Wednesday, June 29, 2016

First World Problems

We have been having internet issues all week which is a continuation from last week.  We finally had a technician here yesterday and it quit working an hour after he left which meant I had to get on the phone again at 9 p.m. and then have another technician here today.  And they were going to show up any time between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.  Yeah, seriously.  Ugh.  We were planning on going to the zoo for a MOPS get together so I risked it and went and sure enough they called while we were there.  Fortunately we were getting ready to leave anyway and we barely beat them to the house. 

Also, this morning I woke up after a fitful night of sleep and realized I was really hot.  Justin was gone overnight for work so if he would have been home he would have probably lost his mind in the night.  I have a higher tolerance for heat than he does!  Anyway, after I noticed the thermostat said 77 degrees I opened the patio door and hear the AC box making a strange humming sound.  I looked at it and noticed the blades weren't spinning and it was very hot when I touched it.  Justin told me over the phone to turn it off and when the HVAC man came later he found this:

One of the fan blades was bent and cracked!  Fortunately, the motor did not burn out.  So we have had service people here for the last few days and they have been able to see the shambles the house is in because I have spent all my time fighting with the Internet all week.  I know the guy who was here today doesn't have kids and he's probably afraid to have them after seeing this fiasco!  He came to the patio door to talk to me and Milo was sprawled out on the hard kitchen floor right under his feet rolling in a pile of cheerio crumbs.  That is not how I imagined daily life with a baby back in my younger years but its the reality!

So, in the last two weeks we have had a broken washing machine, air conditioner and Internet.  These issues are so time consuming!  First world problems, but annoying still. 

A few fun things we have managed to fit I said we were at the zoo this morning.  We have gone there enough that the kids have their favorite animals to see  nd then we play on the playground.  Ben likes the otters and Tessa likes the monkeys.  Of course we had to see the bears and the big cats too.   There was lots of whining over wanting a train ride but I didn't want to be trapped on the train if the Internet company called. I would have had to make a leap and bolt for the parking lot and we probably would get banned from the zoo.

This is the only zoo picture I took.

Over the weekend we met the kids' new cousin Gus also known as Gustav Carl.  He is my brother's new baby.  He's so tiny!  Ben is still talking about him.

Alright, now I'm caught up on my "Interneting" and have calmed down after two days of upheaval and irritation so now I can think about getting the house in order (yeah right) and getting something decent ready for supper (yeah right) so I can watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix tonight (yeah right).  There have been Olympic trials on TV every night so at least that has been a good thing about this week.  You may not hear from me until after the 4th of July.  I know, dry your tears. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fishing and Baseball

I am getting behind on our "doings".  This week our Internet has not been working.  We have called the company, unplugged the modem and router many times, and called to have it reset over the phone.  It didn't work all day yesterday until around 10:00 p.m.  It worked right away this morning and then didn't for several hours.  So who knows if I will even finish this post!  Also, our washing machine broke over the weekend and we had to order a new part so Justin could try to fix it.  He did indeed fix it so since last night I have been doing laundry nonstop.  This included a load of drenched towels that we used to soak water up that leaked all over the floor.  So, this post is going to be a rushed assortment of things. 

Last weekend Ben went fishing with Justin for the first time.  They stayed at our friends house at Devil's Lake overnight. 

I hear he was a good boy on the boat although he got kind of bored after several hours.  As would I, Ben, as would I.  The exciting part was that he caught some fish on his own with his "Lightening McQueen" fishing pole that he got for his birthday.

This week he started t-ball.  This is t-ball offered through the YMCA so it is not quite the same as the t-ball I knew as a kid (I didn't play when I was of t-ball family didn't live in America...) which is the start of the continuum of baseball and softball that is American Legion sponsored.  I think kids have to have at least finished Kindergarten for that.  It seems that my classmates were still playing Little League in 6th grade so I would guess that "real" t-ball wouldn't start until age 5 or 6 at least.  This Y league is coached by unpaid volunteers which is dads still in their work clothes (it's in the evening) for Ben's team which is the last names A-E team.  There are three and four year olds on the team which means Ben actually seems mature and well behaved. I'm not bashing...last year he did a four session t-ball sampler program and he was only three in a group of three, four and five year olds and the difference between three and five year olds is ridiculous! I got a few pictures at his practice on Tuesday.

Here he is on first base, looking like a little teenager. They have practices on Tuesdays and games on Thursdays so there is a game today at 4:45.  They have only practiced once because of rain.  This should be good. He is excited because his team got red t-shirts to wear and red's his favorite color.

Well, I better go get myself presentable before heading to the game!  After I showered and changed out of my gym clothes I threw on a t-shirt and some sweatpants and Tessa said, "did you get your jammies on?".  Hey, Tessa, why don't you fold the ten loads of laundry that are holding all my decently fitting shorts and pants!  Maybe "jammies" are all that fit me right now! 

Here is a cute picture from earlier this week just for fun...

Don't worry, I caught Ben trying to lift Milo into the cart and helped him safely put him in there.  It didn't look very comfortable but he didn't seem to care...


