Friday, April 20, 2018

The Milestones Keep Coming

Does everyone remember when they lost their first tooth? I was in Kindergarten in Wyoming and it happened in the middle of the school day.  I was pretty young and apparently I was one of the first kids in the class to lose a tooth (redshirting wasn't really a thing yet back then except for the boys with the latest summer birthdays) because everyone really got excited.  I didn't really understand what was going on because losing teeth wasn't really the talk of the class yet so my mom was even surprised when I got home. I hadn't mentioned that it was loose.

Times have changed and kids in Ben's preschool class were losing teeth already last year.  He has had a few "wishful thinking" loose teeth that weren't actually loose but he was still waiting.  On Wednesday he came home from school with an actual loose tooth.  He said he used his teeth to pull his soggy wet glove off his hand and that's when it became loose.  I don't use my teeth for many activities besides chewing so this makes me cringe.  He wouldn't leave it alone and by the time he went to sleep it was really loose.  I had a feeling he would come home with a gap and I was right.

He said before lunch a boy in his class told him to pull it out so he did.  Hmmm OK.  I admire this audacity.  I was always afraid to pull and mine would practically hang out of my mouth.  Once my mom pulled one out by tricking me and saying she was just looking at it and I didn't even know she did it.  

So, next up-the Tooth Fairy.  This is another one of those plot hole filled magical legends that is really hard for me to play along with because it's just so ridiculous.  But might as well enjoy the childhood lack of logic while it last, right?  Too late, I thought it would be pretty cool to leave one of those golden $1 coins with Sakajawea on them.  I know I have some because I got a bunch for high school graduation. But, I have no idea where they are and Justin has some too but he also doesn't know where they are.  They are packed away with our de-cluttered clutter.  It's been almost a year since I saw it.  Not looking forward to getting reacquainted.  

I really felt like I should do something cute since it's his first one so I went on Pinterest and immediately facepalmed.  Too...much...magic...decorative tooth boxes, glitter thrown thank you.  But I did see some fun paper folding techniques for folding money.  There was a really cool fighter jet that looked like a more complicated version of a paper airplane. one dollar that I could find was so wrinkly it just looked terrible so I ended up making a normal paper airplane.  

Special, isn't it?  I can't believe I almost didn't even have a $1 bill for this purpose and I didn't figure it out until 9 p.m.  That was a close one.  I suppose a handful of coins would have been OK too...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The New Neighborhood Hero

I've been really absent on the old blog lately.  I think about things I want to post often but it's just really crazy right now.  Calvin has not adopted a nap schedule yet and instead he sleeps for short intervals which barely allow me to get anything done and the blog is the least necessary thing.  He's been fussy and I realized last week that he was getting a tooth.  Well that explains so much!  I noticed a day before he turned four months old which is around when Tessa got teeth.  Ben was six months old and Milo...ummm...maybe he was between four-ish and six-ish months...sometime in there...

Also, on Friday we got our new house!  I am still living in our old one with the kids while Justin works on the new one after work every night.  We spent the weekend there and I have multitudes of ideas to post about.  This blog is about to go back to it's roots almost nine years after our first house was the original main feature.  But, before I get into that, I have to post about a recent adventure I had.

Since we've owned a house, I've always enjoyed being neighborly.  I know it's common in America for neighbors to barely see each other or talk to each other for years because people drive into their garage, close the door before entering the house and they don't come out until the next morning when they leave for work.  Happily (for me) both of our streets have included active retired people, people who don't work traditional 9-5 hours, and me, a stay at home parent.  People who happen to be coming and going and who are often around during the day.  On our current cul de sac, no one has fences in their back yards and the circular arrangement means we end up visiting whenever anyone is out shoveling, doing yard work or getting the mail.  We have an association which means we have meetings and dues which have to be handed to the correct person which has been our house for a few years so people have no choice but to come over!  We have a block party every summer and we all end up helping each other.  We water plants, babysit cats and kids (like when a person goes into labor at 11 p.m. for example) and I am the go to person when someone needs their house opened up for a delivery or repair person.  This friendliness leads to silly neighborly antics like arguments over what the name of the male pheasant who lives behind our houses is and lots of roof climbing to retrieve kites (that was Ben) plastic swords (our neighbors grandson threw one on our roof) and various winter related roof nonsense like frozen sewer vents and massive snow drifts that threaten to pull down gutters.

