Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

I don't feel like writing anything since it's gotten so late but here are a few pictures from today for all the grandparents and relatives reading this who aren't in on the Facebook Halloween costume photo fest!  Ben liked his "Brown Bear" costume and when I put him in front of the mirror he laughed and said his version of "brown bear"! 

It looks like he is sitting on the stem but don't worry...

Allan was surprisingly amicable to wearing his pumpkin costume this year!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My "Klingons"

For the (approximately) last two weeks, Ben and Allan have been up my "you know what" non-stop.  Whenever I sit down Ben is climbing on me, thrusting books or used tractor catalogues into my hands and wedging himself in next to me.  And if he isn't around Allan is waiting for his chance to move in and drape himself over me.  As a kitten he was like this and then as he became more confident and secure living with us he started hanging out in his favorite areas instead of plastered against us.  He would keep a respectful distance at night if we allowed him to sleep upstairs.  Now he is laying on me every time I wake up.  When Ben goes to sleep I almost always collapse on the couch with some form of Internet access for a few minutes (and I admit occasionally...most of the nap...) before I do something productive around the house.  As soon as I do, he is there like in the picture below...

I looked it up and apparently this is a common phenomenon, especially with animals, toward the end of a pregnancy.  They can sense something.  Why that something turns them into annoying and clingy pests no one can say.  It is cute and I should be enjoying the love I am getting from them and I try to be patient with Ben especially, since I worry about him adjusting to sharing my attention.  On a daily basis I feel bad that I physically can't play with him and hold him the way he wants and also that I don't have a lot of enthusiasm for the play of toddlers right now.  Hopefully no harm is being done!  At least he and Allan have each other!  Allan likes to lay on the floor in the baby's room, probably because it is pristine and free of toys and clutter right now and there s space because the crib isn't in there yet.  I often catch Ben sitting in there trying to play with him.  At least they have each other! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Halloween Costume Time!

As a child, choosing a Halloween Costume was easy.  My brother and sister and I decided and my mom made it happen with her sewing machine.  Or, if you were my brother, you were a football player every year of elementary school and just wore the same crap you wore around the yard after school every day which included an old football helmet from my Grandpa Harold's high school coaching and athletic director days that was spray painted to match his team of the moment.  I was a dalmation, a Hershey kiss, and a slice of pizza among other things.  In college costumes were still a challenge since I was raised never having purchased a cheaply made but overpriced costume in a bag from a store and felt the need to be original and come up with something of my own. 

I thought I would be a costume sewing mom.  And hopefully I will be eventually.  But for now I am just too lazy and tired and huge for that nonsense.  After some deliberation I have decided that Ben should be "Brown Bear" from the "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?" book.  He loves that book and it was the first book he talked about by name. 

There were some cute bear patterns at the fabric store but I am not going to stress myself out over this and instead bought a small quantity of fuzzy light brown fabric and am going to sew some furry accents and ears on a brown sweatsuit I bought at Kohls.  Then it will be comfortable enough for him to wear all day as he is dragged around to my various doctors appointments that day which I just scheduled this morning.  I will be getting an ultrasound to check the baby's position on Halloween!  Hopefully it's head down and not breech! 

There are years in the future for sewing costumes.  For now I am just trying to keep the house from chaos.  What my mom used to regularly complain about after we moved into the cavernous, six bedroom dust gatherer that I grew up in has merit...having the largest house you can get seems like a great idea until you are the one in charge of cleaning it!  I have been letting it slide around here since the place was spotless when we moved it but now, after almost two months, the dust bunnies are gathering.  Sigh...and no, this is not nesting.  I didn't have that last time and I doubt I will have a burst of energy to direct toward cleaning this time either.  It's just not that interesting to me!

