Friday, February 26, 2010

A Simple Pleasure

It's been a very long winter, and at the first temptation of spring I succumbed. I bought a package of portulaca seeds. I feel all giddy inside every time I see the package, so I've left it sitting out on the counter to enjoy the experience as much as possible.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"A Token of Air and Steam"

For weeks I've been overhearing this phrase as the boys play, whether they're building with Legos, drawing pictures or playing dress-up.

"Here, it's a token of air and steam."

"Do you have the token of air and steam?"

"Let's go find the token of air and steam."

And for the life of me I didn't know what it meant or where it was coming from. Finally I asked Wade, "do you have any idea what they're talking about, this 'token of air and steam' business?"

Wade didn't miss a beat. "It's 'a token of our esteem,'" he said.

Oooooohhhhh, now I get it. I still don't know where they heard it, but it all becomes clear. The funny part to me now is that they really think that these "tokens," whatever they are, have air and steam in them. Now it just cracks me up every time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lenten Thoughts

One of my favorite blogs that I follow is called Testosterhome, written by a Catholic mother of five sons with another gender-yet-unknown baby on the way. I love this glimpse into her life because I can relate to being surrounded by boys and their toys, attitudes and antics, but I'm also drawn to her because of her heart which is so focused on our God of Peace even in the midst of a very busy household.

Right now her family is gearing up for Lent, which I think is awesome. The idea of taking more than a week, or a day or two minutes to prepare our hearts for celebrating Good Friday and Easter could seriously help me to appreciate these holidays more. But when I think about giving something up for Lent, I have to admit that I look at it as more of a short-term New Year's resolution -- something to benefit me, but that I can give up the next month without feeling guilty. And while this appeals to me, I'm not sure it would serve the purpose of drawing me closer to God.

A little research (gotta love Wikipedia) turned up the facts that the three traditional practices "to be taken up with renewed vigor during Lent" are prayer, fasting and giving; showing justice toward God, self and neighbor, respectively. The idea of giving up some vice that may be hindering one's relationship with God is a relatively new take on Lent.

Although I'm not Catholic (or Lutheran, Methodist or Anglican, denominations that also observe Lent), I'd like to take this opportunity to do some of those traditional things -- pray and give with renewed vigor and heart. Although those are both great things to do vigorously all the time, are they really being done vigorously if that's how you always do them? I think Lent may be just the excuse I need to kick-start a spiritual new year and maybe begin some habits that will last beyond Easter. But as for the fasting part, I think I'll give that up for Lent.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Beware, matey, pirates have attacked and taken over the Howard house! Even now they be plundering the candy stash! Any scurvy dog who dares mention bedtime or chores will be thrown in the brig!

This fearsome buccaneer be the cap'n.

This one be manning the cannon.

The cap'n will have fierce words for these two deck hands caught smilin'!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

In Memory

Emma's funeral was today. I didn't think it would be that hard, but it kinda was.

Emma Malina Riedl was born in rural Adams County on January 2, 1915 to August and Emma Luckow. She attended school and after graduation from the eighth grade went to work for local families cooking, cleaning and providing child care. She was a hard worker all her life and even spent a summer herding sheep south of Hettinger living in a "cave-house."

Emma met the love of her life as he leaned up against a car on Main Street in Hettinger and told her how pretty she was. Emma ignored him, but Lawrence was persistent. She finally consented to that first date, they fell in love and were married for over 60 years until Lawrence's death in 1999.

Emma worked at S.C. White's Hardware Store for 20 years. Emma also made many wedding, birthday and anniversary cakes and did so well into her eighties. Emma was very active as a charter member of the local Eagle's Auxiliary, holding every office and being recognized as Mrs. Eagle. Emma continued to attend monthly meetings until she entered the nursing home. She was a member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church since 1935 and was very active in the Altar Society, Royal Neighbors and Second Forty Club.

Emma was a wonderful cook and hosted many family holidays. She was always having guests for coffee and goodies. Emma was an avid Minnesota Twins fan but would settle for a Braves game if nothing else was on. She loved playing cards of all kinds. Every night, she and the ladies from the nursing home would play Skip-Bo until 9 or 10 at night. Emma was a fun-loving, generous and caring woman who will be missed by all who knew her.

Emma Riedl passed away on February 1, 2010 at the age of 95 at the West River Regional Medical Center.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Boys at Play

Overheard as I placidly did a puzzle and the boys played with Lincoln Logs, commando style:

"Put your troops in siege mode."

"The mine is in siege mode."

"Blow up everything in the sector."

"It blew up all my forces!"

"This is the best kind of mine blower-upper."

"This kind of weapon goes "pshoot, pshoot, pshoot!"

"Do you know what's going to happen? This is going to happen! KABOOOSH!"

Friday, February 05, 2010

And I Quote

Wade: Boys! Don't eat the icicles off the van! They're dirty!

Levi: Aww, c'mon. Can't I even pick off one of the sick little ones?