About My Wife’s Season Ending Waterski Injury

I was putting the final miles on a perfectly fine bike ride when my cell phone rang. It was my mother-in-law. I was about to joke that she was my second cell phone caller ever, but she cut me off saying, “Your wife is injured… we think she has a dislocated hip.”

Nikole with water ski and dislocated hip

Nikole reports that during the trauma, she wore a slightly different expression. I wouldn’t know — I wasn’t there for most of it.

She was out water skiing with the neighbors when she made a cut across the wake – a move she has made a thousand times before. Something went awry and her right foot came off the ski. She crashed and the ski dug into the water and arrested the motion of her left leg, while her body kept moving into a somersault and (graphic content alert) the ball of her left femur was DISLOCATED.

The boat circled around and she said, “There’s something really wrong with my leg.” She slithered up onto the back deck of the boat, while everyone speculated on how they might get her back to shore. They ended up lifting her into the boat and made for land.

The boat drove up to the dock at Zellmanns’ cabin and Nikole’s father, Roger, carried her up the fifteen steps to the cabin. After a short triage, the neighbor carried her the rest of the way to the car. (Notice how I narrowly missed all the carrying? I seem to be very adept at being scarce when work is being performed.)

Roger obeyed some, but not every law governing the use of motor vehicles on Minnesota highways as he drove Nikole and her mom to the hospital in Perham, Minnesota. (Helen, who is going to be a great mother herself someday, was left at home to take care of the kids. Oh, and I was still out enjoying a leisurely bike tour in the country.)

When I finally got home, got presentable, and got to the hospital, I learned that I would be driving to Fargo… North Dakota. My wife did indeed have a dislocated hip, and she needed to see an orthopedist in North Dakota. Isn’t North Dakota like a different state? Yes, it is. But apparently it is only an hour and a half away from here.

As I drove highway 10 to North Dakota (observing Minnesota traffic laws like the boring, careful man I am), Nikole was flying over my head in a helicopter. My wife… stay-at-home mom… baker of bread… wiper of noses… becomes the most exciting ER patient of the day, and the recipient of a ride in a flying ambulance. I am very proud of her.

In Fargo, I stood in the waiting room because they would not let me go in to see her right away. I thought, shouldn’t someone offer me a warm blanket and a cup of coffee? What kind of hospital is this when nervous husbands are just left out in the cold? But no! Like most hospitals, all they care about are the patients.

When I did get in to see her, she was all better! She said, “Look! My leg is straight!” They had mildly knocked her out and, according to the doctor, gave her leg a pull and a nudge and “pop” it went back into place.  The doctor also mentioned that it wasn’t actually him who popped it back in, but it was the 17-year-old kid who we thought was an orderly but who was actually a med student. Then he said, “This kind of injury is very rare in someone your age. We see it all the time with people who have artificial hips. But we never see it in someone your age.” Again, Mrs. Average Mom is actually Mrs. Extraordinary, today.

A CT scan showed that none of the hard tissue was damaged in the crash. After the scan, my wife practically hopped out of bed and pranced down the hall to prove that she was worthy of being discharged. After buying some very strong pain reliever at the pharmacy, we burned rubber (in my father-in-law’s van) to get out of North Dakota.

I must say, my wife was not very good company on the way home. She dozed most of the way. I just don’t understand why she did not want to talk to me about her hopes, dreams and ambitions. But alas, I comforted myself with coffee and National Public Radio.

When we got home there was a great reunion with much hugging and shedding of happy tears. Every daughter ran at her mother with open arms as if they were going to tackle her, and every child had to be preemptively tackled herself to prevent further injury to her mother. (I could not tackle Helen and Claire, our Olympic swimmers… they got more of a hockey style hip check to deflect them from flattening their mother.)

So, it was sort of a bad day. But then again, for a trip to the ER, all the pieces fell into place very well. And the issue was resolved relatively quickly. We were home for supper. And nothing is broken, AND SHE’S, LIKE, WALKING AROUND AND STUFF! For a day in the Emergency Room, this one turned out great.

We are all super happy to have her home, and we are praising God that it all turned out so well. And we are hanging up the water skis for the season (frowny face)

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Enhanced Christmas Letter 2013

More Amazing Than Amazing

This year we were very successful in our attempt to not do anything noteworthy.

