thomas' pumpkin

The picture to the left is Thomas’ vision.

He was very concerned that Bryan could pull it off, given that it turned out a bit small in relation to the size of his pumpkin, and he was very adamant that the pumpkin have a pucker.

Bryan, of course, pulled it off with his eyes closed.

Ruthie's pumpkin

This is Ruthie’s pumpkin, based off her vision on the picture to the left.

Ruthie was a very demanding Creative Director and submitted many creative change orders after the design was already approved, such as substituting hair for eyelashes.

But she was nothing if not thorough in gutting her pumpkin.

Jack Black, We Salute Thee.

We probably shouldn’t have watched School of Rock right before bed. And maybe the marshmallows were a bad idea. But Ruthie’s fits of giggles over Jack Black’s silliness was worth every minute of delayed bedtime.

And this encore presentation? Awesome.

I recommend you turn the volume down or your speakers might blow. Also, stick with it long enough to see Thomas’ dramatic slide at about 1:03.

always wear lip gloss while riding your scooter


The other night we took the kids to Coulon Park after dinner to ride their scooters along the lake. The goal was to wear them out spend quality time together as a family, and once Thomas stopped screaming that he wanted to go to the playground, this was accomplished.

Of course Ruthie had to bring her sparkly pink purse. Where else was she to keep the sparkly pink lip gloss?

What I love about Ruthie’s fashion sense is the Skater Girl Princess Mashup: the tunic, stretch pants, and Converse AND the sparkly pink lip gloss and bag.

Going one way or the other is fairly predictable. But combined? THAT’s the stuff legends are made of.

Finally, the tree fruits.

This is what I do for work – I produce animated videos like this one. In fact, this animation for Circle Street was my first solo project, back in February.

I work from home – mostly in our basement office, sometimes at the dining table, occasionally in my thinking chair. I work part time while the kids are in school, and during the summer I have an elaborate schedule of day camps, VBS programs, and babysitting swaps to keep track of.

Working from home has its pros and cons. It’s always there and the boundaries between work and play can get blurry sometimes. I find if I don’t leave the house with the kids during my off hours, I end up getting sucked in to email threads or answering my phone or otherwise getting distracted from family life.

But the advantages of working from home far outweigh the challenges – I have no commute, I can transition quickly between work and play, and I can do my laundry (theoretically) between tasks.

The best thing about working from home, though, is my kids get to see what I do. They see what I’m creating – the illustrations, the rough animations, the edits – always asking questions.

Recently Bryan took Ruthie on a daddy date, and he asked where she’d like to eat lunch.

“Sushi Palace!” she yelled enthusiastically.

Bryan looked at me, perplexed. “Where’s Sushi Palace?” he asked.

“It’s the fictional restaurant in my Circle Street animation,” I said proudly.

Ruthie’s connection to what I do all day long is the culmination of all the decisions about work, life, and community Bryan and I have made over the last four or five years. Finally, the tree fruits.

Work is not just somewhere I go, a place that takes me away from my family & gives me a paycheck. We worked work into the DNA of our family. Work works for us, not the other way around.

It is a long-established fact in the ZugHaus that I have Eeyore tendencies – I moan and whine about whatever inconvenience befalls me in the moment. But the truth is, my Eeyore moments are growing few and far between as I wake up to the realization that I am one very fortunate wife and mother.

My life is a both/and of hard work and God’s blessing, and I’m very, very grateful.

my favorite time of the day

Morning Stretch

In life with Ruthie, every morning is a do-over. No matter how bad it was between us yesterday, today is our Memento moment – we just don’t remember.

Almost every morning Ruthie wakes up around 5 or 6. Many times she’s like a bathroom light switch – ON and a little too bright. But lately – ever since we got this new down comforter, actually – she pads into the room, silently slips into bed with me, and sleeps in the spot her daddy just vacated.

It’s always our best moment together.


Last tooth

Ruthie lost another tooth this week, and I think it’s her last one.

She walked around the house for a couple days with a washcloth in hand, using it to give her traction as she wiggled and pulled on that stubborn tooth.

It finally came out at a friend’s house.

I gave pause to this milestone. Briefly.

But any sentiment I may feel toward the passing days is quickly overshadowed by the fact my kids can make their own breakfast when they wake up in the morning.


