Thanksgiving week

I haven’t written a post in so long that I didn’t recognize the WordPress dashboard when I logged in.  This will be short and mostly pictures, but I wanted to put something up about our trip to Utah before it’s old news.  We hadn’t been there in 4 years, and we’re grateful we got to go.  The kids were thrilled to ride in an airplane.


Ethan and Briana were married in the Salt Lake temple on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a good picture of them because they turned the lighting down in the reception center around the time Briana came out, so it was impossible to get a good shot with my phone.  But here they are looking very happy, just after the wedding (they’re the people you can barely see with their arms victoriously raised).



Here we are on Temple Square



Mom and Dad…


Ethan with Ross and Ingrid at the wedding lunch…



Reception shots.  The best thing for me was watching Simon dance.  He was 100% into it. It’s a thing of beauty, seeing a person so totally in the moment.

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We did lots of fun things that week, including going to a hot springs, the Hill Aerospace Museum, and a Nerf gun place.  Here I am looking hot and defeated after Cooper and the kids killed us again and again.

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Thanksgiving dinner was quite the feast (good job with that plate, Sienna!).  I nominated myself to make the food assignments and I think I over planned a bit.  There were plenty of leftovers, even with 25 people at dinner.  After dinner the cousins exchanged Christmas gifts (Ingy is modeling hers) and we sang some Thanksgiving and Christmas hymns.  It was such a fun week!

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Ingrid is 4!

Our Ingy babe turned 4 today.  She was thoroughly feted this weekend, with a celebration at preschool, a party, and birthday observances at home today.  She was really looking forward to her birthday, and I think she had fun.  Tonight her last question was, when will I turn 5?

Ingrid wanted to do a puppet show for her class, so we used our 4 puppy puppets and did “4 little puppies jumping on the bed.”  I also did a singing time for the class.  The Children’s Songbook comes in handy at preschool.  The kids especially seemed to like “Rain is Falling All Around.”  Here’s a picture of her with her class, eating cupcakes and yogurt.

IMG_2695And some pictures of me passing out cupcakes and trying to light a candle at her party.  It was really windy that day.  The little babushka in front is Ingrid’s BFF.

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She wanted Else and Ana dresses for her birthday.  She’s at the prime age for princess stuff, I guess.  So after presents and breakfast this morning (bacon and eggs, her request), we YouTubed Frozen songs to sing along to.  She was loving life.

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And here she is blowing out the candles.



Oh my goodness, I love this girl.  I’m thinking of what to remember about her as a 4 year old.  She’s joyful and affectionate, and very squeezable.  She likes projects, and especially likes to help in the kitchen; she’ll stop whatever she’s to help make frosting.  She doesn’t like strange adults talking cute to her in stores – I swear she thinks she’s being condescended to and won’t tolerate it.  She loves music, and sings all the time, including for an hour+ some nights after she’s been put to bed.  Violin is going well now, after a start that made me think we’d made a mistake starting her at 3 1/2.  Paying attention in lessons still needs work, though.  She likes to stop and give Miss Julie hugs, which sounds cute, and I guess it would be if I wasn’t watching the dollars tick by as she wastes time.  If Ingrid wants a hug, I’ll give her one for free.

Ingrid said she wanted to be Else for Halloween (of course), but I may have persuaded her to join me in my “Sound of Music” costume idea.  For years I’ve wanted us to be the Von Trapps.  Simon won’t do it (fighter pilot for the 3rd year in a row).  But I finally bought a dirndl pattern and I’m making myself Maria’s costume from the Do-Re-Me scene (the beginning of the song, when she’s playing the guitar).  I found a $2 pattern for a little girls jumper so I’m making it for Ingrid, in case she’s willing to be Gretel.  She like the princess fabrics, and we found one that will pass – pink and white toile with princess scenes.



I hate fabric stores, by the way.  About once every 5 years I feel like doing a sewing project, but I hate buying the supplies.  JoAnn Fabrics has hardly any fabrics for clothing, it’s all quilting and crafts.  And it’s so cramped, and where they put stuff makes no intuitive sense to me, and the customers are pushy.

What else is new right now?  Simon is on fire with soccer.  He scored his team’s only goal 3 weeks in a row.  To be fair he’s on a team with a lot of kids who have never played, but still he’s doing virtually all the work on the field.  It’s kind of frustrating for me to watch, because the two teams will spend almost all the time on one half of the field, then Simon breaks away with the ball, moving toward the goal with like 5 kids from the other team on him, then he gets down the field and has no one to pass to, so the other team gets the ball back.  Over and over.  He doesn’t seem to mind, though.

I am also sick and tired of losing to Simon at chess.  At first I didn’t try hard, thinking I was letting him win.  Now I try, and I can’t beat him.  His strategy is to never lose a piece.  He’ll make tiny moves, while I try some lame strategy that ends up in a blunder so he takes my good pieces, and I’m left with pawns and the king and queen, and he’s still got all his rooks, bishops, and knights (and king and queen).  I could adopt the “never lose a piece” strategy, but it’s boring, and it would take forever.  He is very good at spotting my blunders.  I guess I just need to stop making them and I might be able to beat him.

One more thing about Simon, he and a friend in his class are making “books” of stories and poems together at school, for fun, which I think is just the best.  Here are two examples.

