The Lump

I found a lump on Zinabu's chest.

I was tucking him into bed the other night and stroking his chest when, Wham! A lump. There it was. The size of a pea. Right near his collarbone. At the time I thought, "Well that's odd." It didn't hurt him and I tried to leave it alone and not freak out about it. But it worried me. We don't have good experiences with lumps among our friends and family. They're always the worst possible news.

I called the doctor the next day and got an appointment for the afternoon. Then I did

I Googled "lump near collarbone," and what started as an information search ended with me planning Zinabu's funeral. I locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed. I thought I was going to vomit it was so horrible. Here's a little word of advice. Be careful of Googling medical maladies. You'll scare yourself to death.

We went to the doctor and both he and the physician's assistant examined Z. Those 40 seconds of quiet while they poked and prodded and rubbed might have been the longest of my life. Then the doctor said, "I'm pretty sure it's just a cyst."

You had to have heard me exhale across the state of Colorado. It was momentous.

They're not 100% sure it's nothing, but they're 98% sure. And for now that's good enough for me. We have to watch it and let them know if it changes, but I am hoping and praying it goes away on its own and never, ever comes back.

This motherhood stuff is for strong women only.



A few highlights from our trip: swimming, eating, and playing. While we were in Duluth, we visited a water park that had our kids mesmerized. They loved it. Between the water slides and the play areas, my kids managed to expose themselves to levels of chlorine they never thought possible. It was a blast, and David and I managed to keep up with them. While in Mountain Lake, we played till very late at night, ate great (and unhealthy) food, and watched our 3 lovies experience life in a small town. The matching t-shirts they're wearing are from running the half-mile road race. Lily won third place. In the 10-12 age category. She's 9. She accidentally ran in the wrong race, the race for older kids. That was a funny surprise.
It's hard to believe that we've been visiting the same park and events since Carver was a baby. Where does the time go?



I am currently sitting in our kitchen, and the cord for our camera is in our office, and I am just too darn lazy right now to get up and get it. So I can't upload new photos for you, but I did find a marvelous picture of London that I'm sure you'll enjoy.

Whew... back home from vacation. I have absolutely NOTHING to complain about when Sarah and Tesi are traveling across the globe to Ethiopia to meet their children. My luggage and laundry certainly pales in comparison. But there is still that re-entry that has to happen when you've been away for almost 2 weeks. The laundry is mostly caught up. I'm now back to my regular load a day. And even though I haven't been grocery shopping, my mom had enough milk/fruit/peanut butter in the house to see us through. Sleeping in my own bed has been heavenly, and even the dog is on cloud nine because of our return.

Our trip to Minnesota was delightful. Absolutely great. I wish I could go again and see old friends and Ethiopian families. There's never enough time to get together with everyone. And this weekend a bunch of moms and kids are camping together--and I can't be there. Let the pity party commence.

Shark boy (a.k.a. Zinabu) finally lost his first tooth! We were with David's mom and discussing Lily's braces and Zinabu's teeth and I think he overheard the words "dentist" and "need to pull it out." As he sat there listening, he grabbed his bottom tooth--which was already very loose--gave one great yank, and out it came. He was so proud of himself. Now if he can just get the other one out....

Recently, he was hopping around and chatting with me (he can't hop without chatting or chat without hopping) and he pointed to his brain and said, "Mom, this is my bread and butter. And I don't want anyone messing with my bread and butter."

I'll leave it at that and let you mull it over.


We're hungry.
We're horribly tired.
We're harried.
We're happy.
We're home.


We Are Alive! (Mom, Please Do Not Read The Following)

