Thursday, December 20, 2012

Prepare Ye The Way

Well, it's the 20th...the last few days before Christmas!  I remember that the 20th made Christmas seem so close...yet so far...back in my advent calender and paper chain link countdown days in elementary school.  I remember watching the four advent candles being lit one by one each Sunday at church and feeling so excited for Christmas Eve!  Today or tomorrow is probably the last day of school for kids.  That last afternoon of games and Christmas parties and multi-grade trivia in the gym was always so much fun as were the final basketball and volleyball games before the break. 

In high school we had a tradition that we returned to every year at our Christmas concert.  Yes, we called it a Christmas concert back in the late 90's/early 2000's.  Our small North Dakota school escaped the political correct frenzy longer than many schools did and those days are even gone now, replaced with "Holiday" and "Winter" concerts where they sing and play secular songs like Jingle Bells, Up On The House Top and Winter Wonderland.  But when I was there we sang whatever our teacher wanted and she knew how to pick out beautiful and substantial music.  When it comes to holiday music, religious themed Christmas music tops the secular songs if you are using the music for eduational as well as entertainment purposes.  Anyway, it's too bad about that Christmas music.  I understand that lots of Americans don't celebrate Christmas even though where we live most of them do.  I just miss the old days I guess.  When I get annoyed by political correct stuff I try to imagine what it would be like to be a little kid in a awkward situation involving religion or holiday celebrations at school and I feel more sympathetic. 

Back to the tradition I was going to tell about.  There is a number from the musical "Godspell" called Prepare Ye (The Way of the Lord).  If you listen to a recording of it or watch a video, it is upbeat and show tune-y and the movie version of Godspell is straight out of the 70's.  It is actually pretty annoying.  Our teacher slowed Prepare Ye into a slow and beautiful tempo and the middle school singers would join us and we made a circle around the gym (no, there was no auditorium!) and we held candles and sang the song.  It is more special to me because I was the piano accompanist for a few years and I loved the piano arrangement.  It is hard for me to believe that was ever me, leading that huge group in song! 

Everyone loved Prepare Ye and people around town said they looked forward to it every year.  There were reports of goosebumps and eyes welling with tears as we sang.  It is a favorite memory of school.  It is always in my head during the last days of excitement and preparation before Christmas.  I probably won't be back on here until after Christmas so Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and I look forward to seeing all the people I am related to who are reading this!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Time

I don't have much time to write right now, but I had to add a few pictures from yesterday. 
We took Ben to see Santa at the mall last night!  I think he's a pretty good one!  Real beard and everything!  Ben didn't fuss or cry, which was kind if dissapointing!  Haha...We bought the cheapest photo package they had and of course scanned it.  He said he wanted some obsolete cell phones, a toilet brush, cat toys and a magazine to rip to shreds and eat piece by piece. 
Yesterday it was a winter wonderland around here.  We woke up to fresh snow and it kept falling all morning.  There was no wind so it was like a snow globe and the trees looked white and magical.  It wasn't bitterly cold so I thought I would take some pictures of Ben outside.  We have a vintage wooden sled, the kind with metal runners, but Justin has it stashed in somehwere in the garage that would be hard to access so I just put on his snowsuit and plopped him ouside. 

Poor baby!  This wasn't the best idea.  When I tried to position him the fluffy snow billowed up around my camera which I do not want getting wet.  Also, he kept wanting to bury his face like he does when he's tired and face planted in the snow.  For a first time touching snow that would not be a pleasant way to feel it! We were out there for about two minutes but I got this cute picture! 

 View out our window yesterday morning.

Pretty trees!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Another Season...

Another football season has come to an end...except for the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP IN FRISCO!!  AGAIN!  Awww yeahhhhh..our plans are made, tickets obtained, rooms booked for the second North Dakota takeover of Frisco, TX.  Stock up on alcohol and food, Frisco, because we are coming back!  And this year, have some extra beer because I will be there not pregnant! 
What a fun season it has been.  In addition to the six regular season home games, we got to have three additional home playoff games and all the tailgating equipment got good use.  I was sad after the game on Friday, even though I was so happy about the win, knowing it was being packed up until next fall.  There will be tailgating in Frisco, of course, but the trunk of a rental car is not the same as the full set up! 
The game was absolutely nauseating and one of those events that makes you have a physical reaction (butterflies, shaking knees, tense shoulders).  I could barely think of an equal experience and the closest I came for myself personally was the region finals game that came before the state tournament in girls high school basketball (we won, once back in 1995, and again in 2000).  Class B state basketball is some high stakes business.  That full stadium made an atmosphere that was way more intense than those high school tournaments. 
Here are a few tailgating pictures from the last few weekends. 