So, the Wednesday before Easter our neighbor from two houses down came over to let me know they were babysitting a cat for a friend who was overseas for a month and he was really scared and had slipped out of the house somehow and they couldn't find him.  Of course I said I would be on the lookout and I put cat food and a box with a towel out on the deck.  On Thursday he had been spotted but then he disappeared again.  I was worried because it was really cold for the time of year (cold as January) but I saw no sign of him and we left for Easter that afternoon.  When I returned the following Tuesday I saw some cat prints in the snow in our backyard but I wasn't sure how old they were or if the cat had already been caught.  But the next morning there were prints all over the yard and when I returned from the school drop off run there were fresh wet prints on the deck by the food dish!  Uhhh I just missed him!

I knew the cat had to be close so I tried to think of the smelliest, most enticing food I could put out there.  All the online advice says to use tuna or wet cat food.  But...I thought of the times I had seen the most civilized dogs and cats, well fed pets, lose their minds over dead game during hunting season.  I've seen cats drink blood and dogs turn insane over organs so I decided wild game was the best idea and we have a freezer full of it!  How perfect! 

 I found a pack of Elk hamburger from 2015 in there and cooked it and put a small dish outside.  

Allan was annoyed that I don't cook wild game for him...

There was no action all day, much to my disappointment but the next morning the bowl was licked clean.  So I called the neighbors and they were thrilled because they had seen no sign of the cat for days and were starting to give up because it was really cold out.  They brought over a live trap they had set for a few days with no success and I put the elk inside and the next morning it was still open.  Dang.  It turns out the food dish was placed such that the trip pad didn't need to be stepped on to eat the food and activate the trap.  So Friday night I placed two small bowls way at the back of the trap and went to sleep that night hoping but always worried that it still wouldn't work.  The low temperature was going to be 7 degrees that night and I really was worried about that cat.

Saturday morning Allan woke me up in the predawn hours by being his usual annoying cat self and walking on my head, purring really loud, all the usual moves.  I couldn't get back to sleep because I was thinking about the trap.  I wasn't sure what time of night the cat was visiting and I didn't want to turn on all the lights and scare him away.  But finally around 6 a.m. I couldn't take it any longer and I went to look.  And I was thrilled to see the door was closed!  I went out and carefully pulled back the blanket covering the trap, hoping a crazed squirrel or rabbit wasn't in there and there was a fluffy cat face staring at me!

I went and woke Justin up so he could help me bring the trap inside and we carried him to the basement bathroom so he could get warm.  Later that morning we called the neighbors to tell them the news and everyone was so happy.  When the owner in Europe heard the news she got my number and called to thank me.  She said she celebrates Orthodox Easter and it was that weekend and it was their Easter miracle.  I told her about the morning our missing cat showed up on Easter morning when I was a kid and it was a happy phone call for us both.  There were a lot of people on the hunt for this cat on all the missing pet social media pages and my elk idea is now all over although I don't take all the credit because they gave me the trap.  I just love cats and I imagined how upset I would be if I was away and Allan was loose in the cold.  I hope someone would help me if they could.

And here he is...the sneaky Maine Coon himself who caused a two week long neighborhood cat hunt during a record breaking April cold snap which included at least two blizzards.  I lost count there have been so many.

Apparently since being brought back into the house he has become very comfortable and snuggly as he waits for his owner to return where before he only hid under the bed all day.  Also, he was snubbing dry cat food.  I guess he acquired a taste for the good stuff.  

I'm still thinking back to that morning with happiness and I'm glad I was able to help some fellow animal lovers and I'm glad we all knew each other well enough to work together.  And, I admit I have enjoyed being recognized for my efforts in something.  It's the life of a mom-you constantly do thankless work and often you are completely ignored, your work is undone within minutes, you are considered lazy for not having a job and people assume you and your kids sit around the house doing nothing all day, and things you do are complained about (ahem, every meal I present to my kids).  At least the cat wants the food I make!  

