Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Saying Goodbye

So...we've got a lot going on and there is a lot going on in my head these days.  The main thing is we traveled to my parents' farm this weekend (don't tell my doctor!) to watch the demolition of my childhood home on Saturday. 

 
I have words about this that I want to say but I want the writing to be decent and not rushed because I am on pins and needles waiting for interruptions by kids (already happened once in the first five minutes of being on the computer) so I am just sharing a few pictures and a general summary of the day. 
 
This has been planned for several years and the new house that is behind the old house has been finished for more than a year so there has been plenty of time to process and go through the emotions of it but it was still a very strange thing to behold.  In the early morning hour before the demolition started the familiar morning light really impacted me and I hope I never forget it.  My brother said it didn't sink in for him until he listened to the sound of the leaves rustling outside his window for the last time.  But we took it in for the final time and walked out the door. 
 
The demolition started kind of slow because, as you can see, there was a brick chimney that ran from the basement to the attic.  The contractor was worried that the four story chimney could cause debris to tip back toward the new house and also it could have caused him injury so my dad and Justin helped him pull it down by putting a chain around it in the basement, which only collapsed the basement portion and then on the second floor, which involved pounding a hole in my bedroom wall (gulp) and finally collapsing it in the attic.  There was a moment where my dad was in that third floor window after the pillar had been knocked away by the chain which was quite unsettling but the job was done and the chimney crumbled. Then the action really started. 

First he took off the sun/mud room my dad added in 2001, which ripped away in seconds then he got to the main event, which, of course, had to start with my room. It wasn't bad.  It was kind of fascinating.  We had salvaged doors and woodwork and flooring and other oddities but it was still weird to see familiar things in a completely different context.  By the end of the day the majority of the house was hauled away to a giant pile in a field and just the basement was exposed, including the old cistern which I never really understood.  I always imagined a tank of some sort but it was just like a big empty concrete swimming pool on one side of the basement that had been behind a mysterious wall.  I'm glad we never had to drink water that came from a big pool in that basement.  On Sunday the excavator revealed a creepy old staircase which was, of course, the old exterior cellar entrance which my dad remembered from his childhood.  Also, an old postcard from 1908 fluttered out in the debris.  It was to one of the pre-1955 occupants from their cousin and it featured the Harvey, ND school building.  Pretty crazy. 

Now we are back at home and I am counting down the days until I am not pregnant anymore and the big question will be answered.  Is it a boy or a girl??  I am still tired and irritated by daily annoyances and lack of time to do anything or clean anything.  Last night we were outside talking to the neighbors and our next door neighbor offered me some sweet corn that her mom had brought from their farm.  I was still talking and Ben wanted to go in so I told him to just go in already!  He was carrying corn with him that he had removed from the bag and when I went in I was greeted by this scene.

 
Wonderful.  FYI, Tessa was with me the whole time.  She was not inside unattended.  He meant well and thought he was helping, but still it was a mess.  Corn silk is a real pain to clean up.  There is, as usual, crap everywhere which I have come to terms with but it is kind of stressing me out as I think about trying to fit a baby and all of it's crap around what is already here. 
 
This morning I started feeling overwhelmed by what has to be figured out and organized and taken out of storage before the baby comes so I did one small thing and took out the newborn box from Tessa's closet.  Disclaimer:  This box contains girl newborn items but it does NOT mean it's a girl!  It was just the most accessible box.  The newborn boy things are in a different box and who knows where that is.  It would almost be easier to just buy a new sleeper and one outfit and leave it at that!  Ben was really cute.  He held up all the tiny clothes and fussed over them just like I did. 

 
Tessa wore that home from the hospital...awwwwwww!
 
This afternoon Ben was really bored so I entertained him by getting out the Halloween decorations. 

 
I got these orange lights from the farm.  There is a second string that we hung in Ben's window.  He really enjoyed it.  After everything was in place he kept saying, "now what should we decorate?"  He will really love Christmas this year. 

