Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Every year on Memorial Day I flash back to the memorial service that is held at the local cemetary every year. It never changed. There was the 21 gun salute by the Legion members, and the same woman from the Legion Auxiliary sang "America the Beautiful". She used the instrumental interlude to narrate the same story every year about how when she was a little girl she watched the local boys go off to war. Then they read the names of the local veterans who had passed away. And, if it was between the years of, oh, probably 1998-2001 you would then hear me playing "Taps" on my trumpet! It was alot of pressure! Who would want to interrupt the solemn moment when "Taps" is being played with missed note? I always pulled it off, fortunately.

This year I spent the weekend hanging out, entertaining visitors and kicking off summer with yardwork. Our first visitors were Justin's parents, Mary and Larry, who were here Thursday and Friday to observe Justin's birthday. On Friday morning Mary and I headed to the greenhouse so I could purchase some annuals for my flower pots. She followed me with a cart while I impulsively grabbed six packs of Impatiens and Snapdragons.
Here the plants are, waiting to be arranged!

While we were having an enjoyable creating lovely arrangements in my planters, Justin and Larry were nearby doing some manual labor.

There is landscaping around the deck in the back of the house and also in front of the house. Justin has undertaken the project of removing the old rock and plastic to replace it with new rock. It seems like a tedious project to me but I know it will look great when it is done. I can't wait to plant some new perrenials!

Here is a shot of the front step with some of the planters! I seem to have captured my shadow in the picture...I always do that!

It was very hot outside on Thursday and Friday and the sun really hits the front of the house all afternoon so I suggested we unroll the cute vintage window shade! I don't think it had been used for several years because it was filthy. I love how it looks though! It makes me feel like I live in some more exotic location like Florida or Arizona. Haha.

So cute!
We had multiple friends staying with us over the weekend because of a wedding that took place on Saturday. Also, Justin's cousin, Ryan, came to help with the landscape project. On Friday night, my friend Mandy came over and the four of us grilled and sat on the deck. It's really fun to use the deck and our new patio set! It was still very hot so I had one of my favorite hot weather beverages ane sliced up a lime. Delish!
On Sunday, after the guests left, I planted some tomato and pepper plants in the garden. All of the seeds have sprouted and I can't wait for some vegetables! I wish I could eat them now. I love instant gratification, but I will have to wait. Sigh...
Allan loved all of his visitors and on Sunday morning I woke up and heard the TV on. I got up and discovered Al snuggling with Ryan in the chair! I would have liked to get a picture but as soon as I started walking around the house he jumped down from the chair and followed me. Too bad!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Justin!

I just got home and it's 11:19 and I will be at my work computer again in about 9 hours but I had to take a moment to mention the occasion...Justin's 27th birthday!

Happy birthday! Sorry I wasn't there! I wish I had some good baby pictures of him on my computer but I only have ones of myself on here! He has some from our wedding slideshow on his computer and I have them on my old computer but not this one! So you will have to settle for these. . .that is our nephew Blake in the photo above. That picture is from the tailgating season of 2008, I believe.

This photo is from when we went to Las Vegas soon after we were engaged. We left right after I finish finals my second year of law school. We saw Jack Sparrow! Haha, it was a wax figure of him, actually, at Madam Tassauds. he does look kind of orange, but the posture is accurate!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Poor Jakey...

Sometime over the weekend Jakey injured one of his front paws. The poor guy was limping around yesterday evening. It seemed to be a selective "attention" injury because he would still run and play fetch. Last night we were eating on the deck and someone threw a piece of food over the railing. He ran after it so fast he "spun out" (he does that all the time!) He overextended himself and we heard him wimpering as he ran down the stairs!

After and exam it was discovered that the pad of his foot has a cut! This is really pointless information to most people (but this whole blog is full of the same, I guess!) but I took a very cute picture of him this morning so I had to share it.

When I came upstairs today to make myself my usualy breakfast burrito Jake was curled up on the couch like a little baby. He usually is a pest whenever food is being prepared but this morning he just layed on the couch. I knew something was bothering him!

Fortunatly when I returned tonight he was back to his usualy tricks and the limp was less dramatic. I think he's going to be OK! Haha. . .