Check back around Halloween to see if I actually get "Brown Bear" done or if poor Ben ends up wearing his pumpkin costume from last year again!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Back to the Paint Department

This weekend we were home.  It has been awhile and we realized the imminence of a new baby arriving in a month (hopefully not longer than that!) so we decided to paint the babies room and get some furniture moved around.  The two dressers we bought for Ben are going in the baby's room and Ben is getting Justin's old bedroom set from when he was a child. 
Except for fabric stores,  no place makes my imagination run wild with potential ideas than a paint department.  It can be almost impossible to choose from the different but almost the same shades you can get.  And you go there thinking you know what color you want and suddenly your original plan can get derailed by some other inspiration!  This time it was pretty easy to choose.  
The room was originally this color...
I actually kind of like that color, believe it or not.  It is similar to the green I chose for our bedroom in our old house except a little more extreme.  I wanted to do something different for this room though and it was not a very big job due to the wainscoting around the bottom half of the wall. 
And here it is finished...

Hehehe...we aren't telling!  It went smoothly.  We taped and situated the drop cloths on Friday night and Justin had the painting done before the NDSU game started on Saturday afternoon.  I would have liked to help.  Being around painting made me nostalgic for the excitement of moving into and painting our old house.  Someone had to keep Ben out of the room though.  Justin had Al to keep him company. 
This cat thinks everything is a bed.  Who would want to lay on plastic? 
A few weeks ago my sister gave us this chair that she painted for Ben in NDSU colors.  I have been meaning to take some pictures of him with his chair when he has Bison clothes on but it is hard to get done.  These did not turn out very well.  The teenager across the cul de sac was cleaning his car and their dogs were roaming around and another neighbor came out and started frolicking with the dogs and it was all just too distracting! 

At least in the ones where he isn't sitting you can see the precise details of the chair! 
Speaking of chairs, I also decided that I had to get these dining room chairs covered before the baby gets here or risk never getting them covered.  So while Justin was painting on Saturday morning, I dragged my wound up and crazy nineteen month old to the fabric store and hastily chose some fabric.  It is gray with white and turquoise which doesn't exactly match the room right now but I was thinking of colors I would prefer and thought of the future.  They match that table you can see in the background which I love. 

It was a pretty easy job.  I cut the fabric to fit and Justin is actually quite good at this sort of thing due to his experience doing taxidermy.  Yes, seriously!  It is a transferable skill! 

If you were curious here are the seats before.  A professional would probably have removed the old fabric but we just stretched the new fabric over the old. 
Last night I decided to keep going since we were on a weekend productivity roll that I would transfer Ben's clothes to his new dressers before he went to bed.  So I emptied out his drawers and piled everything into laundry baskets only to discover that the new dressers were still full of the junk that we stashed in them when they were in the old guest room/sewing room at the old house.  Among the findings...a drawer (yes a whole drawer) full of my old cds, a drawer full of desk lamps from our dorm days, a drawer full of bags of bows for wrapping gifts (once again, yes a whole drawer) and also drawers with an assortment of craft and sewing stuff.  All which is now without a home.  Ugh it never ends.  If you visit us you can look forward to a guest room that looks more like a massive junk closet with a bed shoved in the corner.  So inviting! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Patch

Yesterday we indulged in one of the standard wholesome seasonal activities that everyone imagines doing with their kids.  We went to a pumpkin patch!  I haven't been to a pumpkin patch for years.  The last one I went to, besides the one my family planted just for fun and not as a business, was in high school when a nearby farm had a corn maze, pumpkin patch and haunted house (granary).  I guess I went to Acres of Terror in college a few times but that happened after dark and did not involve pumpkins. 
I was surprised to find such a rural environment only minutes from my house but there it was.  It was tucked away in a beautiful tree filled area along the Missouri River.  In addition to pumpkins and gourds for sale they had a playground, nature trail, various setups for photo opportunities and some sort of hay bale obstacle course that Ben was too small for.  What they did have for him was this gigantic "sandbox" full of corn seed. 

He didn't really know what to do at first.  That blur in the background is a girl doing a cannonball into the corn. 
He finally settled in.  I have no idea where that empty water bottle came from.  I think it was siting on the bale wall and he took it!  It was empty so hopefully whoever left it there didn't care!

