Monday, October 29, 2012


I can't believe Halloween is only two days away!  Ben has a costume and I just bought candy today.  I bought two bags, one of sweet candy that includes my favorites such as Nerds, Sweet Tarts and Laffy Taffy and another with chocolate.  The chocolate bag contains 150 pieces.  Hopefully, there will be some left for trick-or-treaters on Wednesday. 
Halloween is something I look forward to as a parent but I don't think anyone would fall for a parent taking a seven month old trick or treating...that candy's obviously not for them!  I haven't decided if I am going to dress up and what I will wear if I do.  It will have to be something from a previous Halloween. 
Here is some of my fall decorating...

Those mini pumpkins are from our back yard garden!  They are kind of small and stunted, just like the rest of what grew back there.

I bought the white pumkin and that huge gourd from a stand in my hometown.  I also bought a carving pumpkin at the grocery store today.  There is a pumpkin patch near Mandan, but we never got around to going there.  I feel like a dissapointing parent not taking Ben to a pumpkin patch.  Facebook is full of pumpkin patch footage and poor Ben missed out!  Oh well, next year...
Actually, I have been campaigning with my parents to start planting a pumpkin patch again!  We did it for several years when I was growing up.  This patch was so productive that we kept what we wanted, gave the elementary school kids a pumpkin, and let anyone else who wanted some take as many as they wanted.  And still, many were left when it was time to plow it under before winter.
Look at that vast expanse of pumpkins! 
I want to have our own pumpkin patch for a few reasons.  The first is that pumpkins and gourds are suddenly, in my opinion, exhorbitantly expensive from the store.  The carving pumpkin I bought today was $5.00 and it was just a medium sized one.  The large ones were $8.00!  Even the gourd and pumpkin I bought from someone's stand were $11.00 for the two.  I know that gas is expensive, the economy is bad, there was a drought, blahhhhh, but I think this is all way to expensive especially since I read that this year there was an abundance of pumpkins in this area because of the hot weather.  Also, I know that a huge bulk sized bag of hundreds of pumpkin seeds cost around $20.00 back in the 90's when we planted ours and there is no way those seeds cost more than $30.00 or $40.00 now and one bag could produce thousands of pumpkins.
I also want one because it was fun and now that I have a child I want him to get in on the fun as well!  There is the slight problem of weeding the kids, it was our job (mine and my brother and sister's) to occasionally hoe the rows before they spread out.  Now that no kids are home, there is no one to do this task!  However, I remember hoeing only once or twice, and honestly I don't think we took it very seriously.  Also, I know that my brother never lifted a finger just like he was exempt from most duties and never put his own laundry away, emptied the dishwasher or any other typical chore.  When we had to clean and dust if we were having company he was usually sitting on the computer looking at baseball stats while my sister and I cleaned.  What a princess.

Friday, October 26, 2012


The house feels like a new place this week because on Wednesday I decided it was time to put away the Ocean Adventure mat that has been dominating our living room floor since late April.  It has been tripped on, kicked in frustration, and much maligned.  Not to mention, it is very garish and doesn't add anything to the style of the room.  But it was worth it, because for many weeks, Ben spent many combined hours laying on this thing and kicking, batting at, and knawing on the dangling toys.  It was good for at least 1/2 hour of entertainment in the morning so I could look at Pinterest and Facebook and read the news.  If we had been away from home for a weekend it was like he had never seen it before when we returned.  I would recommend it to anyone having a baby.   

This is the earliest picture I have of him laying on it.  I miss that little outfit!

Wow, was my life easy then!  He was so...stationary!

I realized last week that, although he still liked the toys, (not as much as he likes the power strip in the bedroom) this mat was pretty much useless because he doesn't stay in one place anymore.  All it did was slow him down as he crawled around.  It was just serving as a place for me to pile the toys to get them out of the way.  So...I thought...why is this annoying thing even here?  So I bought a basket for the toys and put the mat away (after washing it to remove drool residue, of course).  Wow, it is so pleasant in here!  You can walk through the room! can walk THROUGH the the problem is getting out of the room...