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Go Far

I know I previously mentioned that my mom and dad were going to participate in the Fargo marathon awhile ago, back when the weather was cold and it seemed that May would never come! It came to pass yesterday, with Cindy running the 10K and Tim running the 1/2 marathon.

The 10K started at 7 and the 1/2 marathon started at 7:30. Andrea and I mixed up the times so we arrived at the dome right as the 10K racers were starting to finish. There was an endless line of runners as far as we could see! The drawback was that it was raining with gusty winds and our umbrellas kept inverting in the wind. We didn't want to miss Mother finishing so we ran around to the entrance of the dome and went into the stands near the finish line. We waited for awhile and still didn't see her finish. Soon some of the wheelchair racers started finishing and we were wondering if we had missed her finish. Andrea opened her phone and connected to the "Internets" and her time was already posted! We missed her finish, probably as we were trying to find a place to sit! We found her eventuatlly and discovered that while out on the road she had encountered Elizabeth, our cousins' cousin on their dad's side and they had run together!
Here they are! They finished in 1 hour and four minutes. Cindy finished 11 out of 86 women in the 50-54 age group! Way to go ladies!

These two were feeling invigorated and full of energy, the feeling that can only come from physical activity. We looked at the time and figured out that soon Tim and Elizabeth's fiance, Wes, were going to be nearing the finish. We went outside and waited near the mile 26/13 sign and soon Tim came into sight!
He's the one in the yellow. That is my mom in the corner holding a coffee. I find this strange because I don't drink coffee and can't imagine wanting it after running 6 miles!
He looked pretty tired but seemed to be doing fine! I am confused by that woman pushing that stroller because I thought that that stuff wasn't allowed and I just looked up the rules online and it says strollers were only allowed in the 5K that took place on Friday night. So who knows what that is about. Who would want to push a bunch of kids for 13 miles anyway?? I can't see her number so maybe she just jumped in somewhere?

We went inside and saw him cross the finish line. His time was 2 hours and 18 minutes. Both Cindy and Tim had a 10:35 minute mile pace. You can kind of see him behind that girl in the middle. This isn't the greatest picture.

After the runners finish they walk around the dome past an area where they get their medal and are handed water and some snacks. Dad was given a little plastic cup fill of cookie dough! That seems really gross, but there must be some reason for it. . .Alot of people were eating bananas and little slices of pizza.

Due to the rainy conditions and every runner being wet as well as sweaty the dome smell similar to a boys locker room. Well, I guess it wasn't as bad. I have experience in this area because I used to play basketball in ND back when girls basketball was still a fall sport accompanying football. For away games, we girls had to leave the hairspray and Jergens lotion scented feminine sanctuary of our girls locker room and move into the opposing school's boys locker room. This meant that we were changing into our uniforms in the presence of the smelliest items I can think of right now...boy's football pads. Oh wow, do those things smell awful. Our own boys locker room developed such a stench that visiting girls teams were, on occasion, forced to flee into the public womens' bathroom to fix their hair and to a deserted hallway or classroom for their pregame and halftime meetings. I have had a debate with a friend about which pads are worse between football and hockey pads. Although I don't have alot of experience with hockey pads I am going to stick with my opinion about football pads because they are worn in the hot August sun. Now that I think about it, the dome didn't smell nearly as bad as football pads but it had a locker room-ish feel to it for sure.

As soon as he stopped running, Tim's legs immediately stopped wanting to do anything and he could barely walk! I hear from other 1/2 and full marathon runners that this is a typical reaction. I'm sure it must have something to do with adrenaline, the wonderful hormone that gives women the ability to overcome pain, whether it is in the form of wearing painful shoes for hours while out on the town and not feel the pain until the next day and allows moms to give birth through excruciating pain and after the baby is born say "I don't even remember it hurting." It might also have to do with some sort of "autopilot" muscular reaction. Whatever it is its pretty fascinating to see what humans can do.

After it was over we all went back to Andrea's house so they could shower and change and when I parked Tim was laying in her front yard stretching the cramps out of his legs! Pretty funny.

