Monday, December 30, 2013

The Season to Give

The holiday season is one of  family & friends, gatherings, programs, plays, activities, gifts, food and fun. It is also a special time to GIVE to others. I work in fundraising as a career, and it suits my heart and soul. Mark and I make charitable donations to our church, the hospital where I work, our kids' school, and organizations we believe in.

The holidays are also a special time to put giving into ACTION as a family. 
Year round, I volunteer on our church council, the church stewardship committee, the kids school, and here and there when requested or needed.

This holiday season, the Twinners and I also rang bells for the Salvation Army. We had a FANTASTIC time. (FYI - Age 6 seems to be the golden year to start this activity)
We lucked out. The Saturday we registered for on-line (easy-breezy), at the grocery store near our home, was a balmy 28 degrees. No sub-zero temps for us, thank goodness!
We came prepared with Caribou hot cocoa and a Spicy Mocha for mama (yes..that is just typical of Americans with plenty, volunteering with an luxurious cup of hand crafted coffee in their hand), a rug to stand on, Santa hats or head ware, candy canes for all, an a milk crate and blankets for the Twinnners to sit on.
The kids greeted everyone with a "Merry Christmas" and we offered a candy cane to all who crossed our path.I told the kids this was NOT about having every person donate, and some may not be able to do so. This is about sharing our hearts and giving of our time to help those in need, who we do not know.
People were very generous. More than one person handed over $20 bills and THANKED my kids for their volunteer work. Yes... they thanked US. People stopped to share their good will with my kiddo's sharing their good will. Many, many visitors gave multiple dollars.
 My kids did good, and I am proud of all of us.
We had a wonderful time, and this will NO DOUBT be a yearly tradition.

Also this season,
  • I donated my time to the church Sunday School Christmas program and to Marly's school party.
  • I volunteered at the "holiday shop" for Alexandra House (our local battered women's shelter). It allows women in need to "shop" for gifts for their kids.
  • Each child put together an Operation Christmas Child box.
  • We donated food, household goods, and money to our school's "Making Spirits Bright" program for family's in need there. 
  • We donated to our church food shelf and the holiday food baskets delivered to needy families.
  • Our family lit the 4th Advent Candle at church.
The time to give is YEAR ROUND, but especially important and identifiable at this time of year.

Honestly, we have so much, it actually makes me cry. Is our 1970's split level house overly large or grand compared to those just a few miles away??? NO   (..... and YES.)

It is luxurious by the standards of the kids in MANY, MANY parts of the world, far from here!
It is ALSO grand by the likes of kids just a few miles from us too!

I want my kids to know and understand it is our PLACE and PURPOSE to do good for others (year round). Jesus arrives, and it is the perfect time to practice what our religion teaches us.  Bell ringing was just one of many ways to give, and remember to GIVE again.

May you all be blessed too!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cutie Cousins

Look at these CUTIE cousin's in matching Gymboree Holiday Gymee PJ's

This auntie in love could NOT resist getting these 4 matching sets. 

The kids got a chance to wear them all together last weekend. Mark and I were invited to Mark's friend Mike's surprise 40th Birthday Party. It was in Cologne, so we stayed overnight at Brett and Rachel's. We got baby-sitters AND shuttle service to and from the party from Rachel. It made for awesome cousin cuddling time!

May the holiday fun continue! Take care all!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Breakfast with Santa 2013

Breakfast with Santa! It's a family affair.

We checked a few holiday activities off of our Christmas list on Thanksgiving weekend
-Family meals with both sides (check)
-Tree (check)
-Order Christmas cards (check)
-Decorate the inside, and the front door (check)
-Breakfast with Santa (check)
 Rachel is so on top of things. She booked brunch with Santa at Dahlgren's Golf Course outside of Chaska weeks ago.
 The Melbergs, the Ulrichs and SANTA!
Ho Ho Ho & Merry Christmas from the David Melberg Crew!

