Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Project and an Anniversary

Remember the days of the origin of this blog?  Back before any kid or even cat entered the scene and we were always occupied with house projects, painting and decorating?  Last night was kind of a little flashback...we had the home inspection a few weeks ago and...big surprise...there was rotting wood under both our front and back decks.  I recall shopping when we bought this house in 2013 and many of the houses we looked at had visibly crumbling decks.  I don't remember the details of our inspection when we moved in here but I know our front deck at least wasn't in perfect condition.  Our new neighbors had rotting wood as a problem on their deck when they had their inspection this summer.  I think it is safe to say that if you buy a house more than a few years old with a deck there is probably some rotting wood on it somewhere.

Last week, Justin replaced a board that was pretty spongy on the front steps.  It was a supporting board that you wouldn't notice just by looking like a normal person would.  Last night he replaced the little stair supports on our back deck.  The part you can see is not wood but some kind of plastic composite that is supposed to last forever but the supports underneath are, of course, wood and once they were revealed they looked pretty bad.  It is really warm here this week so now is the time to do it although are rapidly losing our 11 p.m. daylight and it is harder to get anything done outside when darkness comes at 7:30.  Justin had to plug in a spotlight to supplement the one outdoor bulb we have back there.  Something good came of this though...we found out that a mystery switch in the house that has always been a switch to nowhere actually controls the outdoor outlet!  After four years!  It's not even near the patio door.  The switch is in the dining room on the other side of the house.

The kids could hardly stand the excitement and they just HAD to be out there even though there were no stairs and screws were laying everywhere.  

Tessa really liked the woodworker pencil.  Those things are pretty weird when you have always known writing utensils to be cylindrical.  

Allan didn't know what to think about this.  He was not very comfortable with the bright light back there in his bird staring territory.  

Speaking of Allan, this should have its own post but the day already passed two days ago and I don't want to forget.  The 15th of October is Allan's adoption day.  It's been eight years.  I looked way back in my albums (2009 predates this computer so all the photos from his early months are in a file together).  He was so cute and little.  His ears look pretty large on his pin head.  

I'm so happy we got him.  He always has loved laying on the window sills if there is a piece of furniture there to support him.  Or, when he was six pounds he could just sit on the window sill although he is way too wide for that now.  I think of how he spent his first few months in the shelter in a cage with his brother (a very nice shelter but still...) and how he must have loved looking out the windows of our house when he first got there.  I also think about his brother and I hope he has had a good life too.

Fast forward eight years and Allan is still living the good life...

He's almost triple the weight he was when we came home and he still loves windows, beds and blankets.  He's very secure in his environment and he knows he has nothing to worry about.  I bought him a new pack of toy mice at PetSmart last week.  For some reason they seem to disappear and they had some Halloween themed ones on sale.  He made an effort to play so I know he still can do it although it's nothing like that crazy frolicking and leaping he used to do.  He did a quick charge down the stairs with his new mouse then shook it in his mouth (the signature "death shake") then pretended to hide and stalk and pounce...and that was it.  He was tired.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Cutting and Coloring Chaos

The kids are in a phase since school started...I don't know what I should call it exactly.  It involves drawing, cutting, paper, magazines, stickers, and scraps everywhere.  It's not really crafts.  I guess it is art.  Of course, they have previously enjoyed coloring and drawing and cutting but it's gone really crazy lately since school started.  I think they get motivated by what they make at school and want to keep going at home.  

For example, Ben brought this home from school last week:

It is a football field and he only had time to make the endzones there.  The middle was white.  He filled in the rest here.  I could live with this.  I was pretty proud of it actually...the bubble letters are pretty good I thought. But...this is just the beginning.  The kitchen table looks like this every day:

Gah...don't panic...don't panic...that will be easy to straighten up...the little shreds of paper from the back of those letter sticker are no problem!  And shredded magazines...easy!  And the multiple pairs of scissors and markers where a fresh two year old can reach them are no big deal at all!  So what if his hands and face are always colorful!  It's easily washable!  No one even notices, I'm sure!  

Oh, look! Another pile that must be saved!  The tractors are pretty funny actually...Ben and Tessa were cutting them out and saying they were "tractor coupons" for my dad.  If only!  And Ben likes to cut out scopes from the hunting catalogues and he taped one to a paper towel tube.  Clever.  

Tessa prefers the women's and fashion magazines because of the plentiful jewelry ads with "beautiful gems" to cut out and lots of bottles of nail polish.  Also, I have read many magazines in my life and I never realized how many pet food ads there are in them.  