They had a playground with trains and farm machinery made of wood.  There was a very impressive combine but it was always filled with kids so we couldn't get a good picture of him on there alone. 

I always imagined pumpkin patches as being a field where the pumpkins actually grow and you pick your pumpkin by roaming around the field until you find the "one".  That was the charm of our old pumpkin patch!  These were already picked and spread out so you could still walk around and pick one but not actually pick it.  I don't know where these actually were grown.  I suppose for legitimate businesses it is an insurance and liability issue to have people roaming around among the vines and leaves.  It is pretty easy to trip or fall into a stem or something. 

There was this old lawn tractor that looked like it still was used for actual work and of course Ben was drawn to that thing like a moth to a flame or any other cliché you can come up with.  We would move him back into the pumpkins and he just turned and took off toward it immediately. 

Before we left we went back to the corn and Justin jumped in with him and played around for awhile. 

At one point we noticed he put a kernel in his mouth so I did a finger sweep and discovered a mouthful of chewed up corn.  All the other parents gathered around thought it was hilarious.  At least it was just corn!  I can't imagine something less appealing to hoard in my mouth but I have found that babies and toddlers have different standards in that area!
When it was bath time it was no surprise to discover that his clothes and diaper were full of corn and I found a few stray kernels around the house today. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Garden Wrap Up

Garden season is over now and the best of the garden is saved for last in my opinion!  I might be saying that because I got really sick of two months of zucchini and then really sick of several months of tomatoes.  But at the end of the garden's life, ideally after the first frost, is carrot time!  We had two rows and got to keep most of them since the thieves realized that pulling them up is not like on cartoons where you just grab the leaves and pull.  You need to actually dig them once they get big otherwise the tops just snap off leaving the carrot buried. 

Here is the pile from one row after I hosed the mud off. 

There were some deformities, which I believe is from improper thinning and the plants growing too close together. 

This one was the most absurd and deformed mutant in the batch.  I don't know what I was thinking when I left that cluster of plants unthinned!

These carrots are so delicious.  They taste so much better than ones from the store.  I don't know how to describe the difference but it is noticeable.  There is no way we can eat all of them since there were many pounds of them.  I filled four of those reusable grocery bags with them and they were so heavy they were hard to lift.  We chopped and vacuum sealed most of them to freeze.  We did this last year and it worked well.   It took quite awhile to get them all processed.  Justin washed and peeled and I chopped.  My left hand is still slightly orange from holding them on the cutting board.  I went swimming this morning and thought the chlorine would take care of it but the orange tint is still there. 

That's a lot of carrots heading for the freezer!  I chopped some small for soup and some larger for cooking as a side dish or in a crock pot.  Maybe this new baby will actually eat and then I can make baby food. 

And now I present the result of a summer of tending...our monster zucchini!  We left one on the vine to see how huge it could get because they will grow out of control if not picked.

Here it is next to a desirable zucchini that you would want to eat. 

Here it is next to a standard bottle of wine.

Here it is next to Ben's riding tractor.   I think we could have ended up with a bigger one but had some losses over the summer, the most recent to the thieves.  I hope they enjoyed eating the nasty overgrown thing! 
OK, now it will probably be headed to the garbage!  Sorry, big zucchini!  The big ones are not good to eat since the seeds get big and they just don't taste as good.  They can be used for shredding up and baking bread or cakes but this one is even too big for that I think.  I am over zucchini  themed foods for a few months anyway. 
I should mention that today is a special day...Allan came to live with us four years ago!  Time has flown by.  I still am amazed at how perfect he is for us and I am so glad Justin chose him and that he made himself at home so quickly! 
Here is a picture of him sitting with me the first night he was at our house.  He is so cute and little and the living room in the background is so pristine and free of toys and other crap!   It seems like a different life...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Homecoming and Harvest

Ben has been really interested in tractors lately and last week he got to go to the farm and ride in the combine and watch some soybean harvest. 
There were two combines going.  Justin is in the closer one.  When it got close he seemed kind of scared of it.  They are quite huge, after all!  And they have quite a few moving and spinning parts! 
He had fun and after spending some time "working" he got to go back to the yard and play with his beloved "Wal Wal" for awhile. 

