Category Archives: This and that

Random Animal Cuteness

Some days you just need a little extra cuteness.

Miss Fiona woke me at 5 this morning in a bit of a funk.  She’s not feeling well and is being rather hard to please.

I finally went searching on you-tube for cute animal videos, since those can brighten just about any day.

This one was a hit with both of us.  It was also very good for playing “learn that animal name.”  🙂

I’ll be back soon with some proper posts.

Happy Friday!


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On Hiatus

Sorry for my absence lately.  I’m in Florence Nightingale mode for a bit.

My sweetie got a new hip last Friday at the Mayo.

He’s had arthritis since he was two years old, and as a child he was told that he’d be in a wheelchair by the time he was 18.  He lasted a lot longer, but the time came when his hip was too demolished to hold up any longer.

So last week we had a family vacation of sorts in Rochester while the doctors worked their magic. 

Surgery was tricky.  His femur splintered when they inserted the artificial hip so they had to wrap it with cable, and then his pelvis was so disintegrated that they had to put part of his femur behind the new hip to build up the space.

Leave it to my hubby to keep the Mayo on their toes.  😉

He came through great, though, and as soon as he was back in his room he asked for a phone so he could call and wish his dad a happy birthday.

We’re home now and we’re all helping out while he recovers.  He is doing wonderfully, but because of the complications it will be a little longer recovery. 

Lucky for us, winter is a little slow around here anyway.

Oh yeah, and we have sick kids now, too.  Never a dull moment.

I might be a little quiet for a while.  I’ll be back soon. 

Go make some magic and come back in the comments and tell me all about it! 

See you soon!


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Happy 2013!


I have written an awful lot of New Year posts on this blog and for the Magical Childhood newsletters over the years.  I started A Magical Childhood when my Annalee was just a baby in my arms as I typed, and next month she is turning 13! 

I am so glad that life kept throwing us unexpected blessings and right now I get to make some magic with just about every age group (my “babies” are now 1, 5, 9, 12 and 14), and that I can still yap at you all in the middle of the night with a little person asleep in my lap.  Thanks for understanding when there are weeks between those yappings, too!  🙂

I, for one, am kind of happy to see 2012 on its way out the door.  This was a rather intense year for our family, especially with Victoria’s cancer diagnosis, sepsis, surgeries and some continuing immune issues.  At the end of it all, though, we’re so blessed and we know it.

I wrote this for New Year’s Eve in 2003, with my baby Jack in my arms.  It seemed appropriate to post again.

I wish you and your families all the best for the new year.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the mayhem and the clutter and the lists of what we ought to be doing.  Don’t forget what the biggest things on your to-do lists should be– having fun, loving the heck out of your children & relishing life.

Slow down.  Give things up.  Laugh it off.  Make each day count, with at least one thing that is magical or truly matters.  And give yourself a break!

And when life gets crazy this year, take the advice of those wisest of people (aerobics instructors) and don’t forget to breathe.  ;)

Happy New Year!!
Alicia   (December 29, 2003)

PS  Click here if you want 10 awesome ways to ring in the new year with kids.  Again, it’s stuff I’ve recycled from various Magical Childhood posts in years past.  I do that a lot!

Happy 2013!!!!! 

Here’s wishing us all a truly magical, happy, healthy new year.


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You’re (Still) a Fabulous Mother

Photo by Victoria Bayer

(One of the nice things about having written A Magical Childhood for so many years is that I have lots of archives to dig up and share again every once in a while!  Here’s a favorite of mine from May 2010 that I thought deserved to be said again.)

I’ve been hearing lately from mothers who say how stressed they are and what terrible mothers they think they are.

What?  Oh pah.

If you’re thinking along the same lines, I’m  here to tell you to stop it.

You rock.  You’re a fabulous mother.

How do I know this?  Well, first off because you’re beating yourself up and only people who care feel guilt, which means you’re a caring mother.  So that right there tells me a lot about you.

Second of all, you’re the sort of mother who reads books about making lives magical for her children.  That sort of says a lot about you too!

Third of all, most mothers are more fabulous than they give themselves credit for.  It’s a mother thing.  We also tend to think other mothers are exponentially better than we are at absolutely everything.

And fourth of all, no matter what sort of beastly mother you think you are, I’m willing to bet that your child still thinks you’re the best mom in the world.  Even if said child won’t admit it.

You’re a fabulous mother.  You’re loving.  You care.  You  have things you rock at.  Many of them.