It never ends!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Every Dot

This article from The Atantic magazine was popular with my Facebook friends a earlier this week...

This photographer named Andrew Filer is fascinated by rural America and small towns and is working on photographing every named place in the rural states.  He has already done North Dakota, quite a bit of MN, and some other states and also Canadian provinces.  If you click on the link and than click on the "everydot" link in the article, you can see the lists of places.  The places, I believe, the places listed on a geological map, so not every place is on a current highway map. 

I have been obsessing over this all week!  There are so many to click on and so many beautiful pictures.  I am kind of dissapointed that the pictures of my town are pretty old and feature a vacant lot that has been turned into a really nice garden now but Mr. Filer said himself that he didn't necessarily photograph the prettiest places or places representative of the town but instead the details he personally likes and finds interesting.  Fine with me, I guess...his photos I have seen are beautiful even if they just picture a road where a town stood long ago but has vanished.  My favorites are the photos of abandoned school buildings that so many towns used to have.  They just make me sad to see them standing alone, even if they have been maintained by someone.  Many of them are just ruins now.  Schools are places that hold alot of memories, good and bad, for anyone who wasn't homeschooled, of course!  They just seem so lonely when they have been abandoned.  My favorite school photo was of Denbigh, ND.  I have no idea where that is, but the photo is a majestic school standing there in the grass and it looks nice and cared for. I wish I could see it in person!  Maybe I can, one of these days...maybe it's closer than I think!  I will have to look it the way, I would share the photo but I don't want to steal Mr. Filer's photos. 

My very favorite "place" was also somewhere I had never heard of...San Haven, ND.  I clicked on the link and it was pictures of a huge complex of buildings overgrown with trees and weeds.  It looked huge, like a hospital or something!  I did some additional research and found out that San Haven is an abandoned tuberculosis sanatorium which was later a state hospital for problematic patients of all kinds (mentally incompetent, deformed babies, you name it...).  It housed over 900 patients in its busiest years and the campus was so big it was given its own zip code, which is how it is on the list of named places, I guess... 

There are pictures of San Haven all over the internet so I will share one...

This is from, which is also a very interesting website.  In the 1980's, traditional state asylums, where patients were sent to be "out of the way" were reformed to the benefit of patients everywhere.  I saw a presentation about it during law school, although that presentation focused on another hospital in ND and not San Haven.  If you know anything about the history of mental illness you know that what went on in these places was not always good so of course this place is well known as a haunted place.  I have studied North Dakota history pretty extensively during school and on my own and I can't believe I never knew about such a fascinating place!  You learn something new all the time!

So, if you get a chance and have any interest, check out Everydot!  I'm jealous that he has seen the whole state and I haven't even seen the whole state! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I have some good posts in my mind, but I am too distracted during the day these days (Gee, I wonder why, BEN?) to write a long post so I am just going to do the easy thing and post a bunch of pictures. I have pumpkins and fall table arrangements to show off and I rearranged the assortment of pictures and decorative items in the living room for the first time since we moved in ( I know, everyone is just DYING to see!).  Clutter was starting to take over and I had to make some tough choices about what was on display. But...that stuff will wait for another day. 

Here are some recent baby photos.
Last week it was really nice out and I thought it might be the last chance for awhile so I strolled Ben to the park and tried putting him in a baby swing.  I think he is still too little but he didn't hate it!
Naked baby on the loose!  At least we have wood floors!
Fussy man on the way to Sioux Falls last Thursday...I had no idea how far this fussiness was going to go!
Uh-Oh...someone tried to stand by leaning on a laundry basket and ended up buried in clothes!  He thought it was funny.

Cute baby.  You can kind of see his teeth in the middle photo...he still only has 2!

