Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kitten TV

Last year when we moved I felt bad for Allan because I knew he would miss spending hours laying on the back of the couch and staring out the picture window in our living room for many hours each day.  There was a lot to see out that window between the traffic, birds, and pedestrians and dogs walking by.  We have a good staring window here and the couch is under it but there isn't as much action in the back yard compared to his old staring window. 
Allan is a spoiled kitten who lives a life of leisure so of course we bought him a bird feeder so he would have something to look at in addition to the pheasants that hang around behind our house. 

It's just a basic tube but it has been attracting birds and when Allan catches one he launches himself over to the couch like a mountain lion.  And yes, that is Ben in the background and yes, he is playing with a pair of garden clippers that are taller than he is.  More about that later!  Justin started working on the landscaping around the house this week with the help of his reliable assistant. 
I hate to admit that I kind of like the bird feeder even though I spent my youth on the farm loathing birds (I'm talking about you, barn swallows!) and wanting them to stay the h3ll away from us.  There was this bridge about 1/2 mile from the house that the swallows like build their gross mud nests under and when we rode our bikes over it they would swarm up and dive at our heads.  Those birds are the worst.  It was inevitable that if you left your bike parked in the yard a bird would poop on the seat.  We had a trampoline and a bird poop cleaning was required almost weekly.  A big challenge was keeping them away from the house.  There is a front porch and balcony with pillars and where the pillars meet the ceiling on both levels there is a small flat spot.  Birds were constantly building mud nests on those spots and we would spray them with the hose which resulted in lots of bird diving an swooping.  I know they were just following their instincts but seriously birds, why would your instincts tell you to build a nest five feet from a person's door instead of in...I don't know...a tree?
He's such a privileged kitten.   He's sleeping by the window right now and probably dreaming that he is a wild predator stalking birds.   

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summer Came Afterall

It really did happen overnight.  After a long, cold "spring" the grass and leaves suddenly turned green seemingly overnight.  And it got hot outside!  The heat I have been waiting for has arrived.  And, NO, that is not a complaint!  In Ben's words, it is time to live life "outsides".  And if anyone says you have to come inside, throw a fit and shriek "outsiiiiiiides!" and grab the door frame and thrash and kick because you love being outside so much. 
Tessa also is enjoying her first real time spent outside.  They both had fun playing at the farm over the weekend and on Monday night she fall asleep laying on the deck while we were planting flowers.  . 

It is fun to get out the cute summer outfits!

Last night I took Ben shopping for some new sandals.  I intended to buy some sturdy, all purpose sandals but ended up buying both a functional pair and a fun novelty pair of flip flops with Lightning McQueen on them.  I plan to take him swimming regularly so I guess they were a good purchase! 
Of course, now he always wants to wear the cheap ones...
 Not related to summer, but Tessa ate some "puffs" for lunch today for the first time.  She didn't really get it and I had to put them in her mouth at first but she consumed them so I guess it was a success. 

"Brother, that's mine!" 
OK, I have to go "outsides" now and work on my flower planting. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

As We Go On, We Remember...

Yes, another song lyric lead in...does anyone remember that one?  It's "Graduation (Friends Forever)", a pop radio hit by Vitamin C, aka Colleen Fitzpatrick.  She had a few popular songs in the late 90s and early 2000s which were my prime radio listening years before Napster and file sharing came along an stole me away from crappy pop radio forever.  "Graduation" was released just for that, and was sang by many high school choirs and used as recessionals all over as weepy girls in graduation robes dabbed their eyes and hugged their friends. 

This all comes to mind because today is the last day of school in Bismarck and our neighbor kid (the only kid in the cul de sac besides our kids) is graduating this weekend.  All of a sudden, I can feel that old feeling in the atmosphere.  It is the smell of fresh air in the school because all the windows are opened (except for a 90s era addition, my school didn't have A.C.), the hollow sound of lockers as books get returned and tattered folders and notebooks are thrown in the trash one by one, the absence of the track and baseball teams in the afternoons as they went off to games and meets and the sound of the band finishing up the year by practicing "Pomp and Circumstance", their last song of the year. 