Let’s start with news about the most important person in the family—me. When Nikole said, “Let’s take the family photo today.” I made sure everyone wore earth tones while I wore the brightest orange shirt I could find. Actually, I wore that shirt so I might avoid being struck by a car on our annual family bike ride to celebrate Dad’s 39th birthday. I am still an instructor of graphic design at the technical college in town. The school pays me wheelbarrows full of money to teach young people to design advertisements that convince people to spend wheelbarrows full of money. I rode my bike a lot more last summer. I never got fast. I spent a lot of time being noticeably slower than my peers and those much older than me. Every Sunday I made my kids do the 10-mile ride home from church. I crushed them with my middle-aged speed, because they are the only people I can crush anymore.

Nikole with bagage

Nikole returns from from another pre-sunrise, epic run in the frigid north.

Nikole is amazing. She does everything. If I told you all she does, it would make you throw up. But don’t worry, because she would clean it up with one hand while she made my breakfast with the other hand, all the while maintaining safe food handling techniques. Actually, she never makes my breakfast. She crawls out of bed every morning at 5A.M. to meet her buddies and train for 5K runs and half marathons and such. When I am walking out the door to ride my bike to work, she is bustling in carrying a couple gallons of milk and some bananas. Before her coat hits the floor, she is cooking malt-o-meal and getting the kids ready for home school. That is about all she does. She maintains a high level of fitness, teaches home school and cooks meals for her family. I think the busyness might drive her crazy, but I wonder if the knowledge that she is stronger than all those cry baby professional football players you see on TV helps her to cope. Or is it a miraculous peace from God that keeps her from snapping and backing over her family with a full size van?

Helen hugging Lydia

Helen gives some attention to The Great Ignored One.

Helen is 14 years old and is in her first year of home school high school. She takes care of my chickens and my parakeet. She takes care of her younger siblings. She devotes the rest of her time to her on-line history and French classes. She neglects all her other classes and can no longer read, spell or do simple addition. But, she is really cute. She swims, plays the piano and draws beautiful arrangements of fruit and glassware. She recently won the Winter Rec Fest button design contest, for which she will receive a full ride scholarship to the University of Minnesota–Bemidji (or maybe it was $25 — I cannot remember which).

Helens Rebuttal:

“Don’t believe anything my father says. I am the perfect child. I never scream at my younger siblings. And they never scream at each other over important things like rubber dresses for three inch dolls.”

Claire Black fake black eye

Claire gets smacked. Actually, Claire enjoys using Crayola markers to make herself appear to have been smacked. Then she lurks around the yard with a bow in her hand pretending to be in the Hunger Games.

Claire is 12 years old. Claire hates everything except Katniss Everdeen. (A little culture check for you there. Katniss is a book character who can shoot an arrow through the eye of a squirrel from 30 yards away.) Claire has dropped out of home school and devotes her time to reading fictional books about young people with super powers. She swims with the YMCA team seven or eight times a week. She is shooting for the 2016 Olympics. She wishes there were an Olympic event in which the competitors swim fast then pull out their bows and shoot unsuspecting spectators off the side of the pool. When Claire is not swimming or breaking laws governing the use of weapons in city limits, she is drawing pictures of young people with super powers and very long, skinny legs.

Claire’s Rebuttal

“Dad, that’s not true! I don’t lurk around the yard pretending to be in the Hunger Games after drawing on myself with markers. I just like making tattoos. And my drawings are getting better — the legs aren’t so skinny. And they’re not all about people with super powers. I do do all my school work. [Claire, tell us what you do instead of just negating everything I wrote in the letter.] Well I… I… I guess I do just sit on the couch and read about people with super powers.”


Edward Bethany and Ruthie on ice

Hey kids, why don’t you go out and play on the frozen creek bed. Don’t worry, the ice is probably thick enough.

Ten-year-old Edward is a boy. But not the kind of boy who pounds nails into the back door, gets in fights, and jumps off the garage roof. He is the kind of boy who talks about his feelings and snuggles up on the couch reading fictional books about young people with super powers. He wages complex psychological warfare on his younger sisters. Edward ran his first 5k this year. He also swims and plays the piano.

Edward’s Rebuttal

“I think I am a little needing to pound a nail into something sometime.”

Ruthie with doll heads

Hanging Barbies by their chins… No, that’s not a disturbing image. Ruthie is completely normal.

Ruthie (seven years old) is going to rule the world someday. I am warning you now. She is intelligent and successful at whatever she does. (If she is not immediately successful at a thing, she slowly melts into a sobbing gelatinous mass so annoying that her trainer vows never to broach the offending subject again.) Everything good in the house belongs to her. If a sibling owns anything desirable, she will convince him or her to relinquish ownership sort of like how Jacob took the birthright from Esau. I will not be surprised when one day she convinces the president to hand over the reins of leadership and then convinces congress to do away with those pesky elections. I can’t wait to hang out with her in the white house. Ruthie swims and plays the piano. She draws mermaids.

