Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Resolution Check-In

It's almost the end of January, so let's do what no one ever does and check in on the old resolutions from a few weeks ago...If you recall, mine included keeping the kitchen counter on the peninsula clear and not piling junk on top of the refrigerator. 

Here is a picture of the counter from this very morning...

And here is a picture of the top of the fridge from this morning! 

Hmmmm...never mind...look at a cute picture of a baby!

So the goals involving tidiness aren't going so well.  That peninsula just gets wrecked in no time!  I do clear it off regularly but crap's got to go somewhere!

On a different topic, we have obtained the beloved excer-saucer, the most cumbersome and garish but also one of the most entertaining and useful pieces of baby plastic in our inventory.  It was at my brother's house but now it is back.  I haven't been able to bring myself to carry it up from the garage yet because it is going to consume about 85% of the available floor space in the living room and Milo is still kind of weak for it and can't stay in it for very long periods of time.  But the inevitable is coming...
Someone else really liked seeing her old friend again. 

Ben gave it a few minutes too but I didn't get that on camera.

Here are a few more pictures of the kids.  They were taken with my camera instead of my phone and I am always amazed by how nice pictures from the camera look compared to the daily phone candid shots I take so often.


In this picture I was standing on a big snow pile.  It was very hard to keep my footing because there was a new layer of snow over the older rock hard layer.  I very quickly fell and fell camera-first into the snow and had to run in to try it off.  Very smooth. 

Don't worry, Allan, I still love to capture your dignified  demeanor whenever I can!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cute Milo Pictures

Well, I have been trying to post all afternoon and it's just not happening.  I have a three year old in the house who  So you can all just gaze upon the following pictures of Milo that I was going to post about.  There's not much to say about them anyway.  The first ones are from a week or two ago and I took them because he is wearing an old outfit of Ben's and I wanted to compare the two.  The second set was taken yesterday with the sign my sister painted for Milo for Christmas.  The other kids got them too. 

Ben can be a pest when I just want to be left alone to accomplish even the smallest tasks but he sure does care about his baby.  He thought Milo needed his blanket when I had him laying on the floor. looks like the debris that I snowplowed out of the way with my arm to make room on the rug worked itself into the corner of the picture!  Believe it or not, the floor was not clean yesterday afternoon, nor is it now or ever. 

He's a happy boy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Weekend Excitement

Behold, everyone, the big accomplishment of my weekend...

You might see a small area of countertop.  What I see is something I haven't seen since we moved in here. You see, that metal cage thing on the left is our paper sorting basket which is mounted under the cupboard.  The top one is Justin's and the bottom one is mine. In the now empty spot that now proudly displays my glasses holding parrot was this:

It is now an empty basket.  However, it has never been this way.  Before, this basket was stuffed and jam packed with papers, coupons, cards, photos and a huge variety of other junk.  It is no secret that I am not organized when it comes to papers and filing and I have a problem with being nostalgic so I don't like to throw away cards, wedding invitations, and birth announcements.  When my hanging file basket gets full I clean it out and file papers a few times a year (yeah, seriously, that's all).  Justin's basket is always organized and almost empty which is a result of every non-bill related piece of paperwork automatically becoming my problem.  During these rare sorting sessions, all the extras I couldn't designate to a file or bring myself to throw went in this basket.  All the outdated school pictures and baby pictures and invitations that I rotated off the fridge were shoved in my stack and then ended up in here. 

Almost every day, I felt bad about the sight of that basket and I regularly have been unable to face sorting through it.  A few months ago I almost cried when Justin placed a stack of stuff that we had removed from the fridge in my basket because I honestly did not know what to do with it and I knew it was just going to be shoved in a disorganized pile somewhere else if I moved it.  Ugh. 

So, I finally gave up the delusion that I will one day put things in a scrapbook.  I love scrapbooks, and not the fancy, acid-free photo collage kind that has become popular since the 90s.  I mean the old fashioned kind where a person would tape things to the pages as they accumulated them and they would, as the years went by, become a piece of history.  When I was younger I loved looking at the scrapbooks of my parents and grandparents and the fascinating aspects of their young lives in the 30's and 40's. They were filled with vintage birthday and Valentine cards, birth announcements and obituaries of relatives and friends and programs from school and church shows.  My grandma's had WWII ration books and my grandpa's had copies of the school newspaper his one room school published.  If anyone doubted that the education students received in those tiny classes was lacking I would suggest they look at the memorabilia in that book.  It was quite impressive.  When I was a teenager I kept scrapbooks where I taped all of the above and more, including "Student of the Month" certificates, funny notes from friends and newspaper clippings from those rare occasions where I scored points in basketball games.  I would never part with those books.  The urge to save little pieces of daily life is still with me but I finally decided that it will be years before I can start making books like that again.  Good lord, I haven't even printed physical photos for over a year and haven't put any in albums since Ben was a baby.  I accepted and acknowledged my limitations and then headed to Hobby Lobby and bought several photo boxes which is where I will store all of the mementos that I want to hoard.  I also bought one for each child for birthday cards and the preschool projects that are starting to accumulate.  Then I tore into the basket. 