There's some irony in that title. Turns out we drove through one of the worst thunderstorms in Minnesota history. Don't you just love being a part of history? We left Duluth on Friday (after a wet but fabulous visit there) and drove down to the southwestern part of Minnesota to see David's mom. Thanks to David's iphone, I could keep up with the weather and I noticed there were quite a few thunderstorms. A huge line of storms was pushing its way across the state, and we would be traveling through them at about, oh... say... dinnertime. Whenever I had a chance to check the weather, more and more tornado warnings were popping up. It still looked like we'd have to punch through a bunch of heavy rain, but no tornadoes to speak of. It began to rain--hard--at 5:00 so we stopped to eat. At about 5:50 the tornado sirens began to wail. The restaurant we were in was not exactly safe, since it had a wall of glass windows overlooking the road. From what we could tell, the tornado was northeast of us and heading northeast. We were going to be driving southwest, so we decided to get in the car and head out. We drove another 10 minutes, and the storm was definitely getting worse--not better. It began to rain so hard that we could barely see the road in front of us. We were literally in the middle of nowhere. Cornfields all around us. No structures. No buildings. Just our car. You know... the worst place you can be in a flash flood or tornado. We crawled into the next farm town, where the tornado sirens were wailing. And then the hail started. And David and I looked at each other. He wanted to keep driving, as if we could escape the storm. I feared baseball sized hail smashing through our windshield. There was a corrugated steel gas station at the center of this town, which we eyed warily. The hail was getting worse, so we pulled over to a side street and parked under a tree. This was when I began to feel scared. I kept trying to listen for that tell-tale sound of a train coming, which was supposed to mean a tornado was bearing down on us. I'm not sure what I thought we would do. Run for it???? The kids kept asking, "Are we in danger?" And we answered in wavery voices, "Oh no, we're just going to wait until the rain subsides. Hee hee."


After another 5 minutes, the rain did begin to subside and David started to drive again. To the west we could see patches of blue sky, so we made a break for it. As we pulled out of town there were horribly ominous clouds trying to touch the ground, and certainly signs of rotation. When we got to David's mom's place, she told us the news had reported a funnel cloud touching down in the town we were in... at about the time we were there. You know, no big deal.

My blood pressure is just now starting to come down. It was awful.

But other than THAT, we're having a lovely time visiting family and more or less driving one another crazy sleeping too close to each other on the floor. Mountain Lake is having their Pow Wow festival, so there are lots of small town events happening. I attended my very first (and hopefully last) truck pull yesterday. Today the kids get to participate in the half-mile fun run and classic car parade. Tomorrow the carnival rides open up, as well as caramel apples, mini-donuts, and cheese curds. The kids love it here, and I can't blame them. Beautiful farms, freedom to ride their bikes wherever they want, and old fashioned elevator in their grandma's building, and sweet neighbors who are genuinely interested in them.

I definitely miss Minnesota. It's actually hard for David and I to come back to visit. So we soak it up while we can. Sorry no pictures. I forgot the cord that attches to the computer to upload photos. Just picture us with dirty clothes, bags under my eyes, and smiles on our faces.


Wanting Another Kiddo and Vacation

There's a catchy blog post title. But it's true. I'm longing for a 4th child. Maybe there's too much pollen in the air or maybe the drugs from past airplane trips are still floating in my system, but the niggling desire is there. And my heart wants a child with special needs. What would that look like? I have no earthly idea. But what do you do when you heart is speaking to you? It's hard to ignore. However, when I shared my thoughts with David he said, "Uh, Cathy, I don't want another child." Which is not to make David look like the bad guy. David is not the bad guy. He's the voice of reason. And it just shows how important it is that both parents be on the same page in an adoption. If both parents are not on the same page then you shouldn't proceed.

We leave tomorrow for Minnesota. (Sorry Twin Cities peeps. We'll be in Duluth and in farmland to see David's family, and there's not enough time to see everyone in between. We will be at the new Twins stadium on Thursday, though, as we drive through. If you're going to be there... let us know!) I love driving to Minnesota. I love the plains. I love farmland. I love the wide open sky and the heat and the grass. Love it. We'll be at Lake Superior for a few days, then we're headed to teeny tiny Mountain Lake, Minnesota, where David's mom lives and where David grew up. This vacation has a few hiccups and snags to work through, but we want to make the most of it and enjoy every second we have together. I'll try to post updates as I can. Till then, adios!


True Story

Today, I had a moment where I could just relax and read a magazine for a few minutes. I sat down and not 2 seconds later Zinabu plopped down next to me. I gave suggestive "hints" that he could go play in the sandbox or ride his scooter or... look for aliens. But he snuggled closer and said, "No, Mom. I want to be right here by you. I promise I won't make a noise. Not even a peep. You won't know I'm here. Okay?"

2 seconds later.

"Mom, you smell good. Like chili."

2 seconds later.

"Mom, let's talk about our vacation. What are we going to do at Grandma Patty's house?"