As much as I don't enjoy eating lunch on a pile of notebook paper and sticker scraps I let this activity continue.  It is creative at least.  And I get to find items like the following strewn everywhere in the house:

Tessa calls the swirls she draws "galaxies" and the weird little ovals are from the show "Wild Kratts".  Ben makes those.  They are creature power disks or something.  I should know.  They are watching it in the background right now.  

This here is rather unsettling.  Tessa made this last night.  It has the feel of a ransom note if a three year old could make a ransom note.  

Monday, October 9, 2017

Happy 2nd Birthday Milo!

Milo turned 2 on Saturday.  I still kind of shake my head in wonder at the turn of events the night of his birth.  No one probably recalls details, but I say that because I was supposed to be induced like I had been with the other two kids but actually went into labor on my own and had to go to the hospital in the night after calling the neighbors for help with the kids and when I got there I was already 7 cm dilated.  

We were at the farm on Saturday for combining but Milo got a little party with his cousins.  Ben even missed the main event because he was in the tractor too.  Busy guy!  Milo was so cute.  He was like a little gracious guest of honor.  He sat grinning in front of his cake and didn't try to plunge his hands into it. 

He tried to blow out his candle but he was mostly just putting his face in it so I blew it out quick so he wouldn't burn himself.  

When he opened his gifts he clapped and grinned over each thing.  

He received the trucks shown above, a stuffed Mickey Mouse (he calls it "Ka-Key"), a pop up book, a toy garbage truck with little garbage action figures (think "Shopkins" but marketed toward boys...weird I know but all three kids love it) and a sleeping bag to match the ones Ben and Tessa have.  They like to play with theirs and he has been starting to show interest in them.  These gifts were all from my family members but we had ordered a present for him which, thanks for nothing Amazon Prime, got delayed in transit. It was sitting on the step when we returned last night.  He can get it next weekend at his second party.  Daddy and Ben didn't let him down though and picked out a present for him on Saturday.  His own combine!

We have a lot of toy combines in this house but not this size yet.  We saved it to open when Ben was there.  

Then he had to show his bro how to use his new sleeping bag.

It's crazy but Milo is the first kid in the family to celebrate their second birthday without a baby sibling hanging out nearby.

Ben had little 4 month old Tessa celebrating with him and Tessa had newborn Milo.  I couldn't find any pictures of him and her together from her birthday when she was 2 but I had to share a picture.  She looks a lot like Milo!

Hmmm...that duplo cake...I should have mixed up a different color for the frosting.  Mauve is nice but not exactly fun and whimsical for a 2 year old...

Milo had his 2 year appointment this morning.  The time was 10:20 a.m. and Tessa is done with preschool at 11:30.  One would think that even on a busy day this window of time would be enough to fit in a routine well child appointment.  Well, after doing the initial weigh and measure I sat in the exam room until 11:00 a.m. waiting for the doctor.  I went out and told them I had to leave in ten minutes and they said, "oh, she's still with another patient" so I had no choice but to leave without finishing the appointment which would have taken minutes since he's healthy I rarely have any concerns to talk about.  They called this afternoon to reschedule and, given that you apparently have to set aside a whole morning to see a doctor in this town due to delays and overbooking (this regularly happens to me at my OB appointments too) the next available time is in the middle of November.  To say I am annoyed with the overbooked, understaffed, overcrowded nature of EVERYTHING in this town is an understatement.  You can barely find a cashier in a store, restaurant workers run around like lunatics trying to keep up with packed tables, every school has portable classrooms, the desk at Tessa's preschool is now staffed by a fingerprint scanner and to actually talk to a live person about anything beyond the teacher's business (payment, paperwork) you have to call a different building where no one ever answers on the first call and you always have to leave messages.  To sign a kid up for an activity or lessons you have to be on the phone speed dialing like an idiot or sitting at your computer hitting refresh the morning registration opens.  The phone at our pharmacy rings and rings and cancelling a prescription takes multiple calls and a lengthy navigation through a robot menu. The car lines at drive up windows at banks wind around the building and it's never the quick and convenient stop you are looking for. It's just really annoying.  But at least I got to see how much he weighed which is 27.5 pounds.  It's not an above average weight but I'm certain he weighs a lot more than either of my other kids.  I think Tessa weighed that much at her 3 year appointment.  They gave me his length in centimeters (is this not America?) but I saw on the ruler he was about 34 inches.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

"Even Walls Fall Down"

