Monday, June 30, 2014

7th Anniversary

 Well, June 30th has come around once again.  This year it is on a Monday and today it is a cold and horrifically windy June day with intermittent rain fall that feels like little knives blowing into your face.  June 30, 2007 was a very different and beautiful summer day and the kind of day everyone would hope to have for their wedding day.  Well, I speak as a woman and not a man wearing a three piece rental tux but oh well...I don't feel bad for them.  They get the easy way in almost every other wardrobe situation. 
Here we are, at approximately 4:30 p.m. on June 30, 2007. 

This weekend, on June 28, which also happens to be my parents anniversary, I attended a wedding at the same church I was married in and it really brought me back to our wedding and all the details like laughing in the church basement with my bridesmaids in the same Sunday School assembly room where I spent many childhood Sunday mornings practicing songs for our mediocre church performances and talking to the late coming guests in the back of the church as I waited to walk down the aisle. I'll never forget finally entering the church and being in disbelief at seeing every pew full and even people sitting in folding chairs in the very back and feeling so amazed that people were there for us. 

In honor of the day, Justin presented me with a newly released Billy Turner Miami Dolphins tshirt!  Dolphin turquoise is definitely my color.  It is especially fitting because of Billy's number:

Seven years...77...get it?  Hehehe...
I decided to get him an Oreo Blizzard cake from Dairy Queen and when I was in there this morning with Ben and Tessa two older ladies were having lunch and one of them noticed and complimented my wedding ring!  It was really a fun coincidence.  Of course, I had to tell them it was our anniversary and we all had a laugh. 
I just looked up the traditional anniversary gift for a 7th anniversary and it is wool or copper.  Hmmmm...wool...I think I can handle is an idea...
It's from JCrew and who knows how much it costs because it is not in their current inventory (wrong season) but I would guess around $300.  I think I would look pretty cute at tailgating with that on!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

In the Present

Every Tuesday this summer there is a free outdoor concert for kids in a city park.  There is a little wooden stage and all the kids can climb up there and dance around with the singer, who is a woman with a guitar who has a large repertoire of fun/annoying (depending on your age) songs.  We didn't go this week because the morning had been damp and drizzly but we went for the first time last week and it was pretty fun. 

The concert is sponsored by the local arts council and there was woman taking candid pictures throughout the hour that would be in an album on the council's Facebook page.  A few days later I remembered about the pictures and found the page on Facebook to check it out.  And I was dismayed to find that I was in the background of several pictures and in every one I was looking at my damn phone! 

There have been countless viral blog posts and articles by parents that have circulated around the Internet about how we are all missing our children grow up because we are too busy looking at our phones and are not "present".  There is one I just read where a little kid almost drowned because his mom looked at her phone for just a moment when she thought her kids were all out of the pool and wrapped in their towels.  It happened a few years ago but resurfaces every summer. I kind of find the articles to be overkill even though I know the message about prioritizing your kids over electronics is relevant mostly because there are so many of them and everyone always shares them ad nauseum and one would have been enough.  I think I am definitely "present" for Ben and Tessa and do stuff with them all the time, all day, every day.  I also think back to my mom who was home with us all the time and lived far away family when we were little.  I have memories of being told to leave her alone while she had hour long conversations with my aunts and my grandmas.  She wrote letters, looked at magazines to get ideas for sewing and craft projects, took care of household finances, kept track of what was going on with whatever library story times, swimming lessons, etc. that we had and who knows what else. She was still present even though she had to focus on other things besides us sometimes.

I do all that stuff that she did and more on my phone.  It is my clock, camera, source of news, the way I keep in touch with people, the way I connect with other moms so I feel less lonely being with little kids nonstop and share funny banter with my family all throughout the day.  I send pictures of the kids to whoever is interested.  My cousin and I and our friend from college have planned a whole baby shower for my sister, set for this weekend, almost entirely by text message. Facebook is a way to get in touch with anyone you want. When Tessa was breech this fall I recalled a friend from law school who's phone number I don't have who had mentioned on Facebook having her baby turned in the same way I was scheduled to a few months before and was able to chat back and forth with her all afternoon before I went for my procedure and it really eased my mind.  There are ladies that I went to school with and haven't seen in years who have babies the same age as me and we have connected on FB all over again because of it.  My phone is how I read the news every morning as dull and annoying PBS kids shows play on the TV and it keeps me from feeling brain dead. 

