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! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Back in college we were always up to fraternity/sorority pranking and nonsense.  One of the most childish and silly things we did was something called "raiding", which was really nothing more than sanctioned but harmless vandalism where a sorority would sneak around in the dark of night to all the fraternities (or vice versa) and commit benign acts of vandalism such as toilet papering trees, painting windows with washable paint, forking the lawns and inflitrating the houses and stealing that chapter's special crests and photo composites.  There were rules about what you could and couldn't do (no food like eggs, no permanent paint, nothing dangerous, etc.) and it was all in good fun.  Although many people assume that all people in Greek houses do is drink and party and something like raiding would seem like drunken antics, it was the underage person with a brain would run the streets like that while under the influence! 
When we planned a raid everyone who wanted to go would gather at the house in dark clothes and then we would make preparations, such as painting "warpaint" on our faces with tempra paint and filling water balloons.  Many of the more serious, mature and studious girls skipped raiding...and, believe it or not, I wasn't one of them! Week nights were the best nights to act because there was a better chance that the fraternity guys would be sleeping at 1 or 2 a.m. and not awake to catch us and dump buckets of water out the windows on our heads or retaliate by emptying bags of raked leaves on our front step. Or climbing in a window and stealing the furniture and putting it on the front lawn.  Or taking their roommates' clothes or mattress and throwing it on the roof of our house...
It had been awhile since I thought about raiding but was reminded last week when I came upon this scene in the hallway...
He TP'd the hallway!  I will start to worry if he starts taking picture frames and mementos from around the house and making me sing dirty songs to get them back or painting "Ben <3 mom="mom" nbsp="nbsp" on="on" p="p" s="s" the="the" windows.="windows.">
Thanks for sending me on a journey down memory lane Ben!

Monday, November 12, 2012

It Went So Fast!

This weekend was the last regular season NDSU football game and tailgating session!  It is hard to believe how fast the weekends fly by.  I wait all summer for it to start and all of a sudden its November.  Sigh...

We ended it with a fun tailgate party, that is for sure!  All season, different people have been taking turns making the major food contributions for the group.  After a fish fry, omelets in bags, walking tacos and several grilled cuts of meat it was our ("our" referring to Justin and I, my sister and brother-in-law, my cousin and her husband, and my parents) turn and we provided pulled turkey for sandwiches, cheesy hashbrowns, beans, pumpkin cheesecake desert (my contribution!) and alcohol laced pudding shots.  It was also the tailgating contest with prizes for tailgating rig, food, setup, and bison pride.  We didn't win but it was fun to get join in the fun.

I was worried because there was a freezing rain/blizzard/winter weather event forecasted for the weekend.  Fortunately, in Fargo it ended up being just rain although West and North of Fargo it was worse.  I came home to a foot of snow last night!  YIKES!  Tailgating was fine because we have a good tent set up with heaters so it wasn't bad at all!

Here is our pudding shot table...the cornucopia was my idea and on Friday night I went on the hung for one!  A horn of plenty is kind of hard to find!  Now I will have one for my thanksgiving collection!  And interesting note about the brother in law apparently was listening to a radio show this morning and the tailgating judges were being interviewed...or something...I'm not sure what he was listening to exactly...but they mentioned the pudding shots!  Hehe!  They are a fine way to consume spirits!

Ben and Grandma and his beloved beads!  Don't worry...he is always supervised when playing with them...


All bundled up...such a change from that first 90 degree tailgate back in September!
Ben has experienced his first of many footbal seasons!  It wasn't always as fun having him out with us, but for the most part he has been very good!  They main problem is that he generally doesn't eat on these days which drives me crazy.  But, can't be forced!
I recieved this picture during the game of Ben with his buddy Andy.  Of course, he is moving so fast that he is nothing but a blur! 
In his own silent world...
Ben with Dada and Nana after the game.
I should mention that it is likely that a playoff game will end up in Fargo so chances are the season is not quite over yet but I don't want to take it for granted only to be disappointed if it doesn't work out!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

End In Sight...

I had planned to have an election related post yesterday but I was too tired from Ben waking up at 5:00 a.m. since "Fall Back" on Sunday.  Ugh.  This is a universal woe for people with little kids, apparently.  I want to sleep in sooooo bad. And by "sleep in" I mean waking up at, say, 7:00 a.m.  Now the election is over so I don't feel like talking about it anymore.  I was going to reminisce about the election of 2000, when I was a senior in high school taking Government class, and I stayed up until 2:00 a.m waiting to find out who won...haha...

Today I am having some mixed feelings...Ben has been on a nursing strike for almost three weeks now and has only been drinking from a bottle.  I have been pumping and giving him milk from the freezer and production is way down...the freezer supply will only last so long so I have been intending to start incorporating formula.  I have researched this to see how other families make the switch and it is hard to find realistic advice because most of the websites with legitimate information are very pro breastfeeding and they just tell you how to increase your supply by drinking special tea and gatorade and having extended pumping sessions and just to keep trying because babies younger that a year or even older "rarely self wean"...well I have been trying for three weeks and its no use and it seems that he is self weaning.  I admit I am kind of happy at the idea of my daily clothing choices no longer including a single item from Motherhood Maternity!  And that pump can disappear as well!

On the other hand...I don't mean this to be a negative comment against formula or people who give their babies formula (obviously, I'm starting to use it myself!) but that stuff is so disgusting!  Ughhh!  I smelled it and I almost threw up!  Bleeehhhh I can't imagine how bad it tastes.  My stomach is turning just thinking about it.  I could barely bring myself to give Ben the bottle (it was a mix of formula and my milk).  I will be taking this transition slow.  After seeing how gross formula is I am glad I nursed for as long as I did just so I didn't have smell it.  Fortunately, Ben didn't seem to notice or care that he was drinking something different and drained a large bottle.  That's the important thing, I guess.  