 
Here is a nice table vignette.  Ben has already removed those miniature apples and pears from the vase and is carrying them around the house.  I haven't displayed those for years because they are not kid friendly but he got to them in the box before I did.

 
Here is my favorite Halloween picture of baby Ben!  I love his skeptical expression!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It's Bruce's Birthday!

I saw some interesting news this weekend on CBS Sunday Morning.  Sunday morning is the network TV morning show on network TV that doesn't involve political talk and people arguing and yelling at each other.  What I saw on the little segment where they have a celebrity birthday calendar for each day of the week was that Bruce Springsteen's 66th birthday was approaching this week.  I decided that I was going to post about that since a few weeks ago I saw a replay of the concert that started my interest in Bruce Springsteen back in 2001.  I even bought the the two disk cd set for that concert. 

Well, it's already Wednesday and I haven't put anything on here since the middle of last week.  The reason is that I am so blasted tired that I can barely make it through each day.  I have been by myself since Sunday because Justin is in Fargo for work. It is so bad that yesterday and Monday I fell asleep sitting up on the couch in the middle of the afternoon.  Two days in a row, I feel asleep in the middle of the day sitting up on the couch.  For those of you who really know me, you know that this is not like me at all.  Yesterday was really bad.  I yawned until tears ran down my face and probably shouldn't have been driving a motorized vehicle.  And of course, toddlers don't care and they would...not...leave...me...alone.  Ben would not let me sit for more than 30 seconds at a time.  No TV show or movie would hold his attention.  He only wanted me, sitting on the floor playing (ouch my tailbone!) and reporting with him to the bathroom every time he had to go even though he does not need my help for routine trips. I tried to sneak in a nap with him while he watched Curious George and he caught me and said, "Mama, you can't close your eyes, you have to see me!"  Ugh. I was tempted to drive up to a day care center and tell them I would pay anything they wanted just to take them for the day.  As a result, I spent all day not being very happy and prepared downright crappy food for them to eat because I couldn't face doing anything more and then felt like a failure so after my 20 minute couch nap I decided to take them somewhere out of the house because being there just made me want to sleep so I looked it up and saw that the zoo is still on summer hours for the week and we are members so we headed there for the evening. 

We got there around 5:45 and it closes at 7:00 so I knew the place would not be busy at all.  It turned out to be so empty that it was a bit unsettling.  The only people we saw the whole time we were there were the two teens working at the gift shop and ticket window and an odd single dude walking around the place.  There were no employees or anyone else in sight.  The concession stands and tour trains have been closed for the season.  Also, some of the animals, mostly the ones that live in outdoor water habitats, had been put away for the winter.  The otters, Ben's favorites, were already put indoors so I had to distract him quickly with something else.  The other animals were pretty active, actually.  We saw two leopards frolicking and roughhousing with each other like kittens and the tigers came right up to the windows, licking their lips of course. 

So, yes, this pregnancy is starting to take it's toll on me and everyone else as a result.  Often, when I sit and look around at my surroundings I think that I could go into labor at any moment and that would mean that a neighbor or friend would have to come over here and see this place as it is on a daily basis.  And that would be embarrassing.  It's so bad. 

In addition to my everyday discomfort and exhaustion, I have to see this crap going on nonstop:


This was taken last night but some version of it goes on for 80% of every day.  He's laying in the sun in this very spot right now.  Go ahead, Allan, mock me some more.  You get 18 hours of sleep every day, I know.  Good for you. 

