Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It's A...

So I had my ultrasound on Friday.  It was kind of a stressful morning because it was really early and we had to take all three kids with us.  When we took Ben to my ultrasound for Tessa he was around 16 months old and he and Justin had to leave the room after the tech showed obvious irritation with him being there because he was opening an empty cupboard under the sink.  She wasn't the most good humored tech we have encountered.  With Milo's ultrasound a friend offered to watch the other two so that was very lovely.  This time...it was so early in the morning I couldn't imagine asking anyone to take on the burden. 

Surprisingly, they were really good.  Ben and Tessa sat quietly and watched the screen and Milo sat in his stroller and ate Cheerios and was content until the last few minutes.  We decided to find out the sex this time (the biological part...every intellectual knows gender is a social construction!  DUH!  Every online birth board has a know it all who is glad to point that out!) and had a plan to reveal it with these fireworks which we bought after the 4th of July. 


This wasn't a plan that had a lot of thought behind it.  I saw them advertised on a fireworks stand's facebook page over the 4th of July weekend and we stopped at that store and they had them in stock still.  So back to the ultrasound...the tech was an intern and she seemed to know her stuff but at the end she said she was going to ask a coworker to come in and confirm a few things.  It turned out she was confirming the sex/gender/whatever you want to call it.  We had an envelope with a sheet of paper with boy and girl written on it for the tech to circle. 

As we reviewed the details after the appointment, we were unsure.  When she turned the screen to check that "area" she said "Oh, there it is" which kind of made us think it was a boy.  But the girl details are not as obvious so that would explain the double checking from the coworker. 

We waited until that night at the farm with our parents and my brother's family to light the fireworks.  Justin wanted to be the one to know first and light it but my brother ended up doing the honor.  And...


Yay!  Fireworks don't photograph well usually so if you are not quite sure since you didn't see it in person...


It's a girl!  Although when people asked the answer was always, "I'll be happy either way!" I had an underlying desire to have a girl so we would have two of each and so we could revisit the cute collection of girl clothing and accessories we have been hoarding in boxes.  Also, the boy clothes are looking a little rough.  I really would have been happy either way but it was definitely a special moment to see that first pink trail shoot into the sky. 

We then lit the blue one and it wasn't a very vivid blue.  It actually looked white.  If I saw it I would have wondered what color it was exactly so I'm glad the pink one was the main event. 

On a serious note, the biggest relief after an ultrasound is always seeing everything as it should be in there.  And everything was just fine.  No repeats for positions making it hard to see certain things, nothing to be concerned about physically and the baby was a good size and the due date is on track.  No one told me what it was going to be officially but the paperwork said December 27th which I have been told the 28th so not much difference at all.  The 27th is my dad's 60th birthday! 


I admit I'm a bit worried about a Christmas Eve/Day delivery mostly due to childcare chaos since our moms run the show on Christmas and no neighbor or friend is going to be thrilled to have three rambunctious kids showing up in the middle of their parties.  Hope for the best...hope for the best...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Strangest Delivery

We signed up for Amazon Prime around Christmas time almost two years ago and since then, it could be anyone's guess what is in the boxes that regularly appear on our front step.  We've ordered huge cases of Keurig coffee pods, air compressor parts, charging cords for every electronic device imaginable, swimwear (that was a bust on my part...cheap swimming suits from China are not something you should buy without seeing them in person!), playdoh, jeans, a road atlas, vase filling gel balls and sunglasses to name a few things in my list.  I don't know what the weirdest thing we've ever had delivered would be.

Well, as of last week, we have a new winner.  And it didn't even come from Amazon.  Imagine receiving a box with this sticker on it:


We knew it was coming.  It was shipped overnight from Alaska. 


It's fish.  Salmon, specifically, from when Justin was there back in June.  His friend shipped it to him.  I don't want to know the princely cost of this service but it arrived here still frozen. 

