Sunday, February 28, 2010


I just spent awhile writing a post with many pictures and I hit a wrong button and the whole thing disappeared. . .so annoying! Now my eyes are googly from staring at this screen. Sorry I haven't wrote for awhile! Something will show up later tonight or tomorrow I promise!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We Have a Snow Issue!

I was at my parents' house recently and there is so much snow around there that I can't believe it. We moved to the farm right after I turned 8 and now I am almost 27 and I have never seen snow like that in my life. My mom remembers it being like that in 1997, but I don't. (Probably because I was in 8th grade and not driving and worrying about its removal yet!)

This is a photo of the North side of the farm and a notorious drifting area. Usually my dad ends up clearing it himself because it takes so long for the county to attend to it and it becomes impassable. On the left is a very deep ditch that has a very slanted shoulder. If you stand in it with no snow you can't see over the road. It is filled completely with snow and the snow is higher than the road. The passage is so wide because of the rare appearance of a bulldozer clearing the way for the school bus. I can't wait to see what a mess this will turn into in a few weeks!
The snow situation is getting pretty crazy in Bismarck as well, although it is not as bad as in Eastern ND. Our front yard has snow piled waist high, and our neigbor has a snow pile in front of his house that is about as tall as his house! Our lots are pretty narrow, so there aren't alot of places to put it! The yard looks really bad because the Christmas decorations are still up and the ornaments are looking faded and rejected. The tree is not accessible at the moment, thought, so they will have to stay until the snow melts!
Justin started a new project yesterday. Its a workbench in the basement! He says he needs to reinforce it more and add a shelf above and below. I wonder what he will be working on down there?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Of course everyone knows the Winter Olympics are in progress. Allan has never shown an interest in TV before but last night he really got into figure skating. It seems Johnny Weir is his favorite. I prefer Lysacek myself.

I love both seasons of the Olympics. My favorite moment so far, and I'm sure many people my age would agree, was in Atlanta in 1996 when Kerri Strug landed on her broken ankle and the women's gymnastics team won the gold metal. I was at my Grandma's house in Red Lake Falls the night it happened and I can't believe I was only 13 years old! I also can't believe how close in age I was to the gymansts. Now I am way past the prime age of gymnasts! Good thing its the winter olympics right now. . .women in their late 20's and early 30's are still skiing and luging (if that's what you call it!)

Who can forget that old haggard slave driver Bela Karolyi encouraging Kerri that "You can do it!" as she stood there preparing to launch herself through the air on that broken bone! "You can DO IT!" became the favorite like of silly teenagers everywhere that summer and it was still rampant when basketball season started in August.

Another favorite moment of mine happened two summers ago at the Beijing olympics. I was at home at the farm that night and the broadcast was jumping from sport to sport in the typical fashion. There was an important race coming up in men's swimming. It was a men's relay and the USA winning was necessary if Michael Phelps was going to break the gold medal record. My brother and I wanted to watch it buy my dad was flipping between channels constantly trying to see the weather on the Fox 9:00 news broadcast and also the score of the Twins game! Arrghh! The French swimmers had been talking trash about how they were the dominant team but they spoke too soon! Jason Lezak, the oldest guy on the team, was the last swimmer and was way behind. Somehow, he managed to pull ahead and won by such a small margin that it was not visible to the naked eye.

It was so exciting! Pete and I had both jumped up from the sofa without even realizing it! The only thing that dissapointed me was that the media focused on Michael Phelps. It was a relay with four team members, not just one!

Below is a photo of my Valentine's Day flowers from Justin. They don't really apply to the rest of this post but I wanted to show them before the time passed!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How Allan Spends His Time

Allan is now 8 months old and is getting more and more grown up. Well. . .kind of. He still likes to play but not as much as he did when we first adopted him. During those early months he would play constantly with anything he could find. Lately he just plays fetch like a dog. His cousin Izzy the white fluffy dog gave him some small mice with little weights in them for Christmas that are good for throwing and batting around. He will bring a mouse to me when I'm sitting on the couch, drop it, and jump down to the floor. Then he will stare with expectation until I toss the mouse. He will chase it and repeat. I had to buy him some new mice because he destroyed the first three already.
In the guest bedroom there is a window with a bush outside of it right up against the glass. Most days it is full of little fluffy birds. These birds are the most fascinating things in the world to Allan. He loves staring out the window at the birds with his tail twitching with the intention of a serious predator. The poor little guy still has his hunting instincts. At least he gets to play fetch!