Here are a few recent pictures from my phone...he looks deceptively happy.  He has been pretty crabby this week! 


Monday, November 5, 2012

Back to the Y

Since I started college back in 2001 I have been a gym user.  The year I started NDSU was the year that the new Wellness Center opened and it was shiny, immaculate and state of the art.  There were rows of TVs in front of cardio machines and your headphones could tune in to whichever show you chose.  There was a huge expanse of weight equipment so "normal" students wouldn't have to make fools of themselves around the athletes in the sports arena weight room, which is how it was before.  The whole place, which has since been added onto and made three times the size it was, was a dream compared to the dingy but functional former shop classroom that was our weight room in high school.  And it was free for us to use whenever we wanted.  I was paranoid about gaining the "freshman fifteen" so I almost immediately became a regular user and continued to use it for the next four years.  When I headed to law school, I started using UND's not very functional and quite dated and dingy Hyslop workout center and by my second year UND had a new student wellness center which was so big it could have passed as the Grand Forks airport and not only had rows of TVs but mini TVs attached to the cardio machines!  It was huge and you rarely had to wait for a machine.  I once again used this place all the time. 
When we moved here I knew I had to find a gym right away and chose the YMCA because it has two swimming pools and I like swimming laps.  I was there swimming and doing light elliptical machine workouts until the week before Ben was born and I have been very antsy to get back to it!  I should mention that the machines at the Y have TVs attached and also USB ports so you can plug your iPod into just keeps getting better...
The problem was that I couldn't go during the day any more because my membership didn't include the drop in child care and Justin is gone all day and at least two nights a week so I have not been able to go enough times each month (12) to get my insurance reimbursement.  So I have been bleeding money to the Y for something I use only a few times a month. 
Today I finally changed my membership to get the child care.  I have been hesitant because the child care costs extra every month and also the child has to be a member so I had to change to a family membership that costs twice as much.  I am quite annoyed by the whole thing and don't find the policy very family friendly but I don't want to switch because the Y has the pools unlike Gold's or Anytime Fitness or a place like that. 
I was able to use the child care right away so I nervously checked it out.  I was expecting a few kids to be in there but there were around fifteen babies and toddlers running around!  I was kind of nervous about leaving him there since I am not accustomed to day care settings but it is well staffed and clean so I went and exercised and rushed back to find Ben playing on the floor with another baby and one of the care providers.  He had discovered a very nice toy shopping cart!  He looked pretty annoyed that I made him leave! 
So...he likes it there and I am more excuses!  I will be exercising regularly again!  And...since I am paying for the child care maybe I will occasionally just go there to use the sauna and take a shower in peace and read magazines and chat with all the retired ladies and moms that are there in the mornings over the complimentary fruit and coffee that is available!  Haha...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Dia De Los Muertos and All Saints Day everyone!  I can't believe it is November.  I have alot to get done around the house today and I need to get to Target and the mall to scope out the Halloween clearance and I already spent alot of internet time putting photos on Facebook so this will be light on writing and mostly about the pictures! 
We carved a pumpkin on Tuesday night.  Justin did the tedious part of cleaning it and I carved it while he cleaned the slime off the seeds, which I then roasted and ate most of.  There seems to be an imbalance here...

Not surprisingly, Ben didn't give a crap about anything that was going on. 

We have one of those carving kits with the stencils you can use to carve impressive looking pumpkins and I started to do one but I got too lazy and decided to go the traditional route!  I love him!  I think he looks perfect and classic!  I also loved playing with my camera settings to capture the glow!

Ben had this cute Halloween outfit from his second cousins Trevor and Colt that we have been able to enjoy this month.  It was hard for me to resist buying a new one because they are so cute but I stopped myself and just used this one!  It says "I want candy" on it! 

Here we are on Halloween night!  Can you see Allan in the window on the right?

Ben and his new buddy. 

Justin has been trying to control the leaves in our yard and it has been hard because he is pretty busy and I can't do anything about it with Ben around so the front yard looks good but the back still is full of leaves.  Fortunately, the leaves provided a photo opportunity!

Of course, a leaf went right in the mouth!

He was kind of annoyed by this!

I bought Allan a pumpkin costume on clearance right after we got him and it is the biggest waste of time ever to get him to wear it every year.  As these photos show, this year is about as successful as we have ever been at keeping it on his head long enough to take some pictures!

He is in love with his costume!  Haha right...

We didn't get many trick or treaters this year which was kind of dissapointing to me because I bought alot of candy.  I started giving out handfulls as the night went on.  There were very few little kids in the early evening and more "middle school punk" type kids later on.  I actually don't mind the older kids as long as they are dressed up and seem to be having fun.  I liked trick or treating when I was in the older grades and I know I went with my friends when we were in 7th grade.  I think it is a more wholesome activitiy than many things kids that age can engage in.  And one pack of pre-teens was very complimentary of Allan's cuteness when they saw him lounging in the window so I was generous with their candy!  I don't know why we didn't get many kids.  I noticed that there weren't many houses with the invitational porch light turned on on our block so maybe that's why people skipped it.  Or maybe everyone went to the "rich neighborhoods" with bigger houses.  Or maybe it is because our street is busy.  Who knows.  I was glad to give candy to those that came!