2:56 a.m

The other night Miss Amelia woke up. I started to feed her and noticed she needed to be changed. I changed her diaper, sat in the rocking chair only to hear the loud sound of a newborn pooping again. I let her eat some more and started to change her diaper and wipe her up and while she was free of any diaper she pooped again all over her sleep sack blanket. I strip her down and suddenly Miss Amelia decides that it is awake time. She moves around, looks with her pretty blue eyes and starts to eat again. I figure that she is about done with everything so I start to get her back into some clothes. I then proceed to pull the other blanket out of the dirty laundry basket that was definitely less dirty then the present one and put it on her. I literally just finish zipping it and I hear that familiar sound of Amelia pooping again. 

This is the newborn life folks! 


My Oldest Turns 7

Dearest Lillian,

Today is the day you turn 7. (My heart beats a little faster and I get a little shortness of breath when I say that). You started talking about turning 7 for at least the last 364 1/2 days. There has been a change in you this past year.  You are growing taller and looking more mature.  You are such a little beauty. Not only on the outside, with your long hair, but definitely on the inside. I heard in a sermon that said the more a person develops a servant heart the more mature they become.  My dear you are on the path of developing a very loving and sincere servant heart. You serve your family and friends well.  You are a helper and SUCH a hard worker.

Things that remind me that you are more 7 now than 6:

You sit and talk with me and Dad a little more often than play on the playground with the Leeland and Norah. When we ask you if you want to go and play you say, “No, I”m good.”

You started to carry a purse. It’s contents include: Chap stick, Hand sanitizer, a little purse with some spending change.

You talk about having alone time

You demonstrate you cutting skills on preparing fruit and snacks for Norah and Leeland

You want to talk with the older cousins, but still have great play ideas for the little cousins.

You demonstrate your complex monkey bar routines and tricks, and make it look easy.

You ride your bike like a pro and have started to stand up a bit when you peddle.

You helped Grandma Wilken sell flowers and make arrangements at the market this summer.  You were so proud when your bouquets sold.

You ask great questions about what we read, learn, hear about, and about God.

You are starting to love others more than yourself. This my daughter is hard and you are doing it well.

Mom and Dad are starting to see the things that make you come alive with excitement and passion. Flowers and making things beautiful makes you passionate. Planning special birthday parties and scavenger hunts for your sister made you giddy with joy.  Spending time with others is your love language.  You love people and love to make them feel special. We pray that you continue to put God, and the needs of others at the forefront of your mind, heart and actions. We love you with all of our hearts.


Your mom


note: my blog is maxed out on space for pictures so today will have to be a post with just the sweetness of words.


July 24th- Return to JOY

This is the third anniversary of when Dad went up to Heaven. Lots have changed in three years.  Over time I have found john 16:20 to be true, “You will become sorrowful but your sorrow will turn to joy.”  I can tell you that on July 24th- my sorrow, my sadness, my shock, my loss, and my grief were all that I could feel.   However, the word of God is true and I have witness God turn my sorrow to joy. Not only mine, but my family’s sorrow has been turned to joy.

This week I have been reading a devotional study about Mourning and Dancing from She Reads Truth.  It has been good. I really have enjoyed reading it leading up to this day.  I like reading scripture about joy and sorry, life and death, hope and despair, because was have both in this life.  Three years ago I was pregnant with Leeland when dad died.  He got to feel the joy and excitement of knowing about this little life but dad did not have the opportunity to hold him in his arms, see his face  or learn about his little grandson on this side of heaven.  I have learned that ” Life and death are not respecters of each other. Mourning and dancing- they don’t always take turns.”

This week I also read in a devotion that, “God has given us an incredible ability to feel things deeply in their time- even conflicting emotions at the same time.”  So while I may still have many conflicting emotions today, I know that through God tears…are turned to joy, and through painful memories… there can be joy and even through sorrow … God can turn it to JOY.

Tonight we are having a sweet corn feed at our house in honor of dad.  He was a big fan of sweet corn. (We joked this summer that if dad was still here he and Leeland would have a serious sweet corn competition.) We will eat, remember, write memories on balloons and let them go free.  There will be sadness but oh so much JOY!






