Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Anniversary Trip

I previously wrote about our ten year anniversary and how we didn't do much for it because it was over the 4th of July long weekend.  Justin had been planning a late celebration all along.  Over the weekend we ventured into Minnesota kid free for a surprise trip.  Well, the surprise was for me.  He planned it.  I didn't know where we were going until right before we got there.  We went to Mille Lacs, MN, the location of the Grand Casino which anyone has seen advertised if they watch MN Twins baseball.  There, we saw Clint Black, the 90's country staple, in concert. 

To get there we ventured through Paul Bunyan country. Well, part of it.  Several areas in MN claim him.  I guess the whole state claims him.  We stopped at the entrance to this fun amusement park. 


Only Babe the Blue Ox was featured outside.  I'm sure the big Paul was inside for admission paying guests!  When we arrived at the casino we spent the afternoon playing the slots and black jack.  I haven't been to a casino outside of Las Vegas for a long time and I forget that there is absolutely nothing to do at regular casinos besides gamble.  They really don't want you doing anything else and there is not even a place to sit unless it is in front of a slot machine or table.  But it's OK every once and awhile. 

The big event of the night at this casino was the Friday seafood night at the buffet.  We waited almost an hour for our number to be called because it was completely packed.  But once we were inside...the crab legs were flying.  I've really never seen anything like it.  I'm not a person who chooses seafood (Justin is) but I enjoyed it still.  There was some good coconut shrimp. 

Finally it was time for Clint Black.  I didn't mention before but this is a dry casino on a dry reservation so there was no alcohol for anyone including the entertainers.  Combine that with the general age demographics of people who go to casinos and you can imagine it was a pretty low key concert.  This was OK with me.  Being pregnant, I really didn't feel like standing and cheering and dancing for two hours so it was nice.  Also...everyone was REALLY stuffed with crab legs.

If you have spent any time listening to country radio you know Clint Black songs.  Some popular ones include "Like the Rain", "When My Ship Comes In", "A Better Man" and "Something That We Do" which I have piano music for somewhere!


I tried but couldn't get a good picture of the intro screens. 

Typical concert photo...they never turn out very good. 

He's still a natural entertainer after all these years and he switched between guitar and banjo and played harmonica at the same time on several songs.  He never took a break from singing the whole time and when the rest of the band left the stage for about twenty minutes he stayed on sang.  He's also quite funny and he had clever things to talk about between every song.  The backup singer, bass player and drummer have been playing with him for thirty years. 

We headed back to get the kids at the lake on Saturday afternoon and we stopped in Detroit Lakes to eat at Zorbaz.  They were having a big beach festival and a farmers market and it was already a good lake day so it was packed.  The place was full of kids acting crazy and we got to sit back and not worry about any of them.  It was awesome. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

4th of July

Now that it is the 11th of July, I better go back to the 4th before I forget, right?  It has already been a week since the 4th.  It really throws a person off when Tuesday feels like Sunday and the weekend arrives again two days later.  For carefree people only responsible for themselves this would be awesome.  For me it was rather exhausting but now we're all back on track. 

So, the long weekend started at the lake.  We (I say "we" loosely, because I didn't really do anything except bring some food) celebrated Justin's mom's retirement and his step-dad's 60th birthday.  We (my sister-in-law) printed a banner to greet them when they arrived and there were decorations and fun activities for the kids (everyone).  It has been steamy blast furnace hot since the 4th so I can barely remember how it felt, but the Saturday we planned to celebrate was actually pretty cold and the temperature barely hovered above 70 degrees and it was cloudy all day.  The lake residents had a boat parade with boats all festooned with patriotic decorations. 



Our boat piled with children.


A very nicely decorated boat belonging to some people we don't know but it looked really cool. 


I nice photo of some of the boats in the lineup.


Here Ben is, attempting to whack the piñata.  And...I just noticed...a dogs nether regions.  Hehehe...


Tessa taking a swing.  Notice she is wearing fuzzy leopard print slippers.  She picks out such crazy things to wear that I have given up.  I think I did a post about her starting to dress herself last winter and I think I need a summer update.  I have a camera roll full of examples of her crazy ensembles.  Mostly they involve a dress as a base and then shirts, skirts, winter scarves and jewelry layered over it.  It is slightly annoying to me because I collected some very cute shorts and shirt combos over a year of clearance rack shopping and she rarely wears any of it that isn't a dress but it's not worth the daily fight and she just sneaks off and changes anyway. 


Here are the cousins minus the oldest one which I just noticed now.  The piñata had star points that make perfect hats. 

Since the 4th was on a Tuesday night, the big fireworks displays were on Saturday night.  My sister-in-law brought a big pack of glow sticks which of course was right up Tessa's alley. 