Although graduation was a nostalgic event for me, I would be lying if I said I was sad, emotional, or regretting the end of school.  What was in front of me that spring was nothing but good things and optimism.  In the short term, I faced a summer of freedom from constant basketball and volleyball summer leagues and open gyms and camps.  All I had to worry about was my jobs and my work was babysitting and lifeguarding, both of which were things I looked forward to every summer.  Also, although I was not a drinker in high school, being 18 and out of school and done with activities meant that I felt like I could relax and occasionally join in the fun that many of my classmates had been engaging in for several years, some since middle school!  In the long term was NDSU and all the promise it held.  I just knew I belonged there and I could barely wait to get there and live in a dorm room and take classes of my choosing.  I imagined Greek life and the fun and lifelong friends it meant based on the stories my parents told and the visits to the old houses at homecoming they brought us to.  I remember waking up the Monday morning after graduation, slightly hungover but invigorated, on the couch in the living room since all six bedrooms in the house were filled with relatives who wanted to go to bed before 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. or whatever time I got home was and feeling so free and like my whole life was in front of me.  I would love to feel that feeling again but I think it was a one time thing because you only graduation from high school once!

There I am, ready to blow that popcorn stand!

At our school, the seniors picked the colors for the graduation instead of wearing the school colors by default.  It is still that way.  It kind of became a nonsensical and rather embarrassing display of whatever colors were trendy at the time (I know I saw a few hunter green and maroon classes in the 90s!) or just a statement of individuality of the class as each tried to be more ridiculous than the last.  Observe the class of 2001's choice of orange and purple.  Can you hear the collective groans of our moms as they imagined having to decorate our graduation parties with orange? 
And for good measure...I've mocked this one before...a classic 2001 senior photo including Doc Martin sandals with socks!  Gym socks!

I'm sure all the people we invited to my graduation party loved receiving this gem tucked into the old style gilded Jostens invitations.  Poor photography and Shutterfly stole their market for overpriced, unoriginal but elegant graduation announcements. This photo would almost lead a person to believe that I was good at basketball and volleyball.  Hahahaha. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

All Things Shall Perish From Under the Sky...

Did  any choir veterans catch the reference in the title?  It is the opening line of "Music Alone Shall Live", a very popular choral piece.  Specifically, I remember it being used often in middle school when I was in school.  We had middle and high school concerts together at my school so I sang it, I think twice, in middle school and heard it several more times through the years.  It is a good choice for middle school choirs because it works for any assortment of singers since it sang in unison but in a round so it doesn't matter if the choir lacks a solid SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) balance or even SAB (Soprano, alto, baritone).  This is key in middle school since you never know what sort of choir you will have.  At my middle school, the school included grades 6-8.  The sixth grade was still required to take music class like the elementary grades so the choir was usually a huge group of 6th, 7th and 8th grade girls, a few boys who had the confidence to admit they liked music or were forced by their musical parents to be there and the most pubescent, immature, unenthusiastic population in the world...a whole class of 6th grade boys.  A group of boys like that would be a challenge for any music teacher.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays we crowded into the risers in the afternoon and the power struggle began between the teacher, the sixth graders, and the rest of us who were generally antsy and bored and ready for the day to end.  Instead of sitting in desks we were in chairs inches away from each other and sharing music, sometimes three to a book since the choir was large because of the sixth grade requirement and our teacher refused (in a decision I agree with) to photocopy music unless it was to reduce page turns for the piano player (that was me when I was in high school!).  It was a very wired environment and controlling the room required every method of discipline that our teacher had in her repertoire. 
Somehow this very talented teacher managed to make us sound good and we were able to put on three concerts a year in the fall, at Christmas and in the spring.  And "Music Alone Shall Live" was in the mix on a regular basis for the middle school.  The full verse says, "All things shall perish from under the sky, music alone shall live, music alone shall live, music alone shall live, never to die." 
I loved music, still love music, and now a big part of my musical childhood has come to its new our house.  All my old, favorite songs will be heard again.  A few weeks ago my parents brought me our old piano!  It's a Clavinova, like I explained awhile back, and we have the perfect place for it. 
It was caked with dust and the piano lamp had one burnt out light bulb and another that still work but is probably fifteen years old.  I bought some of that electronics cleaner which blasts air to clean all the buttons and some new bulbs for the lamp.  In the picture above I have a dining room chair sitting by it but I will be using the bench from our old upright piano to play.  The bench that came with it is this  very small little stool with a very narrow center of gravity that tips over easily and I don't want Ben and Tessa to tip over when they climb on it. 