Allan acting like he is the baby of the house.  He loves that quilt.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

One Bust of a Weekend

This fall, I have been looking forward to this particular weekend for awhile.  We planned on going to Sioux Falls where NDSU was playing USD.  We were going early to Sioux Falls because Justin had to be there for work on Friday and I was going shop all day.  If you didn't know, Sioux Falls has a pretty good mall!  Then we were going to stay with Justin's step brother and his wife and Ben's cousins and leave the babies with babysitters and go to the game. 

Well, the weekend did not go as planned.  It was a low point in my seven months as a mother, that is for sure.  I'd say it was my worst experience so far, actually.  On Thursday afternoon, we ate at BWW with my sister for lunch and Ben cried and yelled the whole time.  We ate supper at Red Lobster in Sioux Falls on Thursday night where Ben climbed around the booth like a monkey and made it impossible for us to eat and then went into fuss/cry/yell mode as soon as the food came.  That night he suddently became feverish and none of the three of us slept at all at the hotel and Justin ended up going to Walmart at 4 am to buy baby tylenol because I forgot to bring ours that I often travel with in case the need for it arises. 

He seemed better on Saturday morning so I was ready to head to the mall.  I was feeling positive that Ben would spend hours sleeping if he was in the stroller and had slept very little the night before.  Wrong again.  As soon as I walked in at around 11:00 a.m. he started fussing and straining to get out of his stroller.  He refused to fall asleep even though I could tell he was delirious from lack of sleep.  After a few trips to the mother's lounge (many malls have these rooms for feeding babies...they are the best!) I realized that something was not right because he was also refusing to eat, via nursing or a bottle.  Around 1:30 he absolutely went balistic, screaming himself into a frenzy.  I knew I needed to get out of there but had nowhere to go since we were checked out of the hotel and Justin was working and I don't know anyone who currently lives in Sioux Falls so I ended up sitting in my car.  I had some dark thoughts at this time, wishing I could just get away and shop on my own like I used to be able to do.  After this I ended up going to a walk in clinic, which was very difficult to find even with my phone navigation system and an actual paper map of Sioux Falls, where Justin met me and we ended up staying there for 2 and a half hours only to hear that he had a virus (no ear infection or anything like that) and to give him Tylenol for his fever.  It was the slowest, pokiest walk in clinic I have ever been to.  I told them I needed to pump but didn't want to hog their bathroom so they said they would get me an empty room right away but I ended up doing it in my car because, apparently, no rooms were opening up even though there was only 1 other person in the waiting room before us.  And once we got back to an exam room the staff took forever as well.  They did a blood test for infection and the lab technition had to squeeze Ben's finger to get enough blood out to fill her little vial and Ben screamed and flailed and I had to hold him while she did this and ended up sobbing hysterically because it was so awful (and I am not a mother who cries about routine shots and things of that nature).  So much for my long anticipated day of cruising around the mall and eating bad Chinese food at the food court while Ben lounged in the stroller and took in the sights.

Here is the poor little baby, after waiting for who knows how long at the clinic.  He paused from crying to look really pissed! 

After we got out of the clinic at 5:00 p.m. (I arrived there around 2:30) we headed to our overnight lodging an hour away from Sioux Falls and Ben finally crashed.  We all started to relax and calm down and Ben played with his cousins (Jack age 2 and Spencer 8 months).  We went to bed early but of course I was still wound up and couldn't fall asleep for over and hour and just as I was drifting off...Ben started crying and fussing...and then it happened again at 4 a.m. and he was hot and feverish time for more Tylenol...and then he woke up again at 6 was a better night than the one before but still...after full nights of sleep for so long it is not easy to go back to frequent wakings.

