Monday, January 22, 2018

Show and Tell

So, who remembers "show and tell" from their old elementary school days?  My kids don't have it.  Their preschool doesn't have it (I have specific memories of having it at my preschool back in 1987/88) and it isn't part of Ben's Kindergarten day either.  It was always pretty fun.  I assume they don't have it because it can cause a lot of distraction having kids bring toys and favorite things at home to school.  Also, I can't remember how it was all arranged in "my day" but it had to have taken a lot of time.  I can tell you that distractions were rampant.  Can you imagine a school day where someone's mom brought a dog on a leash or a box full of kittens into the classroom?  Well, that happened often after making special arrangements with the teacher and it was sometimes my mom bringing the animals.  One day one of my classmate's moms brought their latest kitten litter into the room in her coat pockets.  A lot of us lived on farms so having kittens wasn't a novelty but it sure was fun seeing them at school.

Anyway, Ben had been asking if he could bring Calvin to school so when I was emailing the teacher to tell her he would be missing school to go to Frisco with Justin I asked if it was possible to bring a baby to school even though they don't have show and tell.  She said yes and we planned a day.  That day was last Wednesday morning.  Tessa was at preschool but I had to bring the two year old goon with and was worried about the ensuing chaos he might cause.  It was pretty fun though.  I must say that the teacher sure does use her classroom management skills.  I had a brief semester in college where I took education classes before changing my mind so I recognized a few of her methods and I also learned some teaching skills when I took water safety instructor classes but it was non stop.  The kids all seemed happy though which is good to see and it appears my kid is well behaved and listens (at least at school!) and he seems popular with his classmates.  When I arrived they were finishing up listening to a book about a new baby and then we talked about a babies for awhile and the teacher took pictures and sent home some she printed a few days later.




A few other kids said they had babies at home so we probably started a parade of baby visitors.  And the teacher said show and tell does indeed happen at this school starting in first grade. They all wanted to hold him and I made some excuse about how there wasn't enough time for twenty kids to hold him and the teacher cut right to the chase and informed them that it would spread too many germs.   

I'm just really happy about how the school year has gone so far.  I remember how intimidated Ben was by the packed playground when I dropped him off in the morning those first few weeks and now he just jumps out of the car and runs off without looking back.  He talks about playing football and soccer and the snow forts they build.  I was nervous about him riding the bus with so many older kids but that has been fine too.  He's the last drop off and the kid who gets dropped off right before him is a 5th grader and it sounds like this boy has adopted Ben as his little buddy.  He's always bringing home these fancy paper airplanes that his friend made him from a paper folding book he has.  For Christmas, Ben got a little puzzle on a keychain (he always talks about how kids have keychains on their backpacks) and it broke on the bus (it was similar to a Rubik's cube except made of little balls) and the next day Ben came home with a real Rubik's cube that his buddy brought him from home to replace his keychain.  He must have been playing with it when it broke.  

I recently read a blog post on a parenting site where the writer was giving an account of her kids' school's nightmarish drop off/pick up line. For me, the drop off is easy but the pickup is nuts.  I have rarely picked him up but when I did I had to park blocks away because people start showing up an hour before school is out to be close to the door and there is no parking lot except the small one for the teachers.  Then, silly me, I read some comments on the article and apparently there is a mommy war over putting your kids on the bus and a lady even "went there" and said it was lazy parenting because moms who put their kids on the bus just want to stay in bed.  Yeah...Ben gets himself ready and hikes down to the bully filled war zone that is the school bus by himself while me, my newborn, my two and four year old all sleep the morning away and lounge around in bed.  Just selfish.  It's so much better on the mornings when I drive them because Ben and Tessa both have school and we are running around like lunatics to get out the door by 8. Judge away, Internet strangers.  I'm glad to use the service which we all pay for anyway to make everyone's day much easier and to have one less gigantic kid hauling vehicle taking up space on the streets around the school at 3:00.   