(Our Little Man Charlie has NO IDEA Santa is behind him, which is why he is so calm!!!!)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Our Thanksgiving and weekend was filled to the BRIM and our cup overflows with blessings.
I am THANKFUL our Ms. Marly is usually feeling so much better.

I am THANKFUL for our children.
 I am THANKFUL for time in the kitchen on Wednesday to cook fresh, homemade cranberry sauce.
 I am THANKFUL for the opportunity to make dressing to stuff those I love.
I am THANKFUL for wine. (keep'n it real here folks!)
I am THANKFUL for this beautiful, surprise delivery from Chris and Dad.
I am THANKFUL for fantastic family, and our children to gather, eat and spend time with on Thanksgiving Day.

I am THANKFUL to Brett and Rachel for hosting the holiday, and for the joy of being with Dad and Chris, Lester and Edith, and Sarah too.

I am THANKFUL to Sarah and all the nurses, and Chris and all the doctors, who help both in keeping us in good health, and our times of pain and need.

I am THANKFUL for sugary sweet french toast bake in our toasty warm, airy, light filled kitchen on Friday, and every day in our safe and solid home.

I am THANKFUL for too much food in our fridges and cupboards.
I am THANKFUL for a fun Thomberg family trip to the Pinestead Tree Farm on Friday for our Christmas Tree and a successful holiday card photo shoot.

I am THANKFUL for the time Mark and I have as a family.

I am THANKFUL for the love and strong bond our Twinners share with each other.

 I am THANKFUL for this goofy 6 year old boy who was delighted to see Santa, even if he couldn't convince his other half to join him.

I am THANKFUL for the Thompson Family and the time to gather them in our home on Saturday for hearty plates of lasagna and good company.

I am THANKFUL for beautiful, blessed new baby Declan and his lovely mom Kelly, who joined us with Grandma Pauline and Grandpa Gary.

I am THANKFUL to Pat, and all those who work in retail, who put aside their time with family to do their work and meet the fiscal demands of society.

We are BLESSED beyond measure!!!

I give THANKS to all those friends and family who were meeting here, there and elsewhere, and for those who we missed at the Melberg Pizza Party.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Halloween 2013 Flashback

Backwards and behind... here is a look at the 6 year old Twinners this Halloween.

Like past years, Nana and Papa took the kids to their neighborhood nature center's annual Fall Halloween Festival. Before the event, the family gathered for pizza. Charlie is still a touch too small to enjoy the early Halloween fun, but costumes were still in order for all. We TRIED to get a group photo of the wee cousins' posing as a cute cowboy and a tiny monster, but the attempt was a bit of a failure! OH WELL!!!

On to the big day, which the kids anticipate with giddy glee for weeks!
Like every year, the kids use the 'Trick or Treat' bags my mom made for Brett and I when we were little.

 Dean wanted to be a "prisoner" or "criminal". He explained he wanted to wear stripes and a ball and chain on his ankle. My brother was a "prisoner" too when we were little. Dean is wearing the shirt my mom sewed for Brett, purged from my big 'ole Rubbermaid Tub full of costumes and etc. from my youth. I made the hat with supplies from JoAnne Fabrics and tattered a pair of black pants from Savers for his bottoms. He was set. The costume included a plastic ball and chain, which he somehow lost at Nana and Papa's the week before!

Our first stop on Halloween was Trunk or Treat at our church. 'Trunk or Treat' at metro area suburban churches are popular. For us Lutherans, it provides a "discreet" way to be "Evangelical". There is candy and hot dogs for all, and at one stop, each kid gets a coloring book about Jesus and a brochure about church tucked inside a neatly tied bag with  more candy and color crayons.
Our neighbor Miss Lily the Witch joined us for the fun.
Of course we carved pumpkins, and lit our little front bush with Halloween light strings. 
You all know I get into my kids' costumes. Every year, my mom dedicated a LOT of nights sewing, and I now appreciate a lot of cash was invested as well on the fabric and patterns for our costumes.