The next morning he felt better again and we thought, since he hadn't been feeling good, for some crazy reason we should bring him to the game with us instead of leaving him!  UGHHH worst decision ever!!!!  I will just say that I did not watch more than about 10 minutes of the game and once again ended up sitting in the car with him.  There was even a streaker and I missed it!  I truly cannot believe how much this kid screamed this weekend.  His voice is hoarse from it and I feel truly awful that we didn't just bring him home and give up on salvaging the weekend.  I try to stay positive but this one was just awful...between the hunger strike, the sleeping issues, the fever, the awful restaurant experiences, and...oh yeah...I forgot to mention that as I was sitting in the car listening to the football game on the radio I realized that a bottle had leaked some breastmilk into my $200.00 purse (#$%@#%#*!  SERIOUSLY!?)

So...there were a few good things about the weekend...

-I bought a new pair of jeans that I really like.  The actual process of buying them was miserable because Ben was arching his back in the stroller and crying and I just wanted to get out of the store but I am still glad I have them now.

-We got to tailgate for two hours and the portas had porta-sinks and soap!  I have never seen that before!  Since I'm being positive I won't mention the 10+ minute wait to get into a stall...

-I got to hang out with fun people at tailgating such as my sister and cousin and friends...all those carefree people who don't have babies and can do whatever they want and sleep all night and go out drinking and shop for hours in peace...I honestly wonder if these people will think twice about having kids after seeing what has become of me. 

-Our nephew Jack can say our names and knows us by name even though we don't see him all that often and he loved to play with Ben and was so affectionate with him...very cute!

-When Justin was at Walmart at 4 a.m. buying medicine he found the baby gates we need for our doorways that have been sold out at stores around here...yayyyyy...

I took only one picture on my phone over the weekend, although I had planned to take many with the kids and at the game.  Photography ended up being the last thing on my mind. 

I didn't take this cousin did but I like it!  I sure look relaxed don't I?  Haha I wasn't!
Ben feels much better today.  He slept all night last night and also slept most of the way from Sioux Falls to Bismarck and once we got home he was back to his usual tricks such as fixating on the TV remote even though we gave him an old remote to play with. He still knows which one is the "good" one. 
Yes, that is a pink bib...I admit that the big pack of bibs I bought had a pink one in it and I use it when we are around the house! 


Monday, October 15, 2012

Adoption Anniversary

Three years ago today, around the time in the evening that I write this, Justin brought Allan, age 4 months, home from the Humane Society and I met him for the first time!  I opened the door of the pet carrier in the kitchen, and he came out.  He was shaking with fear but curious about his surroundings and I picked him up and he crawled up on my shoulder and was purring the whole time!  Cats also purr if they are very stressed, but I like to think he was excited to meet us!  What followed was several days and weeks of new experiences that he had never had since he was born at the shelter.  He had never perched on the back of a couch and stared out a window or ran up and down stairs.  He is a lucky kitten and we are lucky he is our kitten! 
These pictures are from his first days with us...I had pictures of him taken the first few minutes in the kitchen but they were on my old phone and have been lost.  
Snuggling the first night...

More snuggling!

He brought a jingle ball with him, but we soon found out that mice were his favorite toys.  They still are!  This blue one was the first of many that he chewed up like a puppy!

My buddy...

Learning to enjoy the sun!
I hope we have many more years with him!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Just Like Daddy!

There are many baby clothes that have phrases proclaiming that a baby is "Mommy's/Daddy's little Rookie/Princess/Slugger."  "Just Like Daddy" is another common slogan. 

One of the well known stories about Justin as a baby tells how he chewed on his crib and the whole thing was covered with teeth marks by the time he grew out of it.  Guess who else has discovered the fun in that same activity and is just like Daddy?

There are already teeth marks on it!  I didn't get a picture, but he also tried to eat the mobile.  Our future babies are not going to have anything nice!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Misc.

He's sleeeeeping...time to post a quick Friday afternoon update after a week of not much! Justin has been gone all week so I have had no time away from Ben.  When he has slept I have had to do everything else like eat!  I am at my parents house right now, and also on their computer, so all I have is phone pictures...

