Monday, September 29, 2014

Zucchini Season is OVER!

We pulled up our lone zucchini plant over the weekend.  By the end of the summer I am generally glad to see that particular plant go, even though I do enjoy eating zucchini.  As we have in previous years, we left a zucchini on the vine just for fun to see how gigantic it would get.  Here is this year's specimen in all it's glory:

It's about the size of Tessa!  I weighed it on our digital scale by holding it and then subtracting my own weight and it said 12 pounds.  I think it is more than that though.  That method is not very accurate on our digital scale.  Allan weighs twelve pounds and it is definitely more than him.  I looked up the world record holder for the largest zucchini and it was won in 2005 by a zucchini raised in a garden in Canada that was 7 feet and 10.3 inches long.  Ours is tiny compared to that.  Maybe next year...Justin heard that if you slice open the vine of a pumpkin and fill it with milk regularly you can breed massive pumpkins.  That same method would probably work for a zucchini.

So I guess we will leave it to hang around the house for a few days and then toss it.  Apparently there is a tool out there that you can buy that spirals vegetables so you can use them as a low calorie replacement for pasta.  If I had that then we would have a nice big plate of zucchini spaghetti but I don't...too bad...because pasta free pasta dishes sound soooo good...This thing is way too big to eat anyway.  The seeds are probably the size of pumpkin seeds.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Miss T. Margaret

As you know, Tessa's middle name is Margaret.  It is my mom's middle name and she was named after her grandmother who died young (well, youngish...she had fourteen kids first and lived to see one grandchild, my uncle. But she still had kids in elementary school at home.)  I recall when I was younger that my mom never seemed very crazy about her middle name.  But now, some old names are cycling back into popularity again and I know of a few young babies with Margaret as a first name.  And, as everyone in the world knows, Prince William and Princess Kate are having another baby and I read an article about royal name speculation that Margaret is a front runner in the odds!  They probably won't us it, at least as a first name, since who wants to do what everyone expects, but that baby will have many middle names so maybe there will be a princess named Margaret pretty soon! 

Margaret has also made an appearance in a place more relevant to my fabulous life...on the PBS show "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood".  "Daniel Tiger" is an animated spin off of "Mr. Rogers". I guess no one could imagine a PBS without his influence.  I know I appreciate this show.  The "It's a Beautiful Day" melody is still used, and the characters are the children of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood characters like King Friday.  They ride a trolley around and talk about their feelings alot.  This fall, when the new TV season kicked off, it was announced that...wait for it...Daniel Tiger's mom was pregnant!

PBS really had a good idea with this theme since only toddlers and preschoolers watch this dull show and many of it's viewing demographic is probably one, two and three year olds with pregnant mothers who were doing pretty good with not placing their kids in front of the TV until they got pregnant and were so tired me sit on the couch and drink my allocation of the love...of...god...

I wouldn't know about that myself since I don't do that but it's just a guess...

Anyway, there was a special one hour episode where Daniel was told he was getting a baby brother or sister and worked through the emotions of giving up his baby stuff and accepting that he was not the only kid in the family anymore.  And then...the baby was born!

It was a girl and they named her...Margaret!  I was so excited when I heard that.  Yes, I just admitted to being on the edge of my seat over a PBS preschool TV show. 

Here are a few pictures of our T. Margaret from this week.

It is kind of early for Halloween but this sleeper was a hand me down and I'm not sure if it will fit her by the real Halloween and it's so cute I had to get some use out of it. 

Unlike her mother, I think she looks nice in orange!

Although we put away our baby bouncy chair months ago she couldn't help but be interested in her cousin's chair!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

31 Day Challenge

Yesterday I came across something called the "31 Day Challenge" on another blog I read.  It all started with a blogger who challenged herself a few years ago, then her friends the next year.  Last year there were over 1,000 people taking the challenge.  Basically, you write on your blog every day in October about the same topic.  You can pick any topic you want and there is no rules!  There are no requirements for length or anything like that.  It is just a fun way to encourage people to write and find other blogs that might interest them.  Here is the link to details:

There are categories that you can place your topic in, including house and home, organizing, family life, food, writing and blogging, inspiration and faith, and personal endeavors.  At first I thought the challenge was interesting but had no idea what to write about for 31 days and it seemed like the things I am absorbed in right now (kids, parenting, trying to manage the house, the most effective number of seconds in the microwave in which to microwave a 2 year old's hot dog, etc.) have been done so many times (although it is OK to write on the same topic as someone else because no two people will ever be the same! I just read so much about those things already every day on various web sites...) and I kind of want a break from them anyway.  I thought about other things I am interested in, such as sewing, music, reading, studying history, etc. and felt discouraged because I don't really have time for those things right now.  Then I noticed that there were many hundreds of people writing on most of the topics but the fashion and beauty category only had 17 entries so I thought I would come up with a way to join that category!  First I thought I would do "31 Days of Cleaning the Closet" where I would make myself simplify that mess in there.  But I recently did that for a rummage sale and am kind of attached to what remains for various reasons.  But today I thought of maybe spending the 31 days rediscovering what is already in my closet!  Indeed, it is full and many of the items are past the "get rid of it if you haven't worn it in the last year" rule.  I struggle with that rule.  Since having two kids in two years some things don't fit the same and some of the garments are relics of the life I had before, where I went to my desk job and out with friends to bars and restaurants every day and not to the YMCA and Target with my baby and toddler.  But there is no reason that those piles and hangers of clothing can't be used in a versatile manner and I enjoy not wearing sweat pants every day. Maybe it will get me to use my inventory of scarves, belts, and jewelry again.  Also, this is a light hearted topic that will allow me to joke around a bit at my own expense so that will be fun.

So, I am going to try it starting October 1st.  No one will come and ban me from the challenge if I miss a day so that makes me feel better.  I am going to try though!   I am kind of intimidated by the hyperlinking that needs to be done between here and the main challenge page and also between pages in this blog but I have a few days to figure that out.  I already made a hyperlink button for the first time so that is one part of the challenge I already have overcome.  It's nothing special but I like it. 


It's a button with buttons! Buttons are cute, right?  And they relate to clothes, right? 

Day 1:

Day 2: H & M Arm Trap

Day 3:  Not Worth It!

Day 4: The Crazy Tassel Scarf

Day 5: A Pinterest Attept

Day 6: Beach Cover Up

Day 7: Gym Gear

Day 8: Cotton Vest

Day 9: "Maternity Shirt"

Day 10:  HC HC HC

Day 11: Where Plaid Shirts Go...

Day 12:  Going Home

Day 13: Dr. Scholl's

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Since having Ben 2.5 years ago, there have been the occasional moments of panic (including a tumble down the stairs at my parents house), the worrisome illnesses that really were nothing to worry about but I didn't know any better, and the standard kid injuries (remember that black eye that was showcased in the annual mall Santa photo last Chrismtas?).  I know it could be much worse though.  There have been no stitches, no projectile vomit beyond baby spit up, and no emergency room visits.  On Tuesday morning, though, I had a scare.  We were in the garage and Tessa was already clicked into her spot in the car.  I opened the door to Ben's side and realized that his seat wasn't installed because Justin had taken him out in the pickup the night before.  While I was grabbing the seat, Ben quickly climbed into the car like a maniac like he always does and somehow slipped.  It probably had to do with reaching for the seat to climb and not realizing it wasn't there until it was too late.  He immediately started screaming which means a real painful injury has happened and when I picked him up his mouth was...gulp...full of blood.  For a moment my head spun because I didn't know what to do and then my years of first aid training from lifeguarding sprung into action and I brought him to the bathroom to try to find out where the blood was coming from.  I quickly found out that it wasn't from a knocked out tooth (THANK GOD!) or from his tongue.  It was from inside of his cheek.  He bit a huge chunk of skin out of the inside of his cheek.  The bleeding quickly stopped and he was able to be distracted so we went about our morning plans although the day turned on me and both Ben and Tessa were clingy and whiny alternatively all day.  All I heard was "Hold Beeeeeeeen!" and "GA GA GA GAAAAA MAMAAAAAA" all day.  The next morning I called the doctor because I was so disturbed by the sight of that gaping canyon in his mouth but they told me what I think I already knew, which is that mouth lacerations heal quickly on their own and that they don't put stitches in kids' mouths.  So, heal quickly mouth laceration!

Over the weekend, my cousin gave Ben a ski helmet that was heavily discounted because it had been removed from the box and used in a advertising photo shoot.  (She works at Scheel's).    