Along with the piano came a basket and two milk crates full to bursting with music books and sheet music.  Rifling through them was like a flashback to all the recitals (we participated in something called "Festival", which referred to Junior Music Festivals or something like that.  Which reminds me...I had many "gold cups" from those...where are they mother?? 

Ben likes to play "musics" and "pano" as he calls the piano and Tessa of course is interested when I let her press the keys.  I hope they like music the way I do.  It is hard for me to play a whole song without one of them interrupting me but at least I can use headphones so I can play to myself and not disrupt their naps or Justin's TV watching. 
Many years ago, when I was a teenager, my aunt gave me this little metal piano clock and I always had it in my room.  Along with the big piano it is finally seeing the light of day again!
Now it is here and Ben is really intrigued by it.  He carries it around the house with him and this morning he wanted to bring it in the car with us!  I said no to that. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Draft Recap

Well, as I predicted would happen, I watched all of the first round of the draft, quite a bit of the second and third rounds, and had the later rounds playing as background noise all day but I didn't really give it my full attention except for the first night because we were watching it on the DVR. And, now, almost a week later, I don't remember many specific details.  I remember the first pick, Jadeveon Clowney, because his name is Jadeveon Clowney and his hair was done up in spectacular style.  His new Houston Texans hat barely fit over it!  I remember this happening last year too.  

Jadeveon is pretty cute and also a standard NFL caliber beast of a man.

He was drafted by the Houston Texans which gives me a second reason to like the Texans next fall.  The main reason is that they signed Marcus Williams from NDSU as a free agent after the draft ended! 

I have another team that I will have to follow now, in addition to the Vikings, the Rams (go Chris Long!) and the Texans.  Two NDSU players are headed to the Miami Dolphins.  Billy and Brock!  YEAAHhhhhh!  I am happy about this one, even though Miami was never really on my radar.  The tropical climate of Florida seems all wrong for football but I am excite because I love their colors. 

I'd be happy to wear a t-shirt in Dolphin turquoise!  I hope it works out for both of them.  Billy was drafted in the third round and Brock signed as a free agent.  I think Billy has more of a chance but they are both three time national champions so I guess they both have a pretty good chance! 

What strikes me when I hear and read about all these NFL guys is that most of them are just dominant athletes in every way.  Their biographies include tales of being recruited to play multiple college sports and having to choose, being star players in high school in sports other than football (usually basketball and baseball) and deciding just for the heck of it to join some other team like track or wrestling and kicking everyone's butt at that too.  It makes me almost certain that the "specializing" and travelling team stuff that goes on in youth sports these days can't replace authentic and well rounded athletic ability.  I never heard anything about any NFL draftee (at least the first round ones because they are the only ones they talk about extensively) being on the travelling team since they were five years old or forgoing little league or basketball and focusing only on football.  Actually, it seems like the opposite serves them better.  The thought of youth sports makes me really nervous sometimes!  I hope, if Ben and Tessa are involved, that it can always remain fun.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mothers Day Part 3 (for me!)

It's hard to imagine that this is the third Mother's Day I have spent as a mom.  I think the day is a nice sentiment but I also feel like it is getting really over the top.  Yesterday the Internet almost got tiresome (for me, that is saying a lot about my beloved Internet!) as every news site and social media site and general interest site was plastered with articles about "What I Learned from my Mom about being a Mom" and "What Moms Really Want for Mothers Day" and "What I Wish I Could Tell my Mom" and all month every product has somehow tied their commercials into Mother's Day and it all seemed kind of exessive.  It's always nice to be appreciated but every advertisement and article seems to be about the sacrifices of motherhood and martyrdom and I guess it's all true but we choose to take on the responsibility so why does it have to be so extreme?  What moved me more than anything during the day was seeing people who have lost their mothers remember them.  That was sad, but nice and more moving than another dumb commercial about a dad surprising his wife with jewelry over their video baby monitor. 

