Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Importance of the Mundane

When my grandma moved out of her house last summer my dad acquired stacks and stacks of my grandpa's calendar journals.  It turns out that my grandpa had been recording little facts about each day for most of his life and he had saved the calendars for years and years. Like 40 years.  Such things just fascinate me.  Thinking about how some small phrase such as "Maren's graduation" and "Tim and family left for overseas" can be just a glimpse into a much larger and very important story in a family history appeals to the history lover in me I guess.  Even the mundane entries about farming and weather give insight.  I suppose this same fascination is why I haven't been able to throw away my school assignment books from high school and college.  The high school books, which were school issued so we all had matching ones, are full of funny scribbles, notes and inside jokes between classmates that instantly bring memories flowing back.  And the college ones, which I generally purchased from the school bookstore because they had important school calendar dates and breaks already printed in them, are like a condensed diary of the endless fun and busyness of Greek life and the other fun school activities of an involved student who really did live life to the fullest during those wonderful youthful years.  Well, I made the most of my college years socially.  I wish I could say the same for academically.  I really didn't challenge myself the way I could have!

So, I try to keep this in mind on days when I feel like I don't really have anything to write about and end up just sharing pictures of the kids.  What they are interested in and like to do during a certain week could change my next week so I can look back on this post and look back into my life at that time.  I admit that I have to consult my blog posts sometimes when filling out baby books or trying to remember when they started doing something!  Speaking of that, this weekend I completed Tessa's baby book!  And by completed I made it to the last first birthday page.  There is still room for updating if necessary. 

Here are a few recent pictures. 

Here is Tessa looking at the "American Girl" catalogue.  The Carter's catalogue with all the pictures of babies was getting ripped beyond help so I found this buried in a stack somewhere.  When she saw this page she said, "Aaaaaahhhh baybeeeees!"

Here she is yesterday.  I realized all was quiet in the living room...too quiet...which as any parent or person who has been responsible for children knows usually means they are doing something naughty.  But she was just sitting on the couch reading!  The whole living room is like a book explosion.  Her first act every morning is to open the cupboards where the books are and drag all of the books all over the house.  It is insane.  Books are everywhere. 

We had two "kid" New Year's resolutions.  One was to get Ben toilet trained (success!) and the other was to take Tessa's pacifier away.  Well...that last one isn't really happening yet.  She just had a tough month of molar teething and wasn't sleeping very well so we didn't want to make it even worse for everyone.  And now she can put two in her mouth at once.  She's so gifted. 

Here is Ben this morning.  Justin built him this lego airplane/monster truck hybrid last night and he likes it enough that he hasn't ripped it to pieces yet.  He found a hair tie of mine laying around the house somewhere (they are everywhere) and decided it was a rope and then he decided he wanted more ropes so he hurdled over the baby gate blocking the master bathroom, went into the drawer where I keep my "ropes" and took all of them out.  And then he did this with them.  He's strange.  However, it is better than his recent favorite activity which is stacking all of the flat legos in the house into one big tower and then demanding that I take them apart because he bites off his fingernails and can't do it himself.  This has been driving me CRAZY.  I am ready to hide all the flat legos because now my nails are ragged.  I have started using my teeth to pull the flat legos apart. 

And finally, I can't forget about Allan.  Here is a picture of him from this morning with book and magazine wreckage in the background. 

Doesn't he look like a sweet, cuddly little kitten?  I know, he doesn't.  This is his "attack" face, with ears pushed back. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tessa at 15 Months

I missed the actual day, but Tessa's 15 month doctor's appointment is tomorrow so that reminded me that I should observe her being 15 months.  It's a doctor's appointment month so I guess it is kind of like a milestone, right? 

She is a very busy little baby these days.  She climbs on everything and loves to sit on the kitchen table.  At first this freaked me out but as the weeks pass and she proves that she won't dive off the edge I have given up and let her do it.  Fortunately, she hasn't figured out that the dining room table is equally accessible so it remains one of the few kid free oases in the house.  And yes, that word refers to an oasis.  I just had to look up the plural of oasis and this is what it is: oases.  It looks weird. 
She is saying some words, mostly kitten, baby, ball, book and read.  She loves to read and as soon as you sit down she is launching a book into your lap and saying her version of "read!" She also kicks back and looks at books on her own.  Today when I picked her up at the Y she was lounging in a bean bag in the reading corner and looking at a book.  Some days when I get there she has been sliding down the toddler slide head first so that was a change. 
She is good at following directions and will put something in the garbage can if told, will bring an item to me or Justin if we tell her to and if you say, "lets have a snack" she practically sprints through the clutter to get to her high chair.  If you talk about getting dressed she runs down the hall and comes back with handfuls of shirts from her drawer. 

She likes babies and one of her favorite "books" at the moment is a Carter's catalogue that came in the mail because it has pictures of babies in it.  She also loves to climb into her baby swing (which I think we can finally put away.  One less piece of clutter in the crap capitol of ND...)