Here is a quick Calvin picture which I just think it funny.  No relation to the rest of the post at all.  


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Let's Talk About That Game...




OK, we need to talk about the Vikings/Saints game from Sunday.  I don't live in MN and never have but my mom grew up in Minnesota and my grandma lives there and there are no other states with NFL teams anywhere close to ND so by default everyone here is a Vikings fan and we have all endured "the curse" for years.  Most years, the Superbowl isn't even on the radar of Vikings fans but every once and awhile...they get close.  The first year I recall was 1998 when the kicker missed his first field goal of the whole season in the NFC championship game and the Vikings ended up losing.  I was in 8th grade and I wasn't exactly a huge football fan.  I knew the biggest names in the NFL and a bit of what was going on in football games but I was at the level where, when I would go to a high school game with friends, my dad would quiz me about who won and what the score was afterwards because he was pretty convinced I wasn't paying any attention to the game and spent the whole time talking and screwing around.  And, he was right.  But, in my defense, it's kind of hard to follow small school football when you are standing along the sidelines and can't see an elevated view of what's going on.  But that 1998 game was rough even for me.  My 4th grader brother was depressed for a few days after that mess.

As I got older, I finally learned the actual technicalities and rules of football.  This was mostly due to playing on a surprisingly competitive flag football team in law school every fall.  We had real practices and our former football player classmates coached us.  So, in 2009 when they were so close again, I watched with my extended family in Mexico as they lost once again at the very end.

So, on Sunday afternoon everything was looking good and the Vikings were ahead 17-0.  But both Justin and I had a sense of foreboding and we were not wrong as of course, the Vikings started melting down and ended up behind by one point.  But then...

Image result for vikings saints post game interview
The time was running out and we were just hoping for a field goal chance which, based on history, would have ended in disaster but then this happened...as every fan in the state of Minnesota and the surrounding areas yelled "GET OUT OF BOUNDS MORON!!!"  but Marcus Williams there somehow dove into the air and missed the tackle and instead tripped his teammate and this Diggs guy kept running and we realized he was free...and he scored!  And pandemonium broke out everywhere.  I am not a sports youtube video watcher but even I watched it probably ten times yesterday.  He flung off his helmet and ran into the tunnel for some reason, probably overwhelm and not knowing what else to do, and got mobbed by the whole team as the entire stadium went nuts.  I watched multiple videos of fans celebrating including some in the stadium and I can't believe no one was seriously injured.  Those people were tackling and hugging and flinging themselves around and I don't know how no one tumbled over chairs and down the stands.  

The footage from people's own living rooms is even better.  I giggle just thinking about it.  The grown men emitting high pitched sounds like you rarely hear except from toddlers, the rolling around on the floor, the men jumping up and down and hugging and dancing around with other men, the ripping off of clothing, the running around and jumping on furniture, the expletives screamed in disbelieve, the bewildered children and pets looking alarmed in the background...it's all so funny.  I also kind of love seeing inside other people's living rooms.  Sometimes when you are always stuck at home with little kids you feel like there's always some fun party you're missing.  Like everyone else is watching the "big game" at a sports bar and enjoying $2.00 you call it drinks while you sit and deflect whiny kids the whole time.  But, from the looks of it, many many other people are sitting in toy littered living rooms on worn out and unattractive couches with crap scattered on their end tables and coffee tables.  Solidarity to all of you.

Then came the post game interviews which were also pretty funny.  In this one, this guy is freaking out and his teammate comes over and they start hugging and practically making out while the interviewer is stuck between them giggling.  I can't make this huge white space go away above the picture...it happens sometimes with copy and paste from google images. 
Image result for vikings saints post game interview

Then of course, is the interview with Diggs himself, who ended up crying and walking away after becoming speechless only to be chased by hoards of other news people.  

Image result for vikings saints post game interview

So, that was pretty awesome but now there is still one more game to win before securing a spot in the home town Superbowl.  Can you imagine?  I know one person who would be so so happy right now...My Grandpa Harold, a lifelong Minnesotan and sports fan and the first TV yelling, loud celebrating fan I knew. 