We went to eat a big lunch and Andrea said that Tim should challenge my 79 year old grandfather who has a horrible limp to a footrace since he was moving pretty slow! The thought of this happening is hilarious.

There are the two runners in thier medals and their Hatton Flyer black and gold! (I don't think it was on purpose but who doesn't love those colors?) Now Tim is drinking coffee! Haven't these two heard of Powerade before? Electrolytes? OK, whatev... You can see their stats and the stats of any other runners you know on the website by clicking the "results" links for each race. They wore little microchips on their shoes and it is really interesting to see how they have data for gender and age, as well as pace.

Friday, May 21, 2010


After work today An-Man (my nickname for Andrea) and I went to some greenhouses to buy flowers for her outdoor flower pots. I was excited about it all day because I love greenhouses! I have loved them since I was a child. How could you not? A greenhouse is like a steamy tropical oasis filled with color and the smells of flowers, water, and soil. During college, I was involved in Mortarboard and we had an event called college for kids. One year, one of the "classes" took place in a research greenhouse on campus and it was like a secret garden hidden from the students as they trudged around the freezing cold campus. It was like a humid jungle!

This fascination started long before my college days. We always planted annuals around our house when I was growing up (and still do.) I recall being delighted by my a trip to a large nursury and greenhouse in Grand Forks that had flowers, shrubs and trees as well as fountains and garden n0velties. I was in 5th grade. It must have been in the spring or in the fall because a few days later my class had an assigment to imagine ourselves as grown up swith careers and write a story about it. I envisioned myself as a horticulturist who managed a big greenhouse! In the story I took care of plants, arranged planters filled with flowers and helped people pick out flowers. The people were all interesting characters. I recall the large "Very good!" scrawled on the front by my teacher and several "funny!" and "interesting!" interjections as well. She was probably caught off guard by finding a horticulturist mixed in with the typical teachers, farmers, doctors and professional athletes that most kids in elementary school imagine themselves becoming. I wonder what my 5th grade self would think if she could see me now. . .staring at a computer screen reading corporate drivel for 10 hours a day. . .I think she would decide to put more of an effort into her science classes. . .

My shopping tonight, which was all for Andrea's house, made me very excited to get back to my own house to plant some flowers! It was pretty picked over and I hope there are plants left by the time I get there! I took some photos with my phone, in case anyone has never seen a greenhouse before! ;)
Petunias are an old favorite of mine. They are one of the few varieties of annuals that have been able to survive on the south side of the house on the farm, which bakes in the sun all day in the summer. The other two are marigolds and geraniums. Plants in that area must be able to handle full sun, repeatedly used soil, no fertilizer, and infrequent watering. I was unable to plant these flowers last year at our apartment because our balcony got about 2 hours of sun a day during the longest days of June. I had to live with the shade loving Impatiens and Begonias (which I also love! They grew on the shady East side of the farm house on the front porch. I think they look tropical!) I can't wait to plant some sun loving flowers this year!
I loved this pine tree! It is like a little ball on a stem!

These are called Hens and Chicks. They are a more delicate perrenial that we attempted when I was a child. They didn't come back after a few years. . .I guess they think they're too good or something! Huh Hens and Chicks? You think you're too good for the farm? I think they just couldn't handle it. . .

Andrea bought a few of these Asiatic lillies in pink and purple. I want some! I also want some tomato plants and cilantro so I can inhale its delicious aroma!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Owww...My Eyes!

I haven't been writing on here much. . .that is because at my temporary job I stare at a computer screen for ten hours a day and by the end of the day I can barely keep my eyes focused to catch up with email, Facebook, and newspapers. (We can't look at the "Internets" except during breaks and on those I don't really want to. I want to eat and walk and sit on the patio!) The project has already been extended for this week and probably at least a few days next week and this week we are working five ten hour days instead of four! This means that I will be staring at a computer screen for 50 hours this week. 20 down, 30 to go! :) Blah. . .My eyes already feel like they are going to explode into a cloud of dust. I don't even know why I wear makeup to work. . .my waterproof mascara eventually gets rubbed off as I periodically squint my eyes and rub them like a little child to make them less dry and annoyed and exposes my mismatched blonde eyelashes to my co-workers. Maybe I need to try putting cucumber slices over my eyes for while when I get home! (I love cucumbers and would probably eat them so that might not work out. . .) So I do have things I want to write about but I don't feel like it right now because my eyes are tired. Hopefully this job isn't doing damages to my 20/20 vision. . .
In other news. . .I still live in my sister's basement a majority of the time. They have a split level so the basement windows are full sized but level with the ground. Last night I went to get some physical activity after work and then took a shower. As I was getting dressed I looked up and saw this clown peeping at me through the window! Oh, Jakey, what a skeez you are!