I lack the skill for the sewing machine, but I make up for it. I think each year my kids have "Marlys Worthy" costumes. Yes... that "Marlys Worthy" floats in my not-so-unconscious every year.

Marly wanted to be a "gypsy" this year. We turned a $6 junior's tube top dress from Good Will into a skirt, along with a $3 Justice vest, and long scarf for her waist. She wore last year's pirate peasant top and gold necklace. We picked a bright, coordinating bandanna for her head and iron-on embellishment from JoAnne.

Then I "accidentally" spent $38 on by-the-yard black chiffon ruffle ribbon and gold coin ribbon to "gussy up" the bottom of the thrift store skirt (oops!). She jingled when she walked and loved it!

Both Twinnner's  costumes were a hit.
Too bad Marly was becoming too sick to care by Halloween evening.

If you look at the last photo of Marly, you can see the sickness settling into her face. Looking back, I can see the blood pooling around her eyes. Immediately following this photo taken at about 6:20 pm in the kitchen, she put on her PJ's and went to bed. Her smile was already strained.

...I like to think she could wear her "Gypsy" costume over again next year, but serious, WHO AM I KIDDING???? I love the act of creating their costumes!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Feeling Good!

**Update since I wrote the below... A few rough spots on Tuesday, which we EXPECT...

Let me start off by saying this Monday, Marly is doing REALLY WELL!

Last week our girl Marly was like a limp rag doll. She had lost 5 pounds. Her face was ghostly pale with dark rings around her sunken eyes. She rarely smiled, and there were no giggles. When she walked it was slow and deliberate, and oh so slightly hunched over. She would often curl up in a ball on the floor, or contort her body into a strange position to try and escape the pain in her abdomen...

Last week on Tuesday,  Mark voiced something I never expected from him, "I think you should call the Pastor and have them pray for Marly..."  I was thinking the same thing, but didn't want to say it out loud. Except, I have NEVER called anyone from church to silicate or ASK for personal prayers for anything.  (You know I am Lutheran...and.... um... you know....)

But I did call, because Mark and I were that worried and anxious. When anyone offered to pray,  I answered, "Please do."

We knew what is wasn't.... (The Big C, etc...) But what was it? Why was she hurting so much? How could we help her? When would she get better?

Of course we got an answer from our Pediatrician -The long disorder called "HSP" (from which she will recover), that I still struggle to pronounce.

...But we got another answer.
An answer to the prayers....

Marly had a really good weekend. She took it easy, but she played. She laughed. She smiled. She ate. She REFUSED to take a nap on Saturday. She decided to go outside and play after a nap on Sunday, and quickly discovered it was too cold.

A very worried Dean declared over the weekend, "MOM!!!! Mom... I think Marly is getting BETTER!!!! Really! Is she getting better????"

She got a little mouthy too...
: )

At our scheduled doctor visit today, she appeared a changed girl from our last appointment in the exact same exam room not so many days before. The doctor declared this morning, with a smile on her face, Marly was shaping up to be a "mild" case.

There are moments I have been embarrassed I shared socially and publicly my fears and raw emotions for my child's health, and then I remind myself of the prayers that result and the support we receive when we "share".

Thanks for the support!
Thanks of the prayers dear folks!
They appear to be effective!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Henoch-Schonlein purpura

You will note there are no posts about Halloween yet. This is because Marly has been sick since Halloween. I haven't mentioned it much to anyone, until yesterday...

Let's Rewind to Halloween -

I picked the kids up at the bus stop after school. We needed to quickly change into costumes for "Trunk or Treat" at church. Marly complained right away her stomach hurt, and asked to stay home. I convinced her to go. We picked up neighbor Lily, and had a good time.

We got home from church to trick or treat on the Riverview. Marly complained again her stomach hurt, and stayed home with Dad. Dean took both bags up and down the street, collecting candy for Marly too. He politely explaining to the neighbors his sister was home sick.