It took WAY too long but I emptied it out!  In the mess I found so much junk including an Avon chapstick with a mini calendar printed on the wrapper from 2008, three golf balls (yeah seriously), golf tees with our names printed on them that we handed out at our wedding (you would think we golf a lot but we don't.  I haven't golfed in four years), a baby photo of our oldest nephew who is 11 which I'm almost certain was mixed in with some pile of Justin's stuff and he just shoved it in my pile because he didn't know what to do with it, a hook that you keep in your purse so you can hang it from the table at restaurants, an iTunes gift card (SCORE!), two letters from the United Way asking for donations for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library (which we use and I have always intended to donate a small sum to) that I saved thinking I would deal with it later and apparently put off for not one but two years worth of donation campaigns, a burned CD that is not labeled and many, many expired coupons. 

Dealing with this basket  was a very uncharacteristic action for me and I am still pleased with myself over it.  I should add that, while I was dealing with it, the kids trashed the rest of the house so by Sunday it looked worse than ever in every other room and area.  Now I just have to decide where to stash the photo box...

I started this post yesterday and was unable to finish it for various reasons so this is a day late but yesterday was my sister's birthday.  She turned 31 which is probably one of the lamest birthdays of all birthdays.  The ten year milestones are coming fast these days and this is just another's been 10 years since I used to run to the "store" for her on a regular basis!  Haha...such power I had...I miss those days!

This was the night of her birthday. 

We sure chose some beautiful clothes for a birthday party!  Or to teach Sunday School...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ages and Stages

Milo is now three months old.  I am late in posting about it because the day was the 7th, which was a day that I was busy travelling to Frisco.  I feel like this age is the start of the major cuteness.  Although newborns are very loveable in their innocence it sure is adorable when babies start to make legible sounds and show amusement and indicate that they are discovering the world around them.  For my children, and for most other properly developing babies, this discovery first manifests itself in an obsession with their hands.  It's hand time! 

I love how obsessed they are with their hands.  It's so funny. 

We also recently took out the always controversial Bumbo chair.  Why is it controversial, you ask?  Well, since Ben was a baby I have read articles from physical therapists and child development professionals saying that the position they place the baby in is harmful for babies who are too young to sit on their own and that sitting in these chairs causes weak muscles.  Then there was a recall because of falls.  Yes, apparently some parents placed this thing on a table and then left the baby out of reach.  I don't worry too much about those things because my kids never want to stay in this thing for more than a few minutes at a time and usually they start monkeying out of it by the age of 5 months old so it really only gets used for two months if even that long.  Also, I wouldn't leave a baby unattended on a table in one of these.  Sometimes when I hear about recalls for baby and kid products I have to wonder what the h3l! people were thinking using the product that way in the first place. 

Another Vikings jersey picture because he looked really cute...

Now, for fun...let's play a game...Who is in the following pictures?  Ben or Milo?

They are all Ben but it's pretty hard to tell!  I was looking for old pictures of him during the hand obsession phase and I realized how confusing this could be!

Here is an extra picture of Tessa and Milo.  She wanted to hold him yesterday morning.  She is in an outfit of her own choosing. 
Finally, I was very delighted to see this when I picked Ben up from school and he handed me his latest art project (it was a pizza made of a paper plate because they are learning about P this week).  He can write his name!

Yes, it is very rudimentary, but he wrote his name.  I haven't seen it before.  What a wonderful thing when you imagine all the people throughout history and some in the world today still who never learned to read and write and he will barely remember a time in his life without that knowledge. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Hello Frisco, My Love!

Back in 2012 I got on a plane at 32 weeks pregnant for the FBS Football Championship game which was being played in Frisco, TX, which is a suburb of Dallas.  NDSU was making history since they had recently moved to Division I and no one really gave us the time of day.  The hype was insane, tickets and flights were impossible to get and everyone was going crazy making travel plans.  I managed to get a flight and Justin arranged to drive with his friends and thousands of NDSU fans gathered in this town called Frisco and it turned out to be a blast!  We blew the bars and restaurants and hotels away as we (well, they, since I was pregnant) drank every drop of beer and liquor we could get our hands on and generally took over the place for the weekend.  We won the game and chaos ensued that night. 