I was pawing through it and pulled this pack out:


What on earth is that you ask?  Oh, just bear bacon! 

Ben is still talking about fishing constantly.  He drew this picture yesterday. 


It is him and Tessa fishing.  Those balls on the lines are the bobbers.  Tessa's fish is a sunfish and Ben's is a slimer otherwise known as a northern. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ben's Favorite Hobby

There are so many factors taking kids away from the wholesome outdoor activities that have compelled them in the past.  I admit I love some animated TV and in my current state (pregnant, too tired to chase a one year old up and down the hill over and over again in 95 degree heat, too overwhelmed to take three kids to the pool in my ill fitting swimwear options, too little bladder control to take three kids to the playgrounds with limited bathroom options) I feel like I turn to TV and YouTube too often.  It has just been so hot and, although we are in a severe to exceptional drought, it has been humid.  Anytime we go anywhere away from the house  I feel like I need to bring a huge water cooler on wheels like a sports team would use otherwise pay the $3 price for bottles of water (I'm talking about you, Dakota Zoo!)  Although, I guess it's nice that they let you bring your own food and drink in instead of rifling through your bags so they can price gouge on everything.  What happens is the heat and humidity build all day, a cold front hits and thunderstorms form and then after some thunder and lightening they dissipate into nothing and the whole cycle starts again the next day.  Yesterday I watched our evening thunderstorm dump rain (for about three minutes) a few blocks away from our house but it missed us.  It's so weird and very strange to watch.  One thing I love about living on the hill we live in is watching the clouds roll in an seeing the radar happening live right in front of me.  Tonight we are planning on tackling the neighborhood pool with all the kids.  Justin is even going so Milo gets to come too!  I told them we might be able to go last night but the thunderstorm came and Ben has been talking about it since he woke up this morning so I guess he didn't forget overnight...dang...not that I don't love the pool.  I do.  It can be stressful with little kids though.

Anyway, the point I was getting to was is that I will encourage any activity the kids like that involves outdoor activity and real life skills.  Ben has recently become very interested in fishing.  Justin takes him to a friend's house on Devil's Lake.  They went a few times last year and also did some ice fishing there but this summer he has really started fishing on his own. 


Isn't it a huge lake?  It goes for miles. 


Those weren't all caught by Ben but this is an example of the fish population in Devil's Lake. 


This one ben caught all by himself.  Of course, he doesn't take his own fish off the hook yet.  He has been using his kid's Lightening McQueen novelty fishing pole but the line snapped and putting new line in was not easy like in a normal pole so Justin bought him his own "real" pole.  He also has his own tackle box with a small collection of bobbers and lures and hooks.

Last weekend, Ben got to hang out with his 2nd cousin Colt at the lake.  He's six and it turns out he loves fishing too.  He also has his own tackle box and those two sat and compared equipment for quite awhile.  They also went fishing and caught some sunfish and whatever other species are out there. 


Tessa also got to partake.  She is now the proud owner of a $6.00 clearance "Frozen" kid's fishing pole and she's so pleased with it.  I even caught a Sunfish with it a few weeks ago.   

Last time we were at the lake Ben kept talking about a minnow trap he'd seen in a video so I looked up how to make one and fashioned one out of an empty Coke bottle.  It was not successful but Justin told him they could get a real minnow trap.  There are lots of suggestions for bait out there and bread didn't work and dog food also didn't work...but the disappointment didn't last because apparently crawfish like dog food and, although it wasn't exactly trapped, this (very gross) guy was trying to get the food from outside the trap and someone caught him in a net. 

Pretty exciting!  Ben wanted to keep him.  I said he would be much happier in the lake with room to swim.  MUCH happier. 

This fishing obsession also continues at home where he makes everything with a hook into a fishing pole.  No plastic display hook from a pack of socks is safe.  We have one toy fishing pole I found in a dollar toy aisle during Easter basket season that gets played with daily and is broken is several places.  I hope it stays together for awhile because it really keeps the kids busy. It also causes regular fights but oh well...they have to learn to share.  We also have the much better quality pole from this fishing game Ben had to have (he did chores and earned "squares" on a chart for two weeks to earn it).  The bait is magnetic and he uses it to catch tractors and other metal toys.