So, my point is that I wish people would lay off the phone thing sometimes.  I know that a few months ago I wrote about how I thought screen usage for toddlers was really bad so I guess I need to reconcile the two issues somehow but I do know that I am an adult whose brain was already wired a long time ago to enjoy reading and doing physical activities not involving screens and I am happy to take advantage of all the great advances little palm sized computers bring such as having thousands of songs to listen to in the car without having hundreds of cds scattered around, being able to easily schedule casual social gatherings without endless phone calls and answering machine messages and being able to look at the ND DOT road conditions map in the winter when the weather turns bad during a trip.  If I realize my student loan payment is due I can pay it anywhere, even if I am in the middle of nowhere in my car.  And speaking of bills, I LOVE not having mountains of statements and invoices piling up on the counter every month because they are all stored in my email box. 

But when I was at that kid's concert last Tuesday I made an effort, as I always do at kid centered events and places, to keep it out of sight and be "present".  I think the only time I looked at it was to check the time as the hour passed because I had to go to the bathroom and there wasn't one nearby and I was getting anxious and also I took a picture of Ben watching the singer.  And apparently that photographer caught every quick glance at the clock.  Ughhhh.  I guess I am the mom who wasn't "present" to watch her precious two year old growing before her eyes because she was to busy screwing around on her phone. 

I should add a disclaimer, regarding the viral drowning stories, that I never have my phone when we are swimming.  My lifeguarding years taught me that infants and toddlers near water is no joke so that is the main reason.  The secondary reason is that I would hate for my phone to end up in the water!  Two year olds, expensive electronics, and water don't mix.  And I think word is out on the texting and driving thing too...

Another reason I am glad to have my phone around...I always have a camera and was able to capture the fleeting moment when Tessa stood herself up for the first time yesterday!

She's a big girl!  By some miracle I was able to come into the present look away from Facebook and various distracting phone apps long enough to see this happen.  Pretty soon she will be into everything!  It brings me back to when Ben was at this stage and we had to tie the end tables to the couch with twine because he was dragging them around the room.  I wonder what craziness Tessa will bring to the house?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Round Two

With much sadness and frustration, I have watched most of the flowers I planted back in May die in their pots over the last few weeks and I am not happy about it.  I had petunias, geraniums, snapdragon, marigolds, moss roses and some filler vines and about 90% of them are dead.  I have searched the Internet for answers.  It can't be a bad batch since there are so many different plants from different greenhouses.  My neighbor thinks it is because the sun is too hot on our decks (they are on the south side and get sun all day).  I read something on the Internet about how you shouldn't fertilize greenhouse plants until a few weeks after they are transplanted and we put those little fertilizer spheres in the soil when we planted so maybe that caused it. 

Yesterday, although I said I was not going near anymore greenhouses, I went to the WalMart greenhouse and bought new plants.  I am going to remove the withered plants (in some, the whole pot died) and try again because I just can't accept having a summer without flowers.  I am going to move more containers to the front of the house because the flowers placed there are mostly still alive so maybe the south side is too hot.  I can't believe this though, since my mom puts flowers on the south side at the farm every year and they never just die within weeks.  I bought only the most robust, heat tolerant flowers I could find.  I bought vinca, which are used in landscaping in Las Vegas.  If they can grow in Vegas there is no way they can't grow on the south side of a house in N.D.  I also bought some very healthy and established geraniums which grew as big a bushes in our garden when my family lived overseas in the Middle East.  We lived in a mountainous desert environment and they still grew so they should be able to take the sun on our deck.  I also bought more moss roses, which are more like a cactus than a flower.  Even the ones I planted before are looking weak which makes me believe there has to be something wrong with the fertilizer.  They are not easy to kill.

I hope to get this done this week and then enjoy these flowers until the first frost.  And if they die, I guess it will be a sign that I need to give it up for this year.

In addition to the flowers, I also bought this fun tomato plant for the garden.  We only had three plants originally and left a space for a fourth and I finally remembered to get one.  Hello Mr. Stripey! 

I have always thought heirloom tomatos looked interesting!  Who would have thought I would find this at WalMart?

The plant fun continued when Justin came home from work with a pickup load of native grasses which we are going to be using in our landscaping. 

They all look the same but there are several different varieties and as they grown during the summer and get their seeds they all will look different and have some different colors. 
Changing the subject, here are a few pictures from the weekend.  Tessa went swimming for the first time and Ben had his first lake trip of the summer. 
Not surprisingly, he loved floating around in the water and playing with his cousins. 

Tessa liked the water as well.  I didn't realize how cold the water was until I got in myself and I am surprised she didn't seem to mind! 

He wanted to keep his baby close by!