Spring Plant Experiments


This year for Science we have used The Curious Kid’s Science Book ” by Asia Citro. One of the sections is all about plants and I had been saving this section for spring.   For the last three weeks we have been learning about plants, sprouting seeds, and documenting about them in our plant journals.  Here are some of the experiments we have tried so far:


Do Seeds Sprout Faster in the Warm or Cold?
1st we sprouted them on a wet paper towel in a ziplock bag.  The girls put some bags in cold and warm places around the house. We watched them for a few days and by day 4 the seeds in the warm/sunny places started to grow roots.  It took the seeds on in the cooler areas  a few days later to sprout. After 1 week we put all the seedlings in new bags and put them in sunny warm windows.

After another couple weeks we let the plants grow while the girls wrote in their plant journals.  Then we transplanted them into little pots. After plants got a bit bigger I let the girls pick what type of experiment the girls wanted to do.

Plant Maze

Lillian choose to do the Plant maze. She took an old orange box and made different paper shelves that the plant had to grow around to to get to the hole in the top of the box.   By the end of the 2nd day the plant was already growing around the paper shelves.  By the end of the week it grew out the top of the box.  The little plant had a very tall stem and tiny little leaves.

Watering Plants with Orange Juice, Milk and Water

Norah picked a watering experiment.  She had three different plants that were watered every other day with the different liquids. By day 4 there was mold growing  around the milk and orange juice plant and in Norah’s words , “They stunk!”


After our experiments concluded we transplanted our bean plants and put them in bigger pots into the garden.  It was such a fun way to do some simple science experiments with kids at home.  Who knows we might even get some green beans later this summer from this experiment.


Cute things I never write down but today I did


When I was calling upstairs to tell the girls to come down for school I said this,“Lillian time for reading….. (pause) yes, mom!”

Leeland said this,

“Norah you play me (which means play with me) ….. yes, mom!”

Leeland calls Hippos “Hopies”

He calls any boy Lego person, doll house person a “Daddy”. The two doll house males are affectionately called , “Green Daddy and Blue Daddy” based on the color of their pants.

When the girls wanted to go inside  and be done playing, Leeland said this,

“ahhh, girls no play  me”



The other day she was singing and skipping around outside and I heard her sing this phrase,

“He’s the best I’ve ever known.” (When I asked her who she was singing about she said , “Jesus.”)

Norah was convincing Chris and I to eat outside for supper. Here was one of her reasons why it was a good idea.

“If we eat outside we won’t even have to open up the door  to go and play when we are done we can just get up and go play.” ( we ate outside 🙂 )


A chicken got into our garden and pooped in the Zinnia bed.  Lillian said,

“Mom are you ok with leaving the poop in there because it will make good compost for the plants to grow. Are you ok with that?”

When we were working in the garden early one morning Lillian said,

“Good thing we are out here, plants are kind of more important than school, right mom? “

When Lillian’s bike tire went flat she said this,

“So should we just text Larry or something?”(Larry is my Uncle and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t text. He does fix bikes but lives 2 hours away)



Monday Naptime – Wednesday Naptime

My sister  Molly and I have found out that the perfect amount of time to visit someone, while bringing children along with you, is to travel at naptime on Monday and leave to go home on Wednesday at naptime. The great thing about this time frame is that there is only two days you really have to pack for, only two sleeps at someone else’ house, and only one nap time to do that is not in a car (which may or may not happen).  I have recently taken a couple of the Monday to Wednesday trips with the kids.

TRIP #1 – Fairmont/ Albert Lea

After Easter we stayed at my moms house for a few extra days. Being at Grandma’s house is fun because you get Grandma all to yourself.

  • The kids played with every toy imaginable.
  • Grandma cooked kid friendly food. (We found out that Norah loves corndogs!)
  •  My brother Bryan babysat for me so I could go with Mom and my sister-in-law Becky to a women’s night out with other women from their church. It was great- I got to chat and eat yummy dessert and Bryan made a cool fort they will never forget.  (Thanks Uncle Bryan!)
  • I took the kids to the park. Leeland asked repeatedly if he could jump in the lake. I said no.

On Tuesday we drove over to see my sister Molly and her family.  Day trips are fun because packing is minimal and you can accomplish a lot. Here are just a few of the things we did on Tuesday for about 8 hours:

  • Played at their house
  • Went their awesome story time at their library.
  • Ate lunch together
  • Made resurrection rolls
  • Went on a trip to the school bus barn (Thank you Uncle Ryan)
  • More play

We left feeling full and the kids exhausted. Grandma saved the day by having supper for us to eat immediately when we got home.

