Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Anniversary

I just realized that today is August 26th!  It is a date that shall stand out in my mind because August 26th was the day that we closed on this house and moved last year.  Yes, it's been one year.  That was one very fast year.  On this day in 2013, it was so, so hot and very humid. This year, it is unseasonably cool and raining.  Today, I have a nine month old. Last year, I was 30 weeks pregnant and on the brink of being uncomfortably huge.

I still think about our old house often.  That place really meant a lot to me.  I make myself remember little details about it because I just don't want to forget.  For example, the wiring was some sort of low voltage thing that was common in the 1940s and 1950s so all of the light switches were buttons that you pushed and when you did they made a weird buzzing noise.  Everyone who didn't know about the wiring recoiled when it buzzed, thinking they had caused it to break!  Also, there was a really creaky spot in the floor in the living room that I would always step around when Ben was sleeping.  And the mailbox was attached to the house by the front door and every time I opened the door to get it I would smell sun baked wood because the door really heated up in the afternoon sun.  Of course, I could go on and on.  I haven't forgotten you, little house! 

Life has been good in this house so far even though we haven't had the time to focus on projects the way we did when me moved in the old place.  There are still items that I want to hang on the walls that are not hanging on the walls.  We haven't painted anything which means I have been living for a year with paint that I don't especially like.  And it's always a blasted mess in here...always.  But it has been really nice having the dining room and having three bedrooms and the laundry room upstairs.  The extra storage is delightful and there is still room for more crap in some closets and in our second upstairs bathroom the drawers are all empty.  Yes, empty.  My favorite thing is the suite-style master bathroom with double sinks.  It is fab!

And since it has now been a year that I have had a picture of someone else's house creepily displayed on the internet I finally changed the picture on the blog heading.  It's not the greatest picture and needs some cropping but I will take care of that later.  And by later, I mean next August.  I just like how Ben is waving at the bottom.  I also added Tessa to the pictures along the side of the blog.  She's officially part of the family now! 

And, so this post has a picture for you visual people, here is a picture of Ben after he fell asleep for his nap a few hours ago.  He loves tires and "flat tires" and some of his farm toys have tires that come off and he gathered them all up and brought them for his "nap toy".  Yes, a nap toy is a thing here. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Aaaaah...The Simpsons

Aaaaah...the sound of that familiar orchestration of the heavens opening at the beginning of "The Simpsons" can always pull me right to the TV.  This week and next week, the FXX channel is playing a huge marathon of "The Simpsons" continuously, day and night, until every episode is shown.  There have been 25 seasons so that means there are 552 episodes.  I have to say that I am in heaven being able to have my favorite primary colored animated show to fall back on whenever I feel the need to watch TV. 

When I was growing up on the farm we didn't have cable TV.  What we had was an antenna in the attic that provided us with the major networks of NBC, ABC and CBS and lame old PBS.  It also provided a very fuzzy and questionable FOX.  And what is on FOX, might you ask?  In the 90s, it was the Simpsons and Vikings football.  It became a Sunday evening ritual at our house to have a loud game of telephone throughout three floors of our house as someone moved the antenna in the attic in an attempt to get the best picture we could on FOX.  We finally got a satellite dish when I was in 8th grade and being able to see the weekly new episodes and daily Simpsons reruns in their full, clear glory was the best part.  I know that when the Simpsons became popular in the early 1990s a lot of parents immediately banned it from their homes and I am not sure why.  I suppose it has to do with the famous "Eat My Shorts" line Bart spouted early on but compared to what I see on the rare occasions that I watch whatever DOA sitcom the networks try to push every season (they are getting very vulgar!) The Simpsons seems quite wholesome.  I think it was probably a hysteria thing kind of like the Harry Potter witchcraft freak out where many of the people who are upset by it have never actually watched or read it for themselves.   Fortunately, I didn't grow up in a censorship type of house and my brother and sister and I spent many evenings laughing at the subtle humor and cultural references that are regular features of the show.  And we were all very respectful kids who never had a stain on our records during parent/teacher conferences so there censorship people!  In fact, my lame brother was so respectful and well behaved that teachers and coaches still tell me how awesome he was (apparently more so than myself).