Move along, nothing to see Jake!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Four Years Ago. . .

On May 14th I was sitting at my job staring at a computer screen for 10 hours. All day I kept thinking about what I did on May 14th of 2006. . .I left for a 2 month study abroad trip in Oslo, Norway with 15 of my law school classmates. I was feeling pretty terrified about the trip. Compared to how I know them now, I barely knew the others on the trip. Of course, after a few weeks we were like lifelong friends, sharing hotel room beds and tiny ferry cabins on our weekend adventures, consolidating loads of laundry and walking tipsy through the city streets arm in arm at all hours of night. I remember turning my cell phone off right before boarding the red eye flight around 10 pm in the Newark airport in New Jersey and hardly believing that I wouldn't hear a familiar voice for weeks. ( I didn't, either! I communicated with everyone through instant messaging and other internet methods!) We landed in the beautiful and serene Oslo airport the next day feeling haggard and jet lagged. A kind Norwegian student met us and made sure we made it to our new home for the next two months. I was living in a room with my classmate Mike, who I barely knew. (We hit it off right away and stayed good friends after). During one of our first nights, when we were still jet lagged, I woke up in the middle of the night and sat up. He was awake also and we realized we had both awakened at what would have been dinner time at home! This wasn't my first tangle with jet lag and I will never forget the first night my family spent in Yemen when I was wide awake and hungry all night but didn't understand why. It is a crazy experience and it is fascinating how circadian rythms affect us.

At the beginning of the trip it rained every day. . .it was hard to get used to because it wasn't just a downpour like we have on the Great Plains. It was a constant light rain that never quit. When May turned to June it got nice out and we went to the beach after class many days. I used to buy these gummy strawberry candies from the bulk candy bins at the convenience store where we bought our train tickets to head to the beach. . .my mouth is watering just thinking about them! I haven't seen them anywhere here. . .

I better get on with this. . .I could write volumes about my memories of Norway and Yemen. . .but I am just going to share some photos of Norway so I can remember it. It was an amazing time and I still feel the urge to have such adventures. I think it is something everyone should try. (By that I mean that everyone should step outside the box and do something that makes you uncomfortable. It is very invigorating.)

This the law school! It's so beautiful. . .I can't believe I went here every day. It is located on a main street in Oslo, Karl Johan Gate. It is only blocks from the Royal Palace!
This a close up shot of the entrance of the law building.

This is Nyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark. I loved the city of Copenhagen! We went there on a ferry for a long weekend.
That is a shot of me when we went north of Oslo, past Lillehammer and into the mountains for a weekend. We went hiking and also white water rafting. We stayed at a historic farm that now is an inn. It was one of the more fun weekends I've had in my life (seriously!)

That is at Tivoli, a famous park in Copenhagen. It was Walt Disney's inspiration. The two girls are my classmates.

This was taken on Constitution Day, which is tomorrow! The 17th of May! This day was kind of a blur because of the jet lag. Two of my classmates slept through it and got up at 7 pm! I experienced the whole day. That is Karl Johan again, the street in front of the law school. It was packed with people! They really party on this day. It was very cold and rainy and there were so many umbrellas you could barely move through the crowd!

This a McDonald's we encountered in Bergen, Norway, during a weekend trip! We ate there! It was the same food as any other McD's.

This is a historical part of Bergen. Bergen is a beautiful city.

This looks like a sunset but it was taken around midnight! It was on one of the longest days of the year. We experienced the "midsummer" celebration, on the summer solstice. It never gets dark this time of year and we stayed out all night and at 4 am it was as light as if it were noon.