Dang, I was sure he was wearing Vikings stuff in these pictures but it appears to be local high school gear (where he was a teacher and coach).  Lucky they wear the same colors!  But he was a huge fan.  



Wednesday, January 10, 2018

School Days on My Mind

Two days before Calvin was born I was waiting anxiously.  In the small town where I grew up there was a referendum being voted on.  Six million dollars to be paid for by the people, to build a new addition to the public k-12 school.  This was especially interesting to me because we plan on our children attending this school in the future.  If you follow local news in ND, you will know that getting a small town to pass a referendum for a school is no easy accomplishment and it is common to hear of the plan failing by just a small number of votes. Usually the deciding votes belong to a population of well off older people who pay a lot of taxes and usually they don't think it's worth it to them.  The same scenario happens almost every year somewhere and there is usually a short news story that only people from the town pay attention to. That same thing happened to this very school in the mid-90's and I actually found the "vote yes" campaign button from that time when I cleaned my old room and something compelled me to save it.  I was so disappointed that morning and so was every other kid at school.  Of course, the money didn't mean much to us then, but I recall feeling very let down knowing that people didn't care enough about us to pay the cost.  All was not lost and months later a new plan was formed that cost less and involved a less drastic plan and it passed and we were filled with pride again.  The yearbook for 1996 had a cool floor plan and construction theme and when I was in 7th grade, after Christmas break, we moved in.  The students hauled armloads of books into the new library and carefully lifted computer drives down flights of stairs and into the new lab and carried music stands and boxes of sheet music and chairs and arranged them in our beautiful new music room.  But that was 20 years ago and school demographics change and educational standards change.  The days when the average family had many kids instead of 1 or 2 are gone and giant classrooms to hold 40 desks lined up together are gone.  Learning issues are now diagnosed and help is given to students who need it and this requires separate classroom space.  And people just like new stuff (not everyone is me!).  The large district where we live now is always updating and redrawing lines and building new schools and they say the usefulness of a school building is only something like 40 years.  Can you imagine?  Only 40 years?   That means building from 1980 will soon be considered questionable.  Yikes.

Well, I had nothing to worry about because it passed! By 90%!  Holy moly, I didn't think it was possible.  There is one part of me that feels a bit sad though...and that is because the new plan involves taking a wrecking ball to the "old buildings" which date back to 1908 and 1934.

I have a history book that has lots of pictures of these school buildings but it is packed away with lots of other clutter right now so I had to rely on good old Google and it, as usual, didn't let me down.  Good thing it was common to publish post cards of random small town buildings in the early 1900's and also it's a good thing some guy collected thousands of them and donated the collection to NDSU and they archived it for everyone to enjoy.  Now I can share pictures of this building!


What is so striking about the old pictures is the open space behind the school.  Now it sits in the middle of the town.  There is nothing especially unique about it's design.  Schools like this were found in almost every small town.  Maybe not this big but they were everywhere.  This building was mostly for high school students because the elementary students often went to country schools until 8th grade.  My grandma grew up one mile from town and walked her for elementary school so some kids did go to school in "town" when they were young.  My grandpa went to high school here and "boarded" at a house in town during the winter.  I found lists of all the students on a year book archiving website and I found several of my great aunts and uncles dating back to when in opened.  My great grandparents weren't found on the lists but a few of their younger siblings were as were the people who lived on the farm where I grew up.  That is part of what enamoured me with this old place I think-imagining my grandparents, dad and other family members walking the halls and wearing grooves on the wood stairs and playing sports in the gyms the same way I was.  


That tree-lined walkway is pretty cool.  Now that is a street with houses on either side.  


This is from a 50's era yearbook with the 1934 addition in full view.  I don't think I've seen a photo like this before.  There was a 60's era addition attached in front of those buildings so you couldn't see the old entrance to this building anymore.  The whole first level of windows is the upper walls of the gym.  I love 1930's style.  