Yes, this show was for us like "Leave it to Beaver" was for my dad.  Just the thought of it gives me the feeling of being a kid settled in for the night to watch some good TV without a care in the world.  When I was a freshman in college, I returned from class one day to have my roommate tell me that some guy had called for me but he didn't leave a message.  I didn't know of any guys who had recently received my number or who were interested in me at all and I was kind of weirded out and fascinated about the mystery man.  Well, I found out that it was my marginally articulate fourteen year old brother calling to inform me that FOX was no longer going to play syndicated Simpsons reruns.  Oh, the horror!  As the years went by, seasons of the show started being released on DVD and they were frequent Christmas gifts between the S. siblings. 

Before I close the computer and focus on the TV for my brief afternoon fix, I have to share something about Allan.  Yes, the forgotten Allan who used to be my #1 subject.  He has become obsessed with finding pairs of our thick ski/boot socks and carrying them around the house.  It started because I store mine in a container under the bed that is so full that it doesn't close and the lid just sits on top.  I started feeling like those damn socks were never where they belonged even though I put them away and then we realized what he was doing. 

We were gone for the weekend and when I came upstairs I found this scene:

That weirdo kitten had brought five pairs of Justin's boot socks upstairs from where he had them lined up in the basement (he is packing for a big trip that I will discuss in a few days) and paced them all on the couch on a blanket that we had spread out.  At first I was really disturbed because the bedroom door was closed and I didn't know that Justin had his socks in the basement.  I thought he did some sort of weird voo doo or something. 
Oh, and some bonus trivia:  Did you know that the composer of the Simpson's score, Alf Clausen, grew up in Jamestown, ND?  When I was in middle school we played a Simpsons medley in band in his honor.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rapid Fire Photo Catch Up

We have done so much these last several weeks!  In the past, before I only had a few hours a week to space out with the computer, each occasion would have been a post all by itself!  I miss those days.  But this will have to do for now. 

So, two weekends ago there was big street fair in front of the State Capitol.  It's pretty neat, when you think about it, to live within sight of a Capitol building.  Often, when I drive the streets in front of or behind it, which are two main streets that many Bismarck residents drive daily, and that we also live between, I think of the book from my childhood, "Missing May", which is about a young girl who was raised by her great aunt and uncle and the way they deal with their grief after May, the aunt, dies. 

Front Cover

It is a very good but sad book that came from the old "Scholastic Book Order" days in elementary school.  In the book, the girl, her uncle an oddball school friend set off to meet with a person who can supposedly contact people who have "moved on" and they stop in awe at the domed Capitol building of whatever state they lived in (I think it was Virginia or West Virginia) because the oddball friend always dreamed of seeing it.  It was like a once in a lifetime experience.  And here I am, practically driving on the front lawn, every day!  I can practically say that the governor is my neighbor!

The kettle corn (or should I say, "korn") stand was right in front, at the top of the large "U" driveway that is several blocks long that leads to the Capitol.  I had to snap this picture since it was such a perfect day.  The other reason the street fair was memorable is because I found this fun little trinket: 

It's my hometown!  I love maps!  I also found a fun NDSU necklace with a buffalo nickel pendant. 

Later that week, my sister, who was 10 days overdue in her pregnancy, was induced and my niece Claire was born.  I packed up Ben and Tessa and headed toward Fargo where I spent a few minutes holding Claire and several hours attempting to corral Ben and Tessa and sitting in a labor and delivery floor waiting room playing with color crayons. 

Here we are!  I don't know what was going on with that mirror in the background.  It cast a very flattering light, which I suppose is what new moms need in the days after labor!
Next up was a visit from Ben's cousins Jack and Spencer.  Their parents came too, of course!  Spencer loves to play with vacuum cleaners and it just so happens that we have two of the same battery powered Dirt Devil so they could vacuum together without fights! 

What fun, what fun...check out Ben's Santa PJs.  He picked them out himself. 
On Saturday we went to the zoo and then on a historic "choo choo" ride nine miles south of town to a state park with an old fort and replica Indian village.  The zoo here has a trio of tigers, including a white Siberian, a traditional orange Bengal, and this oddball:

It is a rare genetic oddity that is white and orange (and no, it's not a child of the two others!).  There are only thirty of them in the world and they don't survive very long in the wild.  I don't know why.  They must have weak instincts or something. 