Tessa was surprisingly amicable to wearing the infant life jacket!  She fell asleep in the boat.  I think it felt like a big pillow to her!

Happy girl in the sun...
OK, I have to go cry and pay my respects to the piles of dead annuals on my deck now.  I am almost reluctant to plant the new ones because I am afraid they will go from being healthy and in full bloom to sickly and wilted in a week. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cola Colors

As I was pedaling along and getting nowhere on the elliptical machine this morning, I was spacing out and reading a "Glamour" magazine that happened to be the current July issue that someone had already discarded.  One of the first ads in the front was an OPI nail lacquer ad.  OPI is a common nail salon brand and also is sold anywhere nail polish is sold from salons to Target.  I have several colors and not because I think it is better than cheaper polish but because you can often find it on clearance because OPI comes out with fun new collections every season based around places, popular musicians and movies.  Now, it seems, the went THERE and based a collection on my beloved Coca Cola products.  I am a long time Coke drinker and I have a childhood collection of Coke trinkets stored away at home.  A few of them are strategically placed around my house.  That pop of red always adds some fun to a room! 
OPI Coca-Cola Nail Polish Collection

Would you look at these?!  The red, silver and "fizzy" blackish color are obvious but I wasn't sure how the rest tied in.  I guess the cream and pink are for vanilla coke, one of the purple colors is for cherry coke and the other purple and sparkly orange represent Fanta.  Now, because I am a sucker, I am going on the hunt for these regardless of if they are full price or not.  I really want the cola color and maybe the silver but there is a pack of mini bottles with all the colors I might accept if I can find it in a store!  So, Ben and Tessa, how would you feel about a trip to Fargo so I can go to Ulta?


Monday, June 16, 2014

Tessa at 7 Months

Yesterday the 15th of the month came around again which means Tessa has added another month to her life.  They days are long and the years are short, the saying goes, in reference to the blur of the baby and toddler years and yes they are. 
Tessa is truly crawling now.  She has been moving around for awhile by "worming" and dragging and wiggling but she really moves now and goes for things she wants and also tries to follow me around.  She still just has the two bottom teeth which came through almost three months ago now.  She likes to roll around on the floor while squeezing a plush toy or doll and she also really likes her brother's tractors.  Her favorite for some reason is his cultivator attachment.  She is a good sleeper at night and usually wakes up happy and talks to herself in the crib until someone comes to get her.  She is pretty uninterested in baby food and it mostly just oozes out the sides of her mouth when I feed her.  (Yay...another kid who doesn't eat..)  She likes baths and watching the water pour out of the faucet.   
Yesterday I was at my parent's farm and took some pictures of Tessa in their new and finished but still empty house.  It was nice to just plop her down and not have to worry about moving a bunch of clutter and garish plastic toys out of the way. 

She's getting better at sitting but prefers to play by rolling around in all directions.  Now that she can sit up I intend to have their photos taken professionally.  I see cute newborn pictures online and I feel kind of bad that I never had her pictures taken as a newborn.  I have been telling myself I would do it when she can sit up so now I need to find someone and get on that. 

She looks like she might be happy here but she actually wasn't!

Poor girl!

Of course, yesterday was also Father's Day which is the perfect reason to share this picture I took a few weeks ago! 

It was a perfect shot and then Ben decided he wanted to take off right when I got the camera out.

I love Tessa's face here.  It sums up her whole life with her brother.

And here is an old classic of me and Tim G.!
Sweet Converses!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Justin the Model

As I mentioned before, Justin graduated from an accelerated MBA program at the University of Mary back in May.  He's gotten to know someone who does marketing for Mary as they have attended the same conferences and other work related events and he was asked to be in a photo shoot to use for promotional materials for the MBA program!  Yesterday afternoon he wore a shirt with his company's logo on it and posed for indoor and outdoor photos that will be used in brochures and that sort of thing.  I hope they send him the pictures just for fun but of course he didn't ask about any details. 

Promotional materials for institution of higher education are predictable and also amusing if you have any idea about the background of the people featured. For example, one of my sorority sisters in college was featured on the front of a dining services brochure.  We got a lot of laughs over it.  It wasn't funny because it was a bad picture or anything (they would never put a  bad picture on a brochure!) it was just funny because we knew her and she thought it was funny too.  Of all the 12,000 students on campus...what are the odds it would be a friend on the cover?! 

