Monthly Archives: July 2012

Creative Juices


I LOVE summer!  I love that the sun sets late even if means the kids aren’t in bed exactly on time.  I love that the agenda is open and when we do have something to do it is fun.  I love that my kids get to play without being shuttled to and fro.  I have memories of being a kid and just playing until it was dark and that’s what I have been enjoying about our summer so far.  I feel like the creative juices are flowing and the kids are loving it!

First off, we finished the fort with the “lower level” now covered in pavers.

The neighbors came over and we did some science experiments in the fort. Why not right?

The Ristow All-girl Academy is now open for business!

making “elephant toothpaste”

What started out as a morning of discovering some very moldy corn bread in the microwave turned into an opportunity to do some experimenting!  Because everything is more fun when you are holding a magnifying glass!

On another note, our neighbor decided to start a “summer camp” called Little Rascals at the park across the street.  I would have totally done that at 14.  So, because I would have been that kid, you better believe I participated.  And now my kids are the only ones. 🙂

the gang

You can’t beat it, she charges 5 bucks a kid for 4 hours!  She plans different themes and the kids think they’re going off to camp!  I love it, she’s a little entrepreneur.

And then this past weekend, Piper and our neighbor Noah planned a Splash Bash.  Check out these signs!

Now seriously, doesn’t that just make you want to come to the Splash Bash?

Noah came out our house at 6:45, left a note saying, “Piper, iv been heer come and get me at my house do NOT ring the door bell. Nock.”  The note pretty much could have said anything since Piper can’t exactly read.  But at 7:30 she woke up jumped out of bed and said, “I need to go see if there’s a note from Noah!” and they started setting up for the “event of the summer”.

I was supposed to drive around the neighborhood inviting people.  I was told to ask them, “Do you have kids?  How old are they?  Bring them to the Splash Bash!”  But instead, I opted for making a few phone calls and inviting some neighbors I actually knew.

And lastly, Piper and I went ding-dong-donuting.  I heard about this from someone else, and I loved the idea!  We bought some donuts and decorated the box.  I wanted to get a balloon and tie it to the box, but for some reason, Piper didn’t want to.  And then we dropped them off at our friends house, rang the door bell and tried to escape unseen.  Key word, tried.  But getting caught was half the fun.

I just love summer!  Doesn’t it seem like it allows for opportunities to do do the creative things there is no time for during the year?  I am seriously dreading the end already.  We leave for our trip next week and I feel like when I return summer is over.  And now this year, unlike every other year in the past, I have a kindergartner!  How did this happen!?

What have you been busy doing this summer?


Food Glorious Food


FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD, HOT SAUSAGE AND MUSTARD.  Hot sausage and mustard does not sound that appetizing to me, but it is the only line I remember from the play “Oliver”.  It is amazing how bits of songs stay in your head.  My dad was famous for his one-liners from songs.  It was always shocking when I actually heard the real song as he was completely singing to a different tune.  But I’m really getting off topic.  Actually, I wanted to title this Brooke’s books and tell you all about some of the books I have read and loved.  But the problem is, I read books and pretty much forget what they are about shortly after.  I recommended a book once to a friend, I told her it was really good and bits and pieces about it.  When she finished the book she said, “That was so good!  You didn’t tell me that she died in the end!  I can’t believe you told me about the book without giving it away!”  I responded, “Well, that’s because I didn’t remember that she died.  Minor detail.  But I’m glad I didn’t spoil it!”  Anyway, I am reading this book called 7: an experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker.  So far, I love it.  It is so easy to read, it’s funny and enlightening and convicting all at the same time.  I am just going to give you a line from the back of the book because I don’t think I can sum up the book as concisely as this:

Jen once considered herself unmotivated by the lure of prosperity, but up on being called “rich” by an undeniably poor child, evidence to the contrary mounted, and a social experiment turned spiritual journey was born.  7 is the true story of how Jen took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day disease of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.

Okay, so area one was food.  Jen decided to eat only 7 foods for one whole month.  That’s hard core.  I am relating to what I have read so much however, because for the past week and a half I have been detoxing.  We walked to Yogurtland last night and I didn’t have any!  That is a huge feat.  I can have no wheat, dairy, bananas, oranges, strawberries, oats, red meat, and so on.  The list is very long of my “no” foods and quite the opposite of what I can have.  But it is more than 7 things.  And mind you, I know that it is not forever.  I have enjoyed the discipline.  I have spent hours in the kitchen preparing yummy “acceptable” meals and have not deprived myself for the most part.  Except when I walked to Yogurtland.  Yet somehow less truly is more.  In the book there is a statistic that 4 of the top 10 causes of death have to do with our industrialized diet.  We have the ease of opening the cupboards and having numerous options to choose from and can pop food in our mouths whether or stomachs tell us we are hungry or not.  And so after 5 days of eating the same foods Jen wept, as did I when I read her entry.  She prepared her usual chicken breast and made fish fillets for her 3 kids (she was in the process of adopting 2 more kids from Ethiopia).  While they were eating she ran upstairs and when she came back down the kids were all in the living room.

“Did you finish eating already?”