I snuck up on him! You can't see the birds in this photo but they were there!

Speaking of birds, this little bird house is attached to the deck in our back yard. It was a bright sunny day this morning and I noticed that it was being used by the little birds that also hang out in the bush! There were three of them perched on it. Our little neighbors! I appologize for the picture. I forgot to rotate when I uploaded it so it is sideways. I also took it from inside the house and didn't catch it when there were perching birds.

I grew up on a farm and we had many cats and kittens over the years. We also had a creek in our yard that frequently hosted ducks. Someone in the family (not me, as far as I can remember) compared the way cats sometime sit, with their paws curled under them, to the way ducks look when they are floating. Allan often assumes the "duck" position and I had to make a photo opportunity when Justin brought home this duck decoy (I'm not sure where it came from because Justin doesn't hunt ducks!) Sorry that Allan's eye looks weird in the picture. . .strange things happen to his eyes in photos!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gooooooing to the Gazebo. . .

Finally, the wedding day. . .Please note that the pictures that look really good and vivid are the ones from the photographer and I take no credit for them.

Here is a fabulous group photo taken with my camera before the wedding. The sun was blinding and my eyes in this picture were being fried by ultraviolent radiation and in many pictures they may or may not be open. I couldn't tell which camera was photographing because all I could see was searing sunlight burning my corneas. I'm sure others were feeling this issue as well because I've discussed with my dad and uncle (I think it was years ago at one of my brother's high school baseball games) the problem of sun sensitivity, squinting and even sun induduced sneezing after being exposed to sunlight after being accustomed to a dark or dim environment (which has a name, by the way, the Photic Reflex, which is believed to be an inherited trait in around 20% of people.) They both have it, as do I and my brother and I'm sure some of my translucent-eyed cousins do as well. It's a decent picture, even though my arm looks like a big blob of white dough compared to my mom's and sister's.

This picture was taken by the photographer of all of the wedding guests. I thought it was kind of silly that they had us do that wierd fist-pump thing. Maybe we should have waved instead! I don't know why my grandpa isn't looking up. Maybe he was having a photic reflex attack or something!

I took this photo of my lovely cousins, sisters of the groom! It is one of the few I took myself at the wedding that doesn't have a head or arm in it so I had to put it on here!

The wedding took place in a gazebo on the hotel premises. I like this picture because it gives a good view of the bride's dress and the bridesmaids' very cute shoes! (I guess they weren't too comfortable, but it was worth it for the cute pictures!)

I love this photo because of how bright and beautiful the dresses look!

Ahhhh, the newlyweds, posing on the beach while the rest of us got into the alcohol and cigars. Again. . .

I love this photo because the colors, especially the ocean, look amazing!

The wedding was celebrated at the Brazilian restaurant at the hotel and included the usual festivities of toasts, champagne, and cake. We also had a performance of the man who lit goblets of coffee on fire! My pictures of that didn't turn out very well so I didn't post any but it was fun to see (we saw it nightly as the coffee carts travelled around the hotel.) I enjoyed it even though I was sick from the food the night before (it was so delicious, too! Why? Why?) and didn't eat or drink much at all. There was no dance arranged just for the wedding, but there was a dancefloor for all of the hotel guests and Greg and Lindsay had a first dance to a lovely solo by Greg's cousin (in-law, I guess!) Staci (She can auctioneer and sing!) then most of us hit "Da Club" (the hotel's lame discoteque) to dance like fools while the DJ tried to fog us out of the place with a smoke machine. He didn't succeed.
So, it was a fun wedding. And I have two more cousins getting married in the spring. Laura "Skjo" in May and my cousin Katie "Kathy Ann" Pratt in March. I have to mention a non-wedding related story. On Wednesday night, I had the coolest dream of my life. My dreams have been vivid lately and two nights ago I was even dreaming about the alphabetical order of people's names. My sister thinks my brain needs more stimulation in daily life and my brain is trying to give itself a workout in my sleep. I agree-this blog is one attempt at it! Maybe I should study for another state's bar exam. That should be sufficient to suppress any crazy and creative brain activity!

