Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Monster Jam

I was sitting here, trying to think about something to post about and I turned to my phone camera roll to see if I could come up with anything.  I can't believe I forgot about this...this was two weeks ago.  The "Monster Jam" tour made a stop in our city and the night before there were trucks on display at a few locations around town.  One was named "The Instigator" and another had a Dukes of Hazard/General Lee theme. 

I have never been to one of these events although I imagine the clientele to be similar to the people who flock to my hometown's annual demo derby (which includes me so I'm not bashing).   What I do know is kids, especially boys, LOVE these things.  I remember my brother's obsession and how he would look at the program booklet for weeks after my dad brought him to a monster truck rally.  Our school had a few library books about them in the elementary section and, of course, the boys overlooked the beautifully illustrated and culturally significant Caldecott medal winners and beloved timeless classics for those dumb truck books about "Big Foot" and "Grave Digger". 

Ben has not been to a show yet but he has some toy trucks and he and Tessa are both big fans of the show "Blaze and the Monster Machines".  I am a fan of it too and not only because it creates a diversion so I can take a shower.  It teaches STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) which, I am becoming more and more convinced, are the skills a student needs to succeed and have jobs waiting for them after college.  If you know me you know that I do not gravitate toward these subjects although I was a good geometry student (I got the "4 quarters of A's" award only during the geometry year which was 10th grade!) and our math teacher always said that people who are good at geometry are different than others who might enjoy algebra and other types of math.  Different how, I don't know. Anyway, not having "practical" interests and studying something more challenging in college is something I regret even though I have to acknowledge and accept that I am who I am.  However, I hope that these little kids I am raising, although they have years to find out, are different than me.  When they watch Blaze and I hear them yelling about levers and wedges and trajectory and other science and physics related topics it makes me happy.  It seems to be building a good foundation for being interested in science.   I hope they enjoy researching obscure aspects of history and reading endless articles about family dynamics and child development but there are few employers out there who want to pay a person for those interests so...

Look at those bananas flying through the air!  I wonder what is going to happen??

The kids had fun being up close to the trucks.  The tires were really tall but what really stood out to me was how wide they were! 

One of these years someone (Justin) will probably take the kids to a monster truck show!  I'll pack the ear protection! 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Milo's Wall

Milo is six months old.  I bought the letters to hang his name on the wall about five months ago, I painted them about three months ago and as of last week they are finally hanging on the wall above his crib!  Well, that was a much more drawn out ordeal than it needed to be! As is everything I try to accomplish...

I've got some other things to hang up there too.  That should be done before he turns one! 

I also recently got around to hanging my old bulletin board somewhere in the house.  Back in the early 1990's my mom bought my brother and sister and I each a bulletin board for our rooms.  She painted the wood frames and stenciled them to match our rooms.  Mine was mint green with cats and hearts stenciled around the border. awesome that it remained on my wall until the day before the excavator ripped down the walls to my childhood home. 

It hung there between the doors under that shelf for probably twenty years and in my previous room across the hall before that!  I had planned on just leaving it on the wall after taking off the pictures and mementos it held but my sister rescued mine and hers and my brother's and painted them for us in a more modern style! 

After months of leaving it in my parents' new garage I finally brought it home and left it in our garage and FINALLY a few weeks ago I hung it on the wall in the kitchen.  I had to remove another wall hanging to make room but I like it being there.  It takes some of the clutter off the refrigerator!  Then I didn't have any tacks for weeks and I finally remembered to buy some.  THEN I was finally able to hang things on the board.  Not surprisingly, Ben was fascinated by this activity and was soon coloring many pictures just to hang on it.  Then I caught him pounding them in with a toy hammer. 

It would appear that a child in this house has a bloody vendetta against Thomas and Dora...
OK, I have to go...I am trying to watch Sunday's new episode of "Call the Midwife" on PBS and I thought he wasn't paying attention but Ben just watched a depiction of a 1960's era C-section complete with cord cutting and now I have a lot of questions to answer.  Eeeeek. 
Just for fun, here's a picture of Milo taken a few hours ago after lunch.  Don't worry, I didn't leave him unattended with the clips unclipped...I just thought he looked so cute and big when I was taking him out so I snapped a picture! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Playgrounds: 2016 Version

Ahhh, the park...parks have changed a lot over the years.  When did playgrounds become a thing anyway?  They have been around my whole life but were they around in the 1970's or 1960's or before?  I imagine the standards swings and slides have been around for a long time but the developmentally appropriate, super safe equipment of today is a recent development.  There was an old swingset in my city park that was the standard commercial grade A-frame (so quite tall compared to the ones people had in their yards) and at one end a slide was attached to it.  The top of the slide was at the apex of the A-frame and a ladder lead up to it.  There was, if I can recall, no railing.  No one ever fell off to my knowledge but still...geez.  You don't see that sort of thing anymore and that's OK I guess but I do miss some of the other equipment that is now too much of a liability.  You never see these anymore unless you hit up a small town park that has other things to worry about besides getting sued: 

I know the city park in my hometown still has one but I'm not sure if the school playground still has one.  We had so much fun on that thing.  Those different colored pie slices inspired many games.  You also never see any of these:

These would appear to require two people but they were also fun with one person.  At what point will it tip?  How hard is it to "surf" in the middle and make it balance? You could also go the other way and put as many people as would fit on each side. 