Monday, April 9, 2018

Easter 2018

YWe had a nice Easter weekend.  The kids had Monday and Tuesday off from school which gave us a five day weekend.  Tessa had an Easter party at school and came home with these:

These are now turning up everywhere I look.  On the floor, on the table, on the counter, back on the floor, in the entry.  I need to sneak them into the garbage.  Also, sweet mother, the entryway looks like a sandbox.  

We headed to Easter ND for Easter and the weather and conditions were just horrid.  We arrived at the farm and I immediately got stuck in the driveway in the muddiest mudhole I've ever seen.  Usually, an April Easter is more pleasant than a March Easter but this year...ugh.  It was cold as January while also being muddy everywhere.  There was also a winter weather warning for Friday night.  Good thing I was able to travel ahead of it.  

We have always taken the kids to a big public egg hunt (more like grab-no skill involved at this event!) and the two year old hunt was scheduled for 8:30 a.m.  So we get up really early only to arrive and discover it has been delayed two hours because of the weather.  But eventually...

This was after Milo had his turn.  We had Ben and Tessa both go during the 4-5 year old hunt so we wouldn't have to wait around any longer.  He turned 6 less than a month before so...

Off they go!

Be is in the blue and black shirt and Tessa is in the polka-dot pants.  

Milo was starting to lose his composure after waiting for the older kids' egg hunt to start and Calvin was crabby too.  

Here Milo is whining because he wanted to open the eggs even though he already opened his own earlier.  

We had another egg dying session at the farm  that afternoon.  My parents were talking about how when they were kids they did the "blow out" technique where you poke holes at each end of the egg and blow the yolk.  At the church my mom grew up going to the ladies would decorate elaborate eggs every Easter and keep them through the years.  I recall doing this once when I was younger but it was probably 25 years ago.  My dad demonstrated!

It still works!  The key is sticking something like a skewer up one end to break up the yolk before blowing.  

On Easter morning the kids were excited to get their baskets.  Then we went to church and made it at 7:30 a.m.  Amazing!  At the end of the service during the recessional hymn, which was "Lift High the Cross" the minister invited all the kids to the front where they had a basket of small crosses which they could hold up during the refrain.  Milo ran right up there and we were worried he would whack someone but he didn't!  Amazing!

Here is Tessa with her basket.  I didn't get many pictures. 

Ben wrote a note to the Easter Bunny asking if we could hunt for eggs inside.  He said yes.

He's really an artist with those streamers, isn't he?  

In addition to Easter, the weekend also included some birthday fun for...ME!  My birthday was on Wednesday but I had my fun ahead of time.  First I had a cake which is actually a layered pudding desert my mom made.  

Yee haw PARTY TIME!  The kids were not too impressed when I opened my gifts, which included clothes, a coffee mug and some pot holders.  Oh, and a plane ticket to California this summer!  YEAHHH!

I got another cake later in the weekend.  Justin's mom only had the numbers 1, 2, and 6 in candle form so I picked an age...will I be 12?  26? 61? 62? Nope, I'm going to be 21 of course!

Look!  You can see my pajama pants!  I had to change because Justin and I went to Olive Garden for supper (by ourselvessss!) and I got a free desert and I was so full I could barely move.  You can also see Milo peeking over my shoulder.  I don't think I'm fooling anyone.  I couldn't quickly locate a picture from my actual 21st birthday but here is one from May of 2004 when I was newly 21.  

Now why on earth was I wasting my tight and toned legs by wearing pants like that...the world will never know.  

Monday, March 26, 2018

Easter Egg Chaos

The Easter Egg dying...I've learned this is one of those "family fun" activities that you idealize and people post about it on social media making it look awesome and fun but it's generally a fiasco.  The younger the kids, the bigger the fiasco.  This year, Ben and Tessa were quite civilized and fun while dying eggs.  They know how to gently ease the eggs in the cups instead of dropping them from six inches above and splashing dye everywhere.  They care about design and color.  They don't break eggs with carelessness.  They were so excited to dye eggs they asked about it all day. They monitored the boiling of the eggs, the cooling and the drying.  It would have been a fun activity...but...there was also a two year old and a baby involved.  I almost waited until a time when Milo was sleeping to do this but I thought he's two and a half...he should be part of the fun.  The other kids dyed eggs at that age.  Well...he was a nightmare. He wanted to dip his hands in the dye and stir the eggs around in the cups with a spoon so I had to hold every up so he didn't spill everywhere.  He cracked his eggs and I thought I could distract him with a shrink wrapped egg but he wanted it "opened" meaning he thought the wrapper should come off.  Finally I distracted him with technology just so he would leave the other two to enjoy themselves.  This morning he broke two more eggs while the other two were at school.  Hopefully they don't notice.