So, as everyone in America knows, Tom Petty died.  I usually roll with celebrity deaths without much thought.  I mean, it's always sad but I'm living real life here.  But Tom Petty makes some music that I really like and have for years. Musical preferences and songs and verses and styles that stand out to people are a personal thing and I admit that Tom Petty was one of my first victims back in the file sharing frenzy days of Napster and CD burning in the early 2000's.  Sorry, man, but those songs were so good and being able to have them available to me in my car or on my cd Walkman or just while surfing the Internet on dial-up at the kitchen table or playing in my dorm room really meant a lot.  And don't worry...I have since purchased lots of Tom Petty music the legit way.  I am pretty sure my gateway song was "Free Falling" as it was for many young people I'm sure.

I went into a Wikipedia/Rolling Stone list/old interview black hole last night and, thought again about how I admire so many musicians of the past.  Also, when you start to research you can see how all music is connected and it goes way back to so many common roots.  Tom Petty came from a regular background with the usual 1950's and 60's upbringing where he spent his days not really fitting in because he wasn't like a "regular boy" of the times who liked sports and boy exploits and he endured physical and verbal abuse from his father simply because of this.

Not surprisingly, he felt like music was a possibility after meeting Elvis and becoming a fan and especially after seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.  That was a famous moment in America but I didn't realize how many musicians met a turning point on that night.

If you read about the early lives of Elvis and the Beatles you can see the patterns emerge.  Elvis grew up poor as could be.  His parents couldn't afford a proper burial for his stillborn twin brother and his unmarked grave still hasn't been found.  They lost their two bedroom house and had to move around with relatives and no one liked Elvis's musical style or his voice.  He was teased at school for playing trashy music and sounding like a hillbilly and no one wanted to hear his style that was heavily influenced by traditional African American music.  When he tried to record music he was told he sounded too black until one forward thinking producer thought that since white people seemed to like going to African American clubs to listen to singers on secretive "white only" nights maybe having a white guy who could sing like that might be a good way to make money.  Once Elvis was on the radio his idea proved correct.  I was really interested to read that one of Elvis's most admired singers was a Grammy winning gospel singer named Jake Hess who was born to a sharecropper family as the last of twelve kids and his parents couldn't even get around to picking a name for him so his birth certificate says "ManChild Hess".  His earliest exposure to music was from his father who was...a shapenote singer!  Shapenote singing refers to the Sacred Harp, the traditional music I often refer to and which I only learned about because Bruce Springsteen used it in the background of one of his newer songs "Death to My Hometown".  So many roots...so many connections...

And then the Beatles...just read this article to get an idea of the huge influence they had which I think everyone knows already.


The major theme in the mini-interviews of each of these musicians is that they saw someone not much different than them...and if those skinny guys from the middle of nowhere with absentee fathers who grew up in crummy apartments with public toilets could do it why couldn't they?  It's just interesting how one person defying the odds can inspire so many people-and not just through music. What might we not have if Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel and Gene Simmons hadn't seen that TV show and said, "I know I can do it too! There is a way out of this life!"  I can't think of anyone from my generation (I'm thnking about the 90's and 2000's here) who made a difference like that.  There were some pretty popular groups and singers (if you can all Britney Spears a singer-I really don't think so) but they were mostly following in the footsteps.

It's kind of surprising that Tom Petty died so suddenly.  I don't know about the early days (there are references to Marijuana in his music but I think that is the least of the substances used by many famous people) but in a recent interview he said he maintained his energy and kept his voice fit for touring and performing in his 60's by staying in good shape, eating a good diet, staying away from drinking smoking and avoiding staying up all night at bars.  He also avoided a lot of extra talking while touring and before performing to protect his voice.  I remember reading an article about Bruce Springsteen using a low and quiet voice while on tour also to save his voice for the concert.  Well, what do you know...there is a secret to maintaining youthful energy-kind of-but it still won't protect you from a sudden heart attack.

I think I am going to plug my phone in to the computer and add some more Tom Petty song from my library to it.  There is only so much space on there so I can't have every song by ever artist on there.  I could, but then my phone would be all Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks and a capella Sacred Harp singing with some Lorie Line Christmas Piano music thrown in.  I promise, I do like current music too!   I have to leave some room and when you buy boxed sets they can really take up space!  Tom Petty's music has a very optimistic sound to it and it can usually put a person in a good mood.  Below is a verse from a more recent discovery that isn't played on the radio.