The problems with these old buildings are many.  Although I never though my learning environment was lacking as I listened to high school Math, English, History and Art lessons well as 6th grade and computer class in the oldest building and music, library, and many middle school classes in the 1934 building, they are deficient in modern amenities.  For example, there are no bathrooms in either building.  The 1908 building has bathrooms but they had to be converted into fire escape hallways apparently (I haven't seen this myself) because the classrooms are so big they now require two interior door to meet fire codes for rooms of that size.  The 1934 building has creepy old locker rooms which were not operational except there was a secret toilet and shower that still worked down there that we used to use when a visiting boys football team or basketball team would take over the girl's locker room and there wasn't time to go home between the end of practice and the game. But it was wedged behind the huge chest freezer for the kitchen which didn't actually fit in the kitchen.  This is just the beginning of a list of multitudes of woes involving accessibility (three stories, no elevators), heating and ventilation (no AC and terrifying metal radiators for heat that sizzled so hot you had to watch your extremities if your desk was near them), lack of space for special education, and fire code problems galore (although, strangely enough, the 1908 building is apparently the only part of the school with a sprinkler system).  I tell you what...you haven't lived until you've navigated a two foot wide metal fire escape staircase with a single handrail from the third floor of that 1908 building during a fire drill! But, regardless of these issues, it's still sad.  But it's also happy because I think we've all seen the alternatives if we've been off the main highways of ND.  When a town loses it's school to consolidation or general population loss the old school ends up standing for awhile until everyone realizes there is no good use for it and eventually it is torn down before it ends up vandalized or weather beaten and all that remains is a vacant lot with a garden and a monument and maybe a small playground.  That's the better outcome.  One of saddest sights you can see in a small town is this:





*These pics are not mine.  You can see the watermarks on them.  The ones without are from the every dot website I have referenced before.

How could this happen, I always wonder?  Building such stylish and permanent school meant the residents were full of hope and optimism and had a reason to look to the future and somewhere it went wrong.  So I guess saying goodbye to the old by choice before it is forced is a good position to be in.  Construction starts this summer with demolition set for 2019.

Here is an editorial from the newspaper editorial board from a few weeks ago and I agree with them.

http://www.grandforksherald.com/opinion/editorials/4376897-our-view-hatton-shows-local-control-still-matters


Monday, January 8, 2018

New Year, New Me

It's pretty awesome having a baby two weeks before a new year starts.  I've already lost twenty pounds!  And all while I have been drinking the leftovers from the festive hot chocolate and coffee bar I assembled for Christmas!  No detox tea or de-bloating mint water this January!  


Hot chocolate with reddi-whip and white chocolate chips and there is a crunched up candy cane in there too...oh yeah oh yeah...

But, being serious, I have had the urge to do some self-improvement this January.  It came to pass that I had three days over the weekend minus two kids when Justin took the kids to Texas...in a car...for the NDSU game.  Yes, you read that right.  It will be a post of it's own and I was slightly horrified but I guess it all went well.  I had big plans for household projects but Calvin decided it was a growth spurt and cluster feeding weekend so I spent a lot of time on the couch which was also nice.  I managed to tackle one of my favorite organizing projects if I can say any organizing project is my favorite-cleaning my closet and drawers.  

It was good time for this because I haven't been able to wear most of my clothes since approximately July and for some it's been even longer.  I don't think I've worn pants with a button since May.  It was fun to rediscover what I had buried in there.  In addition, I last did this chore two years ago and after that major purge my closet was just a pleasure.  It was to the point of having space between the hangers.  Somehow, over two years the spaces disappeared and my drawers were stuffed so full they barely closed.  The shelves above the closet rod on my side were heaped with clothes with no rhyme or reason and when I pulled something out other items would avalanche down on my head.  It was quite embarrassing so I didn't take a picture. You don't get to see it.  Only me, Justin, the kids, our realtor and the approximately fifty strangers who paraded through here this summer for showings and open houses got to see it. Finally, I was inspired because my mom gave me a big pack of these fancy hangers:


They are the flat ones that are covered with fuzzy material so the clothes don't slip off.  I have six of these coveted hangers already in two different mismatched styles so I know how nice they are.  Hanger continuity has never been a concern of mine as you can see from the photo below. 


