Storytime- Back to School

We are reading:

book jacket Llama Llama Misses Mama

book jacket Mouse’s First Day of School (Classic Board Books)

book jacket Splat the Cat

book jacket Wow! School!

We are singing:

“Come to School”

Tune: Farmer in the Dell

We like to come to school, 

We like to come to school,

Our school is such a happy place,

We like to come to school!

We are making:

The animals on the bus!

Draw a school bus on yellow paper for your child.  Let your child decorate the bus by putting animal stickers in the windows, coloring the wheels or any other way they want to decorate it.  Sing “The Wheels on the Bus” while you make your buses!

Some tips for you:

Are your kids nervous about school starting?

  • Help them remember the good things about being in school.
  • Make sure your kids know you are available if they need you.
  • Talk to them about their worries- some of them may not be a big deal.
  • Walk through the school before the first day.  Where are the classrooms?  Where is the bathroom?  Get your child used to the school.
  • Get plenty of sleep!  Start having back-to-school bedtimes at least two weeks before school starts to get back into the routine.

Happy Reading!

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Still hurting

I had a pretty good week.  I’m healing, my dad is healing.  

But every once and a while, something comes along and rips that scab right off, and I’m hurting once again.  Like just now, when I opened the envelope containing Mom’s death certificate.

Thank God I know the reason for all of this.

Thank you, everyone, for your kind words and prayers the past week. It means so much to me and my family!

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15 things I’ve learned in 15 years

Last Thursday, Dan and I celebrated 15 years of marriage.  In today’s standards, 15 years is a LOOOONG time.  I’ve learned a lot in the past 15 years:

  1. Sometimes, you go to bed angry.  Sometimes, you wake up angry.  And that’s ok.
  2. It’s ok not to go to bed at the same time.  Actually, you’ll find out that it’s preferable, especially if your husband snores.
  3. Your relationship won’t be the same after 15 years than it was when you were first married.  It will be better.
  4. Intimacy is still important, even if you’re tired.
  5. Be affectionate with each other in front of your kids.  It makes them feel secure, and it’s fun grossing them out.
  6. Spend time with each other, whether it’s watching tv, sneaking out for ice cream, or cleaning the bathroom.
  7. It’s ok to “let” your husband help around the house, even if he doesn’t do it “right.”  At least it’s done.
  8. You need girlfriends, and your husband needs his guy friends.  He can’t be your bestie all the time, and you can’t be his.
  9. Romance will be defined differently all the time.  Getting flowers 15 years ago feels the same as coming home to an empty dishwasher today.
  10. Take time to build him up and thank him for all he does for your family.  
  11. Don’t lose your sense of humor.  Always be able to laugh together.
  12. Don’t forget the reasons you married each other.  Look back on your wedding photos and remember.
  13. Pray together and for each other.  Keep God the center of your life.
  14. Learn from the examples of other couples around you.  Teach the young ones that are just starting out.
  15. No matter what, even if it’s through clenched teeth, say “I Love You” every day.

Thanks for the last 15 years, Dan.  I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us in the next 15!

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Saying Goodbye

I got the call around 8:45pm on Monday, August 18th.  The nurse on duty in the Memory Care Ward said my mom was failing.  I knew she had been put on a maintenance dose of morphine for pain earlier in the day.  The hospice nurse had also told me she was concerned, because Mom’s lungs sounded “wet.”  But when the nurse called, she said she heard “the death rattle.”

As a pastor’s wife, I know that the death rattle is the sign of the end.  I hung up the phone, stunned.  I sat there for a minute, wondering if I should get on the road.  Dan thought I should stay put- that if Mom was that bad, I probably wouldn’t make it anyway.  Every fiber in my body was screaming, though, for me to get on the road.

Soon, another phone call.  Dad’s favorite nurse, Mary, was calling.  Dad was wondering if I was on the road yet.  He needed me.  That was all I needed to hear.  I was on my feet, packing my bags.  As I packed, I called my brothers and my sister and let them know what was going on.  They’re all local, so would be able to go and be with Mom before I got there.  