Ben was wearing "earrings" which looked really weird.  Sharing this picture because I love the dog wearing a glow stick collar. 


On Sunday the sun was finally shining.  All the kids enjoyed the floaty island all weekend which, ahem, was my anniversary present last year.  Glad someone enjoyed it since I spent 90% of Milos waking hours chasing him.  He is in the dreaded phase...dock running.  He only wants to run up and down the dock.  Next year will be easier.  Then the year after that will be bad again.  Then...in 2020 I might finally be able to relax by the water!

On Sunday afternoon we went to the farm.  Justin's cousin and uncle were coming to load the garage they are moving onto their trailer.  When we arrived it was parked on the other side of the yard and it looked really weird.  By the way, the journey has been made and it took over five hours to drive 70 miles, but the garage is successfully moved!

My mom ordered this bouncy-house style kids pool for the kids.  I hardly dare to waste money on inflatable pools but this one has an air pump and is made of bouncy house material not the usual vinyl material.  Of course, Ben immediately started using not as directed by diving head first down the climbing wall. 

The kids had fun once they became accustomed to the cold hose water. 


Milo liked the little basketball hoop. 

The box said the weight limit was 350 lbs total so it easily held all the kids. There were nine there on the 4th but they were never all in there at the same time.  However, the inevitable did happen...


Yep, Grandpa on the slide...


It said 350 TOTAL so plenty of pounds to spare!  My sister tried it too.  I wasn't feeling like submerging myself in hose water. 

Ben did his first kid's tractor pull after the parade on the morning of the 4th.  His performance was underwhelming but at least he didn't get last place!  He was first to go for his age group because of the alphabetical order of names.  He felt bad when he watched the other kids pedal a lot farther than he did.  He was already practicing for next year when we got back to the farm.  He doesn't have a lot of biking opportunities since we live on top of a steep hill.  He really needs to practice.

Justin and I attended the demo derby the afternoon of the 4th.  It was, as usual, hot although there was some cloud cover as the afternoon went on. 


Ben went with us and he even helped my dad and the other guys sell shirts around the ring for awhile. 



He is standing in the grey shirt to the left of my dad in the orange shirt.  There was a long intermission because the ambulance had to leave on a rescue call so the cars couldn't drive until another one showed up and he got bored so my dad dropped him off back at the farm so he could swim.  I got bored too because long breaks like that are good for one thing at this type of event...and it is something that I can't do because I'm pregnant.  Wah Waaaaaah. 

Every few years this production ends up in the newspaper and this was one of those years!  It was a short little story but I found us in the pictures!



You can see my straw hat under the two guys sitting up on the cab of the pickup.  If you are up for some fascinating reading, here is the link.

http://www.grandforksherald.com/news/4292866-smashing-time

Now we are resuming our normal routine.  The kids are in a two week swimming lessons session and it is really really hot and dry here and there have been grassfires burning every day.  It's becoming a true Western (although we are actually in Central) ND summer here. 


Saturday, July 8, 2017

10th Anniversary

Well, the Fiestaware dishes in the cupboards have been there for ten years.  The turquoise and yellow towels in the bathroom have been washed and folded for ten years.  The measuring cups and spoons have been used long enough that the measurements have rubbed off and I just know which ones are which.  The piles of dishtowels I received as shower gifts has barely dwindled.  As of June 30th, we have been married for ten years.  I almost forgot to post about it!  Whaaaat?

Who knows if the wedding dress fits anymore.  If you read my last post, you know that now is not the time to try it on!  Here is a little trip down memory lane...or aisle...




We didn't do anything special to celebrate the day since it was Friday and we were heading out for the 4th of July festivities that day.  The traditional anniversary gift for the 10th is aluminum or tin.  Yeah...OK...

Leave it to Pinterest to have abundant ideas for this anniversary:

10th anniversary gift 10th wedding anniversary gift by TimeForGift



 Wedding / Anniversary / Engagement License Plate by designturnpike, $119.00

This one even has Justin on it already!

Thoughtful DIY Gift Ideas for Your Tin Anniversary

DIY tin can lanterns                                                       …

Cute...but these look like something we would have made with a hammer and a nail in Girl Scouts to earn the badge for using tools.

Of course, I couldn't even have imagined pulling a thoughtful gift like any of these together.  I've been too busy pouring bleach into our white porcelain kitchen sink and wiping the bathroom counters five times each day and actually putting away laundry.  Justin, however, had a nice surprise for me which did not involve Etsy or any metal cutting tools...