Ahhhhh.  Yikes.  


The best part is how I use freebie store hangers for my skirts and strapless dresses.  That blue dress is one of my nicest dresses.  It should really be in my garment bag with my other nice dresses.  It's probably wondering what it's doing with all the outlet mall/Kohl's Vera Wang clearance rack/Old Navy crap.

I even admit to still having a few of these beauties around: 


But, we all know having a wire hanger around can save the day sometimes.  I recall using one that time Ben closed himself in the bathroom of our old house with the lights off and pulled a drawer open in front of the door so it couldn't open and I used a bent wire hanger to close it from the space under the door.  

Anyway, I hastily got to work while both Milo and Calvin were sleeping and ended up with a garbage bag full of actual garbage clothes that I won't waste the thrift store's time with.  I also had a much larger bag full of what I think are decent clothes which would be a shame to throw away but it might happen anyway because you can't give away women's clothes around here.  The thrift stores are so overwhelmed with crap they won't accept them and after rummage sale season they reject pretty much everything but furniture.  There is a very very non-profit organization that might take them so I will try that and otherwise they will probably sit in the garage until we move or until I have a friend who is having a rummage sale.  


The stuff on the ottoman there is my borderline pile-things I actually like but honestly never wear and haven't for a long time.  It will sit there for weeks until I realize I really don't care about it anymore.  There is a Bison shirt in there that has always had a weird fit that I will stash with my sewing stuff for the NDSU t-shirt quilt I plan to make in approximately ten years.  

Then, there were the maternity clothes.  Those dreaded, outdated, ill-fitting garments that I honestly could not wait to stop wearing this time around.  I was beyond tired of them.  I didn't have room to put them away properly and after a few months I just started thinking there was no point in making room for them so they were just piled in a laundry basket in the corner.  I hear women say they continue to wear them after their babies are born while they wait for their other clothes to fit but I am not one of them.  I prefer to wear stretch pants and fat jeans for a few months.  I sorted and removed these before Calvin was even home from the hospital. 


This pile is the items that were so old, so raggedy and gross that they went into the garbage.  Included is my swimming suit which had broken elastic protruding from it in many places, jeans with a waistband that was completely shot so they would not stay up at all and various pilled, holey and stained shirts.  Good riddance.  The rest I sorted to return to my sister and for the ones she never liked I gave them away to some ladies on Facebook.  Yee haw.  

People have been asking how we are doing and they usually ask, after hearing about the baby, how I am feeling with hesitation, expecting me to be in marginal shape.  The truth is I physically feel wonderful and almost like a new woman.  Like I said in my post about the birth, it wasn't bad for me at all and having the excess weight drop off is so invigorating.  Of course, I haven't been getting enough sleep but at least when I am sleeping it is quality sleep.  Let me show you some insights from my fitbit...

The following screenshots are from November and December before the birth...the red waves mean I was awake during those times.




I don't know what was going on here...it sure wasn't a restful night though.  

The next graph is from last night.  Less than six hours of sleep but at least it's a normal pattern and I actually got hours in a row of uninterrupted sleep.  


Then there is the issue of my crazy elevated heart rate that became jacked up immediately when I found out I was pregnant.  Check out his graph and see if you can pick out the day Calvin was born...


I cannot stop being fascinated with this.  The elevation is due to having double the volume of blood in your body during pregnancy and also, I'm sure, the extra forty pounds had something to do with it too.  It certainly makes me happy.  I look forward to actually exercising again.   I feel like I already could start but SOMEONE with cute fuzzy hair and skinny little arms and furrowed eyebrows is too young to go to the Y still...


