Thursday, July 30, 2015


This week brought a milestone for Tessa...we converted her crib into a toddler bed!  We did this more to prepare her for giving the crib up in a few months.  We had to do this for Ben when he started climbing out when he was 18 months old, which she hasn't managed to do yet.  The transition has been OK so far.  The first night she climbed out repeatedly with glee for about an hour and then laid in there and fussed for awhile before falling asleep.  Even though the crib is still the same on three sides I guess the missing side is a bit unsettling. 

Here she is as I was trying to take a cute picture of her snuggled up with her baby and some stuffed animals.  As you can see she was to fast for me. 

The following day a nap didn't happen.  She ransacked her room for over an hour and Ben kept hearing her and going in to "check on TESSA!" which made her crazier.  Then Justin came home early because I had a doctor's appointment and then we went shopping.  I had to look back to when we transitioned Ben to a toddler bed and reminded of those first few days of nap chaos where he ransacked his room and fell asleep on piles of rubble. 
He was so cute and little!  He was younger than Tessa is now. 
Yesterday she settled right down for her nap so I took a picture of her. 

She has to borrow one of "Brother's" pillows until we get her one of her own.  She is sleeping right now after an eventful morning at the garden.  I usually don't let her out of the car since the stop is usually quick.  But today I let her out and since our last visit someone poured new gravel on the alley.  I thought the two of them seemed way too busy and content while I was watering.  It turned out Tessa was busy dumping handfuls of dirt and rocks on her head.  Her hair looked grey and her clothes and face were covered with it.  I knew she had to have a bath when we got home so she wouldn't get dirt all over her bed.  Once we were in the bathroom I unsnapped her undershirt and about 1/2 cup of gravel fell out onto the floor.  Then I took her diaper off and there was even more in there! 

This is what the tub looked like after the water drained.

Speaking of the garden, I am waiting impatiently for some tomatoes to ripen.  They seem really slow this year.  This one large yellow one of the "Lemon Boy" variety was ripe but it appears to have some sort of disease...

Yeah...I'm not eating that.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Vacation/Excursion/Travelling Toddler Sh!tshow

Hello everyone!  You may have thought I disappeared!  Don't worry, I did not.  We have just been gone all week and that combined with our Internet connection issues means I haven't been able to post. 

We have been on what could loosely be called a "vacation" around MN, SD and ND.  As anyone with little kids (who is honest) knows, the term vacation refers to something relaxing and fun and generally doesn't exist for anyone who is "vacationing" with little kids.  This excursion, as I will refer to it, involved me driving hundreds of miles with the kids by myself (we were meeting Justin in SD because he had a work trip), one incident of car seat disassembly due to vomit, several gas station bathroom stops with one or both kids screaming the whole time, one vehicle completely destroyed by food wrappers, spillage and crumbs (something I used to distain-I used to clean cars for my family's car dealership when I was a teenager and I was always so disgusted by the condition of cars where kids were frequent passengers.  I just couldn't imagine how someone could let food get all over their vehicle! I was delusional), an average of 4 hours of sleep per night (for me, surprisingly the kids slept fine!), several afternoons spent at overstimulating public places during nap time, the resulting necessity to try to discipline kids in public places, one toddler girl who only wanted me to hold her the whole time and 95 degree temperatures.  Oh, and being in the third trimester of pregnancy and having to urinate every 45 minutes.  Here is a summary with a few pictures.  I wish there were more now, but I was too busy trying not to lose my mind to take very many.  There were many good times that will stand out more than the bad as the days pass and I can find the energy to go out in public again.  Here are a few of them. 

The week started with us going to a family reunion for Justin's step dad's side.  I knew many people but there were some I had never met before and that he had not even met before.  It was a good weekend but Tessa was sooooo clingy I truly could not put her down.  My arms could physically not hold her anymore and all she would do was scream.  I have no idea what that was about.  It was insane.  And so I was insane.  I was relieved to be in the car just so I wouldn't have to carry her around everywhere.  Here is a picture of her in the tube.  Yes, this is it.  The only picture I took.  Good thing other people were taking photos.  The few minutes on the tube allowed me to rest my arms for about 10 minutes.