"I don't believe the good times are over, I don't believe the thrill is all gone, real love is a man's salvation, the weak ones fall the strong carry one." -Straight Into Darkness  

Monday, October 2, 2017

To Thee Lift Up Thine Eyes

Wow, it has been two weeks since I posted.  This might be my longest gap.  I have my reasons which all boil down to not having time.  I hardly remember the week before last.  Unfortunately, last week was not a happy one.  Justin's grandma passed away at the age of 92 on Sunday night.  We knew the end was near but it's still never easy even after a person lives a full life.

Her name was Irene and she was someone who no one could say anything but good things about.  My bank of memories of her can't compare to her children and grandchildren since I only knew her 14 years (still quite a few years after I counted!) but they are all good memories of kindness and her happy laugh.  When I told people my husband's grandma died I, like many people do when speaking of people who have passed away, defaulted to the usual phrases that many elderly people in nursing homes are described by such as, "she was so sweet" or "so nice".  Usually women are described as sweet and men are described as funny or "such a character".  But of course, in most cases they were so much more than that and Irene was much more to her family than a sweet and nice lady although she certainly was those things.  She was a college educated teacher, a cancer survivor years ago when most people didn't survive, and a stable force for her family and Justin especially during some very hard times in the 90's. I am, in fact having an emotional moment right now because I haven't really had much time to process this due to the non-stop craziness of the kids at the prayer service and funeral.  I hardly listened to a memory or talked to anyone because I was trying to keep kids (mostly Milo, the almost two year old maniac with no decorum) from being a major distraction. 

Back in 2004 I visited her house at the farm for the first time (she had already moved to an apartment but it was occupied by Justin's cousin) and she was standing at the stove frying homemade donuts.  I could feel the spirit of holidays and gatherings all around even though it isn't the biggest or newest house.  Those things don't really matter and I think we all have happy memories in places just like that.  We usually saw each other at weddings or church events and she always told me she liked my dress and my shoes and said she used to love to wear nice shoes when she was younger.  She would talk about attending Mayville State (historically Mayville Teacher's College) because it was near where I grew up.

Here are a few pictures of Irene with the kids.  I wish we had taken more.

This is Tessa after her baptism.  

This is Ben, wearing his hunting clothes if a baby can have such a thing! 

She truly loved kids and it was hard to see her for the last time when she didn't know them anymore.  

Back in 2010, I had a secret project with Justin's mom to turn shirts belonging to Justin's dad into quilts for the family.  I made four and one was for Irene.  His dad died in 1991.  She had her quilt on her bed and it went with her along with some other special items so she took part of me with her and I'll always remember that.  

I really had to rifle through some files to find those pictures!  I don't have many of the process because it was very secretive!  This is just the top of the quilt.

So, RIP Irene, in the beautiful cemetery in the country where your family is near.   My title is in reference to a Sacred Harp tune, Exhortation, which comes from the verse of the Bible Isaiah 60:4 (yes, I had to look that up):

"Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands; your little daughters will be carried home."

*This is some new aged Bible translation-they were all listed and this was, in my opinion, the least sexist and old fashioned.  Yes, I know it's the Bible but still...of course the sons come home in glory and the daughters are carried on the hip or escorted by the side in every other version...the beautiful language is lost in the translation but I guess we can't have both.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Lion Cub

A few weeks ago, Ben came home with information about Boy Scouts.  The boys had heard a short presentation at school and were went home with a flier about a sign up night.  He was enthusiastic.  I think the excitement came from the fact that the pictures on the flier depicted boys fishing and shooting at targets which is not exactly what they do at every meeting in the elementary school cafeteria but I wasn't going to discourage him.  I was in Girl Scouts and Justin was in Boy Scouts when we were kids and we both liked it so we went and signed up.

It turns out that usually boys don't start Cub Scouts until 1st grade but there is a new program this year for Kindergarten kids called Lions which is kind of a transition program.  They don't have as many meetings and they get a t-shirt to wear instead of the full uniform shirt.  Last week was the full "pack" meeting and last night was the first "den" meeting.  FYI-Den refers to the smaller age groups and pack refers to the whole assortment of ages in one location.  I am familiar with these terms because my classmates were in cub scouts when we were kids but I never really paid attention to specifics.

Last night, since they don't have uniforms to display their badges they earn, the Lions boys made tote bags with decorations on the front.  They left the back blank so the badges can be attached to it.

There is another boy named Ben in the den so BENA is back again just like the first year of preschool!