So, here are the eggs the civilized members of the family made.

Ben picked out the kids at Walmart with Justin and they chose a PAWS monster kit and a golden egg one.  The gold one didn't have nearly enough paint for a whole batch but the ones they made are pretty cool 

Surprisingly neat work for the age group...

I kept a few white eggs for my favorite shrink wraps!  Milo broke this little monster this morning...Most of the eggs were two big for the wraps! They were only larges not jumbos so next time I will have to buy mediums.  

Ben was very serious about this activity.

Allan has an annoying habit of dipping his paws in glasses of fresh ice water to get himself a drink.  Usually he only wants water (of course he would take milk but open glasses of milk aren't a regular occurrence around here) but not juice, colas, tea or coffee.  Here he is dipping his paws into and drinking dye water!  I was so annoyed by this...I use vinegar with egg dye tablets before adding the water so the water I imagine tastes like vinegar.  I can't imagine it tasted good. 

He had blue water on his paw!  I haven't checked to see if it stained his delicate white paw.  He deserves it if it did.  

Here is Milo's wreckage from before I stopped the madness and made him do something else.  When this tray finally meets its final days in approximately two years it will be happy to go into the dumpster.  

This is an egg Milo broke and then left on the living room floor.  I don't like to eat hard boiled eggs so I'm not exactly an expert at boiling them although I have learned enough to know you put the eggs in the cold water and then heat the water instead of dropping the eggs into boiling water.  These were obviously not boiled long enough but at least they are solid enough not to run all over the place. We have a hard boiled egg making machine that makes perfect ones but it is packed away in our storage unit along with all our other frivolous small appliances and our Easter decorations. 

I wish we had them because the kids love Easter.  Tessa spent the afternoon playing with fake eggs and an empty 18 pack carton.  

Justin bought them jumbo eggs when they bought the dye.

Milo instead chose this giant sucker full of smaller suckers.  It was a sticky, sticky day for him. 

They even brought this sour gummy work egg with feathers for me!  I let Tessa use the egg for her trinket games.  

Back to the topic of appliances, the fridge I was so proud of myself for "fixing" by doing a huge defrost warmed right back up to 49 degrees over the last few weeks so the last option was to call an appliance repair company.  We really didn't want to resort to that because Justin researched a few of the parts he thought might be malfunctioning and one was $300. turns out this guy had a trove of parts for late 90's era Maytags and it only cost $46. It was still in the original box.  I am so relieved.  That fridge has been vexing me for two months.  I REALLY enjoyed my properly chilled Diet Dr. Pepper this afternoon.  I REALLY hope the repair solves the problem long term.  It's hard to believe a fridge from 1997 is now 20 YEARS OLD!  I cleared off the top (if you recall from a New Year's resolution post I did a year or two ago, the top of the fridge is one of my clutter and junk problem areas and it ends up being where we stash things we don't want the kids to get and also food items that don't fit in the cupboards like large bags of generic brand cereal) so the guy didn't end up with a cascade of junk falling on his head if he had to pull it away from the wall.  Allan discovered the open expanse and went ahead and did his wildcat surveillance thing that he does so well. He even went on top of the cabinets and peered over the all into the living room.  No threat detected...time to get down and sleep on the bed. 

Ever since we sold the house we have had a never ending avalanche of maintenance issues including a bad clogged drain (I snaked that nightmare myself!) furnace issues requiring multiple visits from the HVAC company, the fridge, and also our TV has multiple LED bulbs burned out and it has spots on the screen and during the day you can barely see the picture because it is so dark.  At least the TV is not attached to the house. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Spring Catchup

Spring is here!  It's a typical Northern spring, complete with snow on the ground (rapidly melting right now at least) and a rain/snow/sleet weekend sh!tstorm brewing...again.  I was trying to think of something to post about but every day is like groundhog day lately. So here is a quick list of fun happening around here.  It's kind of like the social news of a small town newspaper where you can see who's kid was home visiting from college with their dorm roommate, who hosted bridge and who returned from Arizona that week.