On Sunday I drove home while Justin stayed behind so he could leave for his trip from Fargo on Tuesday.  Tessa had napped all afternoon so she was awake the whole drive while Ben fell asleep.  I let her watch the portable dvd player the whole time we were driving and just as I parked in our garage three hours later I heard that telltale gurgling sound.  Yes, indeed, she threw up.  It happened after we stopped moving.  I think it must have been caused by watching the screen the whole time while facing backwards since her car seat faces the rear.  I actually read some piece of advice from a full blown car seat crusader that said that you should never wash the textile part of a car seat.  If you didn't know, this is a mom who is obsessed with car seat safety and judges everyone else for such offenses as buying cheap seats, getting a used seat from a friend or using a rental seat when travelling and renting a car (because you NEVER KNOW what has happened to that seat it could have been in an ACCIDENT!!!!) and turning your child forward facing before the age of 5.  I know car seats are no joke but sometimes people should just mind their own business.  For example, if rear facing makes a child car sick or if a seat gets soiled by any number of bodily fluids.  Anyway, I guess there is some sort of flame retardant on the fabric and if you wash it too much it washes off so if you are in a fiery crash the seat could melt.  HMMM OK, if a child vomits on a seat I think any reasonable parent will be washing everything that can be washed.  And I did that night and then had to spend 1/2 an hour trying to put it back together the right way.  And it's probably wrong. 
On Tuesday, I headed out toward South Dakota.  We planned to meet friends who were visiting from Alaska in Sioux Falls.  I went halfway to my sister's house that night.  She lives in north eastern SD.  I think, if I remember correctly, the trip went smoothly except that my favorite gas station was closed for remodeling.   

Here are the kids reading with their uncle that night. 
I left for Sioux Falls (another 3 hour drive) Wednesday afternoon during prime nap hours assuming that I would get at least two hours of silence.  I was wrong and the trip was a whiny, screamy nightmare.  I finally made it to Sioux Falls and was a sweaty, tense mess.  The rental house was very nice, fortunately.  It was booked from, which is a very interesting concept where people who are away from home a lot rent their houses out to travelers.  The owner of this place was a musician who is playing here in September!  It would be fun to see him perform.  It had a nice fenced yard, a basement theater room and all the amenities of home.  It was MUCH better than a hotel for travelling with toddlers.  The other two families were already there and I had a few hours before I had to pick Justin up at the airport.  There were seven kids total and there was a three year old boy exactly Ben's age and they immediately went about fighting over every toy and trying to murder each other.  Holy crap it was stressful.  I was burned out on discipline after an hour and we still had two days ahead of us. 
On Wednesday we went to Wild Water West, a huge waterpark.  It was a really hot day and this water park is really amazing.  It is just the type of place I love, mixing water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool and even a swim up bar.  But, like everything else, the enjoyment diminishes with each dependent baby and toddler in the mix and pregnant people aren't encouraged to ride water slides, was still pretty fun though.  There were many options for really young kids and Tessa loved the little water slides.  We took both kids on tubes in the lazy river, had ice cream and Justin even took Ben on a big waterslide.  He was scared.  We also took both of them in the wave pool.  I went on a big waterslide just once even though the signs said pregnant women should ride at their own risk.  Risk assumed, legal counsel for Wild Water West! 

Tessa taking in the watery spectacle.

This pirate ship kids slide complex looked pretty fun for kids who were a bit older than ours.  I love that parrot up there!
Justin took Ben on a bumper boat ride. 
He also went on one of those crazy zero gravity slides.   
I have done these before, although it's been years, and hopefully I will again someday!
So we survived a whole afternoon at the waterpark.  I really look forward to bringing my kids to places like this when they are older because I remember loving this sort of thing as a kid (an elementary school age kid who could swim and function in strange environments without having meltdowns and throwing fits).
On Friday we all parted ways and I dropped Justin off with his step brother at a golf course where they played an 18 hole golf tournament and I continued to Brookings, which was a short drive which both kids slept through.  That afternoon my sister-in-law and I took the kids to the children's museum there, which was really nice.  It is located in an old historic school building which I am fascinated by so anything that is located in an old school is something I am interested it!  I couldn't help but imagine the students in the hallways and try to guess which rooms were used for what. 
My kids loved the little grocery store where they were able to fill their own carts with realistic looking groceries.  Tessa filled hers until it spilled over!