I still can't help but roll my eyes when thinking about the promotional brochure (very glossy and like a magazine!) for law school that was printed when I was there.  Every page was filled with polished and professional looking students talking with professors and engaging each other in what appeared to be stimulating legal arguments and discussions.  If you were diverse in any way you were guaranteed to be in the book.  Not surprisingly, there are no candid shots of 23 year old women with disheveled hair and wearing Ugg boots and American Eagle sweatshirts while clutching a bottle of Diet Coke in the 2006-2007 brochure.  I roll my eyes at it because I can almost be certain that the students sitting in a study room in the middle of a legal analysis are actually talking about something dumb like a TV show or some sort of gossip or what food court restaurant had the lunch special that day.  And of course, the photos would be taken on days when people would have had reason to wear suits which was usually one or two days every semester. 

Hopefully we will know soon where Justin's pictures will end up.  I just looked on the website for the MBA program but all the pictures on there were of University buildings.  They better send us the print materials when they are ready!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Product Loyalty

I'm not especially loyal to most products that are intended for someone like me (female, youthful, mildly vain, "girly").  I love to pick a new body wash and face wash and body lotion every time I run out of the old one.  As all women learn at a young age, there is no "miracle" hair product so I am glad to try anything that looks and smells appealing and love to try new shampoo and conditioner when my bottles run out.  I have nail polish bottles from every price point ranging from the nail salon brands that cost $8.00 each to the cheap $1.99 "Sinful Nails" brand that is always openly displayed at Walmart. 

The only products I am really loyal two can be counted on one hand. 

1.  I've gone through two or three bottles of Clinique Dramatically Different face lotion every year since I was 13. 

2.  Many fashion magazines have designated this mascara as "iconic" and a "classic".  I just buy it because it is one of the few that comes in the "Blackish Brown" color (black looks too intense on people who have red hair and naturally white eyelashes!) and also in waterproof.  It is surprising how rare this combination is.  Also, it is one of the cheapest out there and I use a lot of it so that matters.  I used to sometimes deviate and use another formula that had a big, fluffy brush and came in a yellow tube but they stopped making the dark brown in waterproof so I stopped buying it.


3.  Back when I was 19 and took a class to be a water safety instructor and taught swimming lessons the summer after my freshman year of college I ruined my hair.  It was dry, frizzy, and nothing could help it.  I was loading it up with Pantene conditioner and some crappy hair gel to help the frizz and it just kept getting worse. The key to not ruining your hair with chlorinated pool water is to soak it with fresh water before getting it wet in the pool.  Since it is already soaked it will not absorb the damaging chlorinated water.  This advice also applies to prolonging the live of a swimming suit that is worn in chlorinated pools.  In addition to the soaking, it helps a lot to use a shampoo intended to remove buildup afterwards.  I ruined my hair teaching lessons because I always started out the lesson intending to stay on the pool deck and tell my students (the older ones anyway) what to do while staying dry.  Of course, this never lasted and I always ended up jumping in to demonstrate.  A stylist at the outdated but always reliable JC Penney Salon in Grand Forks told me the secrets to keeping your hair from turning into a fried and disgusting mess of mineral deposits and chemicals and I have never forgotten the advice.  I have been swimming regularly for exercise since 2009 and Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three is the best and most easily available chlorine removing shampoo I have found.   And it has a lemon smell which some people might hate but I love!


4.  I've never been into tanning beds and I actually took seriously the articles in Seventeen Magazine that warned late 1990s teenagers about the health and cosmetic dangers of sun exposure and tanning.  While most other girls in my class and at my high school tanned as much as they could in tanning beds for prom and just for appearances in general I never did.  When I was lifeguarding I used several bottles of sunblock on myself every summer and sat under the umbrella that we had even though I always had to put it up and take it down for whoever was following me in the rotation.  I heard comments from people of all ages, even parents at the pool, for being so "white", "needing a tan" and how I was "going to fry if I didn't get a base tan", I listened to backhanded comments from other girls about how they tanned so they didn't looked "pale and sick" and I still hear comments today from strangers in the locker room sometimes which is kind of rude and weird even if they are well meaning.  And I don't care...I am still going to use this Neutrogena UltraSheer that I have been using since college.  I like it because it is meant for faces and is indeed ultra sheer, it smells good, and is affordable and often comes with a little free mini bottle or chapstick attached to the main bottle. 

And...I think that's it.  Those are the only products I buy religiously and repeatedly.  Until now...I think I found a new one. 