Trip #2- Fargo

Last week we did our first Monday- Wednesday trip to stay with one of my friends, Tasha,  that I have known for over 15 years! We drove up to Fargo, ND. Tasha hosted us in her house with her daughter Teagan. Her husband was out of town on Job training so it was just us moms and kids.  Weather was a little cold and windy but even so we managed to do as much outside as we could. It’s so fun to visit your friends and mother together. ( Tasha you are an AMAZING MOMMY!  )You see how they live and the fun little details of the day to day.  Here is a little list of the highlights:

  • Walks around the neighborhood while the kids used their scooters
  • Having your kids bond together
  • Make home made pizzas and eating kid friendly food.
  • Exploring a fun indoor kid climbing zone at a near by workout gym.  $2 per kid for the whole day.  A WIN WIN. Lillian and Norah got their brother to go down the big tall slide and they were so proud of him.We went two different times that day and I totally wore them out so sleeping that night was not a problem.
  • Going to new parks
  • Walking across a river bridge and learning about bike paths
  • Painting toe nails and catching up on life as two busy moms.
  • On the way home we stopped by the Brookings museum for the last hour they were open. It was fun to stop by and get out of the car to play.

Note of reality to others:  ( You kids will still throw fits, have to have time outs, maybe not sleep the best, and at some point you and your kids will lose it! However, this is really no different that what happens at home. But the time spent with friends and family totally out weighs the frustration and slight sleep loss. So go ahead , be BRAVE, travel with you kids. Enjoy life and the freedom of this stage and age. 



As Spring Unfolds


This was our family picture taken at church on Easter morning.  My sister termed it “Best Picture Ever” due to the fact that we only had to take two picture in order to get this beauty.  I stayed in Fairmont a few extra days at moms and when we came home we saw signs of spring everywhere.

Our Easter (branch) tree continued to grow the little green leaves.  There is even signs of budding flowers but I’m not sure they will actually burst open.

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We still have our resurrection garden out on our shelves.

Our bulbs of crocus and tulips that we never planted last fall, we planted indoors and are now starting to bloom!

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Our caterpillars that we got for the kids in their Spring Baskets have started to turn into their chrysalis.  We had 5 caterpillars that were almost in their J shape.  Leeland got on his step stool and grabbed the cup and shook it.  Two of our caterpillars fell.  They might turn into butterflies but we will have to wait and see.

A few more pictures of the the cousins at Easter!




This is the second year (click here to read about last years)  in a row that we did our Easter Egg Hunt and giving our kids their Easter Baskets on the 1st day of Spring.   It went so well last year that we were definitely on board to do it again this year. A few of the reasons I really love doing Easter differently.  This way there  is  a clear separation in the kid’s minds between all that fun, spring activities, and Easter Sunday and his resurrection.

Last year I made these changes:

  • A different sort of Hunt- Yes, this year we wrote our sins on the rocks. I didn’t have them go outside to gather the rocks this time. We wrote our sins on them and then put them in the bottom of a vase.  Then we covered it with water. We talked about Jesus is the living water that can wash a way our sins. (next time I would not use sharpie marker to write. That way the words can wash way. ) Then we went out and Chris had hid the 12 eggs for each kiddo.  The trick was to find a place where the kids would find them but the chickens would not.  Leeland was really into it this year. I filled his eggs with fruit snacks, a few pennies,  and magnets that I made from the plastic tops of baby food  pouches and put a magnet on the back and a wiggly eye on the front! Norah & Lillian’s had fun with their eggs hunt as well. They had stick on earrings, quarters and gum in their eggs!
    • New- we cut down a branch from outside and put that in the vase. Then we can watch the branch leaf out and bloom in that vase. Helping to represent that new life of Jesus in us!
  • Spring & New Life Family Basket- We stuck to the family Easter Basket again.  I  just love this plan. It takes out the fighting and comparing and I just really like how it works for our family.  

This is the run down of what I put in the Basket this year!

Painted Lady Caterpillars – Verse ” Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new Creature the old is gone, Behold , new things have come” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Easter Sticker Book & Thomas the Train Sticker book.   Verse “and Lillian & Norah increased in Wisdom & Stature” Luke 2:52.