Here is a funny sequence from earlier this week of Ben trying to climb into a laundry basket and succeeding. Haha he was struggling and I just sat back and laughed...

He wins again!

And here is a funny picture of the new bin my dad is having built.  I showed up yesterday evening and there it  was, a monster among bins.  I mention it at all because I think it is crazy how huge it is compared to the bins on the right and the old granary on the left.  Also, it has a staircase spiraling around the outside which would have been enticing to us as children.  The (former) large bins on the farm, which you can't see, had step ladders up the sides and climbing them was not something my parents (and especially my grandpa) approved of or encouraged.  I admit, the top is higher than it looks!  A staircase would be just too much!  

Bins always have kind of terrified me ever since the farm safety awareness time at school (the program was called ABC on the Farm with ABC standing for Always Be Careful!).  There was a terrifying presentation about how fast a person could get sucked into grain or beans or corn and suffocate if they were walking on top of a full bin or truck and someone unknowingly opened the door at the bottom to let the grain out.  They used a little toy army man as the victim of suffocation in the demonstration.  I guess some topics are pretty serious and need to make a statement to be effective.  Where I grew up agriculture is all around and we needed to learn common sense.  It has stayed with me, I know that!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Homecoming 2012

I am referring to NDSU Homecoming, one of my favorite events.  It was fun in college, but I have enjoyed it even more in the years since I graduated.  During college, it was a week of float building, fraternity formal date getting, and general nonsense.  After graduation, it was just a weekend but a weekend free of the responsibilities of an undergrad sorority member such as making sure the house was clean for visiting alumnae and serving at our brunch before the parade that passes in front of the house.  There were some wild years in there between 2005 and...well...before I got pregnant. 

Oh jeez, it is not the same with a baby...instead of arriving at our favorite bar at 8:00 a.m. I was frantically trying to prepare a days worth of bottles and estimate how much milk Ben would need for a whole day out and imposing my car seat base in my friends' car because Justin took my car tailgating at 7 a.m. while every waited impatiently for me to be ready.  I wasn't able to make it to KD for the first time since I graduated and I am missing from my friends' pictures there that morning.  I truly loathe the fact that I am the last one ready for everything now and people are always waiting for me because I used to always be the first one to be ready.  Itis so tempting to just switch to formula and relax on days like these!

Even with my new responsibility I still had fun.  The game, which was supposed to be an intense competition that could have gone either way ended up being a huge blowout in our favor.  My parents and my aunt and uncle took care of Ben so we could go out after the game so that was nice.  He was out of sorts from not being able to move aroud and crawl all day and excessively tired by the end of the game. 

This is the picture my mom sent me after we parted ways!  Nap time! 
And that's about it...I was too big of a mess all day to take any pictures and I forgot my camera anyway just like I forgot or misplaced pretty much everything else over the weekend!  At least I remembered to pay my bar tab which I have failed to do several times over the years! 


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Well, The House is Already Trashed Anyway...