This last one makes me laugh...I brought my cameral into one game and was messing around with my zoom lens and rapid shooting feature.  I was trying to follow the ball...

The play they ran completely fooled me, as you can see...there is no ball in his arm!  Haha!  I am gullible!

I admit it is a relief not to have to orchestrate another weekend of tailgating and game watching with a baby.  Lugging all that crap around was getting old, and the weather has been too cold for me to feel good about having Ben out there even with our tents and outdoor heaters.  I saw the extended forecast last night on the news and immediately looked at the temperature for Saturday and then realized that I don't care if the high that day is only going to be 15 degrees!  I won't be outside! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New Cousin

I should have put this on here yesterday...Ben has a new cousin.  She is the daughter of Justin's step sister and she was born on Monday.  I guess she just missed the much desired 12-12-12 birthday!  Her name is Adalyn Brielle and she is so cute!  After seeing these pictures Ben told me he wants a sister!  Haha...OK Buddy...we'll see...
Welcome little baby! 
Speaking of baby girls, Ben has some girlfriends at the Y.  When I picked him up yesterday he was crawling around the room and two toddler girls were trailing around after him.  When I was bundling him up to go they stood by us and one of them tried to follow us out the door!  It was cute.  I love how kids who are babies themselves love babies.  I often hear toddler age kids saying "baby!" when we walk by.  Never mind that "baby" is probably only a few months younger then them! 

I feel like I need to do something memorable so I always can remember 12-12-12.  4-4-04 was my 21st birthday!  I don't remember much about 11-11-11 and 1-11-11 was my brothers birthday but I didn't do anything special.  My mom remembers working at a summer job at a store on 7-7-77.  On 9-9-99 I'm sure I did something boring like went to school and basketball practice.  Today I am going to buy stamps for Christmas cards and maybe even send them!  And I'm going to buy formula!  Excellent.  Now I will have this entry to mark this day when I look back.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fantasy v. Reality

Everyone imagines sharing a magical, glowing, memorable Christmas with their children.  If you are at the right point in your life, sharing Christmas with your kids is the best part of the holiday.  I'm not going to say that I have waited my whole life for this, because I admit that for many years the best part of Christmas was laying around at home during break from college and staying out all night drinking with my high school friends who were also home after watching my brother and sister play in high school basketball games.  Sharing the wonder of Christmas with a baby was not on my mind at all.  Once I found out I was pregnant, however, making Christmas special for my children was something that made me very excited.  I recently came across a message board on Babycenter where women who are struggling to conceive, some who had been for years, talked about how they couldn't even enjoy yet another Christmas without a baby which is something I try to remember when I get really frustrated with my own baby.  It would make the holidays a sad time. 
Instead of just a magazine here or there, I now have Pinterest to fill me with inspiration (Pinspiration!) and ideas for fun and memorable holiday foods, pictures, and decorating.  Ooooh...I couldn't wait to give Ben a wonderful "Baby's First Christmas"! 
Here is what I dreamed of...
Here is what is really happening...
What a dream!  Cluttered mess of toys and ornaments strewn about the floor, tree only half decorated because SOMEONE won't leave the ornaments alone, rumpled tree skirt that won't stay put on the wood floor, special Christmas books that are supposed to be stacked neatly under the tree spread around (and not being read because SOMEONE only wants to rip the pages and eat books so I only read him board books), beads and lights that have been pulled down, and on and on...I am not even going to attempt to put wrapped gifts under there. 
Oh well...there are many years ahead for drinking hot chocolate while watching Christmas specials on TV and reading beloved Christmas stories and I'm sure in ten years our tree (hopefully a bigger one in a bigger house!) will be covered with homemade school project ornaments along with the current collection (and everyone will give the tree respect and be appreciative of its boundaries!) and there will be kids arguing over who gets to open each day on the advent calender. 
Speaking of boundaries, Allan has been having his crossed on a regular basis lately!
He's a nice kitten and puts up with it but you can by the position of his ears that he is not very excited about playing!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Royal Baby

I'm sure you heard the news that those royals William and Catherine are having a baby!  Being American, this really doesn't mean anything for my life but I think modern day royalty is pretty interesting, especially after visiting various palaces when I was studing abroad and learning about the current princes and princesses and their defiance of tradition by marrying common people (the crown prince of Norway married a very beautiful single mother and the crown prince of Denmark married an Australian daughter of a teacher and homemaker).  Those royals don't get the American tabloid attention the way the British ones do, though.  And I admit, I love Kate Middleton.  Through the years when she and William dated I admired her fashion choices and how she never did anything dumb for the cameras to catch.  And of course the wedding was wonderful. 