This was taken on a Fjord tour we took near Bergen. It was so beautiful! Dierks Bentley, a modern country singer, has a song called "Prodigal Son's Prayer" and the lyrics of the last verse say "Father meet me in the cool green valley, in all of your glory, when my days are done.." It was on a cd that was released around the time if this trip. I couldn't stop thinking that this was the cool green valley that he imagined could be heaven. The air smelled like flowers from blooming trees! The water in the fjords is turquoise from the glacial water, although this photo doesn't show the color very well.
Thanks for letting me reminisce! If you ever go to Oslo and feel like you might like a tourguide take me with you! I can show you many great places!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Runnings Farm and Fleet

Allan is getting fat and we attribute it to his kitten specific food. Sources tell us that kittens are supposed to eat food formulated for kittens, with its high protein content and high levels of nutrition, for one year. He turns one in June so we decided to head to Runnings Farm and Fleet to get him some grown up food. It turned into a delightful little excursion for everyone!

We got a patio set! We looked at Target but all of the sets that were affordable would not fit very well on the deck since it is a strange hexagon shape. This little set was just perfect! You can see in the background that we also got a new grill! We used some of our wedding giftcards, so thanks to everyone who was so good to us almost three years ago! We saved them until we had a house to furnish and it paid off! Of course, they could have been spent many times over on mundane things but what meaning would that have?
Back to the Runnings adventure. . .If you didn't know, Runnings is like Fleet Farm or Tractor Supply. It has supplies for horses and livestock, as well as pet food, work clothes, toys and some sporting goods. Also, apparently, in the spring they sell baby chicks and ducks! Not for pet purposes (as an supporter of humane animal treatment I frown upon the practice of giving children chicks and ducks as pets as gifts for Easter or other spring events. They often end up neglected when the cute stages passes) but for farm purposes such as egg harvesting.
How cute are these? I really wanted to pick one up but I was afraid I would do it wrong. I was amazed you could touch them if you wanted (except if they were in a container marked "sold"). Runnings must know its customers would respect animals.
Little ducks!

Runnings also had a large $1 room that had all of the furnishings that a $ store would have. I dismiss $ stores as too cheap for my time except for things like gift wrapping supplies. I found the pet section and couldn't resist getting Allan a new toy! I thought a new toy would encourage him to be more active so we bought him this wand thing with a long string and some fish dangling from it. He loves it.
Even Justin got a fun present to display in his office!
It was marked down in the toy section. I even got a special fun treat (besides the patio set)! I chose a 1 lb. bag of sour gummi worms! Delish! Runnings Farm and Fleet, you have a new fan.
When I was checking out the newly assembled table on the deck I noticed a bird's nest on the window ledge of the little bathroom window. It was not one of the gross mud nests that swallows make. Justin stepped on the utility box to look inside and reported that there was a robin's egg in there!
Awww, birds can be pests but this is so cute! If it's not a barn swallow I can live with it. I saw the mother roosting in there later in the day. I wonder when it will hatch? Allan doesn't need to know about this. . .

Sunday, May 9, 2010

It's Mother's Day!

I know this blog is supposed to by about houses. . .I know that lately it has been about whatever I feel like. I actually have some house-related things to mention, but they can wait until tomorrow or maybe later tonight! After my recent scan-fest I couldn't resist a post dedicated to all the moms in our life. . .I hope you like the pictures! I noticed something while I was trying to choose photos. . .it is kind of hard to find pictures where the mom is pictured with kids or by herself! I know it is because they are usually the ones taking the photos! It is generally women that insist on photographs. I don't think Justin and I would have any photos together if I didn't make him. The only photos we would have would be pictures of our nephews and pictures of Justin and his cousin and friends hunting or ice fishing. Wait until Fathers Day. . .there are many of dads with kids!

This is Justin's mom, Mary, with he and his sister, Michelle. I'm not sure when this was taked but it seems to be in the mid 1990s. This is from our wedding slideshow folder. One day I'm going to bring my scanner to G.F. and go to town so I have a more balanced library. As of this photo, she had two children but 2006 she gained two more and all four of them are now married so it's like eight!