I knew he was getting close to doing this because he has kind of been clawing at the couch and my legs and anything else that gets in the way and also "standing" on his knees, but I ever guessed that my kid's first time pulling up and standing on his own would be on a tower of twelve packs of Coke products that were on sale (3 for $9.00! YEaahhh!) at Target that day.  I'm so proud!  Good job little guy! 
I was looking forward to watching the Presidential debate last night and I thought it would be a good idea to watch the debate in the basement since it doesn't have commercials the way regular TV does so DVR wasn't an issue and also the basement is less cluttered and free (I thought, anyway) of temptations for a curious baby.  Well, I was wrong. 
He was immediately drawn to this basket of magazines and also tried to demonstrate the new standing skill again (and ended up draped over a basket of magazines!)
I had to move this ottoman in front of the TV control boxes because he kept playing with the knobs...
OOooh....what is this?!  Time to get out the baby proofing kit that we got as a gift!
I didn't hear a word of the debate because he was yelling while doing all of these things.  Sigh...I love watching the debates.  At least there will be more of them...
I was also proud this morning when Ben was over digging in the DVD storage area (the rack is full and some of the bigger TV show sets are stacked on the floor next to it.)
He toppled over (don't was minor) while trying to get this Homer shaped Simpsons season!  Good taste in TV already!  I'm sure he really likes the had nothing to do with the bright yellow case or anything...
I really am annoyed by having to "baby proof"...I was looking at old pictures from two years ago to find a picture of a quilt I made and the house looked so beautiful and serene and tasteful!  I have tried to maintain the original look and just added all the baby crap to the mix with the knowledge that it will all be outgrown in a few months and replaced with toys that can be put away but now some of my favorite things have to be moved and I don't want to move them!  I like plants and my wine rack and stacks of magazines on the floor!  By the way, stacks of anything on the floor is really bad if you follow Feng Shui design principles...which I don't...mostly because it would require not having 4,000 picture frames and magazines and pairs of shoes piled everywhere.  Why can't he just leave the wine alone!?  I would drink it and be done with it except I can't be chugging a bottle of wine every night with a baby in the house!  And the damn computer cord...get over it already!  Now that I have a new one he wants nothing to do with the old one...he only wants the new does he know?! 
OK, enough venting...I am glad that he is curious and wants to explore the world even if it at the expense of me getting to enjoy house plants...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fall Update

It has been hard for me to spend extended periods of time on the Internet lately because my child is obsessed with getting into things that are off limits and I am constantly going to redirect him away from these things.  He loves the wine rack in the kitchen, wedging himself under the end tables in the living room and yanking on the lamp cords and going into the bathroom and tipping over the trash can.  We really need to look into baby gates.  He is sleeping now so I must type fast...

Since I last typed on here Ben went on his first combine ride with Justin. 

He loved to see the header spinning! 

We met his second cousin Aubrey but I was only able to stay for about an hour and it was pretty hectic so I unfortunately didn't get any pictures of them together.  He got to meet his three puppy cousins though which he enjoyed because they weren't slobbering all over him with a huge tongue like cousin Jakey and they weren't scared of him like Allan!

We saw Grandpa Tim and Grandma Cindy run a half marathon in Grand Forks. 

They both finished in record time for themselves!  We had all parked at my brother's new house about a ten minute walk away and they walked back with us afterwards!  I remember my dad's first 1/2 in 2010 when his legs barely worked after he finished...they have come far!

My grandmothers both visited the farm on Sunday and we picked apples.  When I was growing up we had a huge old apple tree that produced delicious apples.  Unfortunately, it got struck by lightening a few years ago (yes, true story!) and my mom replaced it with two new trees that are finally producing a big crop.

Many of the apples had damage from birds snacking on them so we threw those into the trees where Jake found them and brought them back!  Thanks buddy!

Grandma Phyllis and her friends Molly and Jake.

Pretty colors on the crab apple tree.

It was 85 degrees out on Sunday and now on Wednesday there is a winter storm watch for tonight! Haha crazy northern climate...I don't even care though.  I am kind of excited for some crazy weather after a summer without a thunderstorm and a winter without snow last year. Bring it on! It will just melt right away anyway. 

Also, we need the moisture.  If anyone is in the ND/Northern MN area you have heard about the wildfires that broke out yesterday in Northwest MN.  That is where my grandma grew up and several of her many brothers and sisters still live there.  Yesterday we found out that her brother lost his house and other family members were evacuated from theirs.  Also, my cousin and her husband live in another area that has fires burning although they are not in immediate danger.  Hard to believe this is happening there and my grandma was having trouble reaching them to find out details last night so hopefully the news is not so bad for the other family members in the area.  So snow would be welcome for them, although it is coming too late.  What a terrifying thing a wildfire would be.