Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pre-K Grad

Like I mentioned, Friday was Ben's preschool graduation.  Before I get to that, I should mention that Justin's 33rd birthday was on the 26th.  In the typical fashion of people in their 30's with a bunch of little kids, we didn't do much.  We ate at BWW which was packed and slow because of the state track meet and a big petroleum conference happening in town.  Earlier in the day, I ventured in to Dairy Queen with all three kids to buy an ice cream cake.  Ben, of course, immediately chose the brightest cake at his eye level, which was a large one with lots of yellow frosting.  I didn't want one that big and I also wanted an oreo blizzard cake as opposed to the plain ice cream cake so I tried to distract him but he REALLY wanted the big yellow one.  He "really loved this one!"  We compromised by getting yellow writing on the cake I wanted. 

Crisis averted.  Now I can look forward to eating this at night after the kids are sleeping for weeks to come! 

The next morning was the graduation which is a date that shall live on in my heart as the day I graduated from high school with a huge grin plastered on my face the whole day and didn't shed a tear!  May 27th, 2001 which was 15 years ago! 

Ben's graduation was more like a short end of the year concert.  They didn't even have the little cardboard hats.  This was fine with me since he's not really graduating from anywhere. However, I could almost hear the trumpet fanfare and drumroll of "Pomp and Circumstance", which I used to play in middle and high school, blasting as the kids filed in.  Almost...that was until, as I was fiddling with the camera, I heard Justin snarling my name and realized Tessa was being "that kid".  She had run to the front and was standing by Ben saying, "Hi Ben!" then she started jumping and saying "I dancing!"  Everyone laughed and hopefully wasn't too annoyed. 

Seeing this picture I can almost imagine her a teenager!  She's getting big too!

Milo had a good time at the graduation too.  He's a very popular baby on the preschool scene. 

The kids sang a few songs, including the "ABC Song" where they clearly enunciated "L M N O P" instead of turning it into one long word and a song about the days of the week.  Then it was diploma/certificate time.

Cue the recessional fanfare!  I just looked up who composed "Pomp and Circumstance" and it is Sir Edward Elgar.  The title was taken from a passage in Shakespeare's Othello:

"Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, th'ear-piercing fife,
The royal banner, and all quality,
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!"

Elgar's theme he had in mind when composing the music, which is much longer and has several sections beyond the march played at graduations, is based on a poem that compares the romance and pageantry of military displays to the terrible reality of war (the pomp and circumstance).  I have said before that the idealism for the future spoken of at graduation really can't begin to demonstrate the true challenges that come along as adulthood progresses so I guess this theme is fitting.  I'm glad I looked it up.  I never knew any of that before.  I just thought it was a majestic sounding piece of music. 

Anyway, after the program we went up to the preschool room for cupcakes and goodbyes.  They had a display of pictures on the wall of what the kids want to be when they grow up:

That day he wanted to be a fireman!  I thought it was a police officer but either way, not too original BEN!  Haha, JK.  It is cute. 

Now summer is here and I am wondering what the heck I am going to do with him every day!  School was a major part of the routine. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Strange Weeks of May

I always thought the last week or two of May felt weird, although not really in a bad way.  The end of May just has strange atmosphere.  In school, you can tell the year is almost over as things start to slide.  In the afternoons in high school, many students were often missing for the last class or two of the day because baseball games and track meets were in the daytime instead of at night.  No one wanted to do any work and lunch was always some weird combination called "cooks choice" also known as cleaning out the freezer.  The school wasn't air conditioned so during May the windows were usually opened and you could hear what was happening outside which could be pretty torturous when you had to be inside.  I will never forget when, as a senior, there were ten days left of school and our English teacher announced that we were going to read "Animal Farm".  Oh, the complaining that ensued that day!  I'm sure our teacher rolled her eyes so high they almost got stuck like that.  I really didn't mind.  It was never a hardship for me to read a book although finishing one in a short time seemed unlikely.  Sure enough, the lesson plan was efficient and we did indeed read Animal Farm as our senior year waned.  In college class ended in the middle of May so there was a lag in summer before everything really got started (for me that meant babysitting and lifeguarding) and I ended up sitting around at home and talking with my friends from college on MSN messenger.  I got so excited when I heard that little "blurp" noise which meant someone was talking to me!