Maybe he needs to wear it in his daily life...
Here are a few more pictures from my phone:
On Sunday I went to buy some new winter basics for these two at the Kohl's baby sale (yayyyyy) and I came home with some un-basics as well, including new pajamas. 

Ben got Olaf from "Frozen.

Tessa got a standard Carter's fleece sleeper.  There is nothing cuter.

Back when Ben was in his aimless exploration and destruction stage I was constantly frustrated with how he was obsessed with my wine rack.  Now Tessa is obsessed with it.  I already removed the breakable glasses and replaced them with plastic ones. 

I'm hoping she gets bored with it soon but instead she has reignited Ben's interest in it.  Oh, the reason there are beach towels on the kitchen floor is because I used them to cover plants last week when there were freeze warnings.  Now summer temps are back again and maybe they will get a few more uses as intended.  But that would mean I would have to make time to read on the deck in a lawn chair and that probably won't happen. 

I was holding Ben yesterday, and he wanted to hold Tessa so we held her too and I took our picture and I love the look in her eyes!

This is from this morning.  Ben has rediscovered his blocks too and likes to arrange them into letters.  Tessa likes to come lumbering over and destroy those letters, causing screaming and demands that I "hold Tessssaaaaaa!" to keep her away. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

It's That Time Again!

Football/tailgating season is upon us again.  As my sister and I drove along 19th Ave. toward the dome on Saturday and saw the NDSU flags flying over the parking lot it almost felt like we had just been there although the last playoff game was in December.  After finding a parking spot somewhere in West Fargo we arrived at "The Huddle" where Justin and Ben had been tailgating for a few hours already. 

I admit that I had a lot of apprehension about having both kids at the game all day but, at least for the day, it went better than I anticipated.  Ben has grown up since last year and was agreeable to being pulled around in a wagon for much of the day.  He also (gasp) ate a full meal.  Tessa seemed slightly overstimulated but didn't react in the usual baby way of screaming and having a meltdown and instead looked to be in a daze and eventually fell asleep while drinking a bottle.  Neither of them pooped during tailgating. Yes!  I hope the weather stays nice for at least a few more weekends so they can enjoy the experience.  I'm really looking forward to the future when they can be part of the pack of kids that is always tumbling around and playing ball in the ditch between the lots. 

Here are a few pictures. 

My dad took Ben walking and they visited some friends who had green cupcakes as you can see from Ben's face.

Yes, this photo is proof that Justin survived his Alaska trip!
The tailgating portion ended with chaos as a gust of wind sent our tent flying over the trailer.  It was like that time I went to We-Fest and there was bad weather the 2nd to last night and our screen tent/shade for drinking complex went airborn and ended up mangled over a fence. I don't think it's getting fixed...


A nice break on the changing platform in the bathroom!  Tessa currently loves all things bathroom and toilet related so this was perfect!

Monday, September 8, 2014


I've never been the kind of parent who lists her kids' ages down to the month, at least after a certain point.  Of course, in the early days I count the weeks as they pass.  I admit that I lost track of Tessa's "week birthdays" much faster than I did of Ben's.  And of course between the ages of one and two kids change so much and there is such a huge difference from month to month that I would refer to his month age.  But since he has turned two I usually just say he is two when people ask or say that he turned in March.  This weekend we visited my sister and new cousin Claire and she turned one month old on the 7th and that is Ben's day too!  I figured out that he is 30 months old, which means he is two and a half!  Wow! 

We took their picture together that day. 