I saw this at Walmart earlier this week.  I had used another cheap sea salt spray a few years ago but it seems to have been discontinued.  This one caught my eye and it is only $4.00 per bottle so I bought the accompanying "Beach Babe" texturizing balm to match it.  When I got home and used them I was delighted by the tropical smell.  I am in love.  I want to put this cheap crap in my hair every time I am in the bathroom.  And it seems to make my hair do some nice things.  I already have plenty of texture but if I apply and then just let my hair dry without touching it I get some really nice and non-fuzzy waves.  For me that means a product gets my approval!  I love anything that contributes to my unkept, unprofessional everyday look! 

Speaking of new products, check out this really fun promotion I saw online for Coke (a food product that I am very loyal to!):

In Asia Coca Cola is releasing a bunch of screw top bottle lids that allow you to reuse your coke bottles in various ways including little spray nozzles for watering plants, a squirt gun and a bubble wand!  When you but a bottle they give you the set at the store!  Coca Cola, you better bring this to America right away! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Garden 2014

This weekend we planted our vegetable garden.  It is hard to believe that we have been planting a garden for five years now!  The first two were at our old house in the back yard and the next two were at the community garden plot.  This year, due to a downsizing of the old community garden due to a renovation of the nearby baseball field, we didn't get a plot there.  There is another community plot but they don't have access to water there.  We learned about an older woman who has a garden in her backyard through a co-worker of Justin's.  He is friends with her neighbor and has his own garden in the neighbor's yard.  He tilled and prepared her plot for us to use.  It is nice because there is an alley on that block so we can drive right up to the garden and Ben can play without the immediate risk of cars driving by.  We planted it this weekend with the usual crops of tomatoes, onions, zucchini, carrots, cucumbers and peppers.  We asked the owner if she wanted us to plant anything for her since she is a lifelong gardener who just got too old to do all the work and she added cabbage and kohlrabi (whatever that is!).  We also decided to do something fun and bought a watermelon plant at the greenhouse.  I didn't take any pictures this weekend because she has family staying with her for a few weeks and they were outside talking to us and I didn't want to be a weirdo taking pictures of a patch of dirt. One of her visitors is a five year old and Ben has had a lot of fun playing with her and she has had a lot of fun playing with Tessa when we are there so that made it easier to get the work done.

Speaking of zucchini, I saw this on Pinterest over the weekend:How to Grow Zucchini and Yellow Squash
Is this for real?  How to grow zucchini?  I didn't read the article it linked to but it should have said:

1.  Be a human.
2.  Have a spot of soil.
3.  Put seeds in the ground. 
4.  Water sometimes but don't knock yourself out.

That's it.  This is one post that never needed to happen. It's overkill even for Pinterest.

Here's a few pictures since my last whiny lunch post didn't have any.  They are from my phone the last few weeks. 

Here is Ben looking thrilled to be visiting PlantPerfect Garden Center with me.  Yayyyy...another greenhouse...

Here is a picture I took of Ben that make me realize he looks like a big boy and not a baby anymore. 

Here is Tessa being worn by me out in the hot sun while we chased Ben around.  She also looks thrilled. 

Here is Ben sitting in Tessa's car seat which also made me see that he is getting big. 

Here is Allan playing with Ben's "Cars 2" play mat and miniature cars.  When he started batting at the cars Ben started crying and saying "Mama...Kitten move!"  That kitten can by such a bully. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Happy Birthay Allan! The Big 5!

It's hard to believe that my fat cat and favorite present I ever received is 5 today!  He was born on this day at the Humane Society back in 2009 and he waited until October for his family (us) to come and find him!  I was going to do a yearly photo continuum but that would just be dumb because he looks the same every year after 2009 and early 2010.  So I just scrolled around in my (very) extensive pictures folder until I saw folders with Allan on the thumbnail and chose a few very early pictures and some favorites.  I don't know when he went from being a skinny little thing with the build of a kitten to the beefy and robust  cat that he is now but it seems to have happened overnight. 
 This was taken on Thanksgiving.  It was the first one n our new house and my parents and brother came.  Allan took a liking to my dad right away. 

Here he is hanging out in our old guestroom before it turned into Ben's room.  That bush outside the window attracted many birds and he loved to watch them.  I feel a longing when I see pictures of the old house in it's pristine pre-kids condition.  It sure was cute. 

My old TV watching buddy!


This picture really captures the soft fluffiness of his fur!  Awwww...Al...I'm so glad to celebrate another birthday with you!  Justin was joking about how his life is almost half over now since cats usually live to be around 10 or 12 years old.  I reminded him that my grandmother had a cat that lived to be 21.  They got her when my mom was 16 and she died when I was in the late elementary school grades.  He was like "noooooo!" Don't worry Allan, you are ours for your life regardless of how long!