This is a photo of my mom with my brother and sister and myself. I think it must have been her birthday or maybe Mother's Day. Who knows what we gave her. I'm sure it was something she really needed! That photo was taken in our stark kitchen in Yemen. Scary, I know. The house was beautiful, but the kitchen was far different from the American standard!
That is my grandma, Phyllis, with my mom and aunt Kris. She is the "leader" among the featured moms here because she has the most children (5). She herself was the 3rd child of 14. Her mom died when she was in her early 20's and she and her sisters helped raise their young siblings.
That is Justin's grandma, Irene. She is his dad's mom and is very good-natured and kind. She welcomes each new family member with an open heart and soon you feel like you've known her forever. She gave birth to three children but many more than three consider her a mother.

That is my dad's mom, Dorothy, with my cousin Kara and me. It appears by the corsage she's wearing and by the background that this photo might have something to do with my aunt's bridal shower or rehearsal dinner or something. She has three children as well (popular number!)

That is my aunt Karen, my dad's sister. We are in middle of some sort of Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Eve craft project. We were making. . .frosting sugar cones. . .? Our projects have grown in sophistication over the years. The little girl next to her is her daughter. . .it is either Kirsten or Courtney. They looked very similar as children! She has three daughters.

This photo covers my aunt Kris and aunt Jenny at the same time. This is pretty old. Jenny didn't have children yet (she wasn't even close to it yet!) but now she has three, two girsl and one boy. Kris has two daughters. I am apparently seeking shade behind Kris's hairstyle.

This is my aunt, Barb. The baby is my cousin Kara, their first baby and the oldest kid in the family. It is hard to believe this photo is around 29 years old! Not suprisingly, when I was scanning photos at my grandma's house Kara was a popular feature! Almost as popular as I was at Phyllis's house! (I'm the first on my mom's side!) Barb has two more children, Laura and Greg.

This is Justin's sister Michelle. Not surprisingly, I have many pictures of her children but very few of her! This was taken in Mexico during a rare kid-free weekend. She has two sons, Dylan and Blake.

This my sister-in-law Jenny with her son Cayson. He was born in January. This picture is from a few months ago so he already looks alot different!

This my sister-in-law Kelsey moments after their son Jack was born a few weeks ago. I didn't think she would mind the post C-section photo because I lifted it from her blog!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers reading this! Below is a photo of me with my didn't get me a card. It's always all about him...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Cousins, New and Old

There is something happening in my family. . .it started with little Dylan 5 years ago. . .then his brother Blake came along (on May 4th! The same birthday as the newly 50 aunt Kris!). . .but they were just brothers. . .now there are two new babies! I have previously menioned little Cayson, born in January. A few weeks ago my brother and sister-in-law, Josh and Kelsey, had a baby as well! His name is Jack. You can read more about Jack in the blog "Our Life" that I have a link to on the right side of this blog! I haven't seen him yet but here is a picture of him right after he was born.

Here is a photo of Cayson! He's smiling like a big boy already! Time flies!

So anyway, this means something is brewing for these four little boys and whoever comes in the future. . .they are cousins!

Here is a photo of the two babies. . .There are photos like this in so many families. . .the little cousin "buddies". . .there was Justin and Ryan, me and Greg, Katie and Andrea. . .and way back in the past there was Cindy and Mitch, Kris and Jill, Tim and both Davids (one on each side!), Gale and John . . .I'm sure there are more. The older baby always looks huge (Cough. . .Andrea!). And now there is Cayson and Jack. Hopefully when we have children someone else will have one at the same time (chances are it could happen!). I feel bad for the first girl to join this crew! Hopefully she is mine (I hope to have a daughter in the future!) They have a fun road ahead of them filled with weekend sleepovers, kids table antics and secret kid meetings out of the earshot of parents.