Ruthie’s Rebuttal

“I really actually play with my little sister and I’m not as mean as my dad says. And I’m not going to rule the world like my Dad says. I’m going to grow up and I’m going to be a nurse like my mom.”

Bethany smiling

Bethany oozing sweetness like a recently stepped on cinnamon roll.

Five-year-old Bethany is pure and kind. (I expect that when Ruthie rises to power, she will have Bethany put in an iron mask and exiled to the island of Patmos because of the annoying contrast caused by Bethany’s beautiful character.) Bethany smiles from the time she wakes until she goes to sleep. Bethany will melt into a sobbing gelatinous mass if someone leaves the house without giving her a meaningful goodbye hug. Bethany can swim across the YMCA pool without touching once. Bethany can read, but would rather be read to. She draws detailed copies of her older sister’s mermaid drawings.

Bethany’s Rebuttal

“No I don’t really copy her. I just draw mermaids. I would like them to know that I can read. Well, some people might know that.”

Lydia in hat

The child who defies description mostly because we don’t really notice her… except when she wears a cute hat.

Three-year-old Lydia is the great ignored one. She mostly walks around the house clutching a blanket, sucking her thumb and observing the chaos. She is excellent at whispering tales of intrigue as she manipulates a couple of Ruthie’s cast-off Barbie dolls. She sits quietly in the laps of older siblings and watches them figuring algebra problems. On rare occasions she may demand someone read her a book. Lydia does not draw, swim or play the piano. Lydia enjoys being held and going on bike rides and car trips.


Lydia: “I like to draw and color.”

Nikole: “I would say she’s not ignored. She’s so stinking cute, we are always picking her up and covering her in kisses and tickles.”

Our parakeet is a talented singer. Our chickens are in their winter doldrums, not producing any eggs but still consuming food. I still don’t have a dog.

In truth, the Lord has blessed us this year. We aren’t making headlines with our wild success, but we aren’t under a lot of stress either. We hope you are blessed with health and prosperity this year.

Happy Christmas from the Hales.

Posted in Kid quotes, News updates, Stuff about kids | 2 Comments

Barbie Heaven

I came into the living room and saw Barbie dolls, each of them propped up between several beanie babies, lined up as if in a parade. I asked Ruthie, “What is that?”

She replied, “This is Barbie Heaven, and they are all going to Barbie Heaven.”

Barbie Procession

There was a mysterious procession of Barbies and small plush animals on the living room floor.

Below, God, wearing yellow high heels, greets the devoted at the steps into Heaven.

Barbie raising hand

Barbie raises her hand as she takes in the glorious streets of gold.

When God looks down and sees Himself depicted as a California Raisin in a child’s diorama, does he smile?

Ruthie and the Barbie procession

The author of creation, Ruthie, looks down on all she has made and sees it is good.

Posted in Stuff about kids | 4 Comments

Summer Art Lessons, Entry 1

This last home school year I made big plans to teach art to the kids. We did not get to it very often. We are going to try to get in some art this summer.

I saw a beautiful piece of art on pinterest done, I think, by a first grader. It was painted strips of paper weaved together and mounted on black paper. You can see it here: http://www.artsonia.com/museum/art.asp?id=19209153. Inspired by that artwork, students in the Edward Hale Art Institute made the following works of art.

Artwork by Bethany

Weaved painted strips by Bethany Jane Hale

Artwork by Ruthie

Weaved painted strips by Ruthie Nikole Hale

Artwork by Nikole

This shows Edward’s weaved painted strips. Since he has a broken arm the strips were painted and weaved by Nikole without any input from Edward.

Artwork by Claire

Weaved painted strips by Claire Hale

Artwork by Helen

Weaved painted strips by Helen Hale

There you go… Day one of classes at the Edward Hale Art Institute is complete. I wanted to change the name of the institute to The Edward Hale Academy for Young Endurance Athletes, but my students were not receptive.

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How Nikole Dominated the Row Ride Run

Ed and Nikole paddling

Finishing the paddling in our borrowed super canoe. Try not to notice that I am not keeping up with Nikole’s race pace paddling

Nikole’s journey to the Row Ride Run podium began with a visit to master paddler, Judson Steinbeck. He loaned us a Wee-no-na canoe and paddles worth more than our minivan. He gave us instructions and pushed us away from his dock for a practice paddle on the backwaters of the Mississippi. We almost did not return – not because we were having fun, but because we could not steer. As we endeavored to return to his dock, I think I saw the St. Louis Arch in the distance. On race day, we switched and I paddled and steered from the stern while Nikole sat in the bow playing the part of the motor. We stayed on course a little better on race day. Our canoe was the fifth out of the water. Nikole was the first woman out of the water.