As soon as the rumors started about her being pregnant I was interested but tried not to believe it until it was confirmed by someone other than an old anonymous boarding school friend.  Now it is true for sure!  Although, I feel bad for her because she is feeling so crappy and had to go to the hospital.  I truly can't imagine because I was not even slightly nauseous while pregnant and definitely didn't have any problems eating to nourish the baby.  And if I had these problems no one would be stalking the hospital trying to take my picture. 

It will be fun to share my baby and pregnancy years with William and Kate just like my mom did back in the 80's with Charles and Diana.  I can't wait to see her maternity fashions and of course learn the choice for the baby's multiple names.  And it could be twins!

I just realized that it is Ben's 9 month birthday today!  What is worth mentioning at 9 months?

-He is the slowest teether ever, with the two on the bottom fully in since he was 6 months old...and that's it.  Two teeth.  I have read on Babycenter about babies having 8 teeth by now but not here. 

-He is getting close to walking I think and can navigate a room by cruising furniture. 

-He is wearing a combination of 9 and 12 month clothes but could probably wear 6 month clothes if they were long enough since he is really skinny.  The rolly poly baby I dreamed about is nowhere to be seen but I can't imagine him any other way. 

-He gets now gets mad if you take an off limits item away.  So he is usually mad, since all he wants are items that are off limits.  Right now he is yelling because I stopped him from ripping up and eating the list of things to pack for this weekend and then I barricaded him from lunging at the computer and pulling it off my lap to chew on it.  I am so mean.  He looooves paper for some reason...ripping it, eating it, everything about it.  Very annoying.

-He is sleeping all night again after that several week long ear infection mess. 

-He still prefers not to be fed anything with a spoon which is a huge frustration for me.  He ate Cheerios for the first time yesterday and enjoyed them.  I am glad to have another food to give him. 

-He loves to trash my bookshelf.  I just let it happen and put the books back since they are not dangerous.  If he starts ripping out pages to eat they will have to be moved.

Happy 9 month birthday Mr. Paper Eater!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

First Ear Infection

So...I haven't gone into many details but since the week of Thanksgiving Ben has been more crabby than pleasant and has been sleeping pretty bad.  Over Thanksgiving he slept about three hours one night and refused to go to sleep until 2 a.m. another night. He has a fever on and off.  His "sleeping through the night" has been inconsistent and last weekend when we were in Fargo for the playoff game he had a fever on Saturday and once again slept really bad.  I have been thinking this has been because of teething.  The Wednesday before Thanksgiving I noticed alot of wax in his ear in the morning that hadn't been there after his bath the night before and when I tried to clean it he kept hitting my hand away.  I thought it might be an ear infection so I brought him to the doctor and she said it was not infected but just had alot of buildup of wax. 

Well, yesterday was his routine 9 month appointment and guess what? He has an ear infection! I feel terrible that this has been going on for this long. He most likely had it when we went in before Thanksgiving. Blah. At least he has some medicine now. We get to administer it twice a day for ten days. Yikes. This should be fun! He had two doses yesterday and slept for 9 hours last night. I am always amazed at how fast antibiotics start working. I always wondered if it was partially related to the placebo effect but I don't think that applies to babies!

I finally set up the tree but haven't had a chance to do the Pinterest photography trick yet.  Ben is kind of interested in it but it hasn't; been too bad.  He keeps trying to pull the lights with the large bulbs off but hasn't been very successful.  I put the baby friendly ornaments on the bottom. 

Allan is still a tree fiend just like previous years. 
For some reason he loves to gnaw on the branches.  It is really weird. 

Naughty kitten!

Here are the two brothers playing with a candy cane wrapper.  You can't really see it but they were playing tug of war with it at one point! 

More play time. 
I tried to take some pretty pictures of Ben by the tree using my timer but it is impossible with him.  He won't sit still.  Here are a few of my fails. 

You weren't supposed to see my hands holding him!

He was supposed to stand back and balance on his toy basket but instead went straight for the camera...

I give up!

Monday, December 3, 2012

What Has My Life Become?