I also haven't seen one of these in years:

This particular bridge looks like it could use some maintenance but I was referring to ones with all of their chains attached!  I guess they do look like a sliver waiting to happen and I had a traumatic experience with a huge sliver when I was in elementary school so it's probably for the best but these bridges were part of so many fun games.  Imagine the possibilities! 

I just thought of another piece of equipment/game that I haven't seen in years that I loved as a kid...Tetherball! 

Tetherball was so fun.  At the bible camp I used to attend everyone would congregate around tetherball and we would play that dumb game until someone made us stop and do something else.  It seems you can buy a tetherball pole but I guess no one wants to take the risk of putting them in public anymore. 

It' kind of a shame these are a thing of the past.  There is no denying they were fun and required some imagination.  I have read studies and articles that indicate that kids, with each passing year, are becoming less agile, more fidgety in school and more physically unfit.  What a coincidence that all of this now obsolete playground equipment encourages running, jumping, spinning, balance and challenging the muscles. 

Our nearest neighborhood park is quite nice even in it's watered down modernity.  The kids love it and I guess it is nice to know they probably won't get hurt since they are still so small.  Ben discovered the rock climbing wall for the first time this year and of course scaled it right to the top. 

He is finally at an age where I feel OK with him roaming around the playground without me hovering and having my eyes on him all the time. One thing that insurance companies and lawsuits haven't eliminated are those blasted fireman poles and Ben has never had a fear of heights so I have always had to watch those closely.  Last night he met another boy who was 6 and a girl who was 5 and the three of them played for an hour.  They played with a ball, played hide and seek and played tag.  I kept waiting for it to go downhill and for the hitting, whining and fit throwing to start but they played on until I had to make him leave so we could have supper.  It was great because I could push Tessa on the swing since she didn't want to do anything else! 


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Milo's First Food

Milo had his six month doctor's appointment last week which was a week after he turned six months but that's just how I roll now.  Although some doctors suggest starting baby food as young as four months almost all of them suggest it with certainty at six months.  Oh, sigh, the dreaded baby food.  I worked myself up so much over Ben's refusal to eat baby food and anything else until well into his second year of life that I am still rather traumatized by it. I actually barely fed Tessa any baby food at all besides the pouch ones that older kids can inhale on their own (she still likes them) and instead just gave her very tiny pieces of regular soft food to start with.  But, Milo deserves the chance to decide for himself I guess, so I bought a few little cubes of Gerber (which according to some parents is non-organic poison and why wouldn't I just make my own?  OK...sure...) sweet potatoes and carrots and a box of rice cereal (which was recently under fire for containing arsenic I guess? When it comes to feeding kids a person just can't win!)
As soon as I mixed up a tiny quantity of the cereal the smell of it brought all of spoon feeding memories back to me.  Yucky for me. Milo had a captive audience bringing him toys and yelling in his face as he ate which is how he experiences everything so I guess it was probably best to have him eat in his normal environment. 

I almost didn't include this picture because my arm (yes, that is my female arm) looks like a man's arm but I thought it would be a good chance to mock myself.  Nice job, Man Arms!

Fortunately, I think he liked his sweet potato and rice flake cereal.  Hopefully I can quickly transition him to finger foods so I don't have to deal with baby purees very long. 

When Milo had his appointment, I also scheduled Ben's 4 year appointment.  After many months and years of me fixating on his slow weight gain and low percentile on the growth charts he is now thoroughly average and in the 50th percentile for height and 35th for weight.  One less thing for me to worry about, I guess!  I remember asking the doctor, in desperation, when it would be a good thing for a child to be below average for weight in this childhood obesity prone world that we live in.  I was just exhausted from hearing people, usually strangers I encountered in public, shriek, "He's TINY!  What a PEANUT!  He doesn't have any ROLLS!" because everyone knows that "chubby babies are the cutest!" and then comparing him to their grandchild, child, nephew or whichever robust and chubby baby they had in their lives.   She said around age five and now that day is soon to be here! Milo is small just like Ben was but now I don't care.  He is who he is!  And if he decides he doesn't like those nasty purees I won't force the issue! 