So anyway, today is Bruce's birthday.  I remember watching that 2001 concert on HBO with my mom and brother and sister one night back on the farm.  It was probably a Wednesday night because that was the one night that school activities had to end by 5 p.m. out of respect for families who did religious activities that night (we did often do religious activities that night, such as confirmation and church during Lent) and also my dad was not home on Wednesday usually although I don't remember why.  Maybe that was his bowling night or something.  Anyway, 2001 was as prime year for the pop singers of the time, and news had recently surfaced that Britney Spears did indeed lip sync at her live concerts.  Her people admitted that, yes, she did but only because her high energy dancing made it impossible for her to sing and the dancing was an important part of her entertainment value.  I remember watching Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performing that concert, which is three hours long, running all over the stage and dripping with sweat and I knew that having a high energy performance was no excuse for not actually singing at a live concert.  I remember saying something about how he sure was intense for someone who was, "like, 50 years old!" which I'm sure my mom rolled her eyes at.  My point here is that I, unlike many of my teenage peers at that time, suddenly knew that there was music that was a whole different level than much of the crap that was played on the radio nonstop. Although, "Summer Girls" by LFO still has a special place in my heart!  And that, in addition to my dad's Bruce Springsteen Greatest Hits cd that we listened to on long car trips, was what inspired my Bruce fandom.  As luck would have it, Napster and file sharing came along that year which allowed me to hear a lot of music that I would not have heard otherwise which is still pretty important to me. 

So now he is 66, and that would make me...32.  Hopefully he keeps going for a long time so I can see a concert one of these years. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Farming with Ben






A new routine has formed around here.  After Tessa goes to her room for her nap after lunch, I try to distract Ben with Netflix and TV shows for as long as possible so I can be productive and/or hit the couch to watch something of my own choosing.  Often I try to combine these two activities and sit and fold laundry or work on the computer while watching the show.  However, this usually only lasts for about an hour before he comes running own the hall, bored with TV and wanting my attention.  He usually asks, "Mama, you want to do farming with me?" and heads over to the farm toys like I wouldn't possibly want to do anything else.  Although I want to ask him in return, "you want to do reruns of 'Sex and the City' or last week's episode of 'Project Runway' with me?" I of course go to the table and play with him and usually end up sitting there for 45 minutes to an hour playing with tractors.  He has some dried corn seed that he enjoys playing with too, which can cause a huge mess but oh well. 

 


He keeps a constant monologue about what his tractors and implements are doing and constantly moves the corn around.  If I start to put my attention elsewhere, such as a mail order catalogue or my phone, he pulls me back by telling me to choose a tractor or help him hook a grain cart of cultivator up to an appropriate machine. 





The wine rack is right by the table and he figured out that the plastic wine glasses that I have hanging on it instead of glass ones look kind of like hopper bottom grain bins so now those are always laying around too.  This place is downright disorderly. 



On this day he combined farming with play dough, which involved me making many little tiny cubes that he loaded into his machinery. 

He went to Big Iron today with Justin.  If you didn't know, Big Iron is a large ag show.  I've never been to it myself, although my dad goes most years.  I think there is a lot of machinery on display and demonstrations and lots of booths where various agriculture companies promote their businesses.  I guess they didn't take any pictures but that's OK.  I've had a nice afternoon off from "doing farming" although I know I will miss these days when he doesn't want to play with me anymore!

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things: Trees Bowl and Book Orders!

The months continue to fly by, and football season is here again.  I won't be making it to every home game this year, and the ones I will be attending will probably not be very fun, let's be honest.  Saturday's game could have been better and it could have been worse.  The only way bringing the kids is tolerable is because we have family members there also.  I could never do it alone.  The weather was really warm and absent of blasting winds, which was good.  The prime game and tailgating hours are during afternoon naptime, those hours in the routine that usually give a much needed break but also make life feel like a prison on certain days, which was bad.

There was no question that Tessa looked very cut in her new NDSU dress and headband. 


 
Ben's cousins came to their first game.  He loves them and they love him so it was fun.  

 
They ended up sitting up in the high seats with me for the game and they don't know much about football so they asked me a lot of questions.  I tried to explain football, which I have a hard time doing since I recently started understanding it these last few years so now they probably know even less about football.  Sorry guys!
 
I tried to get Tessa to nap by pushing her around with ear protection on to muffle the commotion of the tailgating lot.  It didn't work very well as you can see. 

 
She eventually drifted off but I woke her up once we were in the game.  Then she spent the entire first half trying to climb the railing in front of us.  That was fun.  The second half Ben sat up with me and the cousins and spent a lot of time trying to eat peanut shells off the floor. 
 