Ben's favorite room was what he called the "water machine" which was a huge pool of water with various water features where you could move balls around.  It reminded me of the old game "mousetrap". 
We made it home on Saturday night with loads of disorganized crap shoved here there and everywhere, mountains of laundry and an empty fridge waiting for us.  On Sunday we had no choice but to go restock the house in the afternoon where Ben passed out in a shopping cart. 

Not to be outdone, Tessa peed through her diaper and we had to change her into a clearance outfit that I bought at the mall sidewalk sale that is two sizes two big for her.

Then she drooled yellow candy drool all over it.  Fortunately it came out so the outfit is still fresh to rediscover next summer!
We checked on the garden and found that our big tomato plant is as tall as I am now.  Still no ripe tomatoes though!

WHEW!  Now that I have had a day back in the normal old routine I have started to relax again although it took three TV shows to get Ben to let me finish this post and him and Allan are both sitting on me right now.  We are going to bake a zucchini cake now.  I can't wait to eat that seasonal favorite of mine!  It's like so many other September the sight of it will make me nauseous but now it seems mouth watering! 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tests and Tessa at 20 Months

The internet connection woes continue here, so once again this afternoon I was ready to post and was not able to because we had no connection.  I called the company yesterday morning and they checked and the connection is fine.  The man on the phone suspects that our modem is old and worn out and is having problems staying connected to the router.  The modem dates back to my student days so I guess it is pretty old!  The afternoon window passed quickly because I had to go to the hospital to do the 1 hour glucose screening which is the test to make sure pregnant women have not developed gestational diabetes. 

To complete this test, a person swills a bottle of juice with 50 grams of sugar concentrated in it's few ounces (it looked like it was 8 or 10 ounces) and then sits in the waiting room for an hour without moving around too much to give the body time to process the sugar.  Then they take blood test.  The first time I did this back in 2012 I had to fast but last time and this time I didn't.  Women can get very dramatic about this test and if you research it online you will find many distraught women who claim they threw up from the sugar drink and women who try to get out of the test and are offended that they have to take it all because they have no risk factors.  Of course that is a bad idea because anyone can develop it regardless of weight or if they have had it in previous pregnancies.  I am kind of embarrassed remembering the drama in my account of my first time taking the glucose screening which can be read back in my archives somewhere.  In my defense, I had to fast all night before that test and didn't get food until 11:00 a.m. which will bring out the worst in me!  Now, I acknowledge that it isn't that bad and the drink is no worse than the Red Bull and schnapps based shots I used to take with abandon.  I found it to be quite pleasant, actually.  I'm not going to complain about being forced to sit in a silent waiting room and read for an hour!  I'll trade a brief needle in the arm for that! 

 Now that you know about my boring medical tests, here is some news you really want to know

Yesterday we went to the pool and Ben was climbing around between two lawn chairs and after being warned to stop the inevitable happened and he fell on his face. 

He scraped his chin and it is angry looking although it doesn't seem to bother him at all.  He bit the inside of his lip also.  Until that moment they both had fun at the pool. 
And here is Tessa this evening, as I was trying to make a double batch of cookies.  She wanted to go outside and brought my shoes to me and then when she realized I wasn't going to do what she wanted she put my shoes on herself.  Then she spent the entirety of the time I was baking saying "Hold you! Hold you!" and "Bite! Bite!" which meant that she wanted me to hold her and give her bites of dough. 

Speaking of Tessa, I just realized that today is the 15th which means she is 20 months old.  It hardly seems possible.  At this time, she is saying lots of new words every day. She has picked up counting although I don't think she understands what it means yet.  At any moment she will start counting and she can go up to ten.  She loves to go outside and play "colors" which means sidewalk chalk.  She also loves bikes.  She likes to ride her little kids bike and also she is interested in bikes in general.  At the Y there is a SUV that has a bike rack on the back and whenever it is there at the same time as us she tries to go over to it and look at the bikes.  If she sees a bike at the park or something it is hard to keep her away and we have a little old banana seat bike with training wheels from Justin's childhood in the garage and sometimes she sneaks in there and climbs up on the seat when we are outside.  She loves bouncy balls and usually walks around with several clenched in her fists.  My sister used to collect them and found a stash of about 30 of them in her old childhood bedroom a few weeks ago and gave them to her.  So she likes bicycles and bouncy balls. I never imagined a toddler girl liking those things but I now know that toddlers are just plain weird so nothing surprises me anymore. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer Catch Up