Do you sometimes screw up?  Yep.  So do I.  Do you sometimes yell or throw shoes at the wall?  Maybe.  I have.  Do you have times when you lose it a lot and feel like a troll? It happens.  But it gets better.  And you’re still a fabulous mother.

Here’s the wonderful thing about being a mother.  Every second is a fresh start.  If you screw up you can not screw up the next minute and it goes an awfully long way.

Hug your kids.  Say you’re sorry.  Be silly.  Let things go.  Try again.  It’s all part of the crazy ride of motherhood.  None of us is perfect at it.  But most of us are far more fabulous than we give ourselves credit for.

And while you’ve been reading this, another fresh start has begun.  Go do something good.  Not just for the kids, but for you too.

Now, go off and be fabulous.  You can do it.  You do it again and again.  You’re raising people who will make the world a little better, in part because of your mothering.

Thanks for that.


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This is a Home Where Children Live

This is a Home Where Children Live

You may not find things all in place,
Friend, when you enter here.
But, we’re a home where children live,
We hold them very dear.

And you may find small fingerprints
And smudges on the wall.
When the kids are gone, we’ll clean them up,
Right now we’re playing ball.

For there’s one thing of which we’re sure,
These children are on loan.
One day they’re always underfoot,
Next thing you know, they’re gone.

That’s when we’ll have a well kept house,
When they’re off on their own.
Right now, this is where children live,
A loved and lived in home.

~Judith Bond



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Victoria wearing wings made out of an old sheet, Summer 2000 (age 2)

I am alone tonight. 

I was alone last night, too. 

This is the first time I’ve been absolutely alone (without at least one of the kids) for this long in over thirteen years of parenthood!

Daryl and the kids are volunteering at a wonderful event called History Fest out of town.  We volunteer there as a family every year, but this year I am too pregnant to go along and take part.

They are staying at Grandma and Grandpa’s house and I was going to go with them and stay there, too, but I haven’t been feeling very good and I have so many things I wanted to get done around the house before Monday (when our baby comes!).

So at the last minute, we decided I’d stay home on my own.

I have friends nearby who can come if needed, and Daryl and the kids are not too far away.  And I never, ever, ever go into labor early. 

I’ve actually enjoyed my new-found time alone!  I’ve accomplished a ton of things around the house, got lots of extra sleep and have relished the quiet in this house this is so used to being so noisy!

Just the same, it will be nice to have my family back tomorrow.  I suppose I’m good at chaos.  🙂

This time on my own reminded me of a poem I wrote years ago when I only had two little girls.  I think about the lines of this poem often, because after all these years it still sums up how I feel about my family.

I plan on updating it soon, to reflect the changes we’ve gone through since I first wrote it.  Just the same, the meaning remains.

I thought some of you might like it….


    I know women
    who would lose their children
    like throwing off a robe,
    unbraiding a red ribbon
    and discarding it, to let
    their wild selves fly free.

    I know women
    who put aside their children
    like cheap jewelry by the side of the bed.
    I know women
    who never seem to wear them at all.

My girls, I do not want
to be free of you.
You are like my wedding rings
which I could have easily slipped out of
but wear
every day that my heart beats.

I want you near me.
My girls, my husband,
when I see a sunset
I want these two eyes
to be part of the eight who see it.
I want our laughter and stories
to be so tangled
that our memories weave into one dream.

This is my time with you.

Soon enough, you will be off
swimming your own new seas.
Soon enough, we will step back and watch you
blooming and bursting in solitary ways
in your own fresh, separate skins.

How could I waste this?

Oh my darlings, you are not my cage.
You are my wings.

~Alicia Bayer




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Dear Baby…

Photo by Victoria Bayer

Dear Baby,

You should be here in a little over two months now.  This seems like the longest pregnancy in history, but there’s still so much to be done to prepare for you.  We thought we were all done with babies, after all, and our life is so crazy and chaotic even when there aren’t babies on the way.

I am having such fun feeling you get to know the world inside my belly.  I love your hiccups, your knocks, your flips and turns and random jabs.

I wonder sometimes what you must already think of us.  We are such a noisy family!  Day and night, you must hear the shrieks, shouts, teen and tween music, arguments, laughter, children’s shows, ball games, read-alouds, tears, talks and general mayhem.

One minute it’s Mama reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins, the next it’s a cackling four year-old, then it’s Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga and then a tear-filled tirade about LEGOs or terrible sisters.