Anyway, I enjoy cute homemade kid projects (which I didn't get because my kids don't go to daycare or school yet and I am not going to make them for myself!) and all that stuff but I hope no one every feels compelled to prepare me that old cliché of "breakfast in bed".  I think eating in my bed is really gross and the only times I have done such a thing could read as a "Mad Libs" game of debauchery.  It would go like this:

"One (night/morning), a group of (drunk/hungover) (dorm mates/sorority sisters/lifeguarding co-workers/study abroad friends/classmates) were feeling ravenous after returning home from the (bar/party/wedding/dance/Little I/Homecoming show/concert/tailgating) and they all piled onto the bed in the (dorm room/hotel room/cabin on the ferry/friend's apartment) and before they knew it they were chowing down on (chips/leftover pizza/Halloween candy/fast food/stale popcorn/ice cream/a huge candy bar from the duty free shop/more alcohol)."

These occasions are the only time I want to eat on any bed.  I guess I enjoyed doing it the few times I have been in the hospital for my appendectomy and to give birth but that's it.  I did get to sleep in a bed on Sunday morning, until 8:00 A.M.!!!  That was a good start to Mother's Day for me! 

I should add that Mother's Day does make me feel very fortunate to have my mom and both of my grandmothers still living and that Ben and Tessa have both of their grandmothers in their lives on a regular bases and for my babies because along with the material mentioned above, I have also seen many articles (I see a lot of these because I follow parenting related websites and publications on Facebook) about the pain of infertility and how hard the day can be for those who long for children.  I always knew I wanted babies and I am so glad that I have been able to have them without hardly trying and that they are healthy. 

Oh, and NFL Draft post coming soon!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Draft Day!

Yayyyy!  The NFL Draft starts tonight!  Every year, it gets harder to focus on this program as my house fills up with babies, toddlers and then more babies.  This week Tessa has taken up screaming inconsolably for about an hour every evening and Ben is constantly trying to drag me onto the floor to act out this one scene from "Cars" where Lightening McQueen and Mater are out messing with the "cows" which are depicted as tractors and then get chased by a combine.  He likes to have his combine chase Mack and McQueen an I like to spend my evenings on the couch watching TV so it gets a bit tiresome.  Anyway, I am still planning to watch the draft and hopefully do a recap post but who knows if I will even be able to pay close attention to any of it.  My posts from the last two years were pretty funny!

In honor of the big event I dressed Tessa in her Vikings jersey this morning.  As of this afternoon, the outfit is still intact!  Well, not the headband...those things leave a indent on her head after awhile so I usually take them off pretty quickly.  They sure look cute in pictures though!

Ben doesn't have any NFL clothes at the moment but I guess he can wear a Bison shirt tomorrow in support of NDSU alum Billy Turner, who is predicted to be chosen in the second or third round, which will be tomorrow. 
I wonder who my new NFL love interest will be?  Well, in addition to Billy Turner, that is...

Monday, May 5, 2014


It was graduation.  And, no, I am not referring to a teenaged cousin or something.  Justin graduated with an MBA that he has been working on for the past eighteen months.  Between the two of us, we have graduated six times since high school.  He earned his hood on Saturday! 
It was good to have a nice camera.  Up until now, every graduation photo taken during the ceremony has been dark, blurry, and hard to see what was actually being photographed.  Now that I have my creepy zoom lens I am able to get good pictures from a distance even in dark rooms!

The degree is from the University of Mary, which has a religious background.  It was founded in 1959, when a few sisters from the Benedictine Sisters of the Annunciation came from the East coast and opened the university to offer nursing and teaching degrees to the people of the Great Plains.  Based on what I saw at graduation, it seems that nursing and education are still a popular degrees here.  My aunt Kris received her teaching degree from Mary!  Because it is a private and religious based university the ceremony was a bit more elaborate and personal that a large public university would have.  For example, before the ceremony the band played a concert of beautiful music.  Also, Catholic dignitaries were in attendance. 

The man in the bright cape is the Bishop of the Bismarck Diocese. 

Here is the big moment when Justin got his hood!

Fortunately and unfortunately, the MBAs were the first to get their hoods after the PhDs and he is at the beginning of the alphabet so he was early in the ceremony and we got to space out to the reading of several hundred more names after him.  There is a large online masters degree program there so there were as many hoods bestowed as there were regular undergraduate degrees so it took awhile. 
Afterwards we just grilled at our house with our parents. We took pictures at home since the ceremony venue was chaotic and hot after the ceremony.   

This post isn't about me but I was in the basement closet looking for a gift bag for a birthday present for our nephew and came across my own hood hanging in the closet!  It hasn't seen the light of day since 2008 so I wore it around for awhile!