As I continue to adjust to not having kid free time in the afternoon anymore I find myself with post ideas slipping away from me and soon whatever happened was a week or two or more ago.  Sure, I could write the posts at night but with the long hours of daylight sometimes we don't get the kids inside until 8:30 or 9:00 and there is still crap laying around the kitchen from supper to clean up after that and by the time I could be on the computer I am too tired to form a sentence.  So this is a collection of pictures and the stories behind the that might have deserved their own post in the past. 
A few weekends ago, when we were gone, we received 1.5 inches of rain (again) and the sump pump flooded (again).  Allan tracked dirty paw prints all around the house (again) and we had to wash the large piece of carpet that covered the pump hole (again).  It was such a mess to deal with twice in one month.  Justin dealt with the pump, however one does that.  I wouldn't know but it shouldn't happen again.  Since I was already cleaning and mopping I washed several other rugs and when they were dry I hung the front entrance run over the railing until I was going to walk down there again.  Because god forbid I walk down eight steps just to place a rug, right?  I was bustling around, doing whatever I do and getting nothing done, when I came upon this sight.  It took me a moment to process that my beloved Allan was perched on a very narrow rail at risk of falling all the way down to the basement.  EEEK! 

I was worried, but not worried enough to move him before I took a few pictures!  He has never sat on the railings before.  I think he climbed up the rug.  Fortunately, the rug has rubber on the back so it was not slippery.  But careful Allan!  Cats land on their feet but I don't think that rule applies to two flights of stairs!
Ben loves to play on those digging toys at the park.  We researched them and discovered that the kind that you get from playground supply companies cost several hundred dollars.  Justin was at the outlet mall in Albertville, MN, (yes he went their on his own without me!) and found one in a toy store for much less.  It is not of the same quality but it is good because it can be moved around because it has a stand and does not have to be held down with concrete.  We don't have any good digging spots at our house so we told him he could use it at the farm and the lake.  We were going to the farm that weekend so he had to look at the box for a few days.  One day I saw this:

He put his own little digger by it!  I found this sight to be so cute.  He couldn't wait to get to the farm.  If he was being naughty that week all we had to say was, "I guess we will have to bring your digger back to the store!" and the answer was always, "I be a good boy!"

She doesn't quite get it yet...but she thinks she does!
June 30th was our 8th anniversary!

The traditional anniversary gift for the 8th year is bronze or pottery.  Justin gave me a new sewing machine which has yet to be chosen.  A sewing machine is metal and they all have computers inside of them now so there is probably some elemental particles of bronze in there somewhere so I guess it fits with tradition in a way!

Earlier this week I harvested the first vegetables from our garden.  The first harvest is usually tomatoes or zucchini so I was surprised to find a cucumber and some banana peppers were the first to be ready.  

They were delicious. We've never planted banana peppers before and they are delicious fresh.  They are the perfect mild pepper for a Scandinavian like myself!
A few days ago I was trying to get Ben to entertain himself for more that 30 seconds in the afternoon so I told him he should draw a picture for Tessa and we could hang it by her crib.  He lost interest but the next morning they both colored for quite awhile and he wanted to hang the pictures by her crib.

The real showpiece is a compilation of both of their scribbles, a construction machine sticker, and some of my encouraging doodles.

Who knows how long it will take before she rips these down!
Well, that was exciting. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Happy 239th, U.S.A.!