“Did you eat everything?”

Long Pause.

“Pretty much.”

In the trash were 5 of the 6 fillets uneaten and the kids explained, “We didn’t have any ketchup!”
And tonight my kids here with me in the land of plenty threw away a pound of food because they didn’t have any ketchup.  I wept for all my children tonight, my Ethiopian children orphaned by disease or hunger or poverty who will go to bed with  no mother tonight and my biological children who will battle American complacency and overindulgence for the rest of their lives.  I don’t know who I feel worse for.

Convicting.  I know I told you that she is funny and really she is.  She writes about her faithfulness to coffee and that absence will make the heart grow fonder.  I am reading this and I don’t need to what she did.  I don’t need to limit myself to 7 foods for a month.  I think the action causes an awareness.  And while these 10 days haven’t been limited to 7 foods there has developed an awareness in me that I don’t want to ignore.  I am aware of the absent-minded trips I take to the refrigerator.  I am aware of the times that I pop something in my mouth at a birthday party whether I am hungry or not.  I am aware of eating something I don’t really like just because it’s there.  And on a positive side, I am aware of the goodness and variety of fruits and vegetables that we have so readily available.  I am aware off the fact that I have only one body to live my life with and I want to take care of it.  I want to eat food because it nourishes my body while continuing to fight the battle of complacency and overindulgence.  It is the foundation of our family, part of our family mission statement and while it isn’t always easy to teach these lessons to our children, we can begin by living it.  And maybe most importantly, I am aware that comparing yourself to the person who has more than you does nothing for you, because while there are thousands of people around me who have the means to eat, buy and consume without concern there are billions of people who would look at me and recognize that I am blessed.

what would you do?


Things are a bit tricky with the hubby home for the summer and I really wanted to write this entry days ago, but it just didn’t happen.  A week ago we celebrated our 9th anniversary, and if it were your 9th anniversary, what would you do?  Dinner?  A weekend getaway?  That would just be too normal I guess, and so we decided to do something totally different.  We dropped the kids off and headed to a nude Korean health spa!  Wow, talk about feeling adventurous!  My friend Jill said, “that totally sounds like a Ristow thing to do.”

Me-What?  I’ve never done anything like that before!  Okay, I went topless in Europe, but nude?  I actually was really nervous at first.  I’m really quite self-conscious.

Jill-Yes, but you would do it.  We’ve never done anything like that before, and there is a reason we’ve never done it.  We would never want to do it!

Okay, so I guess I was a bit intrigued by the whole thing and after overhearing complete strangers rave about this place, I wanted to try it and Brian is always an easy sell.  I actually thought it was co-ed and was a bit disappointed when I found out it wasn’t.  Whoa!  Don’t go thinking I am excited to hang out with naked Korean men, it’s just that a bunch of Korean women wasn’t exactly the crowd I was looking forward to hanging out with on my anniversary.

Anyway, the place was awesome and super clean (and I left there super clean too btw, more on that later).  You pay at the front and then they give you pink or blue “prison attire” depending on your gender to wear in the common areas.  When you go in the locker room, you first take off your shoes, put them in a small shoe locker and then you can walk through the room and put your clothes in the full size locker.  I undressed and redressed into my pink oversized shirt and shorts, walked 20 feet to the door that lead to the jacuzzis, saunas and steam rooms and proceeded to undress…again.  I was a newbie.  I wasn’t sure how it worked.  The facilities were super nice and as I sat naked in the spa with complete strangers, I was surprisingly comfortable with the whole idea and not self-conscious at all.  But I will also admit, I’m a total looker.  Brian says I can’t tell people that, otherwise no one will want to go with us in the future, but I am!  I’m not totally able to ignore everyone in the place!  I saw big people and little people, big chests and little chests, big bellies and little bellies.  I looked and I noticed and it actually made me feel fine and okay with being naked in front of them.  If everyone in there had “work” done, then that would be awkward.

I had a scheduled a body scrub and a massage.  Only $70 by the way.  That is a bargain considering the scrub was 40min. and the massage 60min.  Also, the $20 entrance free was waived.  Anyway, as I sat in the jacuzzi, a little Korean lady in her bra and undies came up to me to tell me it was time for my appointment.  Oh my goodness, she scrubbed dead skin off of my entire body, and I mean my entire body.  I did even know that some of these areas had dead skin and to be honest, if there was it had never bothered me before.  But I am now squeaky clean, all my 2000 parts.  She then poured oil on me and climbed on my back to massage my back.  I know, I am totally not selling you on this.  Some Korean lady in her undergarments on my back as I lay there naked.  But all I can say is that it wasn’t weird!  I don’t know why!  She didn’t stay on my back, just long enough to dig her elbows into my muscles.  At the end of the treatment she washed my hair for me, how great is that!  In the masseuse’s defense, they wear next to nothing because the massage rooms are quite warm like the rest of the facility and she was pouring water and washing hair and I guess it just made sense.  My friend, who went to a different one said she had the same experience, so maybe that’s just what they do in Korea.  I don’t know.  I was going to say I’ve never been.  But that isn’t true.  I have been to Korea, but I have never been to a Korean health spa, until now!