Anyway, on Wednesday night in Mexico I dreamed that my dad and my uncle decided to start their own beer label and they were trying to think of a name and we came up with the name "Skjo Bros." It is actually pretty obvious but I never have thought of that in my waking hours and no one else has either that I know of. Very strange. In the dream, I apparently was a graphic designer and whipped out my art supplies and paper and designed a label that portrayed an old fashioned stage (similar to the stage for the nightly shows at the hotel, except it had maroon velvet curtains like the stage at Hatton High School.) It got stupid when my aunt got mad at them because they wouldn't let her join the Skjo Bros. label and told them she hoped for their failure. Like they were all children again and the big brothers were being mean. Hilarious dream, and it is still very clear to me. I don't know where any other detail came from because the hotel bars served beer in cups and the beer in the room was in green bottles while in the dream they were brown. My cousins and I might create some Skjo Bros. merchandise in the future...when will it surface? The following night I dreamed that the mayor of Bismarck came to my house but the mayor was in the form of a random woman I had seen on the beach that day, complete with beach coverup and visor. Weird business, but at least its funny and not scary or disturbing!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More Mexico! Excuse the delay. . .

Hello! I appologize for not continuing my Mexico wedding account faster. I went to Fargo this weekend to ride on a party bus with some college friends and got stranded in a blizzard. Now I really miss Mexico!

I believe I left off in the middle of the week. On Wednesday morning I went on a zip line rainforest tour with Justin, My parents and Kirk and Andrea. It was quite an adventure. We were dropped off at the "Vallarta Adventure" center then boarded this crazy open-air truck that looked like it belonged in a combat zone or in the oil fields of the Middle East! Soon we were cruising down the Freeway being blasted in the face by wind!
We rode for about an hour, through suburbs and smaller towns until we were in the forest of the Sierra Madre. It was an interesting trip because the base of the mountains seemed to be an agricultural area and we passed bean fields, tractors, and seed and chemical stores, complete with farmers hanging around outside. Very authentic. We finally arrived at the "canopy" zip line and were fitted with harnesses that made our shorts look like diapers! My dad was promply given the name "Papa Grande" after the standard helmet was tight for him and was constantly admonished to keep his legs up when he approached the platforms.

The tour was pretty sweet, and included 15 zip lines, as well as some ladders and scary bridges made of rope. There was also a "Tarzan swing". The zip lines were not even scary-the bridges were the worst! There was a great emphasis on safety, however, and the staff never allowed anyone to be without a safety attachment, even for a second. It was a fun experience. I don't have any pictures because they didn't allow cameras because they had photographers hanging from trees. Afterwards, they tried to sell you the photos at exhorbitant prices. The pictures were pretty neat, but very expensive ($15 for a single photo, as well as other more affordable package options that made my senior photo shoot look cheap!) So it will have to be remembered only in my imagination, I guess!

We arrived back at the hotel in time for a late lunch. While we were gone, my cousin, Kara, and Laura's fiance, Kevin, had arrived! We soon found them at the pool and the fun started again.

That is Kevin and Kara, that late arrivals, with Laura in the middle.
The following pictures were taken with one of those disposable water proof cameras. I think the pictures are fun!
Greg and Lindsay

Tim and Gale, the Skjo Bros.

Kara, Barb, Andrea, Cynthia, and myself.

Wednesday night was the Groom's dinner, which we ate at the hotel's Asian restaraunt. I love Asian food and I ate massive quantities. Delicious.