Now my days and seasons run together in an endless monotony and these old memories only come up because I have seen a lot of graduation and end of school year stuff on social media.  Also, Ben has a preschool graduation on Friday so you can look forward to hearing all about that next week!  "Graduation" is a loose interpretation of what is going on, since he is only four and is not starting Kindergarten next year and will be going to the same preschool but it's all just for fun I guess.  We parents love cute moments to share on social media!

Here is me at my preschool graduation which took place in 1988 ( I think...math + me = whaaaaat?)

The dress was sewn by my mom.  That parallel-ness (not a word, I know)  of that ribbon is pretty nice.

Something else strange has happened this week.  Two days ago I noticed a pink iris in our row of irises.  

We have never had a pink one before and as you can kind of see, the pink stem is coming from the purple bunch.  Apparently a stray tuber was in the bunch when our friend who gave us these divided then in her own yard.  I wish we had more (we will have more if we split this one!).  It is so unique! I have rarely seen a pink one.  

Finally, Allan wanted me to tell you something.  Our neighbors got new flooring and Al wanted me to let everyone know about his new modeling career.  

He is so dignified on the side of that van. And, yes, the window is splattered and gross.  It's the window behind the kitchen sink so give me a break! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Touch the Truck

We spent our first weekend at home in a long time the weekend.  It was filled with attempts at fun and productivity which were successful sort of...But we do have something to show for it so I guess it was a success.  I added all these pictures from my phone so they are not in order and I don't feel like spending five minutes copying and pasting and trying to arrange everything so I will just go in order.  What a mess but that's how I am these days!

So, first we have our backyard irises.  This is their second year after transplant and last year they were pretty robust but this year...holy moly.  The bunches have quadrupled in size and they are covered with blooms.

These pictures were from a few days ago so imagine how many more blooms there are now!  We have these light purple ones, yellow and a smaller variety that are white with deep purple.  

They are really huge!  Especialy the light ones  They must be some kind of giant breed.  Look at how they compare to Tessa!  They are up to my waist.

Irises are so pretty, but like so many spring flowers (lilacs, tulips, peonies) they are so fleeting.  I wish they would bloom all summer.  I look forward to our lilies starting to bloom because they will last.  There are some very nice lilac bushes in the area (Our backyard neighbors have some and there is a mini bush by our mailbox) so I have been inhaling that beautiful smell also.

Friday was Ben's last day of preschool swimming lessons.  I am going to miss the social aspect of hanging around and talking to the other parents while we drink coffee and "watch swimming".  Milo is a popular guy at this weekly ritual and always gets held and played with and obsessed over by other little siblings.

In this photo Tessa was trying to guard him from another child looking at him.  She was yelling "my baby brother!!" So charming. 

Here is Ben swimming with a fun noodle and also a flotation cube on his back.  So he can't exactly swim...But he always seems very happy in the water.  Swimming lessons is a huge benefit of this damn expensive preschool.  

On Friday afternoon I had the chance to drive around to rummage sales.  Usually, when I'm on the hunt for kids stuff (which is always) I drive to the more family oriented developments but the first sales I found were within a few block of our house and at the first house I scored this Frozen dress, which was made by the lady by sewing a skirt on a t-shirt.  It was $4.00.

That same house also had a few toys (I think they were selling for family members) and I got Ben this three piece trailer and pickup with a fishing boat with little chairs and an anchor.  

He sent his lego police officers out for a day of fishing right away!

The next house had a bunch of girl clothes and baby toys which I didn't really need but on a hanging bar along the wall I discovered a bunch of store bought Halloween costumes! There was a parrot!  A PARROT COSTUME!  I have wanted to be a parrot myself for years but such a costume a lot of work to make and very expensive to buy.  The same is true for kids.  Thank you to that mom who bought a costume from Old Navy that is Tessa's size and sold it for $7 at a rummage sale!  

Oh, I love this thing.  I love parrots.  I have one of those "hand crafted" ceramic ones from Mexico that sit on a ring that you can hang up hanging in our house.  Actually, I have two! One is from way back in the 1990's when my aunt brought all of the kids one home from a trip to Puerto Vallarta.  Another one is a big one that I chose myself at a market stall in Playa Del Carmen.  

She asked it on all weekend.  She would say, "Can I wear my parrot? Can you fly me around?" So cute.  I was so proud.  She even wore it to sleep last night and I had to peel it off her sleeping body.  