Blue stones are so "me".  Also is that dust on that dresser?  That better not be dust!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Big News

Any regular reader might have noticed that my posts are few and far between this summer.  There is a good reason for this.  We have had our house on the market since the end of April.  This means that my usual afternoon naptime hours where I work on the computer, fit in any semblance of a hobby, possibly watch a TV show of my choice that isn't animated or about Gold Mining or fishing in Alaska and do chores has now been replaced with all chores and cleaning all the time.  It's truly all I have time for these days.  And even with this effort, every time a showing is scheduled the house still looks horrible.  After just one day of slacking the house looks like a bomb went off and it takes a whole day of cleaning and vacuuming to recover.  I can't stay on top of it and it's really wearing me down.  So that's what's been going on here.  Please be patient with me...I don't want to quit.

Also, there is something else...


Here are the three kids on the 4th of July...with a 4th chair next to them...yes, it means just what it looks like.  Another baby is coming.  Yes, we are officially crossing the line into the modern day socially unacceptable family size!  We're happy and the kids are excited.  The baby is coming in December and it feels like an eternity to wait.  At least for the pregnant one in the family!  I guess that Old Navy flag shirt Milo is wearing that has the year 2011 on it (it was handed down to us for Ben) will see another July in 2019! 

I will do a full 4th of July post (hopefully) on a day when my house isn't strewn with crap I have to clean up.  We had a busy one and I'm still tired from it.  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"I Cutted My Hair!"

I can hardly believe it, but in my five years of having kids none of them has gone on the loose with a pair of scissors and messed anything up...until today.  Today I was in my bathroom trying to put some waterproof mascara on before going to the Y  (yes, I wear eye makeup while exercising.  Blast away.  My eyelashes are white, OK?  Maybe I should stop.  Looking like a 10 year old 34 year old might average out to make me look like I'm in my early 20's!)  When I came out Tessa was at the kitchen table....with a comb...and a children's "safety" scissor.  And there was a pile of hair in front of her.  And she said "I cutted my hair!" with great pride.  Eeeeeek.  She was also wearing about twenty of my hair elastics on her wrist.  I've been wondering where they all went.  I guess they were in the junk drawer of the kids' bathroom. 


Safety scissors my a$$!  I think they cut more than just paper!


OK, so this looks kind of bad but her hair is already short.  We recently had it trimmed to eliminate the mullet that keeps developing as the back grows much faster than the top so now the "even out" plan will take a few steps back.


Girrrrrl, enjoy that natural golden white color while it lasts because the whole hair dye industry is build on people trying to fake that color.

It doesn't look very bad, really. 


The rest of her hair hides the short part and I don't think it's very noticeable. 

Why do kids want to cut their hair? I hear about it happening all the time.  I don't think I ever cut my hair when I was a very young child but in middle school I had the awful 1990's style of a wispy fringe of bangs which I would curl and then I would spray the other half of the banks into a stiff wave above them.  I don't have a picture of it because I didn't scan any because it's too embarrassing and google images isn't producing the more late 90's look I want.  It's all crazy early 90's glamour shots and pictures of DJ Tanner/Candace Cameron from Full House.  The fringe bangs often required a quick trim that wasn't worthy of a trip to the salon so I trimmed my own.  The results were mixed.  My friends did this also and too short and crooked bangs weren't uncommon.  Eh...give it a week...Man that decade was bad for hair.  Every decade was had its regrettable styles but man...the 80's and 90's had the curls and teasing and hairspray and precision bangs.  Those bangs were time consuming and if they weren't working out it would make you feel self conscious all day!  Before that, unless you had shiny, perfect thick hair to pull off the Marcia Brady part down the middle look, you had the feathering and rollers and whatever else was required for that look. I don't even know.  I'm glad I don't live in the 70's because my hair wouldn't work with either of those styles.  I'll own the disheveled, shoulder length wash-n-wear look with pride.  I will say it would be fun to travel back in time to a 1940's or 50's era salon and get a perfectly set pin-curl style.  I wonder what everyone will make fun of about the 2010's?  I thought the 2000's were not too offensive but I do remember a lot of very bold skunk stripey highlights that didn't look natural AT ALL.  Time will tell...it's still too soon to know.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Garage Hits the Road

So, have anyone of you seen a building moved?  I have occasionally seen them rolling down the highway but usually what I see are mobile or manufactured homes.  Moving an existing building is something that has been hard for me to imagine.  Before my childhood house was torn down there was some casual interest in someone moving it and I truly could not imagine the spectacle.  How could such a thing be possible?  A structure that has stood on its foundation for 100+ years?  Well, that didn't happen but this weekend Justin's cousin met us at the farm because he is going to move the old garage of my youth. 