Tessa and Ben enjoyed having the grandparents around for the weekend.  Ben would not leave me alone yesterday afternoon and insisted that I play on the floor with him.  Come back, grandparents!

Justin having class and homework has taken a lot of time and left me with barely a break from baby duty even for a few hours (I'm not complaining-it was for the benefit of all of us) but now I suddenly feel like I have more freedom just like I'm sure he does!  I am tentatively planning to sew a quilt or something again! 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

If The Ground Ever Thaws...

I received a seed catalogue in the mail yesterday!  And look at that fine specimen on the cover!

The new "SteakHouse Hybrid" tomato!  That thing is ridiculous!  Actually, I don't know what a person would do with such a tomato.  You would need a whole family of tomato eaters to eat one of those in a sitting.  Also, I don't know how the branches of the plant would support the weight.  I would like to see one on the vine.  You would need a scaffold to hold it up! 
I haven't had a chance to look thoroughly at the catalogue yet since I had some more pressing Internets business to take care of first and then Tessa, Miss "I only nap for twenty minutes", woke up from her nap.  She's on the floor right now, and getting mobile.  She doesn't crawl, but she can get around by rolling and creeping.  I am excited for the next milestone even though a crawling baby opens up a whole new set of challenges.  She seems like she is getting bored being in one place. 
Back to the catalogue, there are some new and interesting things that I haven't seen before in there, in addition to the SteakHouse tomato. 

This looks pretty fun!  It's corn that grows in a pot on your deck!  It seems kind of pointless though.  I have spent plenty of time around corn in a gardening capacity and also as a farm crop and I know that each plant only produces a few ears of corn.  I recently learned that, ideally, when grown as a crop, each plant should only produce one ear because if a second ear is on the plant it takes some of the resources and then both ears are kind of puny.  It is more productive to have one robust ear that gets all the nutrition.  Interesting!  Maybe I could be an extension agent!
I have a fantasy of one day having one of those mini greenhouses or a sunlamp in my basement or something where I would start seeds, both flowers and vegetables.  I don't think that will be happening anytime soon but it would be fun!  I read a good gardening tip in the newspaper a few weeks ago.  It was a way to reuse "K-cups" from single serve coffee makers.  The little cups are the perfect size for starting seeds! 
I ordered the catalogue to get some inspiration for landscaping around our house.  What is here is mediocre, overgrown, and not properly placed.  For example, there are some hosta plants in the back yard which bakes in the sun all day.  When we moved in they looked ill which of course they did because hostas are made for the shade.  The sides of the house are landscaped with overgrown dogwoods and spreading juniper, which Justin loathes and I could do without.  I hope our bulbs that we brought from the old house in pots survived the winter! 
Speaking of bulbs, check out his magical iris that I saw on Pinterest! 
Beautiful Shades of Teal Iris. I want to plant some of these in my yard.
Blue flowers are rare, and I couldn't imagine one more fascinating that this!  With my luck it probably only grows in zones 5-9.  Zone 4 can be limiting and the plants I am drawn to always seem to just miss zone 4!  It's like when I go to TJ Maxx and a certain bag catches my eye and I go look at it only to find out that it is an "ink tag bag" that is really expensive.  It's never the cheap, fake leather ones that I like! 
I really miss the old iris row from the old house.  There is some sad news from the old house...we heard from our realtor that they got water in their basement.  It is a surprise because we never had any water in that basement and there was no history of it happening. There was no lingering "damp basement" smell when we moved in and our inspection back in 2009 and their recent inspection did not reveal moisture issues down there. It is "clean up" week this week so everyone has thrown their junk on the berm and I couldn't stop myself from driving by there today and saw carpet and several trash cans full of something that was probably pieces of the wall by the street.  I wish it didn't bother me as much as it is.  I still feel attached to that place and I almost feel like I should be there to clean it up and take care of it.  Or maybe we could have stopped it (of course we probably couldn't have). 
Hopefully it will truly warm up (by that I refer to real warm, not half a$$ed spring warm) in a few weeks and we can work on the yard.  I can't wait to work on the landscaping and also plant my usual pots of annuals.  If anyone happens to have some nice bulbs that we can divide that would be nice since buying bulbs at the store is actually kind of expensive!  I'm sure an interesting iris bulb like the one above would cost several dollars for each bulb.  I would also like to get some peonies and maybe hydrangeas.