It is a very charismatic and entertaining tiger.  Every summer, I see many Facebook posts about this tiger giving kids a thrill at the zoo and today was no exception. 
Allan was jealous that we got to see his brother, who is his equal in size and strength and hunting ability!
Sometime in my phone photo sequence Tessa figured out how to trash the bathroom, a right of passage for any mobilizing baby!

On Saturday morning, while the cousins were playing and we were getting ready to go to the zoo, I received a text that my sister-in-law's water broke!  My brother would soon be becoming a father (why does it seem normal for a sister to become a mother but so weird for a brother to be a father?). I waited for news all day and pestered my mom mostly and my brother occasionally and as of "night night time" when I finally crashed as Justin and his step brother watched a documentary on PBS about the Bison-Sioux rivalry through the years, there was still no baby.  I woke to news that my new nephew, Arne, was born at 4:52 a.m.! 
On Monday I headed off to Grand Forks, and lucky for me Justin's mom was able to watch Ben and Tessa for a few hours so I could visit this guy in peace! 

Oh, I love a newborn!
When I saw this picture I took of my brother, I had a fleeting feeling of recognition and then I figured out why...

You might instinctively think this is my mom, but it's actually my grandma holding who appears to be my mom as a baby.  Quite a resemblance between the generations!
After my visit with Arne, I spent a day at my parents' house and took Ben and Tessa swimming at the pool where I practically lived and later worked when I was growing up.  It's nothing fancy but that blue water still entices me the way it did back then. 

Ben loved playing with the kickboards, which we pretended were surfboards.  We floated Tessa around and made her "surf" and she could stand touching the bottom at the edge and held on with one had and splashed with the other.  I'm sad that pool season is almost over.

Then we headed to visit cousin Claire.  Tessa looks like such a beast next to these newborns. 

My sister bought them matching pajamas with kittens on them!

After a day at the farm, Ben was filthy and I took him for an ATV ride to pick up my dad from a field he was working in.  He looks like a piglet. 

We tagged along to a 'seafood boil" party that my parent's friends had in their backyard and Tessa enjoyed some corn on the cob.  I am amazed to watch her eat after dealing with Ben's eating habits.

One of their friends owns this vintage car and as you can imagine, Ben couldn't get enough of it!

And finally...Last night was Justin's company picnic at a park.  We received tickets for rides at the "Super Slide" amusement park that is attached to the park and had fun with the other young kids at the picnic, especially a little girl who is only a month younger than Ben. 
Justin took Ben on the Ferris Wheel and he was kind of scared but also kind of dumbfounded! 

We both took our turns on the super slide.  He was scared but also didn't hesitate to do it over and over again.  He also rode a kids train but I didn't get pictures because my phone was in the stroller and I rode a spinning swing with him but in the pictures I am oozing out the sides of the chair and it looked really gross so I will spare you!  It was made for little kids after all!
OK, I hope I am caught up.  This will have to suffice! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

9 Months!

I knew it had been awhile since I wrote on here but I had no idea it had been almost two weeks!  The reason I have been missing is because we had visitors for most of the week last week and in between the visits my sister AND my sister-in-law (brother's wife) had babies!  My new niece was born early in the morning on August 7th and my new nephew was born early in the morning on August 10th!  I have been busy visiting babies!  So I have a lot to catch up on and I will probably do a big photo post next but today happens to be Tessa's 9 month birthday!  I have missed all the other month "birthday's" and I finally caught one.  It is 3:03 p.m. right now, which means that nine months ago I was hanging up the phone after getting my call that there was a room for us and to report to the hospital for my induction!

Tessa is a big girl now who loves to stand and cruise around the furniture and open drawers and make messes.  In the last few days I have caught her splashing around in the toilet, with one hand on the top step ready to crawl down the stairs (EEEEEK!) and with a mouth full of rocks.  She wears 9 month clothes but recently got a new 12 month sleeper and it is not very much too big!  Her brother has decided that he likes to carry her around (EEEEEEEEEK!) and I regularly catch him hobbling toward me with Tessa in a hug hold saying "Ben hold Tessa!".  At least she seems to enjoy it and is usually grinning as I try to calmly remove her from his clutches.  

She is an expert at yelling and crying with her pacifier in her mouth and often we will be in the car or will be awakened by her at night and frantically look for it only to find it already in her mouth.  She just yells around it.  She babbles a lot with her favorite words being "gee", "gaa" and a loud, tongue rolling motor sound.  She has started saying "Mamama" but I am not yet convinced that it applies to me.  She also is starting to wave and it's so cute! 