We spent the afternoon at a craggy beach earlier this week, and the kids collected two buckets of white sea shells. Mostly they were broken and smooth from the waves and sand, but they were infinite in number – a true delight for the obsessed.

Ruthie was focused that afternoon. While Thomas played in the distance with the friends we’d come with, she hung back, eyes to the ground, methodically searching for shells in a grid pattern.

That evening at home Ruthie laid the shells out in rows and announced she was selling them – small ones for a dime, medium for a quarter, large for fifty cents, and the one fully intact shell for a dollar.

Alrighty, I said. I’ll take two of the small ones for a quarter a piece.

Before I knew it, she’d caught the attention of everyone who walked by: Would you like to buy a shell? she asked sweetly, turning back to grin at me every time she dared to ask.

She asked everyone from the dog walkers to the neighboring teenagers to the church goers who park in the lot next door (who were the only ones who made a purchase, by the way; score one for Jesus!).

Then yesterday as I made dinner I noticed she was engaged in a project – marker in hand, looking for tape, in and out the front door, NOT antagonizing her brother.

Eventually she came to me and asked, “Mom, how to you spell ‘would’? Not the kind of ‘wood’ that’s a tree but the kind of ‘would’ that says ‘would you like to buy a shell?'”

I went outside to investigate this curious sign project and found that she’d re-purposed my magnetic clips (I later found piles of paper abandoned on the floor at the foot of my refrigerator) to hang her sale signs along the fence. She’s managed to cover the perimeter of our yard, hanging a sign on each side to let the world know she is selling shells.

As I’ve watched this unfold over the last few days, I’m intrigued by all the elements of her personality that blossomed to make this happen – focus, ingenuity, tenacity, and self-starting initiation – elements I fear she’d always use for evil rather than good.

My little girl is growing up. She’s using her mind, she’s creating, and she’s solving problems (no tape? no problem! I’ll use clips!).

I’m growing up, too. I didn’t intervene. I didn’t freak out over the magnet clips. I didn’t try to control any element of this process.

She asked me to spell a word, and she asked me to buy a shell.

It’s all her, and I’m so proud of that.

Now Hiring: One Extrovert


Introverted mom seeking extrovert for translating communications with extroverted daughter.

Common misunderstood phrases include (but are not limited to):

“But I don’t want to be alone outside!” when asked to take out the recycling.

“But I don’t want to be alone in my room!” when asked to get dressed.

“But I don’t want to be alone!” when asked to stay in her room until 7am.


Ability to explain dislike for being alone; must be available on call.

Let me tell YOU about duty, little padawan.

Mail Man Mail Man do your duty
Here comes a woman with an African booty

This is what they’re singing on the playground these days while jumping rope.

When I was a kid we sang about bubble gum and ice cream, but now it’s about getting laid by the mail man.

I once got in trouble for telling one of my parents’ friends I was going to sock him right in the kisser. I thought we were all kidding around, but apparently I was not the funny one. I was mortified that I had said something wrong, and cried DRAH MA TAH CLY before I finally apologized.

We were at Bridgeman’s Ice Cream on W. 66th in Richfield, Minnesota after church, in a corner booth opposite the kitchen door. THAT’s how clearly that embarrassing moment is etched in my mind.

So I asked Ruthie if she knew what that meant, and she was all, I don’t care.


Okay, I didn’t really say that. But I THOUGHT that. And I also thought about my hands around her neck. And I also thought about locking her in a box.

But that’s normal, right? Please tell me you think about that all the time, too. Pretty please?

Anyway, what I REALLY said, was that the mail man is being told to treat a woman like she’s his wife, only she isn’t, and what does Jesus say about that? And how is a man supposed to treat a woman who is not his wife? And for that matter, how is a man supposed to treat ANYbody? And who is that man supposed to listen to – Jesus? or a bunch of first graders who are taunting him to sleep with the first woman he runs into???

Okay, I edited that part a bit for age appropriateness.


But we had our little conversation, and it was all just dandy. This was months ago. And just last week when I asked her again how that little jingle went, she rattled it off like an auctioneer and I was all, Wow, you still know that pretty well.

And she was all, Yeah.

And I was all, Sooooo, you’re still chanting that on the playground then?

And she was all, Kinda.

So we had that same conversation. Again.

And I realized parenting is not just about being a broken record, but about being THE LOUDEST BROKEN RECORD ON THE PLAYGROUND.