Monday, March 24, 2014

March Madness

Aaahhh...March Madness.  The time when college basketball fans and those who rarely watch college basketball (me) speculate, fill out brackets, good naturedly taunt each other and obsess over ESPN.  One year when I was in law school Facebook had a bracket challenge where groups of friends filled out brackets and I was in several pools and was actually in the lead for awhile based only on my instincts and the advice of my brother (who practically learned to read by obsessing over stats as a child).  This year I had reason to care since NDSU made it!  And they won their first game in a widely covered upset! 
While most current and former North Dakota residents were watching these games and swilling drinks with friends at bars or watch parties I watched both of them at home alone with my kids.  OK...sad sack parenting whine over.  At least it gave me an excuse to dress them in their NDSU clothes.  The following photos are in no particular order. 

I went and bought Ben some new shoes on Saturday morning. 

In this picture he was saying "Bison!" while pointing at the logo on Tessa's dress.
On Saturday I also decided to take out the good old exersaucer which gave Ben hours of entertainment during his first year of life and tipped the scales of our old living room from moderately baby oriented to a complete crazy baby gear nightmare.  Our current living room already looks like a nightmare due to Ben's toy takeover combined with the baby crap that is already in here so now the room is absolutely unlivable yet we are still living here! Oh well, it won't be forever.  Soon she will outgrow the more babyish equipment.  And, of course...babies don't keep...babies don't keep...babies don't keep...please stay sane...babies don't keep...
She gets a kick out of it and Ben is rediscovering the fun as well.  He likes to tell me to put her in there and then he brings his toys over and plays with her 

Here he is trying to put his miniature Thomas trains in her hand. 

Here they are in Ben's sleeping bag that he has been dragging around the house.  They watched the game in it for awhile.

Awwwww...look at that cute little baby boy with a pacifier!  He looks like he really needs it to sooth himself. 
As the game went on I resorted to drastic measures to get Ben to leave me alone:  an Air Buddies (series of Disney movies starring five golden retriever puppies) movie on the portable dvd player and a bowl of M&Ms. 

As we all know, NDSU lost so the madness is over for me since I have completely lost track of what is going on now. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Reduce, Reuse

There has been a big change for the better around here!  When we returned from Montana there was a bright green and yellow recycling dumpster next to our regular one! There has been talk of single sort recycling in this city for a long time and originally it was supposed to start in the fall so I didn't know when it would actually happen but it is finally here! 

I am still really happy about this.  I was reading the details on the internet so I could figure out exactly what could go in the recycling mix and I read a newspaper article that said that 20% of residents opted out of the service (which costs $3.17 per month).  What?  Who would do that?  It is so easy.  You don't even have to sort it.  There was a single sort dumpster at my old apartment at UND so I had to carry the recycling can out a few times a week to dump it and I thought that was easy. 

There has always been the option to recycle here but you had to drive to a receptacle.  In our old neighborhood it was a few blocks away and now I think there is one equally close.  The only time we recycled anything was when we had a lot of cardboard boxes to get rid of.  Ever since learning about how long it takes for certain materials to decompose in nature during the fossil fuels unit in elementary school science (for plastic and glass, as you probably know, the answer is never) I have felt uncomfortable just tossing those things.  I saw it in action since the woods behind the farm where I grew up were historically one large dump.  There is the current dump, which hasn't been used in years but we did throw cans and glass back there when I was a kid and there were many more that were dug, filled, and buried through the years.  A walk through the woods will yield shards of glass, old cans, and lots of other treasures if you just look down.  When my parents started building a new house last June, the excavators made a pile of glass bottles and jars, still intact, that they found in the dirt.  They said that when the shovel dug into the ground they could hear glass crunching and shattering.  I looked up the brand on an old cosmetics jar that I found (Melba, it was) and discovered that Melba hasn't been made since 1931.  There were also many little white mentholatum (Vick's Vapor Rub) jars.  The family that lived there sure must have been majorly congested!   

That expanse of dirt was once a family garbage dump! This was a very common farm practice in the "old days" and kind of contradicts the way farm life is depicted as a wholesome, clean, organic way of life.  Here's some empty jars!  Toss 'em in the woods!  Broken dish? Toss it in the trees!

So, anyway I hate throwing away glass and plastic into the landfill.  Especially troubling are laundry detergent jugs and cat litter buckets.  And diapers, but that's a whole other category. I love seeing how fast that recycling can fills up although it is kind of annoying how the regular garbage can is now more like a steaming compost heap of used tea bags and table scraps that has to be taken out before the bag is even full because it is so gross.  I have no doubt that this new policy will make a big difference at the land fill. 

Now...if only there was a solution for the diaper issue that didn't involve me hosing of cloth diaper inserts in the toilet and having all the women with babies smelling like bleach for their baby having years like my mom remembers from her childhood.  I was reading an article about cloth diapers and it said that human waste is actually not allowed in landfills because it is a hazard but diapers and female products slide by as a "necessary evil".  Hmmm that is unsettling to be contributing to such a problem.  But at least now I can recycle!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Birthdays and Shots

I know Ben's birthday is in the past now but I never shared any pictures since we were gone right after.  I made him a cake that wasn't up the standards of my "Allan" shaped cake from last year but he really liked it.  The main reason he liked it was because of the construction vehicle that it presented!  I loved it because it had Oreos all over it.  I got the idea from Pinterest.  Of course, that one didn't have frosting unevenly smeared around the bottom but oh well. It tastes the same, right?  And it was homemade frosting! 

He actually ate his cake this year!
Here he is with his "fishes" that he got in the mail from his cousins. 
He got to have another party with Nana and Grandpa when we got back. 