I didn't even realize it, but the game was my favorite of the year...the Trees Bowl!  The North Dakota Forest Service gives an award to a community that has done great things in advancing the planting of trees around the state (a few years ago my hometown won!) and at the end of the game they give away little saplings.  Every year I plant my baby trees in a pot, with varying degrees of success.  Since our houses never seem to have the space for a tree I always intend to plant them at my parents' farm but it so far has never happened although a few have survived in pots for quite awhile.  Here is a picture of my trees from 2009.  This is the first day Allan lived with us and he treated them like cat toys. 
 
 
He made himself at home in no time!  In about a month it will be his six year anniversary with us! 
 
This year my mom took all of our trees home with her and, much to my surprise, planted them right away in a box so they can be transplanted in a few weeks after our old farmhouse is demolished. 
 
 
They sure are cute!   I hope some of them make it.  There are no oak trees at the farm so it would be fun to enjoy them.  Well, maybe the kids will enjoy them in their lifetime. 

After an eventful weekend Ben headed back to school this morning and I was surprised and excited to find that he had his first Scholastic book order!  More experienced parents warn me I won't always be excited to see these, but I remember how fun they were when I was a child and I was still ordering from them in middle school. 

 
I, of course, never paid attention to what the books cost when I was the one picking them out as a child but after a quick scan it appears that they are quite a bargain.  I hope the cousins are excited to get books for Christmas this year!  Hehe. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Final Countdown

I haven't talked much about my pregnancy this time around.  I think this is because nothing is new about it anymore and I am occupied with other crap all the time.  But here I am with about one month left (the doctor's due date is October 6th, I think it is more like the 10th).  The heat of summer has hopefully passed after a very hot week last week and temperatures in the 70s feel fabulous.  I am getting large and bursting out of many maternity shirts.  The truly tent-like garments in my collection are suited for cooler weather so hopefully I can use those at least a few times in the next month.  At my last appointment I was measuring 37 weeks at 35 weeks (still 34 based on my own calculations) which is bigger than ever before.  Hopefully the weeks will go fast (but not too fast because we still haven't retrieved our bassinette from my cousin who borrowed it last year, we need to dig out the newborn boxes and carseat and we don't exactly know who is sleeping in which room or riding in which spot in which car.  Oh, and also we don't have names picked out).

Ben talks about the baby often although it has been going on so long that the whole idea is probably abstract to him.  He's probably doubting that this baby actually exists! 

He had his third day of preschool this morning and was pretty happy when I picked him up.  He is still talking about that wedge!  Also, they had apples for a snack today and read a book about pumpkins.  According to the schedule, they are covering the letter A this week but he didn't say anything about that.  He knows A well, as in "A for Al!!!" 

Tessa does not get very upset when we drop him off like I thought she would, although she seems kind of out of sorts without him when we go about our morning activities.  She talks about "brother's seat" in the car and that sort of thing.  She won't have to wait long to have company again, whether she likes it or not! 

Here is a video I took of her this morning to give this post a lift since it's quite forgettable otherwise.  Tessa likes to play in the whirlpool tub (at least the kids and the cat like to play in there, since we never use it).  She uses the slanted end as a slide. 

video

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

First Day of School!


School sure has changed over the years.  When my parents were in elementary school in the 1960's they didn't even have kindergarten.  School started when you went to first grade at the age of 6 or 7.  When I went to preschool in 1980-whatever, probably 87, it was standard to go to a very part time program for one year before kindergarten and kindergarten was only part time.  Now kindergarten is all day, every day in this state so preschool is more important than ever for preparing for such a big step into elementary school.  Now that Ben is three (before the date of July 15 or 31st or whatever the cutoff is) he was off to his first day of preschool this morning.  I have been excited for this day for a long time because I have seen how he likes going to the various group activities he attends, although they do not have the structure of preschool.  He has been talking about wanting to go to school since last winter so he was excited for this morning, although he really wants to ride the school bus and he will have to wait longer for that excitement!
 