We actually got a few good shots of all three of them together before Tessa took off.  On Ben's half birthday, he still loves tractors and trains and all sorts of vehicles, he is always on the lookout for the garbage and mail trucks around town and he loves to watch movies including Frozen, Finding Nemo and The Land Before Time.  He loves to eat...uhhhh...chips and cookies?  Sorry, it's the truth.  And I am amazed every day at the verbal explosion that is happening as his vocabulary continues to grow.  I think it's safe to say that he can hold a conversation!  He can tell me what he wants!  He has certain favorite books memorized and says the lines before I read them! It's wonderful to behold.  He is still in diapers and I am gearing up for another attempt at the three day training method, but it has to happen on a weekend when Justin is here to help me and the weather is not beautiful which were the downfalls of the last attempt.  He loves "hold Tesssaaaaa" and lumber around carrying her in front of his body.  She thinks this is a normal interaction and laughs as I come to her rescue. 
Here is a Justin update.  This is what the map of his location from two days ago looks like.  It appears that they are still rafting and have been stopping on islands.  I'm sure it's like that time I went on a canoe trip down the Missouri River with my friends from law school and we camped on an island with a sandy beach, grilled hot dogs and played bocce ball with cases of beer strategically placed around the camp.  Or not...
OK, that was a short post but I have to get outside and do something.  I had a screen shot of my app but I noticed it had our address on it so I deleted it but the point was that today, Monday, it is currently 86 degrees and tomorrow and for the rest of the week the high temp is in the 50s.  Blaaaaahhh.  I should be on the deck soaking of the final days of summer heat.  I don't even know what Ben has for jeans and pants that fit.  I know he doesn't have any new ones, and he has several pairs from his cousins but I have to find the ones that will fit and I also think I am making a trip to Old Navy tonight.  And socks...he hasn't worn them for what seems like months. This came on way too soon.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


I often find myself looking upon the expanse of my living room and feeling overwhelmed and hopeless because of the toy explosion that lays in front of my eyes.  Lately, I've been trying to change my outlook toward the small irritations of life. A few weeks ago I saw a photo somewhere, either in a magazine or in a news article, of a few young boys in a refugee camp in Iraq playing with empty cans.  The photographer asked them what they were doing and they said that they were pretending the cans were cars.  The current problems and wars and terror of life in Iraq and so many countries in the Middle East are difficult to fully absorb without falling into complete despair but that photo comes back into my mind every day, usually whenever I hear about ISIS and see the awful footage of beheadings and mass killings and sometimes when I catch Ben playing intently with his favorite toys.  I haven't been able to stop thinking about those boys and how I wish I could give each of them just one car or truck or tractor or train.  It makes me just well up with emotion when I see Ben playing with his toys and choosing a favorite to have in bed with him when he goes to sleep and thinking about what it would be like to lose everything we have and to see him and Tessa in a refugee camp, playing with whatever junk was laying around and still finding a way to have fun.  It's just wrong that he gets to have a full farm of toy tractors and equipment to match Grandpa Tim's, and the cast of the movie Cars in toy version and a train set and piles of books and a bed with Thomas sheets.  And more important, much more important, he and Tessa are safe from atrocities against them just because of their religion or where they live. (It is so much worse that what you see on the mainstream news...I knew but really realized this when I searched Google for photos of Iraqi boys in refugee camps to try to find that photo of the boys playing.)
Seriously, this is a deviation from my usual lighthearted B.S. but what would that be like?  The moms of those boys are probably the same age as me.  How would it feel to be trapped and left to die on the side of a mountain in 100 degree heat with no water or food? To witness beheadings and torture? I'm on a large local moms Facebook group with many posts a day from moms, many of who are so high strung about things that just don't really matter.  Today I saw a thread with about 20 replies about moms worrying about whether or not they could send bug spray with their kids to school because the mosquitos are bad and how the teachers want it applied in the morning before school but the day is too long and once a day isn't enough...and someone found a spider in their grapes from Walmart...and someone was mad because they had a long wait at the pediatrician's office...and when I am in a mood like I am now after seeing footage about an American being beheaded in Iraq and seeing those pictures that I just saw and can't not think about how those displaced and terrified families would love to have kids at school, eat grapes and be able to see a doctor. 
My mom recently acquired a framed Norman Rockwell poster of "The Four Freedoms".  These were painted in 1943 to represent four universal human rights that should be protected for every human. They originated in a speech by FDR in 1941. Very idealistic, and obviously not happening universally. But, somehow, I got lucky and was born in a place where I have these freedoms. 