Here she is trying to share a book with Al.  He's very interested in learning colors. 
She still looks like a baby because she still has baby hair!  I see other girls her age with full hairstyles and wearing ponytails and barrettes.  I don't mind though.  Once the baby look is gone it is gone for good so I am just going to enjoy her cute baby appearance while it lasts!  Styling a toddler's hair is a task I am glad to avoid as long as possible. 
I look forward to her appointment tomorrow as I do all of them, and especially because there are no shots this appointment.  It is fun to see growth and progress although I know she is pretty small for her age at least I know it's not because she doesn't eat like her brother at this age. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ben the Retriever

My parents have a Golden Retriever at the farm.  Retrievers are "our" kind of dog.  There has been a retriever at the farm for almost 21 years.  The first one, Penny, joined the family as a puppy in 1994, the second one, Chubs, joined the family as an eight year old adoptee in 2005, and the current dog, Wally, arrived in 2009 as a four year old.  He's still there.  Ben loves him.  He talks about "Wal Wal" all the time.  He even refers to dogs in general as Wal Wals. 
Here is Wall Wal himself, looking like the finely bred specimen that he is.  And I am being serious about that.  He is purebred but all signs point to him being the type of dog that people pay quite a bit for.  His previous owner was clearly kind to him and trained him well in a gentle way because he is so well behaved and doesn't jump on people, chase cars, or growl over his food or anything like that and he also doesn't show fear of people, hands, or men which some of our dogs have displayed which indicates that they weren't treated so kindly in the past.  Hoever, he said he never trained him to hunt but yet Wally still shows hunting insticts.  He points and when he followed my dad out hunting the fall after he arrived he sat down behind my dad when he raised the gun.  Very interesting.  Dogs really are very intelligent. 

Wally has this really weird habit, which usually happens during warm weather, where he submerges himself in the creek, his wading pool (yes he has a wading pool) or some other puddle and then goes to my mom's vehicle and circles around it while rubbing his body all over it.  He also does this to a tree trunk in front of the house but he really enjoys rubbing on the SUV.  As a result, the vehicle is usually decorated with swirls of water streaks in the gravel dust. 
Here is a picture I have from one summer afternoon when my mom was washing the car.  You can see he is going in for the rub!
The reason I am bringing this up at all is because Ben has started doing the same thing.  When he gets out of the car he walks around the car while keeping in contact with it and running his fingers through the winter grime that is always coating it.  So it is streaky and his coat is dirty.  I tried to take a picture of the streaks but you can't see what I am referring to in the picture.  It's just one of those weird things that is mildly amusing on these boring winter days...
We had an OK Valentine's weekend.  The kids were horrendously crabby and whiny and tantrum-y so 90% of the weekend was spent listening to crying, fit throwing and screaming.  Our Valentine's Day dinner out was at a burrito place because we knew a full sit down restaurant would have been a disaster.  It was fine though.  We are just in the transition period between the youthful college girls movie nights and card paying and drinking (referring to when I was single, not including Justin haha), the over crowded dinner dates, and the school Valentine box making adventures of the future.
Here are my Valentine flowers.  

I also received a live calla lily plant.  Hopefully it lives a long time! 

Here is Tessa with her hugging kittens!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I Got My Tickets!

Yesterday, I joined millions of Americans in the almost always pointless, complete long shot ritual of heading into the neighborhood convenience store and buying some chances at the Powerball.  If you haven't heard, the jackpot is the largest it has ever been, which I just saw in the news is now 500 million dollars! 

Nothing captures the imagination the way winning the lottery can.  When I was working, the group I worked with, about 10 people, would occasionally buy tickets together when the jackpot got huge. Fantasizing about what we would do if we won was a great way to pass the afternoon.  I have a Pinterest board devoted to the mountain lodge that I will buy in the event that I win the Powerball. 
So, after tonight, I will probably start the process of obtaining this lodge.  Here is a sampling from my Pinterest board:
I could live with this!
Very nice...
oh man, I want a chairlift in my ski chalet
How perfect...
mountain side hot tub
Yes please!
OSM | Architect: Van Bryan Studio Architects |  High Camp | Exterior | Location: Big Sky, MT | Description: Completed in 2008, this 11,000 square foot stone and timber home is adjacent to a Moonlight Basin ski run. #mountain #home
Very rustic...
Dishes for ski cabin Rustic Lodge Style
I have considered every detail! 
I let the machine generate my numbers.  I hope it wasn't a mistake not choosing my own!  I don't buy tickets very often since the price increased to $2 instead of $1 but I used to have some preferred numbers of birthdays and such. 
Good luck everyone! You still have a chance at the $1,000,000 for matching all but the powerball and many smaller prizes!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Morning at the "Mah-zoom"