Justin came on the younger end of his group of cousins, and I came at the beginning. I was like the "Blake" of the family. Only Kara, born in 1980, is older. I recall the birth of many of my younger cousins. I clearly remember the birth of Courtney when I was just starting 2nd grade. She was born in September of 1990 during a time of turmoil in my family. My dad had just left us to return over seas during the early days of the Gulf War (for work as a petroleum engineer, not for military service). As of August, I was supposed to start second grade and Andrea was supposed to start Kindergarten at Sanaa Intertaional School in Yemen. Instead, an emergency change of plans had us starting school in Hatton, my 3rd school in 1 year, after a summer vacation "home" had turned into a permanent situation for my mom and siblings and myself. We were living at the farm, which was still occupied by my grandparents, temporarily until we could move into our rental house in town.

There was excitement as well, because we knew my aunt Karen was going to have a baby at any time. I was staying in the room with the crib, the room that all happy grandparents have in their house. I woke up in the middle of the night and noticed that the room was completely dark and there was a blanket over the window. I knew what that meant. . .little Kirsten, my 2 year old cousin, was there! She had been dropped off in the middle of the night because Karen had to go to the hospital! The arrival of the baby was imminent! I opened the door to let some light in and looked at her in the crib. Suprisingly, her huge blue eyes were wide open! She calmly said, "Where's my mom?" I said "I think she's at the hospital having a baby! We can see her tomorrow." Then we went back to sleep. It almost was like a dream but she was still there in the morning! I loved all of those little kids. . .

Justin and I both have a moderate number of cousins. . .I have 6 on my dad's side and 5 on my mom's and he has 6 on each side. This is more than some people have but far less than others have! I think my mom has around 65 cousins ranging in age from almost 60 to late 20's. Some of her aunts and uncles were in elementary school when she was born. My dad had quite a few as well and he had a situation that was common then but is pretty uncommon now. . .he and his brother and sister went to elementary and high school with and lived within miles of 18 of their cousins! Most of them were born in the 1950's in quick succession at the height of the baby boom and families like theirs are the reason that stately small town school buildings all over America have 1960's-era additions and gymnasiums jutting out in all directions to accomodate the kids born in those years. There were the two oldest girls, the dignified sisters Liz and Meredith, and their four younger animalistic wrestler brothers Mark, John, Peter and David. There were the five hilarious and smart "Bjerke girls", Julie, Beth, Rebecca, Mary and Carol. There was studious Jay and Kathy, and of course Gale and "Timmy", the two biggest with the lowest voices who are towering over the others in the back of every photo and Karen, their exhasperated little sister.

This whole crew went to school together, played sports together, went to confirmation class together and saw each other on weekends. At the wedding last weekend Tim and Gale made a brief mention of when they sang in choir as a freshman and senior and the two of them sang too low for the bass part in the songs. I could instantly imagine the setting because I had choir in the same room! It was on the third floor and the room was always hot. It had bad acoustics and a creaky wood floor. There were rickety risers and when the hours changed the room (and the whole school!) rumbled with the sound of hundreds of chairs moving at once and hundreds of feet stampeding across the wood floors and on the stairs. I recall choir being a class period where control was hard to keep. The students were crowded onto the risers and the teacher was constantly admonishing everyone to "quit horsing around" and "keep your hands to yourself!" I can see the teacher back in 1972 wondering what to do with the two prematurely low-voiced bass singing teenagers who, I'm sure, looked like they would rather be at football practice than singing four part SATB choir compositions as the rest of the room giggled and "horsed around". That is exactly what choir was like at HHS. Anyone reading this who went there is probably back in the room right now because it has always been the same. I used to play piano for the choir for some songs and one day I burst into a fit of laughter at the piano because a freshman boy in the tenor section sneezed and a glob of snot was hanging from his nose. Sometimes the chair at the end of the riser would fall off due to some sort of "horseplay" somewhere down the row and cause a huge commotion. That is the kind of thing that happened all the time. Music teachers really like a challenge.

What I was getting to was. . .it must have been fun to see your cousins without elaborate plans and holiday formalities! What is even crazier is that each "family" had cousins on their "other side" also living in the same town and attending the same school! The baby boom. . .what a crazy time. . .

OK, sorry, this is out of control. No one reads a blog planning to spend 1/2 hour and get a history lesson on the baby boom. I'll wrap this up NOW!