At the house he found my dad's "Titan Trader" which is a catalogue of local used machinery for sale.  Oooooh yeaaaaaahhh...very interesting.
He started carrying it around the house with him for the rest of the time we were there.  When I took him to Fargo for NDSU's homecoming on Friday afternoon I brought it with I the car and he looked at it before he fell asleep. 

Homecoming felt less homecoming like than previous years.  The parade was moved to Friday night downtown instead of on campus on Saturday morning as it apparently was in the "old days".   I don't know how long ago this was since my parents went there in the 1970s and it was never downtown at that time.  I thought that it was not the best idea and that they probably had the parade downtown prior to the 1960s because campus was kind of out on the edge of town and almost in the country back then so no one wanted to have a parade up there anyway.  But it didn't matter anyway because an unsettled weather system moved through on Friday complete with tornado warnings, rain, and excessive winds that were so bad I could barely open my car doors and the parade was cancelled. 
With no parade we didn't really have a reason to visit our old Greek houses for breakfast in the morning and it was kind of sad not to visit.  Also, none of these activities are as fun as they would be if I wasn't hauling a 19 month old who won't be held or strapped in for more than a few minutes at a time.  The football game and tailgating went on as scheduled even though it rained all morning at tailgating and Ben ended up soaking wet because he wouldn't stay under the tents and crawled around on the ground like he normally does. 

He eventually gave in to his normal nap time urges and slept through part of tailgating and the game.  When I looked under his blanket canopy I noticed he had a new football that my dad bought him when they were strolling around the parking lot.  Such a spoiled baby. 
So another Homecoming has passed and made me wish I could feel like a college student again for just a few days.  Overhearing a stranger in a bar refer to me as "the pregnant lady" on Saturday did not help me feel youthful and collegiate but I guess I will not be pregnant next year so  have that to look forward to!  I guess I asked for it by being a "pregnant lady" in a bar to begin with. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Renew a Right Spirit Within Me

In addition to all the fun projects and cute clothes and delicious recipes and interior paint color ideas, Pinterest is full of inspirational quotes and verses about everything and said by everyone.  I am usually more interested in the projects and clothes but this morning this little graphic caught my eye...

It stood out to me because it was a regular part of the traditional Lutheran church service I attended throughout my youth.  It was set to a song and the verse continues, "cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me..."  What an uplifting and hopeful verse to start a week.  Back then, to me it meant that the service was almost over which was good because I was usually bored.  Now I realize was meant to serve as inspiration for the week ahead.  Thank you for the "Pinspiration" Pinterest and for taking me back to that candle smoke scented church! 
Today is October 7, which means Ben turns 19 months old today.  These months are flying by.  It is unsettling since the new baby and Ben will be 20 months apart so that leaves one month until I have two kids!  EEEh!  I haven't done a monthly update for a few months and even let 18 months slide by.  What he has been up to: 

Here he is with his best friend "Wal Wal". "Wal Wal" is Wally, my parents dog, who Ben is suddenly in love with even though he doesn't see him that regularly.  At the beginning of September we were there for one night and he caught on to Wal Wal right away and has now started replacing the word "puppy" which he was using quite a bit with Wal Wal in reference to dogs in general.  They were reunited this weekend and he is still in love.  Fortunately, Wal Wal is the most docile idiot you ever met so they can play together.  Be likes to try to feed Wally pieces of his dog food which he usually doesn't want because he self feeds and also gets more people food than any vet would approve of. 

Here he is on the way to the football game on Saturday morning.  It was a decent weekend without any major meltdowns. 