The appointment took an unexpected turn at the end when it was time for Milo's shots.  I was asked if I wanted Ben to have his Kindergarten shots.  I reminded them that he won't be in Kindergarten until 2017 but they said he could still have them and then he wouldn't need any shots until he is 11 years old.  I agreed.  Let me tell you...he was not happy about this!  The poor guy had no idea what coming and he screamed accordingly!  Then he continued to scream all they way out to the car.  He said, "I don't like the doctor anymore waaaaaaaah!"  No sticker or temporary tattoo or mini bag of teddy grahams could distract him.  I felt bad and still feel bad for my betrayal but now we don't have to worry about it for seven years so that's good. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

School Days Ahead

You all read about my cousin's wedding in my last post...between the wedding and rehearsal dinner (I read a scripture message during the wedding) we were occupied all weekend.  Occupied enough for me to forget that this week at Ben's preschool is the "Week of the Young Child".  I don't know who came up with this week but I feel like it is kind of overkill since those of us with young children know that every minute of our lives is about the "young child" but I guess it's fun to observe at preschools around America.  There are special theme days every day this week and Monday was "dress as your favorite book or movie character" day.  I remembered this at 5:00 p.m. when we were driving west on I-94 on Sunday evening.  Oh crap.  I thought of the characters he likes and couldn't conjure a way to make an outfit happen with whatever we have around the house.  I was thinking of hats and I remembered he has a plastic construction helmet.  Bob the builder?  It could work but he hasn't been really interested in that for awhile since PBS stopped showing it regularly.  Then it occurred to me...the Lego Movie!  Yaaassssss!  Emmet from the Lego Movie is a Construction foreman type guy. 

I found an orange fleece jacket that we received as a hand me down that has a broken zipper.  It is reversible to camo so I have kept it around for hunting season and we just pull it over his head.  I saw a picture online of a shirt with silver tape (duct tape!) to make a construction vest and Ben also happens to have a blue collared shirt!  I added finishing touches of a name tag and a pen. 

Unfortunately, we don't have any orange pants but even without them I think it works.  Today was "favorite hat day" and there was "art with parents" at the end of the day.  We helped them paint flower pots and then the rest of the day was spent playing in the classroom.  It was fun to see the kids interact. 

On the subject of school, last Friday the news went out around town that the elementary school in town that our street is assigned to has been recommended for closure as of the end of the school year.  The reasons given were because the building is old and not as good as the other schools in town and the classes are small (200 students in K-6).  Ben would be starting at this school in Fall of 2017.  We actually live closer in proximity to another school but there is a dividing street that dictates where schools feed to middle and high schools and we are in a location that would require driving or bussing anyway.  On the map, the district we are in is a rectangle which contains an older part of Bismarck and a long strip on the top which contains a few streets including ours so the district looks like a lowercase d.  The main neighborhood is made up of houses that are much smaller and older than ours and apparently the district is less desirable because of "socioeconomic disadvantages" (their words not mine).  There was a meeting last night at the school and I went to it with Milo because the people who have kids there already and who live in the neighborhood are not very happy about this and I heard accounts of crying children and kids who walk to school now who will have to be on a bus next year if this happens.  I felt like showing solidarity, I guess.  It's easy to let other people care about this stuff but something about schools always brings up emotions in me (and to a lot of people at that meeting last night).  Also, every other school in town is overcrowded so everyone knows, although it's not being said, that if this happens a new shiny school will be build in a "good" neighborhood in the next few years.  And the old neighborhood will go downhill fast without the school. 

As soon as I walked into the gym I felt my stomach clench because the gym reminded me (on a smaller scale) of the school where I attended, complete with an old fashioned stage with velvet curtains and a little scoreboard suspended in the corner.  Why is it so bad for something to be old?  I can't be the only one who feels like this.  They said it would take too much money to make it "equal" but why does every building have to be the same?  There was no specific examples about why it was not equal, it was just too old.  They eat lunch in the gym, which doesn't upset me as a parent at all and there are no elevators (but there are stair lifts).   So who knows what will happen.  I think I have a feeling though.  Like a parent asked last night, does it even matter what they want or is it already decided?

After the presentation and a brief outburst of arguing and fighting the plan was for parents and neighborhood people to gather around various easels with large notepads manned by a school board member to write down questions so they could talk about concerns without the whole room erupting into a yelling match.  I was standing in a group talking about how sure they could be about their demographic projections for the neighborhood and trying to sound like the educated woman that I am (with every step of that education obtained at all levels in old buildings while living in an ancient house and old dorms and a old sorority house and old apartment building none of which were newer than 40 years old) when I realized my hand was wet and it was...gulp...something unidentifiable leaking from Milo's diaper.  Ugh.  Oh my stars.  I tried to be casual about it and waited for a change of subject and then a nice teacher showed me to their secret teacher bathroom to clean it up. I sometimes feel like, since I don't have a job outside the house, I should be doing something to make myself useful in the community so my resume isn't a complete dead zone in a few years.  Also, I wasn't raised in a household where my parents kept to themselves and let everyone else care about stuff.  But I was reminded at that moment...being active in the community in anything more than a very small way just isn't going to work right now unless someone wants to babysit for free so I can go work for free.