We didn't have an attached garage so, besides farm buildings for tractors and trucks, this was our garage.  We never parked in it unless a hail storm was coming but it was where the lawnmower, our bikes, other toys and plenty of other junk lived.  Our cat and dog food was in there and it was where they took shelter in the winter (see the pet door on the right).  It has been a well maintained and generally functional building and it still in good shape but it is obstructing the new driveway and "fancy" attached garages so they have wanted it gone for awhile and Ryan was interested and said he could move it. 

My parents were gone for the weekend but they cleaned it out and it was ready to move.  It has been around since my dad's childhood.  My grandpa built it out of boards from someone's old barn so the wood is very old.  Before the newer steel buildings came along this was his main shop where he worked on his farm equipment and it still had the chimney from the wood burning stove.  He had a habit of keeping farm related records by writing them on walls (as a young teenager my dad helped convert an old granary into his next shop which now houses my dads water tanks and the walls of that shop are covered with notes). 


These are the oldest on record, dating back to 1962.  You might be shocked to hear this but his mom was a scrapbook keeper so I've seen his old elementary school report cards and he received C's in penmanship. 

Back to the process...there was originally a wide electric door which ended up being damaged during the great ice storm/blizzard of 1997 that preceded the flood of 1997.  The motor was fried due to our generator malfunctioning. After a few years of manually opening that heavy thing my dad replaced it with a single lift door and a regular door for entry so that section of new wall had to be removed so Ryan can reattach it when he places the building on it's new foundation. 


You can see lots of wires but don't worry...the electricity to this building has been cut for awhile. 

It was finally time to start lifting. 


You can kind of see the reddish color left of the old barn in these pictures. 


Now it sits like this until Ryan comes to load it on the trailer.  Seeing it raised is quite fascinating and it seems like the impossible is possible even though I know many more complicated buildings can be moved this way.  It kind of is amazing to me how such an old building can be in such good shape.  I read on a North Dakota history blog that the act of giving a structure a curved roof like this can give it an indefinite life as opposed to flat roofed buildings which rarely stand the test of time.  It helped that my parents kept the shingles in good shape over the years and my brother most recently shingled it with a friend but that was probably 10 years ago.  And that cement is still smooth and even after all these years.  My mom was saying they might connect it to the new driveway if they can get the raised part around the edge off.  There is barely a crack in it. 


All that's holding it up is railroad tie blocks!  Eeek!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Safety Village Grad

I mentioned Ben's Safety Village session a few times recently.  Friday was the last day after two weeks of mornings spent learning about all types of safety.  They had a graduation ceremony and it was actually very impressive.  The women who run the program are very experienced and one of them wrote all the music and played the piano for every song.  The kids didn't just get a graduation certificate.  They had a full concert with little songs and skits with costumes for every topic.  First they filed in and sang their graduation song.  ("We learned about safety, all kinds of safety...") 

Then the fun started.  Ben showed up in one of the first songs as the "R" in the word "germs". 


I thought that was his part but then he also showed up as a firefighter!


That's him at the end with his back to the camera.  It was cute.  They were supposed to keep their songs and parts a secret to surprise us. 


At the end the kids got their diplomas and then they were able to show off their bike safety skills out in the parking lot.


I tried to get a good picture of them.  Tessa was wearing her crazy best including a dress with pajama pants underneath and sparkly dress shoes. 


Milo was pretty good during the show.  It lasted 45 minutes so I was worried and snacks will only last so long.  He actually liked listening to the kids sing. 


Here is Ben and his friend Owen zooming around the bike safety course. 

It was a good two weeks for him.  As I said in a Facebook post last week, I'm glad there is a window of time where kids can remember this important information but don't yet think that a safety themed day camp is really lame and nerdy.  The program reminded me of a mid 1990's elementary school production we did when I was in 3rd or 4th grade that involved a whole score of music about being safe, saying NO to drugs and being a good friend.  It was called "Forever Free" and after searching the old Internets I found it.  It's still available! 

Forever Free (Musical)

It's by Roger Emerson who was a familiar name on music class compositions.  I had to check out the song list and saw a transcript of the title song complete with the spoken lines:

One Student:
"That’s right! We’re a new generation of kids who are doing positive things to keep drugs and alcohol out of our lives. We’re not gonna give in and we’re not gonna give up!"

I can't remember which star student got to say that premier line.  I'm sure many of the parents in the audience were thinking about Steak Night at the local bar that was starting soon after this program wrapped up that night and all the talk about alcohol probably had them impatient.  Also, like I said it was the 90's, a time when half the men (not my dad, lucky for me, even though often nonsmokers just joined to get the fresh air and talk) in the gym stood outside the side door smoking cigarettes during half time of basketball games and certain teachers not so discreetly tried to hide their tobacco habits so there were probably some cravings going on during the "Smoooooking is dumb...smoking is a terrible habit" song. 