Good afternoon from the haze of the infamous smoke plume, our Canadian summer visitor, which is becoming everyone's constant July companion around here.  Every morning before I look out the window I think, "I wonder what that plume is up to this morning?"  I took the following pictures yesterday because I planned to write this post yesterday but two factors stopped me.  The main problem was that the wireless internet kept disconnecting all day.  The second one was a three year old boy who  At all.  Mondays are bad because he us still in weekend mode where he usually has done something fun or had extra people around to entertain him and regular life seems boring (he has NO IDEA!).  Usually the only way to get him to leave me alone for awhile in the afternoon is to turn on Netflix in the bedroom and let him watch Curious George until he gets bored or falls asleep.  No wireless means no Netflix so I got zero done yesterday afternoon.   I managed to hang some of the maternity clothes that have been shoved in a box in the corner of the bedroom on hangers finally.  I almost just left them in the box.  Was it worth hanging them up for three more months?  
Anyway, here are some pictures of the smoke plume yesterday.  Everyone in ND and Western MN knows this by now but if you are not living here I will fill you in.  There are wildfires burning in Northern Saskatchewan and Alberta.  This haze may continue through the month of July, of course blowing here and there so not every day will look like this:

Like most photos of weather phenomena, these don't quite capture the real experience of being there but for an idea, there is a water tower in the distance on the horizon, right in the middle of the picture.  It is pretty far from here and would take about 15 minutes to drive to.  It is white on top with a blue post and blue around the bottom of the round part.  The colors are usually easy to see even from this distance.  Yesterday we could barely see the tower at all.  I probably would have missed it if I didn't know it was there.  There were a few bad days last week but yesterday was the worst so far.  We could even smell the burning yesterday.  It is quite amazing how it seems like the fires could be a few miles away but they are so far.  In the words of everyone, the smoke is annoying but at least we aren't near the fire.

As you know, Saturday was the 4th of July, and the smoke plume was in full force in Eastern ND that day.  Social media was full of photos of outdoor fun and they all had a unique hazy cast to them.  We did the same things we always do on the 4th.  If you want an idea of an uninhibited 4th that is experienced to the fullest, you'll have to head back to my post from...oh...2010.  This year, I went to my hometown's street dance pregnant and drank a huge glass of Diet Coke at 11 pm and then was up all night from the caffeine (whoo hooo!).  I stayed home from the demolition derby, the event that I love to mock myself for loving, to watch Tessa and my niece and my cousin's daughter.  But it was still fine.  I saw two of my best friends from high school at the dance who I usually wouldn't see at the same time and I got to watch the kids enjoy the parade. Also, I got to enjoy the summery salads, cookies, chips and dip and grilled foods that are the essence of the 4th of July!

Here are the kids roaming around with my dad before the parade started.  Tessa is not the best age for a parade...she's too unpredictable!  She loved collecting candy though!  I am glad I bought those 4th of July shirts for them on clearance last year because they are probably stained beyond help!  Tessa kept trying to eat those fruit flavored tootsie rolls and drooled pink all over herself. 

There goes every fire truck in several counties!  I hope there's no fires!

My brother drove his classmates around to commemorate their 10 year reunion.
Here is Tessa and her cousin.  They are the oldest babies and the two who are still in love with their pacifiers. 

This was after lunch as meltdown mode was closing in.
Justin took Ben with him to the derby. Here he is at the "car show" as he called it.  It's a car show, alright.

He didn't make it to the end! 

On Saturday after the derby we went to the lake where we were just in time to swim before dark.  I don't know why anyone around there would buy fireworks because there is a free show all around from everyone else's!  The neighbors were blowing stuff up an hour before it was even dark.  This time of year I see a lot of people complaining about fireworks on the internet but I love them, even though they are loud and a waste of money.  Next year I want to get the kids the ones that have little parachutes that float down after the explosion.  We did sparklers but Ben was afraid of them. 

Here is Tessa in her lifejacket.  I love it because it is so cute and bright.  She, believe it or not, also loves it.  Most kids who don't have logical thoughts to understand that wearing them means doing something fun hate them.  She threw a fit when we took hers off!

I bought this inflatable toy at a rummage sale when Ben was a baby and is still intact and holding air!  Usually those cheap pool toys don't last a day after they are opened. 

Here are Ben and Tessa kayaking with Justin.  Ben went tubing behind the boat but I wasn't nearby to get a picture.  He didn't seem scared but he also didn't want to do it again the next day so who knows.  I'm sure he will like it a lot as he gets older as he seems to enjoy other thrilling activities. 
So the U.S.A. starts another year...Happy 239th birthday America!