On Saturday there was a "Touch the Truck" here.  It is what it sounds like.  A street was blocked off from traffic and several blocks were lined with parked trucks and machines like fire trucks, cranes, garbage trucks and anything else you could imagine.  The port-a-potty truck was even there. It wasn't getting much attention.  There was a food drive and, most baffling to me, there was a toy give-a-way.  As in, every kid there got a new toy.  There was no qualification.  You just got in line and chose a number that was written on the bottom of a floating rubber duck and chose a toy off the table.  Tessa chose this:

It is a giant art set with crayons, markers and paint.  I had seen kids carrying them all over the place when we were walking through the commotion but I assumed they were for sale somewhere.  The lady said, "I think that is too advanced for her.." when she chose it.  I can tell you that it is not at all too advanced for her.  She loves coloring.  It must have been another case of someone thinking she is younger than she is based on her short hair.  Ben got a miniature Star Wars ship with a little stand.  Also, they gave away novelty construction helmets and every kid got a hot wheels car with their helmet.  There were hundreds of kids there and the event was free except for the request for canned goods for the food drive.  Very generous but also kind of a waste of resources!

Here is Ben up close to a large crane hook.  His favorite stop was the police section.  He got a sticker badge and when we got home he stuck it on his wall.

Tessa enjoyed the book mobile.  This section actually is to advanced for her...

That afternoon we got down to business in the yard planting flowers.  Milo wasn't fitting his nap into our schedule so we set the pack and pay up outside and he eventually fell asleep.  

Here are the finished pots.  And yes, it is way overboard and I realize I have a problem.  I just love to choose flowers!  I feel like I am adopting them by giving them a good home.  I hope it turns out to be a good home and we don't have a repeat of the over-fertilization mass kill that happened two summers ago.  

I can't wait to see how they fill out! I feel bad for our neighbor who waters for us when we go out of town...

My final productive thing I accomplished was rotating Milo's and Tessa's clothes.  Tessa needed room for summer clothes in her drawer and there were still some 24 month shirts and pants in there so I cleaned those out and Milo needed a full transition from 6 to 9 month clothes.  I have been rifling through the box of 9 month for several weeks now but I decided having a box in the hallway was getting old so I finally put it in the drawer.  He is wearing Ben's old clothes in opposite seasons so there are some holes in his wardrobe but he is growing so fast I could probably skip ahead to the next size soon, especially for smaller running brands.  

So that was fascinating, wasn't it?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Garden 2016

Now that it seems the weather has taken a turn away from frost we accomplished the once enjoyable task and now big hassle of planting our garden.  Once again, we are using an older woman's backyard plot.  We know her through a co-worker of Justin's who uses the neighbors plot.  It is our third year gardening at her house.  I prefer it alot to the community garden where we always had scumbags stealing the best looking vegetables.  It is done but not after spending an hour trying to stop Tessa a.k.a Paul Bunyan stomping across the state of MN from running through the plot and stepping on everything.  She managed to break the leaves off several tiny onion sprouts before we made her sit in the car.  Just when Ben is now mature enough to understand proper garden behavior she has to step up and take his place.   

Ben was so good!  He brought his tractor with a digger attached to the back and dug most of the time and he was very helpful when planting carrots although there might be a few dense areas where he poured a huge handful of seeds.  He was really excited about the carrots because there is a Curious George episode where George plants carrots.  Now the kids think we be picking vegetables the next time we go there.  Not quite yet, children, although those plants will be producing before we know it and soon I will be trying to pawn off zip lock bags of tomatoes and grocery bags of zucchini on every  person I encounter. We have flowers purchased to, which have already had to spend a few nights in the house.  Hopefully they will be planted this weekend.  I'm still having nightmares about the fully operational ant hill that I found in a flower pot when I started digging in it last year.  

Here are a few pictures of the kids from this week. 

Am I the only one who sees hand prints on the wall?  Ugh what a mess.

This is Milo yesterday.  When Ben saw him he said, "I love Milo, he looks like a farmer!"  

Milo has been kind of fussy so of course, as I do when any of my kids are out of sorts during the first two years of their lives, I am blaming it on teething.  I have discovered that putting his glowing seahorse in front of his face instantly stops him from crying.  He's been so cute lately.  He rolls and army crawls all over the place.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

17th of May

Here it is, May 17th again.  For most of my life, this day meant nothing much except maybe a track meet or a baseball game in high school.  In college it meant...well...I guess college was over by this time based on how many graduation photos I saw posted on social media this weekend.  I think the first I probably heard of the 17th of May being a special day was a brief mention by my Grandfather when I was helping on the farm.  He pointed out the date and called it by it's Norwegian name, "Syttende Mai".  Little did I know that a few years later I would find myself, jet lagged and delerious, in the middle of the biggest Syttende Mai celebration in Norway.