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Trees of the Field Shall Yield Their Fruit

"I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit." Leviticus 26:4

While I have been otherwise occupied with my "living in town" existence, harvest has started out there in the fields.  It is a time of action and sensory overload and a very defining time of year in areas where agriculture is a dominant industry.  Back in 2006, when my more forward thinking law school classmates were wearing suits and working in law firms for the summer, I chose to study abroad in Norway and finish the summer by lifeguarding in Fargo at the pool I had previously worked at.  I often wonder if those decisions were detrimental to my long term success but while I was living them those days were some of the happiest in my life.  One hot evening in August I was stationed high on the water slide tower and my nose caught the very familiar smell of freshly cut wheat and I noticed a haze hanging over the flat expanse of Fargo and I knew what was happening.  When I returned into the office for my break, I started gushing about how good it smelled and how pretty the hazy sky looked and was met with complaints about allergies and dust generally blank looks.  If it's not ingrained in you, it's hard to understand.  I should have waited to talk about it with my one farm raised co-worker, with who I regularly shared stories, laughed hysterically, and commiserated about the pre-teen horrors of getting dropped off at the swimming pool in a grain truck in front of all the town kids, waiting for 45 minutes to get picked up from basketball practice because some farm machinery crisis was occupying our families and losing various cats and kittens to their perilous existence among tractors and trucks. 

Although it's later than usual this year the garden is producing it's bounty as harvest is starting around the state.  It feels weird that I'm not at the farm experiencing wheat harvest but at least I've got our garden here to pick from every day.  Yesterday, I stopped there twice! 

It's tomato time, and this year we planted four plants.  You can see three of the varieties below:

They are yellow cherry, red grape, and beefsteak.  The fourth plant is a variety of heirloom tomato called "Mr. Stripey" that ripens with yellow and red stripes but they are still quite green.  Ben loves helping pick tomatoes and he also wants to hold them in each hand on the drive home from the garden.  The logical final step in this continuum would be him eating them, but I couldn't get that lucky! 

We only planted one cucumber plant and I forgot how productive just one plant can be.  A person can only eat so many cucumber slices, and for some reason I was reminded of refrigerator pickles.  I haven't made them for a few years. 

Mmmmmm....brine...The cucumbers and onion are all grown by me!  Although not every recipe asks for it, I added some fresh dill sprigs since there is quite a bit of it growing voluntarily in the garden.  I forgot how delicious and nostalgic the smell of it is.  Yummy yummy yummy.  I want to pick more and put it in a vase!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Justin's Adventure

I mentioned a few days ago that Justin was soon to be embarking on a big trip.  On Friday afternoon he departed for the mysterious and remote state of Alaska for a two week adventure.  A friend of his lives there in Wasilla, and for months they have been planning this major trip into the wilderness, where they will be hunting and camping.  Where they are is so remote that there is no phone or internet service (for the love of God!).  I just looked up some of the destinations on their itinerary and they drove on the Dalton Highway, which is listed in National Geographic magazine's "drives of a lifetime":

This highway starts north of Fairbanks and runs straight up to the Arctic Ocean.  It was built as a service road for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and at the end of the road are oil fields of Prudhoe Bay.  It's called a highway, but apparently much of the road is gravel!  It is over 400 miles long and there are only three populated towns along it.  Justin and Nate (our friend) only went to mile 334, the location of the Happy Valley air strip which is where they will take a plane into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  Then they will raft down the Ivishak River for several days, stopping to hunt and camp.  The map below shows these places. 

I didn't do much research about these places before he left, and I must say that I am fascinated with this highway.  I have always enjoyed a road trip and the Dalton Highway definitely would be one to remember.  I would probably have to bring my own Diet Coke though!

You may be wondering about the safety of this trip, with the bush plane, the rafting, the hunting, the camping in the middle of nowhere in a wildlife refuge where bears live, etc. Well, although there won't be any phone calls or texts because there is no service and no where to charge devices, they do have a two way satellite communicator with GPS which is able to send a message each day to Nate's wife and myself.  It emails us (I don't understand it either!) The message from today was "checking in, all ok".  Good to know!  It also sends their location in map form with GPS coordinates.  I took a screen shot of the one from today so you could get an idea of where they are.  That is the air strip.  I think they will fly out tomorrow. 

That's WAY up North! 
And here is a picture of what they are hunting: 
This is an image from Google.  There were many photos of hunters with their caribou but I felt weird putting a picture of a person I don't know on a blog.  So, although quite adventurous, this trip is a "thing" that a lot of other hunters have done.  There are plenty of caribou in Alaska so there is a very good chance that I am going to be tasting caribou meat in a few weeks. Yes, it's getting shipped home!