Water bottles – Verse ” but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.b The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

–    Fun extras- a new train for Leeland, some little memory games, new nature and science books.

– A bag for each member in the family of Puppy chow! -Verse ” How Sweet are your words to my taste! Psalm 119:103

It was a great time and now we are ready to go to church next Sunday and celebrate JESUS’s Resurrection!




Today was Palm Sunday.  A Sunday I can remember vividly throughout my childhood and adulthood.  A Sunday that focus on raising the name of Jesus and singing and saying it loud.

Our Pastor used yesterday to continue with a sermon series on High Praise.  He went through 12 different Hebrew words that defined “Praise” in the bible.  Throughout worship he challenged and stretched us to break out of our “box” of worship and praise.  He would introduce and define the words and then we would put it into action.

  1. Zamar– To make music with the instrumetns and accompany with singing
  2. Yadah– fully extended arms as a form of surrender
  3. Towdah– fully extened the hands as a form of sacrifical faith
  4. Macha– To clap your hands
  5. Shabach– to shout, loud tones, loud adoration, proclaim with loud voice
  6. Rowmena– To shrill, high pitched sound, high priase
  7. Barak– to kneel or to bow as a form of adoration
  8. Tehillah– to sing a spontaneious new song from your heart to the Lord. Not a written song, origin is with in you.
  9. Alaz– Jump for Joy
  10. Karar– to dance, spin, twist, twirl
  11. Macholah– A complany of dancers

The atmosphere was joyful and indeed full of High Praise.  As he was defining the words he came to the last one:  HALAL. He defined it as: to be clamorous foolish, to boast, to put on a show, to put the largest expression you can muster on display before the Lord!

The first thought in my head and then told Chris was, ” Does that describe how my dad worshiped or what?” I always think of Dad  a lot at Easter. Yes, the hope of heaven and new life gives me the assurance of life after death. A place where I can see my Savior and all those who have believed.  In addition to thinking about seeing dad again in heaven, I also think of him at Easter because I know how much he loved to sing and praise.

Dad sang loud, he moved,he would dance,  he would wave flags, he lifted his hands! Folks he was HALAL.  No matter if the song was a hymn, or a praise songs, old or new, fast or slow. He would put on the largest expression on and display it before the Lord.

Now to be honest, as a teenager and maybe and an adult… I can firmly say that this  probably embarrassed me more than once. Why did he need to sing SO loud , or dance like that. I think that today I finally understood.  Dad was just praising God,  how God himself commanded  us to.  And you know what? Dad didn’t care what others thought. He was only worshiping for an audience of one.

It was interesting after Dad died people wrote lots of different things to us about him.  One college girl who was a member of their church wrote this shortly after he died, ” When I think about Sunday mornings at church.  I think of how Keith loved to worship. He was all about it, anticipating every line of every song, sometimes coming in too early, always singing his heart out. ”  Dad was marked by the way he worshiped. In the scrapbook that I made about Dad I have three different  words phrases that defined dad, “Work Hard, Play Hard and Praise Hard”.

So I pass on the challenge to you!

Get out of  your comfort zone in worship

Work on moving in to High Praise

Try all out all those different ways to priase

Praise Hard

and make sure you HALAL every once an a while.






Jumping off


Since becoming  parents one of the biggest challenges Chris and I have faced is how to teach, discipline, and train up a Strong Willed child with out  crushing their spirit. How do you mold and guide with out taking out what God has put in?

On the day to day- parenting a child with strong will is HARD. As my family and friends know- I’m constantly asking for prayer, wisdom, guidance, strategy and patience.  Little things like brushing our teeth and getting dressed in the morning turn into big battles.  Tempers rage and tears are shed (for both parent and child). This is hard when life with little ones , is all about the 100’s of little things we do each day.

I honestly don’t have many answers. However, last night I saw the evidences of what strong will can do.  Strong will can send you up to the diving board in the deep end of the pool and then challenge you to jump off……

and then  do it!!!!

Strong will pushes you to do more than you could or anyone else thought you could do.  Strong will turns into boldness, courage, determination, standing in ones convictions, passion and pursuit of impossible dreams.

Isn’t that the character traits we want our kids to be when they are adults? So until I see those refined character traits I will continue to tell myself that training up a strong willed child is HARD however,  watching that child grow into their God inspired destiny is worth it! And remember it even helped them to jump off the diving board.