So, tell me, what would you do?  Leave a comment, let’s hear it!

Mr. Just Right


I am married to the most wonderful man.  Really, I am.  He is totally  attractive on the inside and the outside (he still has a six pack even though I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do a sit-up. Makes you sick, doesn’t it? Sorry B, for embarrassing you ;)).  I remember when I first laid eyes on him (in the summer of 1998), I thought, that guy is really cute.  I came to think a lot of guys were cute in my first weeks of college.  Yeah, I even started my “Hot Guy List”.  Probably a bit boy crazy.  Anyway, Brian was on the list and made it to #1!  Some guys got less cute as I got to know them, but not Brian, he was on the list before I really knew him, but then he just seemed to get cuter and cuter so much so that I ditched the list!  I was going to call this entry “Mr. Perfect”.  It seemed fitting with the name of my blog and all, but he’s not perfect, he is, however, just right.  He tells me that I am the best mom and the best wife.  And yet, I know that other men out there think their wife is the best.  And I look around and think that I am the one who scored big time!  Yet my friends seem completely happy with their choices, so I have come to think that I am just right for him and he is just right for me.  We are big time nerds with splash of hippy mixed in there as well.  We love traveling in our VW van, no it is not from the 70’s.  I don’t think I would be able to handle a 30+ year old vehicle being that we only have one car.  I make my own deodorant, and am considering homeschooling.  That’s the hippy part.  As for the nerd part, we don’t have a T.V. (not sure if that is hippyish or nerdy), but anyway, when we want to sit and watch a show together, our go to program on our lap top is 60 Minutes.  We get excited about good deals, go to museums for fun and we sometimes pretend that our kitchen is a diner and we are the cook and waiter when we serve our kids a meal.  And that is why he is just right for me.

oh happy day

On Thursday, we will celebrate 9 years of marriage.  I really feel too young to say that, but it’s true.  And Brian has made the past 9 years fairly easy.  We haven’t had many rocky patches, but not to say that we won’t.  I really believe that a marriage is about giving your all to someone else without any expectation of what you want in return.  I have a hard time getting all the laundry put away at once, and I don’t wash dishes while dinner is still cooking like Brian does.  But Brian doesn’t hold that against me.  Instead, he usually offers to do dishes after dinner because he knows it is my least favorite chore.  He does it because he loves me, not because he loves washing dishes.  And I often find myself going to bed at 9:30, not because I am tired, but because Brian’s tired and doesn’t want to go to bed alone.  It’s what works for us.

We attended a marriage conference last year and this year and one thing that has been crucial in my relationships (not just marriage) is the idea that you can’t change someone.  Maybe I am going off topic now from praising my Mr. Just Right, but this little nugget of information has been so helpful to know and realize in our marriage.  This year, Gary Chapman (the author of The 5 Love Languages) said, “somethings cannot and will not change”.  I think that is so important to recognize because often times we want people to be more like us, to do things the way we do things, because they work for us.  You can get mad, you can get angry, you can even divorce, or you can just accept that that is who they are and remember why you married them.  Mostly likely, they have always had the same annoying quirks, but you were just so in love you were focused on all their good qualities.  Last year, the speaker, Roger Tirabossi, talked about personalities and basically Brian and I were similar in one area and totally opposite in another.  Roger said, “people who are outgoing tend to misplace things”.  Hello!  That’s me!  Over here!  I am looking for my keys, phone or wallet every time I leave the house.  But guess what?  People with outgoing personalities also have positive characteristics too.  He said, memorize at least 3 of their good qualities (he gave us a list of typical characteristics) and praise them on those things and also be aware of their weaknesses and don’t try to change them.  Why not?  Because “somethings cannot and will not change!”  I would start to become resentful if Brian told me every time I was looking for my house keys, “you know, if you just hung your keys on the hook every time you walked in the door like do we wouldn’t be doing this right now.”  But no he doesn’t do that.  He is calm and helps me look for them and doesn’t make a big deal out of it if I just grab his keys.  And I, (just to make things fair), I have accepted that I am a lucky woman because I have a husband who washes clothes.  I have to also accept, however, that if I am going to welcome the help of washing clothes, that I cannot get upset that multiple items of white clothing have turned pink and that towels may get washed with the girls’ new dresses.  That is how he has done it for the last 9 years, and I am sure that is how he will continue to do laundry for the next 9.

And so, Mi Amor, Goodies, Mr. Just Right, happy anniversary!  To the man who got equally excited as me about dumpster diving after seeing the movie Dive, who makes his own shin guards for his soccer game out of a yogurt container, cardboard, and string (see what I mean by nerdy), who takes the bus to work with some really interesting fellows sometimes.  And lastly, to the man who would rather spend time with me and our beautiful daughters more than anything else in the world.  I love you!

After getting kicked out of his soccer game for not having shin guards, Brian came home and made these. No money in the budget for shin guards, and so the next time the ref wants him to pull down his socks to see if he is wearing shin guards, Brian will get to flash him these bad boys!  This is why I think he’s pretty amazing, I mean, seriously, who does this?