It's hard to believe I am becoming a "school age" mom.  Ben's baby years sure flew by.  It's a new chapter where I am already meeting new friends among the other parents and it's really great to see Ben entering school without hesitation or anxiety.  Hopefully it stays that way! 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Weekend Wedding

There was a span of months and years where weddings happened constantly.  My lifestyle required endless unique dresses or at least planning to make sure the same assortment of people wouldn't be at the same wedding so I could repeat a dress here or there.  Those weddings were those of a mix of friends and family and eventually everyone who was going to be married was. Until now! I have three cousins getting married this year and the first was this weekend.  These occasions are now one of the few times all nine of my cousins on my dad's side are in the same room although we spent many holidays and confirmations and graduation parties together. 

If you are to see a picture of us all, a few words might pop into your head before you even process the whole thing.  "Girls" and "Blonde" might be the first two, since seven out of nine of us are girls and seven out of nine of us our blonde.  We all have blue eyes and a tendency to require sunscreen. 

Upon perusing my scanned photos, I came across this one of the family as of spring 1986, which was taken at my aunt's wedding.  Thirty years ago...THIRTY YEARS!  My mom whipped out those dresses for us (mine and my sister's at least) and the sashes which matched her bridesmaid dress which she also made for herself.  How she had time to sew like that, I don't know because I am three here and my sister is one.  I would have been almost exactly the same age as Ben is now!  I kind of look like Tessa if you can look beyond the hair...please, look beyond the hair!

Here we are again! 

This was the "girl" picture, which is why my brother there is backing away slowly!  Those drinks on the table belong to some other people! 

Here is the full group!

These drinks are for other people too...we were just holding them. 

That lemon slice my cousin is holding...she was just holding it for someone else. 

Ahhh...nothing like being the last people on the dance floor with two old guys! 

Well, that was a fun one and I'm very happy for the bride and groom.  Congratulations guys!  The day went too fast, as all weddings do! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

So I'm 33 Now

The week is flying by and it's already the 6th but Monday the 4th was my birthday.  This is the highlight reel:

-Dropped Ben off at preschool, went to the Y gym early and then was at the Verizon store by 10:00 when it opened so I could get a new phone!  My old phone was purchased on my birthday in 2013 and the battery was fading fast so it was time.  Wherever you are, whatever city you are in and whichever location you choose I think it is a universal truth that going to the Verizon store is a huge pain.  I thought by going in the morning on a week day it would be better but there was already a line and I had to wait around for 10 minutes (which is a very short wait by Verizon store standards).  I got the phone and it has barely left my hands since.  It's huge (in that it has lots of storage space) so I have been able to load it up with more music and I can take pictures freely.  It has 64 GB as opposed to 16 so I am really happy not to have the "storage full" message popping up constantly. 

-Picked Ben up from school where he told me that he told his teacher it was my birthday and he DIDN'T make me a card.  I'm guessing she asked him if he wanted to make me a card during their free drawing time and he said no.  Haha. So nice. 

-Spent the afternoon doing the boring stuff I always do in the afternoon while deflecting Ben's constant requests to play with him and go outside. 

-Went to Paradiso for supper (free food!) which went fine until Milo had a diaper explosion that we had to clean up in the back of the vehicle because I took a chance and left the diaper bag out there.  But we are old pros at this stuff and we gathered our wits and went to the mall!

-Had some ice cream cake and tried to explain why I didn't have a pile of presents to open to the kids.  The phone is the present, kids! 

-Watched the NCAA basketball championship game.  Even though I wasn't invested in the results at all it was still quite a finish.  I love watching March Madness and basketball in general when I get a chance.  I think it is because the quarters are close compared to football or hockey or baseball so you get to see the teams on the bench and the people in the bleachers losing their sh!t  when something crazy happens and it's just as entertaining as the game.  You can't help but feel happy at the sight of grown adult men letting loose like this! 

Also, I saw on the today show this morning that the UConn Huskies women won the women's national championship for the 4th time in a row!

I have to mention it because they are very similar to another NCAA dynasty that no one gives much credit to outside of ND (ahem NDSU Football) but that is awesome!  When I saw the pictures of them with their multiple NCAA trophies I instantly thought of the Bison.  I wonder if their trophies get to go on a road trip around Connecticut? 

So now life goes on for me as a 33 year old!  My grandpa used to say 33 like "tirty-tree" in his old Norwegian accent so I keep thinking of that in my head.