I will fast forward through the Dr visits, an ER visit, multiple calls with her doctor about her abdominal pain, and a week of missed school. Finally we saw a smile on Sunday night, when I snapped this photo of her playing 'Go Fish' with Dean. We thought she was better.
Unfortunately, it was just a rare "good hour".

We were to the Dr. again on Monday of this week (tests turned up nothing serious). There were several more physician phone calls. Back at the clinic on Wednesday we finally received a diagnosis of Henoch-Schonlein purpura.

According to the Mayo website, this "is a disorder that causes inflammation and bleeding in the small blood vessels in your skin, joints, intestines and kidneys." It is pretty rare. Other sessioned pediatricians were called in to look at her (and examine the rash), and specialists were called.

What the web site doesn't clearly explain is the PAIN Marly faces. She has severe abdominal pain. Sometimes her legs or joints hurt, etc. She is very tired. She eats little. She also has a strange rash, but honestly, that is no big deal.

Mark and I are extremely thankful and grateful and blessed we believe she will RECOVER fully in a handful of weeks. We are grateful and thankful we have a diagnosis that has a POSITIVE outcome in due time....

...we also understand we could have a tough month  ahead. Marly is only able to handle school for a few hours now. We will be doctoring weekly for at least 6 weeks. There can be serious (but rare) complications to her illness. When her pain strikes, it is terrible. She is very tired. Sometimes she cannot walk well. Today she tried school, with a plan to pick her up at 2:20 pm (school lasts until 4 pm). She made it until 1:20 when I got the call from the nurse. The pain hit her. I was in my car between appointments, and cruised to retrieve her.

Mark and I are grateful for our pediatrician, the medical concern, and care we are getting. We are grateful for our concerned family and friends. We are grateful for Dr. Nana Chris. We are grateful for the HELP our family and friends have offered. We are grateful for the prayers and ask for more. We are VERY grateful for our caring co-workers and employers who let us put our child first. We are grateful for our neighbors willing to help (including catching a CUB run for Pediasure, more ibuprofen, and Vita-water just last night). We are grateful for the calls, texts and more.

We are grateful... but we are feeling stressed, worn, tired, worried, scared, anxious, and all those things that come along with illness. We are pained watching our little girl in pain.

Marly is tough... but right now, there are too many minutes every day when the pain is tougher then her.

....that's all I guess.....

Right now, I am waiting for our pediatrician to call back about the ultra-sound taken this morning to check Marly's organs... and to ask all those questions Mark and I needed time to comprehend.

**UPDATE - Ultra sound looks good. Prescriptions have been called in to help manage the pain.**

Thank You

Monday, November 11, 2013

Our House

Our House is a Very, Very Fine House,
With Two Cats in the Yard,
Life use to be so hard,
No everything is easy 'cause of you.

Can you hear the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song in your head?
When we moved into our home three years ago, I declared it the "color of death"! I hated the morbid dark grey (or however the hell you would describe it). But you don't judge a house by it's wrapping, you consider the neighborhood, price, size, your family, the schools, etc. Nevermind the cross hatching (removed above).

Someday, the color could be "corrected". Color is cosmetic after all. I change my make-up shades regularly, and this past summer our house got a make-over too.

Last winter a college kid named Klaus from the U of M Carlson School came door knocking, looking for  business for his College Pro Painters crew. We chatted, and sent him on his merry way. He came back. Grechen and Dan were over at the time. We  made them answer the door and tell Klaus we were out of town! He was persistent, and stopped again.  We got a quote, did research, signed the papers, and made a down-payment.

Not only did I HATE the color, but the house NEEDED paint for maintenance purposes. We scheduled the job for late August. (It turned out to the Klaus's last house of the summer).
Before our college crew's return, the "decorative" cross-action/western-ranch- ambiance/wood accents were removed from the front, side, and back...

We hired someone to add shakes in its place.
Mark painted the new shakes barn red himself to save on the costs. Shake painting was more than enough time on the tip-top step of the neighbor's ladder for Mark.