The fish is battery powered and swims but it already quit working, not surprisingly.  I don't really trust electric things that can get wet.  But the pole is still a popular item.  Yesterday Ben was dangling it over Allan saying he was catching a "cat fish".  Poor Allan.  He is the opposite of a fish. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Midsummer Plants

When it was time to head to the Greenhouse back in May, I decided it would be best to cut back on the annual flower pots this year.  After all, we had just put our house on the market and for all we knew it would be sold any day and who would want to move twenty flower pots.  Also, having planters obstructing the stairs to both front and back entries is a bit munch for the average homebuyer.  So, although it may not look like it, there are fewer pots this year than in the past. 

This year I decided to fertilize the outdoor planters with Miracle Grow.  I always see my neighbor carrying around a pitcher of that blue concoction and their planters usually look better than ours.  I have used it on indoor plants before and I will never forget when my indoor mini rosebush which had only had one rose on it during  its life with me suddenly had five flowers on it after a few weeks on Miracle Grow. 

This is my "premier pot".  Usually I plant two mirror images with geraniums, a spike and some fillers and place them on either side of the steps.  But, like I said before, you can barely walk up them so I just made one this year.  I picked a cute little spike thinking it would grow fast but it's still pretty tiny compared to the juiced up petunias in there.  A thriller, it is not and the petunias are taking over as the filler and the spiller. 

Here is a trough style planter which has also been taken over by the remaining white petunias from the four pack.  They are combined with dusty miller and some dark purple tall flowers which I forgot the name of.  You can't even see most of the other plants in here. 



Here's another view. 

I have two troughs on hangers on the deck railing.  They contain a mix of petunias, vinca, moss roses and some crazy double bloom petunias that Tessa had to have.  And of course a spiller vine which I forgot the name of but I buy them every year. 


As usual, the moss roses, which have leaves similar to succelents, are loving it on our very hot deck which gets sun almost all day except for very early in the morning.  The vincas are too.  A few years ago I knew I had to get these for our yard after seeing them growing in landscaping in Las Vegas.  They are drought resistant and love heat.


I like the double petunias.  They look like little carnations.  I wish I had picked a different color of moss roses because the pinks all blend together and the blooms are similar looking.  Orange or yellow would have stood out more.  Or I could have chosen different double petunias but they were Tessa's special flower selection so...that wasn't happening.

This is an oddball pot with the orange marigolds Ben picked as his special flowers.  It is growing well.  It has a "school spirit" vibe to it with the mix of orange and purple. 


We have a favorite greenhouse here that we buy most of our plants from but I chose a special plant when I visited a greenhouse in my hometown at the beginning of summer. 


This is called a Lantana.  It is a sun loving plant with little clusters of ombre rainbow blooms.  In college I had a brief stint in a two credit plant genetics class which I ended up dropping after a week due to it not applying to anything I was considering majoring in but I still find plant breeding very interesting and specimens like this renew my interest.  Like, how can this exist in nature?  It's so cool! 

In addition to the annuals, the perennials around the house our out in all their glory this month.  We have a row of various yellow and gold daylilies along one side of the house and some unique colored ones in the front. 







I just love the red and purple ones.  And the peace ones are a color I haven't seen anywhere else. 

Also, we have a few of these monster sized hostas scattered around.  Hostas were the main landscaping plant we had around the farm when I was a kid but they were the smaller kind with green and white leaves.  This thing is huge. 


After it lives its life in the summer it turns bright yellow.

Oh, I forgot the shade annuals in the front of the house.  These always look good every year.  Shade plants are pretty reliable as long as you give them lots of shade.  I usually have impatiens as the main color flower in these pots but the greenhouse didn't have any this year.  It was weird.  Begonias are a good second choice though.  I love their dark leaves. 