We live in the state capitol and our house is a short few minute drive from the actual capitol grounds.  in addition to the actual capitol, the grounds include many other headquarters including the DOT (everyone's favorite), the state library, several gardens and statues, the governor's house and the historical society and heritage center and museum. 
I last visited the heritage center in 8th grade, during a class trip to Bismarck with our ND History teacher.  We were sooo excited for that trip and I'm sure the teacher and parent chaperones were too.  Because travelling with a bunch of middle school students is such a blast I'm sure. 
Since 2011 there have been major additions and renovations going on at the heritage center and it finally opened recently.  So yesterday, we decided to check it out.  With a one and a two year old.  Yeah, I don't know what we were thinking either.  But I knew there were lots of dinosaur bones there and also some bison so we got Ben excited by telling him he would see those things.  He ran with it, talking about how he was going to see dinosaurs, bison, and elephants (?).  The best part was how he pronounced "museum" which was is "mah-zoom".
This "mah-zoom" features a lot of science exhibits detailing ND's pre-historic days as a hot and steamy swamp similar to the Florida Everglades and the glacial Lake Agassiz that cut the flat farmland of the Red River Valley. (The town I grew up in is on the beach of the lake! Everyone says it and I saw it on a map!)  There have been bones of many strange prehistoric creatures discovered under the fields of ND including aquatic animals and it is quite fascinating although hard to fathom. 
Ben got to see lots of dinosaur skeletons (mostly replicas with the real bones displayed in cases) and also fish, birds and weird prehistoric bison and deer related species that are long gone.  There was even a mammoth so he actually did get to see an elephant. 

Here he is with the "mommy and daddy and baby bisons"!

In addition to the nature related exhibits there were many more modern exhibits about the energy industry, railroads, education and agriculture. 
There was even a modern tractor cab with the wheels removed so kids could sit in the driver's seat and drive in a stimulated field on a screen. 
Although the visit was fun, Justin and I agreed we both could have spent a lot more time reading all the plaques and smaller exhibits if we weren't busy wrangling children.  For example, did you know that in the 1930s the Works Progress Administration established a ceramics project that employed people to collect clay and create dishes and other ceramics like doll heads, figurines and decorative ND themed plaques to used in public institutions like hospitals, libraries, and schools?  I saw the collection and the dishes look kind of like a more delicate version of Fiestaware.  If I had a job with the WPA during the Great Depression I would have liked to be on a ceramics project! I love the way that history has so many specific stories within the major events that we study. 
Ben is still talking about the "mah-zoom" and wants to go back.  I can't believe we didn't go sooner.  It is free and right by our house and there is plenty of space for maneuvering a double stroller around the place. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Valentine's Pictures

Around this time last year, I decided to make Tessa look all Valentine-y while Ben was napping since we have these cute red kids chairs and also I found a Valentine's bib in some hand me downs that we received.  Of course, the inevitable happened during the second photo:
It's hard to see but she is in the act of spitting up on the bib.  Oops! 

So the rest of the pictures were just of her looking cute.  She was really a baldy back then. 
I see cute buntings and garlands everywhere (and by everywhere I mean Pinterest) and I have wanted to make one since Ben was a baby but I never have.  To my delight, I saw a kit at Hobby Lobby this week which consisted of pre-cut flags and letters and it even included the twine which, after the standard 40% discount, cost in the $3.00 range. I assembled the garland that night and taped it to the wall in the kitchen yesterday morning. 

As expected, the posing didn't happen easily. 

I was able to get both of them to sit for a few minutes fortunately.  Don't they know I paid $3.00 for that bunting and spent 20 minutes putting it together!? 


This was the best I could do for both of them.  I wish they would have smiled!  I have so few pictures of them smiling!  I should know by now that staging pictures of them together rarely works. 
Silly little kid...


So, if anyone (grandparents) needs a seasonal computer wallpaper, here you go! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


I remember when Ben started really using words.  His first real word besides Mama and Dada was "kitten" but the first work he really loved was "ball".  I'll never forget pushing him along the aisle at Walmart and passing that huge cage of balls and he said "ball ball ball!" so of course I bought him one and he proceeded to say ball 300 times a day for the next few weeks. 
Look at how little he is in his little baby one piece outfit!  That is the ball that I infamously forgot to put away  and then it blew into the street and was run over by a car.
 I have been waiting for Tessa's first favorite word.  She says Dada and "Mama mamamamama!" and also kitten but she now has a favorite and that is "baby".  She says kitten and baby all day long.  There are pictures of kittens on the wall in her room so as soon as she wakes up in her crib she is saying "kitten".  And over the last few days she has been saying "baby" all the time.  I think it is because I call her baby.  When she sees her dolls she says it and when she sees a baby on TV she says it.   She really drags it out and makes it many more syllables than just two sometimes!

Here she is with her "babababeeeees". 

It won't be long before the words start coming fast!  I'll miss her baby talk!