I was at the Y recently, and I went to the magazine table to choose something to read on the elliptical machine.  The magazines are discarded issues that people leave behind when they are done with them.  I myself often bring a stack to share.  The pile changes often and you never know what will be there.  On this particular day, two magazines caught my eye...

This fairly current Cosmo, which for years in high school and college and beyond was a favorite magazine to share and giggle over. It came on bus rides to basketball games in high school, was a regular break time indulgence (along with every trashy tabloid we could get) for bored and overheated lifeguards and was easy to locate in a dorm or college apartment. 

The other magazine was this Christmas issue of Good Housekeeping.  Yes, the magazine for busy moms and homemakers on the go that is filled with articles about household finances and recipes and anti-frump makeovers.  The kind of issue with real life Christmas miracle stories about a couple who finds an abandoned puppy on their front step after getting bad news from their fertility doctors that a baby might not be possible and neighbors who come to the rescue with Christmas dinner and decorations when a family's house gets damaged in a storm (tears welling up in my eyes as I write this...).  I instinctively reached for the Christmas issue and then thought to myself..."No, Mrs. Lame!  You are young and cool!  You want the Cosmo!"  I ended up taking the Cosmo and during the whole routine I was wishing I had the Good Housekeeping! 
Haha...I guess I'm a mom now!  Although, I admit that I was mostly drawn to the Good Housekeeping issue because it was Christmas related.  I love gift guides and decorating ideas and cookie recipes and all things Christmas. 
I must note...I don't know why the text in that one paragraph is underlined and blue.  It seems to be included in the graphic box of the picture and I can't select it to change it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

This year is different than years past because our Christmas tree is not set up.  It usually would be set up as soon as possible after Thanksgiving.  And here it is, almost a week after Thanksgiving...and I just...can' done.  I think about it all the time when I look at the empty corner of the living room and wish for a baby free evening to get out the decorations and put on a Christmas movie and get it done.  The decorations are buried at the back of our storage space and blockaded with a whole bunch of crap and Justin  is gone until 9:00 every night and won't be home early until Thursday.  And also, the Halloween stuff is still out, which is sooo not my style! 
I have been waiting to try a camera tecnique I learned from (where else?)  Pinterest that makes Christmas lights look very twinkly.  I was able to try it over the weekend at my parents' house, where I was able to partake in the (almost) yearly ritual of decorating.  I enjoy decorating there almost more than I do at my own house because it is fun to see the childhood decorations come out of the boxes.  I have some of my favorite ornaments now but there are many decorations left there including our stockings and the Avon nativity in the manger my Dad built in the 80s and the baby Jesus with a glued on arm. 
To take this photo you need to set the camera to a very slow shutter speed and a low aperature, both which allow lots of light to enter the camera lens.  You also need a tripod or some sort of stand (I used an ottoman stacked with boxes and books) because with such a slow shutter it is inevitable that the picture will blur from your hands shaking, even if you are trying to be very still.  Then it is best to set the timer so you are not moving the camera at all.  Then turn off all the lights except the tree. 
Isn't it beautiful?  This picture is the wallpaper on all of my electronics right now!  To say I am pleased with myself is an understatement!  The only problem is that you can see the blurred edge of my makeshift tripod at the bottom and some boxes off to the right. 

Close up...

Just for are a few old tree pictures I have...

Hmmm...I like this new method...
Here is one of the exact same tree taken last year on Christmas day with my new camera which has been a very useful gift!  Its a but better but still not as good! 
I tried to capture the glow of the lighted garland and stockings but it didn't work as well...too much light from the other rooms in the house and I was too lazy to set up stand.   

Monday, November 26, 2012


Here I am, back at home after a fun long weekend...Normally I would be dragging out my Christmas decorations and going crazy but now I have to wait for assistance or a sleeping baby to get that done.  Ben is occupied with my old Dell laptop from high school so I have been frantically catching up on Internet business all morning.  And no, I am not referring to "Cyber Monday" shopping!  I really am answering emails, checking accounts, and doing actual important tasks!
We had two Thanksgiving dinners this year which is always a fiasco of gluttony and excess.  Lunch was at my parents house and supper was at Justin's parents house.  Both were small gatherings with a few relatives present but different from the 20+ person gatherings that have happened in the past. 
Here are a few pictures... 
Ben and Uncle Pete and Uncle Pete's very nice hood drawstrings!  Oooooooh!

Watching football.