It's OK, Calvin, I'm fine hanging out all morning at home with my cup of hot chocolate and reddi-whip.  

And so I start the slow climb back to being "normal" again.  When people hear the girl mix-up story many half-jokingly say something along the lines of "well, you can try again!" and, although the thought of that daughter will haunt me for awhile, the answer to that statement is a confident no way.  I am so over pregnancy that I can hardy find the words to express it.  Also, I am 34 and I keep thinking ahead to my life when I'm 40.  Ben will be 12 then and I imagine seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, a time when maybe the kids will be able to stay home alone for a few hours in the evening because that is the age I started staying home alone with my siblings and my parents were able to drop the evening babysitter.  I see us watching middle school sports and school concerts. What I don't envision is potty training a toddler, carrying a diaper bag and disassembling the little rubber regulators in sippy cups on a daily basis.  I don't want to be clipping five point car seat harnesses and hauling around a stroller.  Babies and little kids are special but...to everything there is a season.  


Friday, January 5, 2018

Christmas 2017

So, before it is too far gone, here is my account of Christmas 2017, which shall now be known as Calvin's first Christmas.  

I took these pictures of the kids with the tree earlier in December with the intent of sharing them and showing off how awesome we are because SOCIAL MEDIA but I never got around to it and they were still on my camera memory card as of today.  They are definitely not perfect but still cute.  Tessa wouldn't wear her Christmas pajamas because they "aren't sooooooft"meaning they aren't fleece material.  





For some reason I couldn't get these two pictures to be centered.  I am getting kind of embarrassed about how out of date my computer skills are these days.  There was a time when I was so good at computers I could remove viruses, so all kinds of system restoration and there was a time in college and grad school where I was one step away from being a hacker due to the lengths my classmates and I would go to in order to remove copyright protections from various types of media.  Now I can barely use Microsoft Word anymore.  I was writing a letter for someone this month and I truly did not know where to find all the old basic commands like changing margins.  




Aww...so cute. 



Milo...the weakest link.  



Off to the right you can see part of the junk pile I pushed out of the way to make the tree look all pristine.  




The tree didn't look any better than this.  As the month went on, Allan adopted that armrest as his tree chewing and tampering spot so there was a big gaping hole in the tree there.  


Here is Ben on Christmas Eve, taking inventory of the gifts under the tree.  We have never been home in our own house for Christmas so everyone sent gifts to us so it was pretty crazy.  




Justin's parents came for Christmas and we proceeded as usual with church (Milo was terrible), supper and present opening.  


Somehow we have acquired a tiny santa hat which has never fit on anyone's head before.  It finally got its chance!


Milo was not agreeable to taking a sibling picture either...


Finally present time!


Ben received several lego sets, including a large airport and matching air show hangar.  They kept him busy all day.  


Here is Tessa playing with some Shopkin's thing.  It's a high school with little accessories like a basketball hoop, lockers and tiny books and food. She picked a very nice Christmas day outfit which included a sundress from this summer.  


Calvin wasn't forgotten this year even though he wasn't supposed to have been born yet on Christmas!  It was pretty nice not having to worry about going into labor!

Allan was indifferent about his first Christmas every where he hasn't been alone in the house for days.  We dressed him up in an elf costume which is a dog size Medium so that indicates how overweight he is.  






We also have a Santa hat with ear holes and a beard attached but he would not keep it on his head even for a second.  Once again...the pictures are not centered.  Oh well.

After Calvin was born and named I quickly ordered him a matching Christmas stocking even though I knew it would not come in time.  I just wanted it done and maybeeee they were discounted too.  It came New Year's Eve and I took a few pictures before I packed everything up on the 2nd.  I am not opposed to leaving decorations up until the twelve days of Christmas have passed but these days I take an opportunity when I can and Ben was at school and Milo was sleeping so I got busy.


He's still so tiny!  


What a nice present he was!