There are things to make it manageable on days we have to be indoors, but it's so much more fun if we can be outside.

Now we just need a nice snowfall with warm temperatures so that we can build some snow forts.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Getting Out of the House

Our first big snow storm of the season hit. And temperatures dropped. Not a good combination. I don't mind snow at all, but I don't like when it's too cold to go out and play. Thankfully, the Rec. Center in our city opens up their banquet room three days a week. For $2 a child you can come play on their inflatable bouncy castles, use their toys and--most importantly--get out of the house. I know there are several similar options around the Twin Cities. I've also heard of a church that is opening up their gymnasium a few Saturdays during the winter for kids to come and play at no cost. Hopefully, you can find something like this near you--if not, see what options their may be: a an empty school gym, a church nursery, even a friend's basement are all options for getting out of the house for a new place space. Make the most of this winter and stay sane.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Last night we took our boys downtown in Minneapolis to see the Holidazzle Parade. It was a cold night (as they tend to be in Minnesota in December). Our 3-year old didn't want to be there. It was too cold. He wanted to be home. Then the parade started. And he didn't want to leave. It's fun to go through the Christmas season through the eyes of a child.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dad Rap

This has gone around in stay-at-home dad circles, but this is a hilarious "gangsta rap" about being a stay-at-home dad. My boys sing along with it--which makes me laugh even more.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Slow Cooker Turkey Tetrazzini

This was a tasty way to use up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. It was also handy to have another slow cooker recipe.

1 c hot water
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c sliced mushrooms (or one can)
1/2 onion, diced
2 c diced cooked turkey
1 c shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
2 c broken uncooked spaghetti

In a saucepan, saute the mushrooms and onion with a little butter.
Remove from heat and add the water and soup.
Stir in the turkey, cheese and seasoning (in addition to the parsley, I added some Italian seasoning; the recipe called for a dash of nutmeg). Add broken up spaghetti. Stir to combine and pour into crockpot. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours, until spaghetti is tender. Mix before serving.

I sprinkled grated Parmesan cheese on top a few minutes before it was ready to serve.

If you mix this up the night before, do not add the spaghetti--it will become mushy when cooked.