“Bailey the Dog” by Simon

Bailey was a dog.  Not a ordinary dog.  She looked like a big beagle but with black spots on her stomach.  Her breed was a treeing walker coonhound.  She was bred to chase raccoons up trees and wait tell their hunter came.  We were fostering her when we got her.  At first Bailey seemed like a grate dog but it turned out after a few days it was not so good.  It just barking and scratching and just positive noise.  When we took her on walks we could not even walk a block.  She would bark at other dogs, who knows why and she would spring so so so fast.  Nobody ever wanted to take her for a walk as much as somebody wants to take out the trash.  When Bailey went to the bathroom it stunk like icky socks.  Boy it smelled bad.  We gave her back to her foster owner and boy we were glad as much as if you got to get your own anything.  I was not joyful like the rest of the family.  It turned out she originally lived with a woman who owned like eight acres of land and was with her twenty-four seven.  That’s probably why she acted so odd.  End of story.

“Something’s in My Desk” by Simon

Something’s in my desk
It is most grotesque
He does not talk
I hear him destroy everything in my desk

He acts like a wild beast
He eats my notebooks like a dog
He acts as he is starvin’ to death
I tell my teacher all of this

But it’s a story


Incidentally, Ross has kept tabs on the coonhound rescue site, and Bailey has reappeared on it THREE times since we had her.  So, at least we know it’s not just us.


Summer Farewells

At 3 pm today I was in a line of cars waiting to pick up Simon from school when it started raining and blowing so hard it was coming down at 45 degree angle.  I remember in an interview about The Sound of Music Julie Andrews said in the scene where she’s singing “I Have Confidence” and walking up to the von Trapp home it was raining, but it has to rain very hard to show up on film so you can’t tell.  I’m pretty sure it was raining hard enough to be photographed today, but the windows were too blurry to get a good picture.


Normally Simon goes to the after school program but I was picking him up early so we could go camping in Kettle Moraine State Park.  We cancelled that because of the weather and will go tomorrow if it’s clear.  In past years we would have gone camping on Labor Day weekend, but it was early in the month this year and Ross had his final Sunday at the GUC on August 31, so we needed to be in town.

It was a bittersweet goodbye last Sunday, we will miss seeing friends there on a regular basis.  Simon played the cello in the service, and Rebecca gave a very thoughtful sermon on work.  Appropriate for Labor Day, and appropriate for Ross’s career transition.  She offered a lovely blessing on our family at the end of the service, and a handful of choir members sang Peter Lutkin’s setting of Numbers 6:24-26, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”  Lutkin was a professor at Northwestern, and this piece was one of the first pieces I heard the Millar Chapel Choir sing when we first came to Northwestern for Ross to be an organ scholar, so it was a perfect send-off in every way.  Here are pictures of Rebecca’s blessing, singing the Lutkin, and Ross playing the postlude – Widor’s famous Toccata.  Also recordings of the Lutkin and Widor pieces, just for fun.

05 14 08 41 Blessing the Updegraff Family06 14 08 31 Lutkin benediction for the Updegraffs AJ Keller07 14 08 31 Ross Updegraff's final postlude-2

So, we’ll see what’s next for Ross.  He’s currently applying for jobs and working on a programming job for my friend’s staffing company; it’s an online job application and skills test.  It turned out she needed the back end of the form coded, which is a different task from what he was first asked to do, and Ross basically taught himself enough PHP in a day to do it, an impressive feat!  I’m not gonna lie, this career change is stressful for both of us.  But I’m confident he’ll find the right fit and thrive in this new field.

I guess last weekend was the official end of summer, though to be honest this summer was   a lot of work for me and I’m not missing it.  It’s been a cool summer, unusual but welcome. Lots of rain.  We didn’t water our lawn at all and it stayed green the entire season.  Labor Day was fortunately clear so I took the kids swimming one last time.  They’re (blessedly!) old enough to play by themselves so I didn’t even get in the water, I just sat and read a book with a half an eye on them.  The kids really said goodbye to summer 2 1/2 weeks ago when school started.  Simon’s teacher seems great.  I haven’t met her yet, but she sends home lots of letters, does poetry workshops, and she’s motivating Simon to read  (the Narnia books), and to invent ways to make his math homework harder.  For Ingrid the summer program at preschool means swim suits and sunscreen every day, and I’m very glad to be able to just drop her off in the morning with a hand-washing and a hug instead of having to get her changed and buttered up with sunscreen every day.

Ingrid turns 4 in exactly one month.  Hard to believe, but on the other hand last fall feels like eons ago.  So does last week.  It’s weird how some things can feel so different in a short time, but certain parts of the brain are still attuned to the past.  Like Ross said this morning he was feeling the stress rise like it has every weekend for the past decade and a half, and had to remind himself he has nothing to worry about, no where he has to be on Sunday morning.  I’ve felt that way many times, too, where the stressor is gone, but the stress doesn’t immediately disappear.

Anyway, Ingrid is getting to be a big girl.  She can write the letter “I’ of her name, and asks for help with the “hard” letters (the N, G, R, D).  She’s doing really well with violin practice lately.  I told her the secret to short practice sessions is no crying, and to my amazement she caught on to that.  We also have a little chart going where for each finger placement (1, 2, 3) she gets a square colored in.  All the squares = a stuffed animal.  She’s affectionate, funny, bossy, and smart.  She has quite a temper (wonder where she got that!), and will punch us and throw hard little toys at our heads (with excellent aim), but also loves big hugs.

This is kind of embarrassing but kind of hilarious, so I’ll share it.  This afternoon we were playing a memory game (you know the kind where you flip cards over and find the pairs), and she didn’t win.  She was so mad, she said to me, “For freakin’ out loud!  You dammit piece of poo!  Look at my face!  Does it look happy or sad?!?!?”  Then she got up into my face and said “I WANTED TO WIN!”  Simon and I looked at her aghast, then Simon said, “Well, Mommy, she learned it from you.”  Nice.  What a proud moment in our family life.

Anyway, we need to come up with some birthday party plans for our little fighter.  Any ideas, send them my way.