I sat around all morning eating snacks (see that bowl of olives?  I ate most of them!) and having a can of full calorie Coca Cola, which I only drink on special occasions, and a few glasses of wine.  That little wine class charm was a project we made on Thanksgiving a few years ago!

Ben's first Thanksgiving...a dinner of puffs and a few samples of other foods.  Who gave him a pea?  He looks skeptical. 

Ben and Great Grandma Phyllis.

My mom made a pumpkin roll instead of pie.  I love this dessert!  I haven't had it in years.  I tried to make it myself once and it was a mess.  You bake the cake part and then roll it up in a towel to shape it and then unroll it and add the cream cheese filling.  I was lost at rolling a cake up in a towel...this one was perfect though!

Ben's Nana and Grandpa's house in Grand Forks has an expanse of wood floor that is perfect for a speedy baby to practice his sprint crawling...

It also has two medium sized flights of stairs that are perfect for climbing!  I have a video of him climbing the whole flight (with Justin supervising, of course,) but it is kind of boring and long.

Hey, be polite!
Since our wedding, Justin's mom has kept the top of our wedding cake in their freezer.  We never got around to eating it on our first anniversary and it has been jostled in the freezer over the years.  It accidentally defrosted and then was refrozen a few weeks ago so she suggested we decide what to do about it. 

Mmmm...yummy!  We decided to have a few bites and then part with it. 

The frosting tasted OK but the cake was not very good.  It was very dry and flavorless.  I guess I wasn't expecting much after five years!  It brought back the memories of choosing that cake and going to the fabric store to pick out that ribbon a few days before the wedding when I was so tired of planning and details I was ready to just tell everyone to do whatever they wanted...because I didn't care!  I think I made a nice choice!
I couldn't resist looking back...when I saw this picture I hardly remembered taking it!  We made our grand entrance and were hussled over pose with the cake (apparently) and this was the result!  Nice...I like it...we used my parents' cake topper and Justin's parents' engraved cake knife.  This picture makes me want to go back to 2007 and pin back that stray hair on my forehead!

It was a good weekend of food, family, stale cake, hot tubbing in a farm shop with a dusty combine nearby, a teething baby (I won't go into details, but he was generally crabby for most of the weekend even though he looks happy in the pictures) and Christmas decorating. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

That day has arrived once again.  It's always been a favorite holiday of mine even though it doesn't have the extravagance of Christmas.  It meant a long weekend, getting out the Christmas decorations, and seeing my cousins.  I am feeling especially nostalgic this year for some reason for the years of Thanksgivings spent making Christmas ornaments and other crafts and playing outside in the snow with the cousins on my Dad's side or visiting my cousins on my mom's side and acting silly all day (and through dinner!) and going Black Friday shopping the next day (never the 4 a.m. kind...just general shopping!).  It has been awhile since I have had a Thanksgiving like this and I know those days will never return.  It makes me wonder what the holiday will be like in five years or ten...

Sooo...the popular thing to do on Facebook this month has been to say something you are thankful for every day.  I have not participated because I generally avoid over the top sentiments.  Obviously I'm thankful for my family, my healthy child, my home, having food on the table, etc...

Here is my fun list!

-I'm glad that no one in our house has been injured while stepping over a baby gate.  I have come close...

-I'm relieved that Ben hasn't ruined any of my expensive electronics (computer, camera, ipad, phone).  He really wants to get his hands on these items in the worst way and a person can only be so vigilant...I fear it's only a matter of time...

-I'm thankful that I am, as of this week, no longer wearing any garment from Motherhood Maternity for the first time in over a year...what this means is...NO MORE NURSING BRAS!

-I am very excited to get home to my parents' house tonight because they got a hot tub!  Whenever the weather is cold and I am tired I often wish I had access to a hot tub (or jacuzzi or spa or whatever you call it) and once it was a luxury only available at hotels or during ski vacations.  It's like a dream come true!  I have always been wary of hot tubs at people's houses because of the necessity to keep it chemically treated and clean and I have seen some gross ones but don't worry!  If I am on the scene that tub is going to be perfectly balanced!  I know a thing or two about maintaining a pool after being a lifeguard for so many years. 

-I'm really thankful for the YMCA drop in child care.  After some hesitation, I have decided that the extra money is soooo worth it. 

Well, I have to go...guess who is yelling and lunging at the keyboard and yanking on the computer screen?  No...not Allan...

Here a few quick pictures of Ben with his Great Grandma Irene last weekend.  I wish we could see her more often.  She loves seeing Ben. 

"Hunting" with Daddy!