 (Opps... gotta change this photo out. Wrong ones.)
Klaus came a few weeks before the job to discuss and finalize our paint colors.
Mark and I choose a chocolaty brown for the base, and a creamy color called "Portico" for the fascia and eaves. Fascia - Eaves - Trim? Which is what? What is which color????

August neared its close, and the prep work and painting inched forward. As the job progressed, I realized a third color on the window "trim" would best "enhance" the over all look of our 1970's Split, while drawing away from the aging windows! (This was our initial plan actually. The idea was lost as I got confused by eaves and fascia and trim and stuff!).

I needed to convince Mark about the "third color" (or 4th if you count the shakes) before Nate (the bearded, college sophomore, painting crew guy) got to the trim.

He was on board. We dialed Klaus and left him a voice mail. Could we PLEASE change the color scheme up a bit?

Okay - we called in time, he returned with our choice, and tested one window in the back.
We stared at it through out the next day, at different times.
Morning, noon, dusk.

...TOO DARK... (yes - DEFINITELY a shade too dark!!!)

So Klaus returned to Sherwin Williams to "brighten it up" for his self proclaimed "Most Indecisive Clients" of the summer.
 and - This is what we landed on!

 We LOVE it!


I love our front door (and the simple change in direction of the decorative cross-hatched wood by the entrance). I cannot tell you how many times I went through the blue swatches. They were taped to the door for two weeks.

Over, and Over... I stared at those swatches.

Mark let me have my bright BLUE DOOR.
He was SKEPTICAL.... but was willing to give on this one.
Now he loves it too!

*Scroll up - It is hard to see, but Mark updated the Coppola too with the blue and red!
*Oh... and our neighbor Loren kindly came over with his chain saw and cut down the WAY overgrown arborvitae TREES on either side of the front.
*The arborvitae removal lead me to my post about my mom and the love of a good fire.
*I served the painting crew lemonade and popsicles on the hot days. I am motherly and sweet like that. Mark thought I was silly.

Monday, October 28, 2013

On the Farm

The Twinners and I headed home to the farm Friday of MEA weekend. It was a WONDERFUL day for me, Marly and Dean. I LOVE our day on the farm when we are able to make it out during harvest.
 My cousins farm thousands and thousands of acres. They love the land. I love the land. As a note, farm land today in Renville County is going for $8000 to $12,000 an ACRE.
 Jan went to town to pick up dinner for all the men and hired help. That day she fed Matt, Mike, Loren, Allen, and a BUNCH more. The women feed their family, and men hired to help get the crop out. Jan fed us too. The kids and I ate a the field just like the men. I REALLY wish I had a photo of my hard working cousin and uncles.
We had been riding the combine right before I snapped this photo. Matt had brought the combine to a quick halt and was darting to the back to check a problem with the fuel line. The issue was minor....
 ...but we headed back to the road in the tractor with Loren. My uncle Loren drives the grain cart around the field. This way the combine can UNLOAD with out ever stopping, shaving off hours of work.
 I am sure there are similar photos of Brett and me sitting in giant combine tires.
 The grain card unloading into the semi.
Back at the farm site, unloading the semi... where the corn will be moved into the driers and then to the bins for storage.
 Look at the genuine smile on my Uncle Sheldon's face. He is man who is PROUD of his career - proud to feed America.
 My kids - I won't let them be "city slickers".
 It was too wet for Mike to get into the sugar beet field. It is frustrating and stressful when the weather doesn't cooperate.
 Corn chaff dusted pink ground... pink, pink, pink, drifting everywhere....
 Dean - clutching his bag of field corn, ready for a semi ride back to the field.
Melberg Farms - My heritage, always....

***Unfortunately missing from any photos is my very dear, very loved Aunt Jan. THANK YOU! Words cannot express what you mean to me!

***After picking up Dean at the field from his semi ride, we visited my childhood bestie Cindy at her and her husbands farm. It was fantastic to get an hour or more to sit with my dear, dear friend in her kitchen and just CATCH UP.

What a grand day indeed.


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