I had thought he would wear a new plaid shirt but, in the grand tradition of first days of school, the high temperature is forecast to be near 100 degrees today so I went with a t-shirt instead.  I enjoyed the fact that I still get to pick what he wears.  I know one of these days he will start to protest what I choose and want to decide on his own.  Or...if he is anything like Justin, my dad, my brother, and most of the boys I knew as a child, maybe he won't.   
 



 
I wanted to get a cute picture of them together, but that didn't work. 


I knew I had a few first day of school photos of myself scanned somewhere but I can't see the dates on these so I don't know. 


I am guessing this one is preschool but I don't know.  I can't imagine why my sister would be dressed up too so maybe I'm wrong and this is for some kind of church function.  Nice work on the design and arrangement of those shelves behind us Mother...that pitcher and that book look really minimalist. 

 
I am quite certain this photo is my first day of kindergarten.  I loved that dress.  If you search "girl's clothing" on google you will find many outraged articles and blog posts about how sexist and gender stereotype-y little girl clothes are these days and I mostly agree (have you seen that store called "Justice"?) but my "Gossip Team" outfit here shows that girls were being placed in those roles even in the 80's almost thirty years ago!  With the excepton of some really bad t-shirts, like the beauty below that diminish the intelligence of females,  and garments that look like they are for women in their 20s to wear to night clubs, I don't really care if a girl gravitates toward certain colors and characters.  Choosing clothes is a pleasure in life and it doesn't have to be a big thing
 
 
And I would have been crazy to let my brother and his terrible penmanship anywhere near my homework even if he would take the time away from looking at baseball stats and watching obscure sporting events on ESPN3 to do such a thing.
 
When we got to school Ben was excited to go in and play with a certain toy he had played with during the orientation visit.  It is some kind of truck with a conveyor belt on it that makes it shaped like a wedge.  Ben knows about wedges from the TV show "Blaze and the Monster Machines" which is about a crew of monster trucks who give subtle lessons about science and physics during the episodes.  I took his picture by his coat hook. 
 
 
He looks very worried but I think he was just confused. 
 
They had a little photo backdrop set up in the hallway that we missed on the way in and he didn't want to leave the room to go out there.  That is why he looks a bit out of sorts here.  I think he wanted to find the "wedge". 
 




Don't worry, we turned his nametag right side up.  There is another boy with the same name so he gets to be a "last initial" kid, like so many of the Jessicas and Michaels of my day. 

When I picked him up he didn't have much to say.  He said he spilled his milk which must have been during snack time and it must not have been too catastrophic because his shirt is clean.  I asked if he played outside, sang songs and colored and he said "yes" to all of it and when we were eating lunch he said, out of the blue, "we don't color on toys" (yikes, I hope he wasn't the one doing that!) and also he has been spouting a teacher-ism about lights out and settling down.  Ah, the old light switch trick. When I asked him what his favorite part of school was he said, "playing with the weeeeeeedge".  Hmmm, OK.  Not what I expected but OK. 

I can't believe I have entered the "school age" years, even if it is just three year old preschool.  I just read through the handbook and was reminded of my school days when the whole school would sit in the gym on the first day for "assembly" and listen to the principal read the handbook to us in his booming voice.  The major points included not parking cars on the lawn and not "rigging" the lockers by sticking a pencil in the lock mechanism to avoid having to enter the padlock combination every time.  I never wanted to do this but many people did and theft wasn't a huge problem.  Eventually, the principal got so tired of problems caused by this practice that he said we could ask the custodians to do it for us the right way, whatever that was.  Also, the handbook discussed dress code but by my senior year in 2001 it hadn't been updated for quite awhile and the major dress code issue was "Co-Ed Naked" t-shirts, which peaked in popularity in the mid 1990s.  We always used to giggle about that because by 2001 those shirts were long gone.


Ummmm...eeew?  And the administrators of today think they have a problem because girls wear leggings!