Everyone thought we would probably return to the championship game the following year, and we did indeed, but I don't think anyone thought it would happen five years in a row.  Well, guess where we were last weekend?  Frisco!  Over the years I have grown to love that nondescript suburban area with it's pedestrian friendly urban planning and penchant for bars with sexual innuendos as names.  They have come to enjoy us too.  I wouldn't be surprised if the restaurant and bar staff earn enough money to pay a month's worth of bills over the FBS weekend. 

This year was kind of different because most of our usual group of drinking/travel friends took the year off from travelling to Frisco this year. My parents and aunt and uncle were there, however, and of course friends were everywhere to be found.  I assumed I would not be able to make the trip because of the kids but Justin's mom decided to skip this year so she kept them and to my surprise I found myself on a plane on Thursday!  We flew into Oklahoma City where Justin often travels for work so he was able to schedule a meeting and then we drove the rest of the way to Dallas in a rental car. 

Oklahoma is, apparently, not only the land of huge mega churches but also casino country and we saw a few massive casinos with the following being the biggest. 

We stopped for a brief visit because Justin has seen it several times while driving and always was curious about it.  I love a quick slot machine fix so I was agreeable to that idea.  I ended up winning $3 on my favorite slot machine!  Near the entrance we saw a bison themed game so we put some cash in. 

We were not successful but that's OK.  It was worth a try!

On Friday morning Justin had a work meeting in Dallas so I walked to the mall near our hotel to kill some time before we headed to Frisco to check in to our next hotel and commence with festivities.  In the mall I noticed a corner storefront with glass doors instead of the usual rolling chain door and I was delighted to see a few cats in there!  There was a woman and her son sitting on a bench and they noticed my shirt and the woman had grown up in North Dakota.  They told me the store was a "cat cafĂ©" where a person could pay $5.00 for 30 minutes of play time with shelter cats.  Well hot dog!  It was $5 well spent!

I really liked this guy because he looks like one of my beloved childhood farm cats. 

This room was for al the fancy cats! 
After having lunch with people from the company Justin was meeting with we looked on the GPS to find the Gas Monkey Garage, which is featured in a show Justin regularly watches called "Fast--Loud".  It is a show about a guy who buys, sells, and restores classic cars.  As you can see from the barbed wire on the fence, the neighborhood was questionable.  They did have a retail store with souvenirs and we were not the only tourists there. 

Then we went and checked into the hotel!

Good to see you again Frisco!  It was so fun to be back to the familiar bars and the cute downtown area with trees wrapped with Christmas lights.  The weather was warm on Friday and it was a very fun night.  Saturday, unfortunately, was freezing cold and windy and hardly better than North Dakota.  It was a total change from day to day which is also no better than North Dakota!  We were at the tailgating lot by 8:00 a.m. and it felt like we were the last ones there.  Since no one from our group drove we didn't have a tent or grill or any of our usual tailgating necessities so we had to just use the trunks of our rental vehicles and get by with food that my mom bought from a grocery store but it was still fun.  I think it would be so moving to be a player and see all those people there for the team.
Most of the people who read this are familiar with what happened with the game...we won.  It was NDSU's 5th championship in a row!  The other team didn't know what was hitting them and it was, to my surprise, kind of a blowout. 

Here comes the confetti!

If you interchanged this photo with the pictures of us from the past years you would not know which was which. 
That night everyone was out celebrating and we were able to watch NDSU play basketball where we lost a game by three points in the last seconds of the game.  If we had won that game I think the windows in the bar would have blown out.  Then we watched the Steelers/Bengals game which ended with drama and penalties and one of the dirtiest hits I have ever seen. Then the Powerball numbers were announced for the jackpot of approximately $900 million dollars. 
It didn't work out for me, although I had #32 which was the first ball that was drawn so I was irrationally excited for a fraction of a second when I read the numbers.  But, no one else won either and now the jackpot is over 1 billion dollars so I have to go spend more dollar bills on this nonsense.
Now we are all back home and back to our mundane lives.  Going to Frisco, although it's not the least bit relaxing, is such a fun vacation.  I don't even want to get my hopes up about next year yet.  Because how could a team make it 6 times?  But I think that every year so...The bars of Frisco are strewn with NDSU freebies, spilled drinks and desecrated Powerball tickets as it tries to restock it's alcohol supply.  I hope we all meet again!