Ed getting on bike

Your author demonstrating advanced triathlon bike mounting

Nikole and I employed different techniques when we transitioned from canoe to bike. She slipped under the rope supporting the bikes, put her helmet on, and jumped on her bike. She was already wearing mountain bike shoes that clipped into her clipless pedals. I stepped over the rope, tripped and laid myself out in the grass, just to give other competitors a false sense of security. Above, you can see me mounting the bike like the pro triathletes with my fancy road shoes already clipped into my pedals. As I fumbled to get my feet into my shoes I only rode off the bike trail once into the soft wet grass and came to an almost complete stop. It took me two miles to catch up with my wife already far out on the bike course.

Ed and Nikole finishing the bike ride

No Ed! Don’t look at the photographer! Lame.

I entered the bike-run transition area five seconds in front of Nikole. She still got out on the running course before me. I chose not to trip and fall in the bike-run transition area.

Ed and Nikole finishing the run

Powering up the final climb to the finish line. (That doesn’t look like powering)

I finished the run portion of the race one second in front of Nikole. She tried for five kilometers to drop me, but I held on and was able to eek out a tiny sprint at the end. But I was disqualified for having the most hideous running wardrobe on the course.  How could they not like cycling shorts and black, wool socks?

First Place Female

I had known that Nikole had the stuff to win the Row Ride Run, but she would not let me express my opinion lest she succumb to race nerves too soon. She would not even acknowledge other female competitors the morning of the race for fear she might go into psych-out mode. But she was forced to acknowledge reality when she crossed the finish line minutes in front of the next female racer.

Below are more photos from race day.

Laurie finishing the run

My sister, Laurie, took first place in the Saint Mary’s Business Office Employee Catagory


Claire, Bethany, Nikole, Ed and Ruthie

Nikole in the winner’s circle with some adoring fans.

Lydia with broken arm

A cute little girl with a broken arm

Nikole, Edward, Claire and Helen

I looked and thought, “Three teenagers talking together… Wait! One of them is my wife!”

Lydia stealing flags

Nikole actually owes her victory to Lydia who moved many of the course markings sending several women way off course.

Marilyn and Claire

Isn’t the brooding teenager supposed to be the one texting? Can’t you just imagine Marilyn texting “I’m stuck at this race and its like so boring!”

Roger, Steve and Maddie

More of our support crew: Roger in charge of canoe security, Steve in charge of transition smoothness, and Maddie in charge of pooping in embarrassing locations.

The Row Ride Run was a super fun time, and we were very blessed to have Roger and Marilyn, Josh and Mackensie Hale, Steve Haase and all our kids to help us. And thanks to Laurie and Steve for throwing the best pre-race carbo feed and slumber party ever. It would not have been half as fun without all that help.

Posted in Neat photos, News updates, Stuff about cycling | 9 Comments

Ruthie Turns Seven

Ruthie with birthday sign

Ruthie poses by the traditional birthday sign

We celebrated Ruthie’s birthday today, with breakfast in bed, ice skating, gymnastics and chocolate cake. Nikole always makes a beautiful birthday sign to greet the kids when they come downstairs on the morning of their birthday. I am a little jealous of her lettering skills and her ability to choose colors. She is a skilled graphic designer.

Editor’s note: I sent the camera along with the ice skaters with instructions, “Make sure Mom takes some pictures of Ruthie and her friends skating!” The camera and the instructions were delivered, but the order was not carried out. You are probably wondering why I stay married to a wife who often defies my orders? Look at the cake below… that is part of the reason.

Ruthie with cake

The big seven-year-old aglow in the presence of chocolate.

Bethany, Charlotte and Ruthie

Three sweet chicks. (Note to potential suitors: the sweetness rises as you move to the left. You didn’t hear that from me).

Ruthie and Mom work on the cake with Lydia in the way

Nothing increases productivity like having a two-year-old between your hands.

There is the amazing woman, making chocolate cakes and raising the next generation of professional cyclists.

Posted in News updates, Stuff about kids | 2 Comments

The Era of Braces Has Begun

Helen showing braces on her teeth

Helen sporting her new tooth hardware.

Ug, my oldest kid just got braces. I suppose I better plan on all of them needing braces. I don’t even mind the price. I sort of figured I would be purchasing some braces when I decided to have kids. But something about being like everyone else bugs me. I own a little, old house. I own two cars. And now I have kids in braces. Just like everyone else. I think it might propel me into a mid-life crisis. I’m going to buy a really cool fixed gear bicycle, grow my hair out and get dreadlocks.