He got these two Caterpillar machines that make noises and he loves them.  He has been sleeping with them!

He got another cake!  Spoiled little boy! 

Justin polished off the cake on Monday night and Ben still is walking over to the fridge and saying "cake!" and he started talking about cake again when he saw the #2 candle sitting on the window sill. 
Tessa had a big morning...she had her four month doctor's appointment and had shots.  She wanted to show off her neon band aids because they match her shirt! 


Monday, March 17, 2014

Big Sky 2014

Well, another trip to the mountains has taken place.  We went to Big Sky, where we have gone almost every year with a few deviations to Colorado and a rare skipped year.  We were trying to count how many times we had gone and it has been twenty years since that first trip when I was in fourth grade. 

I usually look forward even to the long, relaxed drive across North Dakota and Montana but this year I was nervous and tense about it due to the two children we had to travel with.  The drive went...OK...It could have been better but could have been much worse.  There was no puking, no blowout diapers, and no sleepless nights but there was a lot of whining, fussing, and stressful restaurant meals.  As with many things in life, the bad memories fade away and I think the trip was worth it although at times I wondered if we were crazy to attempt it.  I caved and allowed Ben to use technology in the car so that was helpful! 

I am still longing for the mountains.  I took this picture on the interstate when we were between Billings and Bozeman on Sunday.  Ah, what a sight!

The first day we skied, which was Monday, it snowed heavily.  It was the most snow and the most water dense snow I have seen there.  We were all soaking wet by the end of the day.  It was worth it though, because on Tuesday morning there was a foot of powder waiting!   It was a magical winter wonderland!  I would not have been happy if this happened here at home but for some reason it was great in the mountains!

Ben was able to play in the snow on our balcony!

Mmm...much better than ND snow!
During the week we were able to watch the NDSU basketball team make it to March Madness! 

On Friday night we ate at the base area at a favorite restaurant and bar called Whiskey Jacks.  Usually the evenings there are a favorite part of the trip.  It is a cozy place with the atmosphere of the mountains.  Here is a picture from the 2009 trip...
And the 2011 trip...
Sigh, the good old days.  This year, I didn't take any pictures because I was too busy alternating with Justin while we took turns chasing Ben around lodge outside the restaurant because he wouldn't sit still and quit whining and fit throwing long enough for us to eat or enjoy a drink.  We did step outside to get some pictures to commemorate Tessa's first trip to Big Sky (and Ben's third!)

 Hopefully there will be many more! 
We had access to a nice pool at "Moonlight Lodge" near our cabin but it was a pain to pack up and get there so we only went there once.  Ben did get to enjoy the hot tub with the men one night and also enjoyed "swimming" in the big bathtub in the master suite of the cabin.  He floated around in the hot tub for over an hour! 

It snowed again on the last night we were there and  tried to capture it on film.  It kind of worked. 

 The rest of these pictures are from my phone so are not in order where they should be.

Mmmm...yummy snow temperature beer!

Mountain baby.

One of the guys!
This week my legs have had the urge for the feel of skiing.  I wish I could do it more often!  Until we meet again, Big Sky!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Babies Don't Keep

Although it is a day early, this post is for Ben's 2nd birthday which is tomorrow.  We are leaving for a trip to Big Sky, MT, on Saturday morning and I have a lot to do to get ready and Justin has been gone all week so I doubt that I will get around to spending time on the computer tomorrow between packing and trying to come up with some way to observe the his birthday!  We plan to get together with family when we get back and I have it in mind to make a cake on the trip but we will see. 
I have to add the traditional "where did the time go?" musings that accompany the passing of a year.  It really has been a crazy two years and Ben has changed so much.  Here is a photo montage:

I love this picture because it sums up his whole life until he was about eighteen months old...refusing to eat and being offended by the thought of eating.  Even his birthday smash cake!  COME ON!




I feel like all I ever talk about is how he drives me crazy, exhausts me, and destroys the house.  Coincidentally, if you heard my family's stories about me as a child you would think that I was a little weirdo who did nothing but complain and boss everyone else around so here I am going to describe Ben by his good qualities.  He loves to play and have fun, he is gentle and kind with Allan and every other animal he meets and, although it gets annoying, it is really cute when he grabs my hand and directs me to play with him.  I know I won't always be his first choice for a playmate.  He is very sweet around Tessa.  I know he is jealous sometimes, but he cares about her.  If he is awake before her he asks where she is and looks for her.  Last week, I set her down and went downstairs because I needed to bring something to the car.  I was putting my shoes on and Ben followed me down and was standing on the landing looking concerned and pointing up stairs saying "Babeee!"  He thought I was forgetting her.  He also likes to "help" me around the house, especially with giving her a bath and with laundry.  I know he won't want to do that forever either. 

As he turns two and is a running, jumping, talking kid and not a baby anymore, and especially as I was looking through old photos, I am reminded of the famous poem "Song for a Fifth Child", also known as "the babies don't keep" poem.  This poem is pretty famous and I have seen it several times on the Internet but it has timeless appeal because it's the truth and any parent with little kids and a trashed house can relate.

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

I feel like a read somewhere that the woman who wrote this (Ruth Hulburt Hamilton) won a poetry contest and had it printed in a magazine or something but I can't remember the details and Google is not clearly telling me with minimal effort. 

So happy 2nd birthday Benjamin!  You are still a baby to me!  Looking at old pictures of him makes me really nostalgic for the old house. 

Stay tuned maybe tomorrow night or else after we return from Montana for some cake and present pictures.