This photo was taken by me, on that rainy cold morning, looking down along Karl Johan's Gate (street) with the Royal Palace behind me.  I was there, on that packed street on the day of Norway's biggest celebration.  The reason for the celebration, by the way, is similar to our 4th of July.  It marks the day Norway signed a constitution and became an independent country in 1814. The Scandinavian countries have an endless history of occupation and shifting borders dating back to ancient days.  On that morning I saw the Royal family waving from their balcony, including the baby and toddler princess and prince.  They would be a older boy and a teenage girl now.  Wow.  I should look up pictures to see how they look now.

If you have been reading this blog for a long time you have read my reflections on my study abroad trip in Norway before.  But it is coming up again this year because...it was 10 years ago! 10 YEARS!  How can this be, I don't know.  This two month adventure has never left my mind.  I return there in my head every day.  The smell of certain beauty products I used while there, hearing songs (Purple Rain by Prince is one so I have been reminded of it constantly these last few weeks!) and the smell of blooming flower trees brings me back there so fast.  Oh, I wish I could feel so carefree again and look so young.  Now I am always burdened with uncertainties and weighed down with endless responsibilities big and small (these kids need breakfast, lunch AND supper every day?)  When I think back to how I was in those months I might as well have floating around in a happy delerium.  I wasn't completely care free of course.  I always had the usual law school worries in the back of my head (grades, jobs, grades, jobs) but this was after my first year and I truly felt like everything would be just fine.  I would love to spend a week back in that empty dorm room with only a suitcase full of clothes instead in my house where I can't even walk or find a spot on the counter to make a sandwich half the time because I can't stay on top of the toy and junk invasion.  Well, wishful thinking...I had my time for such adventures that many people never get at all.  I still keep this picture in a frame on my dresser as a reminder of that time...as if I needed a picture to remember!

It's a picture of a picture because, for some reason, I don't have this picture on Facebook or my old blog from the trip even though it is one of my favorite pictures.  I have all my 100's of pictures on cd's somewhere but quickly finding those would be impossible.  Hahaha laughable even! 

Here are a few pictures I had in old FB albums...

This little statue is a famous Norway landmark that is a popular photo opportunity for tourists.  It is a baby statue in Vigeland park, which is filled with hundreds of statues of people at all stages of life.  Recently I was holding Milo and he was fussing and he looked just like this baby!  This is one of the only photos from Norway that I can still relate to on a daily basis!  Hahaha.

Here is another baby.  If I remember correctly, there was a bridge or path which featured the baby statues.

Here is an internet image of the park so you can get an idea of the scale!  It was pretty amazing.

That monolith in the distance there was the subject of more than few dirty jokes among Norwegians!

This was in Bergen along the water.  It was historically a prosperous shipping port and headquarters of the Hanseatic league. 

One of my favorite weekends of the trip was our bus trip to the Sjoa river which was several hours north of Oslo.  We stayed at a historic guest farm where the old buildings were still intact.  

I stayed in the main house but some of the class stayed in these lofts.  It was really a great weekend.  The river is powerful and sleeping with it roaring right outside the window was really memorable. 

This was our rafting day!  Oh, my word, was that fun and terrifying at the same time.  The water was freezing and very fast and rough and our boat tipped over a few times! I was in that water!  I still can't believe it.  It was so clean.  Our rafting guide would fill his water bottle from the river.

This was when we did bridge jumping over the same river!  I remember hanging off the side of that bridge and saying "I can't just let go!" and then I did.  I swung so low that my ankles felt the water.  Eeek!  Then I had to hang there while everyone else pulled me up.  

One day we went hiking high above the tree line.  It was such a strange place to be.  Norway is full of natural extremes like this.  Another favorite memory of mine is when we took a train ride to Bergen which took us across the country over the rugged mountains.  We boarded the train in the evening and rode all night and at one point the train stopped and I took off my eye mask (you got these so you could try to sleep on the train since daylight in the summer lasted all night long) and looked out to see nothing but jagged white glaciers.  And also my classmate standing outside smoking in shorts and a t-shirt!  Such a strange sight! 

This is from a weekend trip to Copenhagen in Denmark.  Tivoli park is a beautiful theme park that was the inspiration for Disney Land.  