So, earlier this month we were Baptism sponsor's for my cousin's son who was born a month before Calvin.  We travelled to Northern MN for the service and had a nice family get together complete with a four generation photo.

This is when you notice that my 86 year old grandmother is wearing the cutest outfit of all of us.  Look at her, with her non-grey hair...

We got a reasonably nice family picture, if you don't look at the kids' faces.

Two weekends ago I managed to get to the hair salon for the first time since November and I chopped off the stringy situation on my head.

I was pleased as could be when I left the salon.  Of course, after washing it I never could replicate this look again and it is back to it's fuzzy self again but that's OK.  

Calvin turned three months old a few days...oh's already been a week...ago.  He's really starting to enter the "established baby" phase where he smiles and coos and will even lay on his play mat for longer than a few minutes batting at toys.  

He makes funny faces and has some great expressions.

Over the weekend I bought a pack of cheap toothbrushes (for myself) and Milo ripped it open and was carrying them around the house. Ben picked one up one morning and was brushing Calvin's head with it.  I started to make him stop but then I realized Calving was really enjoying it.

He was talking and smiling and seemed very calm.  Who would have thought?

He's so cute these days.  I notice his little stages more than ever because he is the last baby.  

St. Patrick's Day zoomed by with no acknowledgement at our house.  I wore a green plaid shirt and that's about it.  A friend hosted a themed playdate on Friday so we got a fix there and she even made a rainbow out of fruit and that was enough for me.  Tessa said a girl in her class had her house majorly messed up by leprechauns. They had a trap for them at her school and she has had lots of questions about where they live, what they look like, etc. and this myth is so full of plot holes I don't even know how to lie about it.  I'm all for fantasy and childhood magic but the leprechaun thing is one legend I just want to tell the truth about right now.  I don't need to be trashing my own house.  I usually skip right to Easter decorating but all of it is in the storage unit so we've got nothing.  I will overcompensate next year!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Happy 6th Birthday Ben!

Ben turned six...last Wednesday.  It's already been a week.  The day, March 7th, was a Wednesday and so was the day he was born.  What a strange thing to think back on.  I'll never forget leaving the house at 6:30 a.m. to head to the induction in a light snow shower and I was really sad to say goodbye to Allan for some reason.  I had NO IDEA what I was embarking on.  And here we are.  He's a happy and functional Kindergartner.  He didn't get much of a celebration this year.  Justin was gone for work and I just couldn't do much.  I bought a cake at a grocery store and he opened presents which I didn't even wrap.  Justin's mom did.  I did manage to find a happy birthday banner from last year (lego themed) and I hung it outside his room with some balloons so he would see it right away in the morning.  His teacher gives the kids a nice gift bag of the little trinkets they all love and he got a football puzzle eraser, a pen, a car and a little figurine thing with sticky hands and feet that you can fling around and it sticks in funny positions.  They encourage non-food celebrations (buzzkill but its the new normal) and he chose extra computer time. He seemed satisfied with the day. This is the first year since he was a newborn that we haven't been skiing in Montana on or around his birthday and it feels weird.

Here is the cake I chose.  Of course, those plastic balloons caused a fight.  Three kids, two bunches of balloons and a mini meltdown from a two year old.  Fortunately, they were almost instantly forgotten about.

Ben got some good presents including several lego sets, a soccer ball, a book, a trivia flashcard game and a quilt made by my grandma.  He was so excited to start building his legos that he never even ate any cake.

Here is his new quilt.

Allan got into it soon after.  

And now...a flashback because it's fun. 

 And one extra of the awesome Allan cake I made a few days after his 1st birthday.  I'm still very proud of it!  He didn't eat either of his cakes.  He didn't much care for food and still doesn't care about cake that much.

And finally...not his original birthday but his going home day on that beautiful 70 degree March 10th.  This year was completely different and we would never have been outside dressed like this if he was born this year.