Posted in News updates, Stuff about kids | 3 Comments

Thanksgiving on the Hale Farm

Your author strolling with chickens

Your author and his adoring chickens take a turn around the estate on Thanksgiving morning.

I had a great Thanksgiving, not just because of the huge meal and fun desserts. No my favorite part (sorry to house guests and wife who prepared the big meal) was in the early morning when I went out to check on my chickens.

It was such a beautiful morning, I did not have to run right back inside to escape the cold. Instead I ran back inside and got my Bible. I went outside to my little farmyard and let my chickens out of the coop to forage around the yard before I fed them breakfast proper.

Don’t I paint a romantic picture — young farmer clad in a sweater walking to and fro in his yard reading aloud from Psalms? And all the while his chickens peck at the ground contentedly around his feet. Inside the house, the farmer’s wife bakes bread for the holiday meal later that day.

I only wish the chickens pecked contentedly at my feet because they loved me and wanted to spend time with me. The truth is they only care about me as the provider of chicken food. They stay close hoping I might magically produce the white food bucket and rain chicken food down on their heads. Mindless beasts! (But still sort of fun.)

Oh yeah, the meal was pretty amazing too. Thanks, Nikole.

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A Parakeet Near Miss

your author with a parakeet on his back

Recently, I walked out of the house with our parakeet, Mr. Misty Freeze, on my shoulder. Inside the house, the bird had been on my shoulder for much of the day and I had forgotten she was there. When the little kids experienced some kind of chicken feeding emergency in the back yard, I walked right out of the house to help them. I bent over the feeder and felt something hop across my back. I looked at Ruthie and asked, “Is there a bird on my back?” Ruthies eyes grew huge and she looked close to panic as she said, “It’s Misty!” I said, “It’s okay. She can’t fly.”

Lies! What I really meant was, “I hope she does not try to fly, catch some freak of nature gust and sail a hundred feet up in the air and glide half a mile away.”

I straightened up and the bird climbed back onto my shoulder. I walked calmly back into the house all the way distracting the bird by telling her how pretty she was. She never showed any sign of taking flight.

I am very glad we clip her wings.

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The Chicken Adventure Begins

I met the coop completion deadline with only minutes to spare. Then we were off to the farm to pick up the chickens. Below are some photos of the experience.

Claire Edward on horse

I came to the farm to get chickens, but the kids wanted to waste time riding horses. Seriously? You would pick a horse ride over catching chickens?

Helen Lydia on horse

Everyone gets a turn on the horse. Here, experienced rodeo star, Helen, gives a ride to an aspiring buckaroo.

My new boots

While I waited for everyone to have the complete farm experience, I took my new farmer boots for a tour of the pasture.

Finally, it is time to acquire the chickens. Below you will see how my peeps do it:

Edward, Steven and dog

After the stress of catching chickens, it is nice to relax with a small, furry rodent... I mean dog.

Now it’s time to go home to our own little farm and show the chickens their new place.

kids looking at chickens

Once the chickens were installed, the coop became a very popular attraction for the kids.


If you look closely at the photo above you can almost discern the absence of chicken wire on the top of the chicken run. “Chickens cannot fly that high” I told all who questioned my coop design. A few hours after the hens arrived, we were out there herding two escapees back into the coop. Then we were donning headlights to staple chicken wire over the top of the chicken run in the moonlight.


I am such a doting father. The first night I had to pick up the hens and put them in the hen house. Then I reached through the chicken door and lifted two of them onto the roost poles. The other ladies then figured it out and flew onto the roost poles themselves.

kids looking at chickens

Even a few days later, the chickens are a fun attraction. I have to keep reminding the kids that they have to wear shoes if they are going in the coop.

The second night I had to lift most of the ladies into the hen house, but they were able to get up on the roosts by themselves. The third night, they were able to do the whole maneuver with no help from Ed. (Kind of makes a farmer feel unneeded.)

helen with egg

And finally after days of waiting, the chickens start doing what they came for.


I realized, after posting this, that I did not have any photos of the new residents. Below are two photos showing the ladies of the coop:

Buff orpington chicken

We got three buff orpingtons and two silver laced wyandottes. The buff in the foreground is named Bertha.

a silver laced wyandotte chicken

This is Edward's silver laced wyandotte. We are pretty sure she is the first to lay an egg, and Edward is pretty sure she is the smartest chicken ever.

There you have it. The chickens have arrived and are learning the ropes around Harlingen Square. After a week, the ladies have only produced enough eggs for a four-egg omelet. But we will keep them.

Bethany feeding chickens

Just killin' time, feeding herbs to my chicken...

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