It’s a far cry from the classical music and baby books that your grandmother once told me to play for my belly.

Baby, you are coming into a crazy life. 

It will be noisy.  It  will be messy.  It will be chaotic. 

And it will be fun.

You will be doted on by two big brothers, two big sisters and two tired parents, not to mention friends and family.  You will get messy kisses, silly presents and the world’s most diverse lullabies.

You will be loved.

I can’t promise as much classical music as your grandmother would have liked, but I can promise loads of love and silliness and people who will always fight over who gets to hold you next. 

You are thumping around in my belly right now, poking and flipping and doing some sort of general busyness.  You seem to be a busy little girl, which will probably suit you well in our family.

I can’t believe my luck in getting to do all of this again.  I can’t wait to met you, little one.  There are so many kisses waiting for you.

Prepare for a noisy but laughter-filled life. 

We love you.



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On the Banks of Plum Creek (Once More)

Long time readers probably know by now that my family lives near Walnut Grove of “Little House” fame and that my girls have acted in a local outdoor play (The Wilder Pageant) about the Ingalls family’s time in our area since they were little.

Anna started acting in the pageant when she was four years old!

And some of you may remember the drama around Victoria and her “crazy hat” last year (she’s wearing another crazy hat this year, much to the dismay of that same girl!).

The girls are now in their 7th year in the pageant, Daddy is in his sixth, and this year marks Jack’s first year in it.

Last night was opening night, so Alex and I headed out with Grandma and Grandpa to see the show.

Here’s a few pics of my wonderful actors and the show.  🙂

(Apologies for the terrible quality of the photos!  I was using Victoria’s fancy camera and I really only know how to point and shoot!)

Back stage

Before the show

Jack got a little distracted by seeing me and the audience (over a thousand!) at first but then got into the swing of things

The Ingalls Family arrives

Reverend Alden (my hubby) leads a prayer

Jack was just too quick in the potato sack race for me to capture him!

Victoria and Daddy (I mean Reverend Alden) help erect the church

Jack (in back) prepares to roll some hoops during the church raising

Trying to burn out the grasshoppers during the plague (thousands of oyster crackers are blown into the air as grasshoppers!)

Those rotten Oleson kids 😉

The reverend says a few words in the Christmas scene (Jack is on the far right, the girls are hidden from view)

The exciting fire scene!

In the second half, my hubby plays the mayor (at the first city meeting of Walnut Grove)

I wish I knew how to use Victoria's camera! Anna did Irish step dancing and was in the middle of the front (in blue)

Victoria (in green with the hat) dances with Laura during the town social

Jack dancing

Anna dancing (in blue)

Jack hanging out with the other boys during the adult dance

Jack and Anna stand with their families at the end, as Laura tells what became of each family (the Olesons moved to California and Willie was blinded playing with firecrackers)

Taking a bow

My actors on stage afterwards

And being silly...

Jack, Alex and a pageant buddy

Signing autogaphs and meeting the audience

It was a great start to the new season.  🙂


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A Heartbeat!

Most of you know that we got some very surprising news in early February that we were expecting.

I had been doing my best to see myself as pregnant but not necessarily as having a baby, because with my history of miscarriage (and my age) I knew there was a high chance of something going wrong.

That said, nothing seems to have gone wrong so far!  And yesterday, all four kids got to join their daddy and me at the doctor’s office and listen to the heartbeat.


There may have been just a few happy tears.

This baby thing might just be happening after all.  🙂

Which means we might have five children next fall. Five! Yowza!

This week, my horrible morning (and afternoon and evening) sickness seems to finally be coming under control, so I’ll try to post a bit more regularly again!

I’m also going to try to get the living room in order, start all my seeds, do more crafts, clean off the window seat and try a fabulous sounding healthy chocolate truffle recipe, but in all honesty I really don’t care! As long as I can keep us in healthy food, cuddle with my kiddos and not be too violently ill, I’m calling it good. 🙂

Fingers crossed…


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We’re Back!

We’re back from our road trip to Florida.

It’s a bit of culture shock to be back in snowy Minnesota.

I had kind of hoped it would have magically turned a little spring-like while we were gone, but no such luck!

Lucky for us, we got so much sand, sun and smiles that it should carry us through for a long time.

Here’s a few pics…

And a few more…

I’ll be back tomorrow with something fun to share.

For now, I’m still very very tired (something about the combination of first trimester and four children!) and have a date with a nice soft bed.  🙂


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