But...most exciting for me...she eats!  She actually eats food and seems to enjoy it.  She eats more in a day than Ben ate in a month.  She will eat a whole piece of bread, many handfuls of cereal, and as many fruit of vegetable pieces that we put on her tray,  I am just fascinated by this!  It is delightful!  Just in time too, since she consumed the last bag of frozen pumped milk in the freezer two Sundays ago.

Here are a few big girl pictures!

The one hand stand...

I took her and Ben swimming at the pool where I spent most of my summer playing when I was a child and working when I was a teenager this week between baby visits.  She could "touch the bottom" at the edge of the wading pool and loved standing there and splashing with one hand.  Ben liked to pretend he was pulling her on a kickboard (or surfboard in his imagination!).  Don't worry, I was holding her on there!

Her she is with her new cousin Claire!  They have matching kitten jammies!  Tessa didn't know why Claire didn't want to cruise around and make messes with her! 
It's hard to imagine that I was pregnant for nine months and now she has been here for nine months!  She has a doctor's appointment next week and I look forward to seeing how she has grown. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Taming the Toy Takeover

There are a few things I have decided just to accept even though I wish they were different.  One of them is that, unless we ever have a house with 6 or more bedrooms, our guestroom is always going to look like a large walk in closet full of excess and out of place crap that happens to have a bed in it and not like a "retreat" with thoughtfully placed baskets of travel necessities and high quality linens.  Another is that the days of my carefully organized "rainbow" closet where my clothes hung in color order like the colors of the spectrum (ROYGBIV!) are long gone and never to return. I am just pleased with myself if I actually hang up the shirts that require it before the pile of laundry takes over and I am forced to put away the clean clothes.  Another is that my kids are going to see TV and lots of it because I am just too selfish to give up watching it myself.  I could go on but the topic of acceptance I am covering today is the fact that our house is going to be a domain of kids and that means toys everywhere.  Yes, we could keep their toys in their rooms but Ben doesn't want to play by himself most of the time.  He wants to play in my vicinity so that means they would be dragged out anyway.  And I sure don't want to sit in a kid's room all day because...TV?  Up until recently, we stashed toys and books (so many books!) in baskets placed around the living room.  They were always overflowing and were a huge mess.  Our TV was on an old chest of drawers which I really like but the drawers are so old and sticky that we hate to open them.  It is nice because scratches from Ben have just made it look better and more fashionably old but we have wanted to replace it for awhile and the time has finally come.
Recently we visited my aunt and uncle and they live in the same city as an IKEA, the place to go for cheap and arguably crappy furniture.  Yes, the longevity is questionable but right now we are not interested in long term.  We are interested in having something functional that will last until our kids stop ruining things.  Also, I want them to be able to enjoy our furniture and eat popcorn while watching movies and not worry about every spill or ding ruining a special piece of furniture. 
We spent a fabulous kid free afternoon at IKEA, which was as chaotic on a Monday as it is on weekends.  Among several other "must haves" that I had to have we chose this assembly from the "Besta" line and chose two baskets and two doors for the cubes.  This collection is arguably kind of "dorm room"-y but we need the organization of a dorm room. 
Yes, that is indeed a rerun of "Laguna Beach" on TV!  That moron Jason just never quit with the idiocy.  I am rolling my eyes all over again wondering what all those girls saw in him.  LC, you are better than him 1,000 times!  The books are now behind the cupboard doors and toys are in the baskets.  DVDs are in the drawers.  We still have a catch-all basket in another spot but I emptied out two other ones that were getting pretty beat up.  I will probably use them for piano music.
One of the best IKEA purchase, which made the chaotic, city driving adventure worth it, was this: 

 It's a little wooden train set!  It came with four cars and we bought the expansion cars.  The main set cost $9.99.  What a bargain for the entertainment it provides!  Those two big cars are from Target and they fit the tracks too which is excellent. 
 The only problem is a certain baby wants to play too...and she doesn't respect the track arrangement!  It causes lots of screaming, "Tessaaaaaaa NOOOOO! Tessa sit dowwwwwn!"  "Sit down" means that he wants me to move her elsewhere.