I was excited to show off my old girl scout sashes and patches.  I have the Brownies (brown with triangle patches) and Juniors (green with circle patches) sashes.  The brownies one even has the patches all sewn on.  Well...I should say it has all there were possible sewn on.  We moved overseas to the Middle East when I was in Brownies and the leader tried to mail me the ones I had earned and they never arrived.  They were lost to customs.  Customs was like a black hole there.  Of all the things to take...Lucky for me, my mom knows how to sew so mine were all actually attached and not safety pinned or glued on.  

The next meeting in October is an outdoor hike at the park across from our house.  That will be fun!  Ben will get to the level of fishing and shooting eventually.  Those activities are generally done at camps.  

I had to take a picture by the rock bed in front of the school on the way home.  He found his rock-it is a red one with the Pioneer "P" on it and he was proud of how nice his P was . 

Oh...I forget the best part of the transitional Kindergarten boy scout program...no fundraising!  I almost ran for the door at the last meeting when the wreath and popcorn sales forms were handed out.  I know school and activity fundraisers will now be a part of life for the foreseeable future but I am still traumatized from the constant fundraising in high school.  I grew up in a family where the general philosophy was that it was the family's responsibility to pay for trips, uniforms, etc. and selling overpriced crap where we only earned a small portion of the cost while constantly harassing the same friends and relatives multiple times a year was not the most efficient way to do it.  Some might argue that it teaches the child to be responsible but guilt tripping people into buying wrapping paper, crummy bath products (that were extremely overpriced and showed up sample sized-that one was my favorite), coupon books and multitudes of other nonsense never felt responsible to me.  It felt awkward and intrusive.  And everyone just bought from everyone else throughout the year.  Just save your money for yourself and everyone pay for your own crap and all your money will go to the cause...how about it?  Sigh...I doubt it will ever happen but a mom can dream...There are better ways that I have personally participated it.  To raise money for prom our classes at my school started working in the concession stand at assigned basketball games starting in 7th grade and accumulated money through the years.  For one organization I was in we sold apple pies in the fall and before you dismiss it as the usual cookie dough/braid bread fundraiser there is a twist...we spent a Saturday in the school home-ec room actually making the pies (with lots of competent supervision from moms and a few grandmothers). Also, if you have those $2.00 boxes of chocolate covered nuts or huge candy bars from World's Finest Chocolate for sale I will be first in line.  We used to sell those for band and to promote them the music teacher would ask a trivia question over the intercom during morning announcements every day and the first person to get to her with the answer got a free candy item.  Usually it was "name that tune" and it always caused a stampede.  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thinking Ahead to Halloween

This morning, it finally feels like fall.  Previously, this week felt like a hot summer inferno, complete with record breaking upper 90's temps and a forest fire haze that reduced visibility, caused air quality alerts and even led to the public school system cancelling outdoor recess (overkill, in my opinion, but my kids don't have asthma so I guess I should shut up about it.  I happen to be on the downswing of a cold and I admit I felt a bit worse yesterday and I'm sure the smoke had something to do with it.)  It rained in the night, and the smoke is still in the air but not as bad.  I suppose the rain needs to happen 600 miles away in Montana to make it stop.  Anyway, who can resist a cool and crisp September morning that is not actually cold?  After a mediocre night of sleep due to Milo having whatever I have and being feverish on and off yesterday, the morning craziness, meeting the bus, and hiking back up the hill I was ready for coffee and a few minutes on the couch perusing the Internet.  And before everyone starts in with the whole, "must be NICE not to have to WORK!" routine that stay at home parents often hear, I will add that I clearly remember what went on during the first 30-60 minutes at my old desk job and I know what lots of other people with desk jobs do and drinking coffee, Internet catching up and visiting with coworkers is exactly what is happening at offices all over America between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m.  I found myself checking Zulily, the flash sale site, because after a long period where everything I price checked on Amazon was actually cheaper on Amazon I have found a few truly good deals lately.  One of the features of the day was a kid's costume store which made me think of Halloween and Tessa's Elsa costume she has been committed to for months.