I left my house at 9:15 that night.  I drove through the night, listening to a book on my iPad, crunching on sunflower seeds and drinking Dr. Pepper to keep me awake.  Not that I would have fallen asleep anyway- the adrenaline and the praying were enough to keep me up.

I prayed the entire way.  I prayed that God would keep her on earth until I was able to get there.  I prayed that Dad would have the strength to make it through.  I prayed that God would take her to Heaven, because I couldn’t take seeing her in pain anymore.  I prayed and prayed.

Around 4am, I turned into the driveway of Mom and Dad’s facility.  After a stop in the bathroom, I headed right to Mom’s room.  The lights were on, and Dad, my sister, and her husband were all in the room.  Mom was in her bed, still alive, but un-responsive, with the tell-tale rattle in her lungs.  I dropped what I was carrying and sat on her bed.  

“Mommy.  I’m here.  I love you.  I made it.  We’ve all been here.  You can go now.”

Those were the hardest words I’ve ever spoken in my life.

She hung on.  My dad wouldn’t leave.  He stayed in her room, first across the room in Mom’s chair, then the nurses moved her chair to the bedside so he could hold her hand.  We couldn’t convince him to go–he wouldn’t leave.  My sister, brother-in-law and I stayed too, only leaving for bathroom breaks or for a short nap.  We sat up all morning, talking, laughing, crying.  

At one point I asked an RN how long it could last.  Of course, no one knew.  I wasn’t worried about enduring it myself, but I was growing concerned for my dad, at 81, not getting any sleep.  He didn’t seem to care, nor realize how tired he was.  

Mom and Dad’s pastor came, and we sat for a long time, praying, laughing and talking.  He gave us the support we so needed.  While he visited, Dad noticed that Mom’s color was leaving her face.  Her breaths were coming slower now, with long pauses in between.  I found myself panicking.  I had thought I was ready for the end, but I really, really, wasn’t.  Can you ever be?

At around 11:30am, right after Pastor left, Mom breathed her last breath.  It was precious and terrifying all at the same time.  We mourned her, at the same time Praising God that she had slipped away peacefully, without pain.  

The pain was left here, with us.  The family gathered together, children and grandchildren, until there was so many of us we had to move to a bigger room.  The grief was palpable.  Goodbye was not something we had been ready for.  

Being there, in the same room, as my mother passed away is something I will never forget.  I will be forever thankful for the phone call from Mary that got me on the road that night.  I will be forever thankful that I was able to be there, to say goodbye to my mom.  I have never felt closer to God, and my family.  It was the hardest and most beautiful thing I’ve ever done. 

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Lero Irene Finkel

Lero "Irene"  Finkel

Lero “Irene” (Pond) Finkel, 76, of Crosslake, formerly of Chaska, MN passed away peacefully August 19, 2014 at Golden Horizons Assisted Living. Services will be held at 11:00 AM, Thursday, August 21, 2014 at Mission of the Cross Lutheran Church in Crosslake with a visitation starting one-hour prior. Interment will follow at Pinewood Cemetery. 

Lero was born October 23, 1937, in Wachula, FL, the daughter of Donald and Lero (Palmer) Pond. Lero was baptized into the faith on May 8, 1937. She confirmed that faith at Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Pequot Lakes, MN in the Spring of 1951. She attended grade school in Ideal Township and graduated as Valedictorian from Pequot Lakes in 1955. In 1976, she married Leon. Irene loved raising her family. She liked to garden, cook and bake. She collected angels and was an active member at Mission of the Cross Church. 

She will be missed by her children, John (Barb) Derksen, of Pequot Lakes, Keith (Vickie) Derksen, of Pine River, Lori (Tim) Nolan, of Hutchinson, and Esther (Daniel) Burns, of Marion, WI; step-children, Michael (Lori) Finkel, of Sun Prairie, WI, Carol (Mark )Hanson, of New Auburn, WI, and Judy (Jesse) Pierce, of New Prague, MN; 20 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and siblings, Allan Pond, Ed (Barb) Pond, and Martha Pond. She was preceded in death by her parents; a sister; and four brothers.

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