This big lion statue is outside one of the main train stations in Oslo.  It was the station where you ended up after riding the train from the airport so it was one of my first impressions of Oslo.  Believe it or not, lots of tourists pose like this!

And of course, no trip to Norway would have been complete without a visit to an authentic stave church.  This place was old as old could be dating back to something like 1100.  Not quite as old as the Vikings but pretty old!

Here is a link to my blog from that summer.  I found myself wanting to tell stories but most of them are already told in it!  I know everyone loves to relive someone else's vacation from ten years ago so if you're bored...haha...


Well, back to my living room I go.  I think I will research some local liquor stores to see if they have any of the cheap Norwegian and Danish beers we preferred on that trip!   

Thursday, May 12, 2016

That Seems Fair

Something I have learned during the last, oh, I'd say year of having two kids of the age where they kind of know what is going on is that you always give them the exact same thing.  There is no taking one shopping and buying them candy or a piece of clearance junk and coming home without the other one not figuring it out.  I learned this when I bought Tessa a pack of Minnie Mouse erasers from the dollar aisle at Target last fall while Ben was at school but didn't get him something equivalent.  I didn't hear the end of it until we went Target and got him the same pack of erasers but with Paw Patrol characters.  Then they fought over those.  And it goes on...and on...and on...constantly about everything. 

Today we were at the Y and when I went to get the kids from child watch they had several of these very neat watercolor balloons being played with around the room. 

Yes, that is our couch.  A balloon ended up at our house because one of the women at the Y told Ben he could bring a balloon home because he was whining and dragging his feet about leaving.  She seems to always pay special attention to him and always says he is a good listener (yes, seriously).  I had reservations but Tessa didn't seemed phased as we left.  Well, once the door closed behind us she realized she wasn't taking a balloon home too and started wailing about wanting to take a balloon home all the way through the lobby and across the parking lot.  I did feel bad because it really wasn't fair.  An older lady of the snowbird variety (there are lots of those around the Y during the morning hours!) started fussing over her and I said she was sad because she didn't get a balloon like her brother.  So what does the lady do but give her a dollar bill?  Jeez!  Completely unnecessary but very sweet. 

I didn't think she would really understand the implications of getting a dollar but she sure was attached to it all afternoon.  She took it with her to her room for her nap and woke up with it still clenched in her fist. 

Pretty cute...and yes, once Ben realized she got "a money" he started whining about that because he likes to put money in his bank. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Pumpkin Patch II

I've previously mentioned my family's pumpkin patches that we enjoyed as kids in the 1990's so I won't repeat myself again.  Until last year it had been many years since those huge vines were present at the farm.  Justin and I, with my mom's help, planted pumpkins and gourds.  We did it by hand and it was quite labor intensive.  Then we proceeded to ignore it for a month.  It was planted in a field and pumpkins can't be sprayed with the usual chemicals (round-up) so you couldn't even see where the pumpkin plants were between the five foot high (I'm not exaggerating) mustard and thistle and marsh elder weeds.  Then there was a six week span of days without rain during the key pumpkin forming phase.  All of these factors resulted in some very small pumpkins. 

This year we are off to a better start already.  Justin obtained a single row seed drill (it was part of a larger planter) and he adapted it for our pumpkin planting needs. 

I don't have a "before" picture but I can tell you it did not look green and shiny like that when he got it!  Also, it did not attach neatly to the bucket of a skid steer. 

The white plastic pipe feeds into the drill.  In its original form there would have been a large bucket with a lid attached where the pipe is.  When we were kids we planted this way by riding on the back of the planter with the buckets removed.  Can you even see any of the details I speak of without being blinded by that white figure in the bucket? That Mayville State 3 on 3 basketball shirt is as glaringly white as the day I earned it at that long passed 3 on 3 tournament!  My mom's bleach habit made sure of that.  It's only a shade whiter than my skin! 

We planted several long rows of pumpkins that are spaced a distance that will make it easy to cultivate between the rows before they vine out to help with weed control.  Rain is also important since this field is too far from a water source for sprinklers.  Hopefully we will have more success than last year!  The bar is low!

Here are  few pictures of the kids playing at the end of last week.  They are golfing and playing baseball.  I guess I should call it "golfing" and "playing baseball" because what they were doing hardly resembled those games but they had fun. 

Milo is getting more mobile.  I wouldn't say he is crawling but he really gets around on the floor. 

It's funny when he really wants something but he can't reach it!