It's so weird how some things just stay in your head forever.  I learned this program 25 years ago (approximately since I don't remember what grade I was in exactly) and I still remember the songs and some of the soloists (I wasn't one!).  I also must have had a small speaking part since I would have been part of the older grades (it would have been a K-6 show) but I don't remember it at all.  There aren't any pictures either because parents didn't feel a compulsive urge to document everything we did because there was no social media to share it on so what would have been the point.  School gym show photos never turned out good anyway.  They were always dark and the videos had such poor sound quality you couldn't even understand what was being said. 

Anyway, if you want to know what you should do if a tornado comes or if you come across a gun hidden in someone's attic or if you see a fallen power line you know who to ask. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Thistles of the Field

It's been six weeks since we planted the pumpkin patch.  We haven't visited for a few weeks and before that the weather wasn't great so I had big plans this weekend.  I was going to weed those rows, and weed them good.  Justin has been gone on a trip to Alaska since last Monday (another post for that later) so my dad stepped in and did the cultivating but the rows were up to me. 


This is what I looked upon on Friday night when I arrived. I was planning to start hoeing Saturday morning but it rained in the night so I had to wait for the mud to dry.  The cultivating happened before lunch on Saturday morning.  Just that act made a huge difference, as you can see from the picture below.


But, the hard part was still ahead of me.  My grandma and aunt were visiting on Saturday and we celebrated my nephew's first birthday so I couldn't get any hoeing done.  Around nine p.m. on Saturday my dad headed out to the field with a full tank in the sprayer and I headed out to the patch (because that's what farm people do!).  No one could find the hoe so I took a small garden fork tool.  The fork didn't work nearly as well as a hoe so I pulled weeds my hand until dark. 

On Saturday morning I was ready to go but Milo was acting really strange and whiny.  My weeding hours were slipping away when he sat up straight in my lap and puked all over me.  Yep, that happened.  So, around 10:30 I finally was ready to go to the pumpkin patch.  And still, we couldn't find a hoe.  My dad produced a metal rake which was really old and it shattered into multiple pieces as soon as I took my first hack at a thistle.  So I started weeding by hand again, knowing I wouldn't get nearly enough accomplished and that next time I came the rows would be overcome with weeds up to my knees.  Finally, my mom showed up with the mystery hoe (yes, I do feel strange saying "hoe" so many times...if only it only had one meaning as a garden tool!) and I was able to focus my energy and clear some rows.  It still doesn't look the way I hoped but each pumpkin plant I was able to clear will make a difference.  I can say with certainty that I would like to never see the following again:

Image result for lambs quarter weed

This little plant is a lambsquarter (this is an internet photo not my own).  It looks innocent but oh my word...they grow like crazy and they are everywhere.  You can see them growing but when you kneel down where each one is there are probably twenty little sprouts ready to pop up around larger one.  They grow right up against the pumpkin plants.  Their seeds seem to live forever and I still find them in my planters even though we haven't brought new field soil here from Eastern ND for three years now and I mix in new potting soil every year.  They were by far the most common weed in the patch.  There was also the occasional mustard, which most people don't need to see a picture of because those of us of a certain age who were kids before Roundup ready beans existed probably were given a job of pulling them from a field at some point in their youth.  According to my quick research while looking for a picture they are considered weeds almost everywhere but they are popular for eating in India. 

Then...there was the big one..the demon weed of the pumpkin patch.  Thistle.  These things are so nasty.  I tried to pull a few with gloves and they poked right through.  Even the base of the roots (or should I say singular root, a deep, long taproot that is very hard to pull up) is prickly.  And they grow so huge.  These ones in the picture were almost to my knees.


Apparently, thistles submit to herbicides just as easily as the other weeds although it's hard to imagine that these things and lambsquarters and grasses are on the same level.  None of that matters because pumpkins are not bred to withstand any herbicide and they would die with the weeds if we sprayed them so hoeing and pulling are the available options.  I guess we could cover the plant and spray around it but that would also be pretty time consuming...

Hopefully we can get the rest of the patch weeded sufficiently  before some plants get overtaken.  The first year we didn't weed and the pumpkin vines had to climb the weeds to get to the sun.  It gets out of control so fast.  I need a week of recovery anyway.  The physical motion of hoeing is really good exercise and my arms are very stiff as are the backs of my thighs.  If I had shoveled some grain and lugged around some bales or sacks I would have completed a traditional farm daily exercise program.