In conclusion, I recommend using Miracle Grow as directed (every two weeks) and it seems that petunias really respond to fertilizer.  Also, moss roses love the hot, hot sun even more when they get fertilizer and I can't cut back on my flower planting even if I try.  Hopefully we have 2.5-3 months left with these plants.  I know some have still been living on Halloween some years although it seems that annuals kind of hit a wall in the fall and stop looking so nice even if they don't freeze. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Swimming Lessons

Ben and Tessa have been taking swimming lessons the last two weeks.  It was a four day days a week for two weeks with Fridays off.  Ben has been taking lessons with his preschool classes at the Y for the last two years but Tessa has never had any before.  I loved swimming lessons when I was a child.  Actually one of my earliest memories was of being in swimming lessons in Wyoming.  The memory involves me suddenly holding on to the ledge in a huge pool (it was a normal sized pool but I must have been about three) and I didn't really know what was going on and then I noticed my dad sitting on some bleachers behind a class wall.  My lessons continued when we moved to Gillette, WY when I was in preschool.  If you've ever read a sports article about swimming in the paper you may have seen word of tournaments in Gillette.  It is a city known for swimming and they had some really nice indoor pools there and also outdoor pools.  I took to it easily and by the time I was Ben's age I was able to dive and swim actual strokes.  I know this is true because we moved away from there when I was six.  And you might be surprised to hear this, but apparently Justin used to be on a children's swim team. 

I continued to take lessons every summer at our small town outdoor pool and also my brother and sister and I did a two week session at a nearby college every summer.  The outdoor lessons with our favorite lifeguards were fun, but the college lessons were where the real advancement happened. The woman who ran that program continued to be supportive of me through my lifeguard training and I took the water safety instructor course for college credit from her when I was 19.  If I ever had to perform CPR I would hear her voice in my head telling me the steps.

What crossed my mind about my history of swimming, as me and the other parents obsessively snapped photos of our kids in the water every day, was how there is not one single picture of me or anyone else in my family at swimming lessons or even swimming at all.  I suppose bringing a camera and film near water was not a very good idea.  Also, I don't recall my parents really watching me once I was out of the preschool level which I barely remember.  We modern parents are a different breed.

The Y just revamped their levels and they were always a bit different than the straightforward Red Cross levels Preschool-6 that I learned and taught.  The used to have the fish names like perch, minnows, polliwogs, etc.  Now they have three levels of preschool and it starts over again at level 1 for school age kids 6 and up. 

Tessa was in the first level of all the levels.  She was so cute I could barely stop grinning at her.  She had four kids in her class and two were brother and sister and they were very naughty.  The first week their mom had to sit behind them in a lawn chair because they kept trying to crawl away from the pool and splash everyone. This week the lifeguard had to stand by them and keep them in line. Tessa and the other boy in the class just sat there and looked like little angels. 




She was pretty brave in the water too.  She didn't pass which was ready for since she can't even touch the bottom of the shallow end yet but she behaved and listened which is a very important thing for that age group.  She also got pretty good at dunking her head in the water! 

Ben was in level 2 which is titled "water movement" and he passed with no trouble.  I was glad because he didn't pass that one in his last preschool session.  He was looking pretty confident and he can now tread water. 

I took pictures of them with their certificates (yeah, I know...what was I just talking about?) and they were really excited because the teachers gave them temporary tattoos. 


She looks sad but that glint near her eye is just water from the pool.


Finally moving to level 3!

T-ball is almost over.  We got the pictures back last night and I think they are pretty cute. 


I'm ready to wrap it up because the evenings have been so hot these last few weeks and the sun is just blinding that time of night and the grass of the field is parched and brown and there are ants all over where everyone sits and they try to crawl into my bag.  Waaaaah....it's for the kids...it's for the kids...

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.