Here he is eating lo mein at our favorite Chinese buffet in Fargo.  I was surprised he ate it but he did!  Smart refuse food from there would be missing out!

It was going to be cold this weekend so I bought him some new mittens.  They actually stay on!  Major success!

Other 19 month old facts...good and bad...
-Eating has been horrible.  He only eats junk and will occasionally get my hopes up by eating something good for a while and then one day deciding he is going to start chewing it up and spitting it out.  It drives me crazy.  The only thing he doesn't ever spit out is hot dogs and the dreaded kid food chicken nuggets.  I can barely handle making those things because I have bit into enough gristly nuggets in my life to turn me off to them forever. 
-He is an impressive climber and scales this climbing wall inspired ladder at the park that is as tall as my shoulders. 
-Recently started obnoxiously using the word "nnnnnnoooo!" during diaper changes and many other situations involving restraint and patience. 
-Still loves balls and says "ball" when he sees football or baseball on TV.
-Loves tractors and points them out when he sees them or similar machinery.  This weekend Ag PhD was on TV and he kept saying "tractor!" when a tractor was on the screen. 
-After excessive pointing out of babies and baby related items by me he now says "baby" or "babies" when he sees babies, carseats, baby clothes in stores and pictures of himself as a baby.  Just getting prepared for what is to come!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Transition Time!

On Monday afternoon, after I mentioned that Ben was getting pretty close to jumping out of his crib that morning, Justin went in to get him after his nap and found him even closer to jumping out of his crib.  He was holding onto that bar that you can see on along the back in the pictures below with both feet hooked on to the railing.  That evening, we took down the railing and converted the crib to its toddler bed format for the time being to avoid any injury. 

I remember when the youngest of the three boys I used to babysit started jumping out of his crib.  His parents warned me it might happen, and ten minutes after I put them to bed I heard a noise upstairs and went to investigate and discovered little J standing in the hallway.  It made me laugh to imagine him climbing out and getting loose and thinking he was pulling off a trick or something. I know better. 

The nights have been a smooth transition.  He got up and opened the door once on Monday night and came out to find us so we put up a baby gate in his doorway and after a suggestion from a Facebook friend Justin turned the lock on his door to the outside.  He stayed in his bed watching the projection from his soothing sound machine on the ceiling and was soon sleeping.  Last night was the same. 

Here he is on Tuesday morning after his first big boy night!  He likes to play on the bed and say "night night".

Then came the first daytime nap.  I knew this wouldn't be as easy.  I know he still needs a nap and I NEED him to take a nap.  So I went through the whole routine and gave him his after lunch milk and laid him down and he immediately bounced up and ran for the door.  What followed was two hours of behind closed door activity, most of which I have no idea about except that the contents of his drawers were strewn around the room.  Eventually, after a few minutes of quiet I opened the door to find him like this:

You can't see it but in his right hand he was clutching a bottle of baby Tylenol.  I have no idea where it came from.  It had to have been in one of the dresser drawers (which he dug through and messed up). 
It is now day two of napping in the bed.  He has been in the room for about an hour and I just muted the TV and it sounds quiet.  It's too soon to tell though!
We weren't quite ready for this.  We were going to keep him in the crib for a few months after the baby comes and have the baby in the bassinette and then decide if he was ready for a bed or if we needed to buy another crib.  I think now we plan on getting a twin mattress an starting with it on the floor and eventually setting it up with Justin's old bedroom set from childhood. Toddler beds are pretty cheap but they use a crib mattress and who need extras of those laying around? We will have to get him some fun sheets with something he likes on them like tractors or puppies or something.  Maybe that will make him want to lay on them.
Update from the last few minutes:  
He crashed on the floor, this time clutching a ball.  We need to get the toys out of the room I think!
Don't worry...I don't leave him laying on the floor for the entirety of his nap.  He is now tucked under a blanket on the bed.  So...two hours the first afternoon, one hour the second...what will tomorrow bring?