Ugh, I really am not a fan of store bought costumes.  They are generally overpriced and complete junk with practically glued on Velcro closures and flimsy mesh fabric everywhere that rips so easily. I can't shake the idea that I should make her a costume.  Never mind that with the fabric, extra materials, pattern and time required buying store bought is almost always cheaper anyway.  I just know she will use it a lot for playing beyond Halloween and I want it to last.  I decided to go where I haven't gone in years-the virtual version of the big table piled with pattern catalogues in the fabric store.  You can now look at them all on the Internet, although it's not quite the same.  After growing up with a sewing mom who made costumes and dresses and lots of other things, I knew the names to find:  McCall's, Butterick, and Simplicity.  Forget the more sophisticated brands like Vogue and Burda-I need easy and fast.  First up:  the obvious choice-Simplicity.  The name says it all.  Alas, they didn't have what I wanted and the patterns were listed at $11.99.  WUT?  Of course, at the store they are always on sale but still...that's almost half of a very low quality and junky store costume without even buying fabric or spending hours cutting and pinning.   So, on to Butterick.  I feel like these must have been my mom's patterns of choice because I think she probably has this exact same pattern in a different adaptation.

Ah, the onesie pajama with animal adaptations.  I just checked my scanned photos, certain I had a picture of my sister and I in our pink kitten and spotted Dalmatian suits that were just like these but it seems I scanned every costume but those.  Oh well.  No one needs to see that anyway.  Butterick had plenty of selection but not what I was looking for.  On to McCall's.  

First I saw this: 

Even the wholesome and traditional pattern companies are catering to this lingerie as a costume nonsense?  The pattern even includes the thigh highs?  OK...

Finally!  And these patterns are only 2.99.  

The Anna dress has way too much applique on slippery material for my abilities but maybe I could pull off the small Elsa version?

Oh...lined...that word in relation to sewing always intimidates me...zipper?  Oh crap.  My lack of being able to learn how to put in a zipper is legendary and that is one duty that was taken away from me at the NDSU theater costume shop where I worked in college.  I got good at sleeves, gathering, and all kinds of finishing stitches but that eludes me.  Velcro?  Maybe not such a bad idea? I also freaked out about the stand up collar but upon further examination it looks like that is for Anna's cape and I'm not going there.  Tessa has mentioned that I could be Anna.  At 7 months pregnant I would not give sweet, innocent Anna such an image.  

I was surprised that I couldn't really find much else for patterns for Frozen costumes since Elsa has been one of the top girl costumes every year since the movie came out.  After a general Google search of course Amazon had the Simplicity pattern I was hoping for all along.  It's not prime eligible though...ughhh!  

I suppose I could actually...gasp...go to a fabric store or the sewing section of Wal-Mart (ugh...I try to avoid it since I have learned that the employees who they place there generally have no knowledge about even basic sewing or fabric terminology) and see what is there in person or get really creative and adapt a very basic girls dress or nightgown by changing the colors to sparkly blue fabrics.  Or I could just buy one for $30 and be done with it. I love a challenge but let's be realistic here...at least we still have six weeks until Halloween!  

Ben is still non-committal about a costume.  Some days he wants to be a solider and some days he says he wants to be one of the Wild Kratts, who are two brothers on his favorite PBS nature show about animals that he watches after school.  They wear khaki shorts and hiking boots.  They are great characters but not exactly costume worthy, in my opinion.  Milo will be Spider Man or a brown bear, which are the 2T costumes we already own.  

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Fall Flavors

Well, Labor Day has passed.  This means it would be time to shift to a fall oriented wardrobe but my wardrobe doesn't fit so nothing to worry about there.  I am looking forward to wearing fall and winter clothes and shoes only because I have some acceptable maternity options for those seasons and I just want to cover it all up.  But, alas, the temps are in the 80's as far as the forecast reaches (fifteen days on my Weather Channel app).  There is always a different feeling in the air when September comes anyway, regardless of the temperature.  That is why, while shopping with only Milo this morning (freeeedooommm!) I found myself tossing various limited edition fall flavored items in the cart. 

Everyone makes a big deal over pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, which I actually don't know much about even though holding a cup of Starbucks coffee is an established part of the mom running around Target in gym clothes stereotype.  Spending $4-$10 or more a day on beverages just isn't my chosen way to indulge myself.  A $7.00 24 pack of Diet Dr. Pepper for the month and a huge box containing hundreds of Keurig pods from Amazon is more my caffeine consumption style. This morning, I first saw the pumpkin spice non-dairy creamer so in the cart it went.  Then I saw the pumpkin pie flavored English muffins, which I know from experience are good. 