1 second later.

"Mom, you know what? Sometimes after you tuck me in I like to pick at my nose. Did you know that?"

3 seconds later.

"Mom, I'm not really talking. I'm thinking out loud."
And such is my life.



Give the girl some paper and tape, and she disappears for an hour and returns with this. Wings and a bird mask. Her creativity revolves around animals, but she always comes up with something that makes me smile.

We are in full-swing summer mode. We are signed up for activities and day camps and music lessons, but we're still not overly scheduled or committed. Plenty of long hours just sitting around or playing with the hose. Lily is starting the cello, Carver is continuing with his bass, and Zinabu is beginning drums. I have never met a child more predisposed to drum lessons. Though it will be loud around here for the next several years, I can't wait for Zinabu to channel all his wiggles and jiggles into a steady beat.

We've reinstituted TV tickets. I know I posted about this 2 years ago. Last summer we moved and never got around to getting very scheduled or organized (which is really just a cover-up for the fact that I needed the kids to watch TV so I could unpack the house). What we do is give each kid 20 tickets at the beginning of the week. (You can buy an enormous roll of carnival-style tickets at an office supply store.) Each ticket is worth 30 minutes of screen time: tv or computer. That averages out to an hour a day. Considering my kids are up at 6 am and are playing outside until 9pm, I'm just not that concerned about that one hour. What I really love about this system is that it teaches them to budget their time, which is a whole lot easier for Carver at 11 than Zinabu at 6. Zinabu pretty much blew through 14 hours the first 3 days and then it dawned on him he was screwed for the rest of the week. Great teaching tool, and again, so worth the excessive screen time at the outset in order for him to learn a lesson.

I love that my kids have access to music and music lessons. Every child should. We go to a local music store where the instructors rent out their services. The average price is about $15 dollars a lesson. While that adds up with three kids, it is still pretty reasonable considering what you're getting. It's hard "making" my kids practice. Sometimes they're all eager and into it and it goes well. Other times I'm reminding them all day long, "You need to practice your instrument before dinnertime." And they look at me like I'm asking them to dig a well. I know they don't see the value of practice. Most kids don't. So I try to keep encouraging them. If my kids just flat out hated playing an instrument and they were kicking and screaming about the whole ordeal, we'd call it quits. But that's not the case. Overall, it's a very positive experience and I am a firm, firm believer in the benefits of music on kids' brains and self-esteem.

We're going to the library a LOT. This feels like the "magic year" for library time. My kids know were everything is, know how to look up what they can't find, and actually prefer to pick out their own books rather than relying on me to find things for them. I still browse through the more random sections to pull out books that I think they would enjoy, and we've hit upon some favorite new topics this way. I found the greatest book about ancient Egypt and Zinabu is enthralled. The way the book is laid out and the way the illustrations are in 3-D, it's hard not to be enthralled.

I also grabbed some biographies and we're reading them aloud at the dinner table each night after we've finished eating. The chapters are VERY short, and they're written for kids ages 5 to 9, I think... which is perfect for our family. Short and sweet and packed with information. Right now we're reading about Helen Keller. Doesn't every kid love the story of Helen Keller? I know I did. Carver and Lily already know who she is, but Z did not. And I don't think Carver and Lily have had the chance to really think about her life, her accomplishments, etc. Next we'll read about Rosa Parks, and after that I think I might have the kids think about an era in history they'd like to learn more about and we'll find biographies from there.

As a mom, I've learned the hard way what NOT to do when you're planning a new activity with your kids. Do NOT announce one day, "This summer I think we should read a biography together. Every night after dinner you will sit and listen to the book I've chosen. Won't that be fun?" Uh, no. That usually blows up in my face. What I've learned to do instead is just casually pull the book out after dinner one night and say, "Hey, I've got this cool book here. How about I read a chapter before we clear the table?" And voila! Success.

If you have any summer ideas or things that work well for your family, I'd love to hear about it. I might come across as looking like I know what I'm doing, but don't let that fool you. I'm flying by the seat of my pants.


We spent Memorial Day in the mountains at a friend's cabin. It was so peaceful and beautiful and relaxing. The kids got absolutely filthy. Which, of course, is a sign that they had a blast.


Wordless Wednesday
*those are walkie talkies