The wedding was on Thursday, so I will address that in a separate post.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Monday and Tuesday

Monday began as beautiful as the days before. Soon we realized that a few people were missing, however. My aunt, uncle and Lindsay the bride had become victims of the common and dreaded travel illness sometimes known as Montezuma's Revenge. They were out of commission for the day, which is a shame! Who wants to miss a day in Mexico? For the rest of us, the day went on as usual. Gale and Barb made an attempt to join us around lunch time but soon returned to the rooms feeling gross, I'm sure. I don't really remember much of what I did that day, actually! The days kind of all run together (in a good way!)
I think this was taken on Monday, but who knows?

On Tuesday morning at breakfast the worst had passed and the missing members joined us again, looking happy to be back in the action! We enjoyed the typical beach and pool until we ladies excused ourselves early to attend a surprise shower for Lindsay, complete with an underwear theme! We hung out in a corner of the bar/lobby area and enjoyed giving advice and telling stories about Greg! My favorite gift was the white fluffy bunny ensemble courtesy of "niece/dog" Izzy who had to stay home in MN! That dog apparently has an instinct for fashionable lingerie!

On Tuesday evening, we took a taxi ride into Puerto Vallarta to eat at a restaurant because the food at the resort was getting repetitive. My uncle heard a reccomendation from someone he talked to at the hotel to try a place called Turrito's in "Old Vallarta." The cab ride went through the city until we were driving on cobblestone roads and the cab was rumbling like a vehicle on a gravel "washboard" road. We stopped in front of the restaurant and went in after several Americans sitting at tables and practically hanging out the open windows encouraged us to join the fun! It was full of Americans (Old Vallarta is a place with alot of tourists.) It was a sports restaurant with American sports channels on TV and a combination of Mexican dishes and ribs and seafood. The food was good in my opinion, but the people who ate the various manifestations of shrimp were really going crazy (shrimp really isn't my thing-especially when you have to pull the legs off! Yikes!) I thought the bathroom was hilarious (it was plastered with "beefcake" posters of shirtless men from the 1990's) and I had a delicious and gigantic glass of Corona which I was delighted by because the resort didn't have it!

This place knows what the ladies want to see!

After that, my mom, Andrea and I hit up la farmacia (which as being tended by a man who looked about 19 years old and didn't know anything about any of the medications!) while my aunt tried to get the truth in a sliver shop and the others drank cheap cans of Corona on the sidewalk. Ahhh. . .I love Mexico. . .even touristic Mexico. . .I wish I could go whenever I wanted!

More excitement ahead on Wednesday and Thursday!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

So Much Fun!

Our first two days in Mexico, Saturday and Sunday, were just so lovely. All we thought about was fun and more fun. We consumed countless watered down all-inclusive drinks and migrated between the beach and the pool, with its convenient swim-up bar. Notice my beach bag in the picture below. . .my aunt bought us those so we all had multi-colored matching bags to use for the week. Very nice.
This was taken at the beach buffet. It was a pretty large buffet that was shared with many birds. I thought it was strange, though, that the birds were not the usual gulls but smaller, black birds that were not as aggressive as gulls usually are. I didn't see a seagull the whole time we were there! (I'm not complaining.)

This photo was taken at the "dry side" of the swim up bar. I don't remember what matching drink we all have. . .it could be a Miami Vice, a daquiri, a Bahama Mama. . .oh what's the difference! I'm sure it was delicious!

The afternoon on Sunday flew by and tension was building because the Vikings game was starting soon! Would it happen? Would it finally happen? Everyone excused themselves to get ready for the game and gathered in the "Sport Bar" in the hotel. The "Sport Bar" had probably 20 TV screens that were all about the size of my laptop screen. Great. At least the game was broadcast though. We joked that we would arrive and a soccer/futbol game would be showing instead of "American Football" but that didn't happen.

The game was close all along and we spent halftime eating a frantic dinner in the hotel buffet. We all know what happened after that. . .what a shame, but not a suprise! A good aspect of the evening was that some surprise guests arrived! My aunt Barb's sister had told us at the beginning of the trip that none of her kids were able to make it on the trip. On Sunday night, her son and daughter-in-law arrived unexpectedly from Montana! I always thought it would be fun to surprise someone like that!