Then, along I went to the seasonal displays thinking maybe I could find some deeply discounted art supplies or backpacks (I know Ben won't want Paw Patrol forever!) in the back to school section.  As an experienced shopper, I should have known it would be already taken down since school started here two weeks ago and there are no bordering states nearby with an after Labor Day start.  It was, in fact, in the process of being replaced by the Halloween display (and you know the first boxes of Christmas lights will be shoved in the corner too!)  Hardly anything was set up yet but there were some aisle ends with candy and I immediately noticed M&M's.  I remembered last year I had tried some pumpkin spice M&M's and I then remembered they weren't very good and I shouldn't buy them. BUT...what was that dark colored package?

They did NOT!  Oh, yes, they did.  Oreo M&M's.  Where have these been all my life?  Hopefully they become a regular product.  My true seasonal favorite flavor of M&M's, the candy cane ones that come out at Christmas, really are only around at Christmas although I don't know why because mint is always good with chocolate.  But Oreos are not exclusively associated with Halloween or any other holiday.  I will do my part of buying a lot of these so the company knows there is a demand. 

As I write this, it is 80 degrees outside, I already have sickened myself eating half a bag of Cookies n' Screeeem M&M's and I have a cup of coffee with some pumpkin creamer mixed in sitting next to me.  Summer does officially last until the 22nd, after all.  It's almost time to go out and meet the bus, which might be delayed because Trump is in town to give a speech about tax reform at an oil refinery.  It's invite only and I didn't get one.  Oh, darn. 

Our Labor Day weekend was fine.  We went to the first Bison game which was a huge blowout with a final score of 72-7.  A snooze-fest if there ever has been one.  We set up the bouncy house pool on Sunday and Milo amused himself by throwing pumpkins in it repeatedly. 

Kind of a strange sight...swimming with pumpkins. 

Having Milo at a game was challenging.  He is not at an age where he will sit still or pay attention to anything.  At least people started walking out after the first quarter when the score was 30-0 already so there were plenty of extra chairs around.  He was pretty good at tailgating. 

In this picture he was smiling at me and just as I was ready to take the photo a dog walked by so that is what he is excited about. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Tessa's Turn

The day she has been waiting for has finally arrived!  Tessa has been talking about school since Ben started two years ago right before her 2nd birthday when she walked into the room and started pointing out shapes on the walls.  Although she still clings to her often whiny and self centered three year old persona she is definitely ready for preschool!

I was mildly concerned about what kind of clothing she would want to wear for the first day.  I know it's not a REALLY big deal but of course I wanted some cute pictures so I had something in mind.  She had something completely different in mind but I convinced her by saying this skirt made it easier to see her new shoes.  It's hard to see but she has a little braid in her hair (like Elsa-hey I tried!)

She's been heading up the stairs to this classroom for the last two years to pick up Ben so she just marched right in there with no hesitation. 

She grabbed that blue bracelet at the last minute. It's an old cheapy of mine.  When I picked her up it was off and stowed in her backpack and her barrette was nowhere to be found and of course the braid was long gone.  Who knows what goes on during a session of preschool.

It's hard to believe Milo is older (by only a month but still) than Tessa was when Ben started preschool.  Let's just say he's not identifying diamonds and triangles he sees around the school but he knows what he likes and that is rocks. And there is the most beautiful rock display outside the preschool door.  He can barely stand it.  He's enjoying his first morning home with just the two of us in who knows how long.  He even brought me the remote and demanded "Blaze!" which is a favorite animated monster truck of little toddler boys everywhere. 

I say it's our first morning home...we did have time alone on Wednesday when class started but when I signed Tessa up there was only space in the afternoon class and at the last minute a morning spot opened up which is when most three year olds are at their best so I switched her.  Now she is class with a friend she knows as a younger sibling of Ben's good friend from preschool. 

Ben has been doing pretty good.  He started hitting a wall as the week passed.  I think it is sinking in that Kindergarten is every day and he has said he wants to stay home.  Of course, when he gets home he's always happy and he has been mentioning things he likes. For example, his job of the week is the agenda taker, which, in his words, means, "he turns the wheel to say what activity we are on and then if someone is sad because they want to go home they know what we are doing".  So I guess he's not the only one making the adjustment.  I am kind of surprised since he went to full day preschool last year (although it was every other day not daily) and he never once hesitated to go and he seemed disappointed on mornings when he didn't have to go. 

I am enjoying the trip down elementary school memory lane personally.  When he says he wants to stay home I always talk about how I loved school so much and I couldn't wait to go. Yesterday they had their first library day which was always awesome in my opinion.  I loved writing my name on those little cards in the pocked inside the cover and having the librarian stamp them.  And I've said it before but if anyone presented me with an authentic card catalogue cabinet I would not hesitate to make room for it in my house even though the little drawers would serve little other purpose except for cards.  This morning he was talking about how they have a calendar and are going to have a party on the 100th day of school which is a recent thing which I don't remember anyone celebrating when I was a kid.  But how would I know?  No one was posting about it all over social media so maybe other schools did celebrate it!

The bus has been working out fine. Now that Tessa has a morning session I will be driving him on those mornings.  This morning was the first drop off and we were earlier than the bus would have been so he didn't really know what to do with himself on the playground until the bell rang but I did the creepy mom thing and watched to make sure he went and started playing before I left.  I kind of love the bus.  It is fabulous not to have to load up the other kids twice a day.  At least for now-I can see it being kind of annoying to stand out there waiting for it when the weather turns cold. 

So the first full week of school has been chaotic but I guess it's been a success.  It will be nice to have a long weekend though. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

First Day of School

Last Thursday was it...the first day of school!  I was pretty excited for this and nervous of course.  Being in school every day is a huge change.  I arrived to find every block surrounding the school in traffic jam mode but I found a spot on the street, we hiked the 1.5 blocks to the designated door and got him settled. 

He was happy to be there and their were parents in public service there in uniform to participate in their traditional first day flag raising and there was a police officer mom and dad in his class.  The mom belonged to the girl sitting next to him so that was fun.  They were handing out their traditional gold sticker badges. 

After picking him up he said he ate his lunch but didn't drink his milk (sigh, I was non milk drinking kid also.  His milk drinking at home is very routine so hopefully he breaks out of it and drink from the little cartons at school).  Their is a big black pet fish in his room named after the school mascot and sadly he stayed hidden in his little underwater log all day. He said several times that he really liked music class and his music teacher which is in what he called an outside room.  I wasn't sure what this meant and I thought maybe they just sat in a circle outside because of the nice weather but I think it refers to having class in a portable room behind the school.  I remember being very fascinated with my music teacher in elementary school from the first day because she was such a good singer and I really hadn't heard anyone sing like that right in front of me before.  I'll have to start playing piano for him more often.  I never do because every time I sit own at it the kids climb all over me and bang on the keys so no one gets anything out of it. 

They have their first phy ed day today and I'm sure he will love that.  I mostly hated it when I was a kid.  I'm a slow runner and I just had no interest in most of the tag based games we played in elementary school.  I also hated the requirement of wearing tennis shoes because I thought they were ugly. 

The bus riding plan so far...has been nothing but chaos.  The first day I asked the teacher what the bus protocol was for after school (like making sure someone walked them out until they know where to go) and I didn't specify that I was picking him up that afternoon.  So when I got there he was on the bus (I caught it before it left).  The driver said she had waited at our corner that morning but had to drive away even though I clearly specified with the bus company that we would start on Monday.  So this morning I got the robo call that it was 15 minutes behind schedule. Ben's pickup is 12 minutes before school starts so pretty easy math-he would be late for school.  I went down to wait anyway with him and Milo (Tessa was sleeping) and 8:30 came and went with no bus and I started to think it wasn't coming so we ran back up to our house and I threw them in the car and grabbed Tessa out of her bed and pulled out of the garage just in time to see the bus driving away from the stop.  Now the driver will probably really be annoyed with me and I'm nervous about what will happen after school.  I'm also embarrassed because I already showed up at the school as the stereotypical
"hot mess mom" who is dragging kids in pajamas (and no shoes for Tessa) and frantically zooming up to the school like a maniac. 

Now I don't know If I trust the bus company.  It is a private company paid by the public schools so if you have a conflict you don't talk to the school.  You call an operator at the bus company.  I know it's the third day but I don't know how you can get that late if you have a no waiting policy (they will only wait 60 seconds).  I rode the bus for years and I remember only being late for school once because the weather was bad the day before and the bus got stuck in a snow bank in someone's driveway.  And it wasn't a 20 city block radius-it was a long winding country route of many miles of gravel roads and the weather was often bad in the winter and if a family didn't come out the driver would radio the school secretary who would call the house to double check and hurry them along.  The driver would wait probably up to five minutes.  And still we were never late. 

Tessa starts preschool this week.  She has been enjoying her downtime having things to herself.  After the first morning drop-off she went right to her room and changed out of her dress she was wearing and came out wearing mismatched pajamas.  She then plopped herself on the couch to watch a show of her choice with no fighting. 

She has also enjoyed having the legos and duplos to herself.  She gets pretty...creative...

She still has Milo to contend with so nothing she builds lasts very long...