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Patriotic Pictures

Milo is eight months old and I will readily admit that he doesn't get much action in front of a non-phone camera.  We haven't had his photos taken by a professional since his newborn pictures and weeks go by without my nice camera leaving its bag.  It's just too dangerous for that thing to be sitting out around this house.  For some reason I got the idea in my head to take some nice pictures of the kids on Sunday.  I recently saw on the news that "Americana" and patriotic stuff is all the rage this summer because of the election and the Olympics and the store displays are all red, white and blue so I decided to dress them in those colors and we went to the park across the street from our house for a different scene.  It is a park that lays low with hills surrounding it so it has lots of mountain biking paths and it also has a theater stage which is busy most summer weekend nights with shows and sometimes weddings.  There is no playground so we don't go there very often but that was good for taking distractions.

Well, it turns out the bike trails veer into the trees, creating magical tunnels not compatible with a stroller or a baby.  Of course they were very enticing.  I have many memories of such trails from Turtle River State Park, bible camp, the "ranch" property near my hometown which hosted many outdoor adventure days at school and our family camping trips way back in my younger years. 

After dragging two children out of the "tree tunnels" and promising we could come back without Milo one day we tried to arrange them in the grass.  Of course, it did not go as planned.  The outtakes are, so are a few just to give you an idea. 

Yeah, great.  Nice work, children.  I was able to get a few of Milo at least, and after some amateur editing to brighten them I think they capture his eight month old cuteness.

I like this one because you can see the curls above his ears!

He had that furrowed brow look of dismay the whole time we were there. 

I think I turned up the highlights too high on this one!

There was a gazebo and apparently farther in the park there is a cute bridge but the kids' behavior was too wild so we gave up.  I guess kids don't need a fancy playground to enjoy a park.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pumpkin Update

After our mediocre pumpkin crop last year we are determined to do it right this year.  Last year there was a long dry spell in June and July that went on for at least six weeks in my memory and it could have been longer.  We couldn't do anything about that but what we could have helped was the weed situation.  We had planted by hand and the only option was to weed by hand which we didn't get to until it was too late...wayyyyy too late.  The weeds were waist high and it was hard to even find the poor deprived pumpkin plants.  Some were nothing but long vines trying to climb the weeds to get to the sun. 

This year we planted at a width that could be cultivated.  Justin created this cultivator to be used the same way the planter was used.

Much better than trying to stay on top of the weeds.  See all thosse tiny green sprouts?  In a few weeks those would have been knee high.  A quick pass up and down the rows took care of most of them.  Except...for the actual rows.  You can see in the pictures that there is still a solid spread of green in the rows between the plants.  Upon seeing the green I decided this was going to be DONE RIGHT, DAMMIT! and I spent about four hours last weekend with a hoe.  And after I hoed I crouched down and pulled the tiny new weeds from around the stems of the plants.  Hoeing and weeding is tedious but also so rewarding.  I don't have a picture because I didn't have my phone when I was hoeing but they look so good and clean!  This pumpkin patch is going to blow last year's away! 

When we returned home we has to address our garden, which was already being overtaken by the demon weed purslane and it's diabolical tap roots. 

This is a stock photo but imagine these spread thick between three rows of tiny little carrot sprouts.  Justin raked the spaces and took care of the onion rows and I sat on the ground and weeded hundreds of purslane from the carrot rows.  Between the pumpkins and the garden my pointer finger that gripped the weeds is still discolored with dirt in the way of a true working person.  You would normally see this phenomenon on the hands of a mechanic or a farmer.  Also, my shoulders and arms are still sore from the hoeing even though I though I was pretty strong from lugging kids and baby car seats everywhere for the past four years. There is a reason the young rural athletes of my parents' age and older as far as high school kids played sports did not concern themselves with weight training and why most small town schools did not include weight rooms...they didn't need it.  I recall my dad telling a friend, as they talked about the heavy and wet snow that had fallen all winter, that a shovel full of snow felt the same as a shovel full of grain and that it, "brought back nightmares!"  I also remember reading in a Midwest humor book that it was typical for a football coach to recommend throwing hay bales for the summer for the players.  I even recall the fatigue that would come after spending hours mowing on the Farmall "H" with it's very large and not at all sensitive steering wheel.  There are workout classes and programs based on boot camp so maybe there should be one based on "farming".  Old farming, not current farming where a person can drive a tractor without having to even steer it.

So, although I am still recovering my garden work was very satisfying and I can't wait to see the results! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Week of the Carnival

Last week "the carnival" was in town.  This refers to a fair that is smaller than a state fair but larger than a school type carnival.  It comes here every summer for a week and the two surrounding weekends.  It is fun for the younger kids and also pretty filthy!  Lucky for my kids, I'm not a germophobe!  Ben had bible school every night last week so we weren't sure if we could fit this in too but on Wednesday Justin came home early and we risked overstimulation and chaos by fitting two big activities into one evening and even ate at a restaurant in between!  Whoa whoa whoa!

Last year the "Lightening McQueen" ride was broken but this year it was operational again.  Yessss!  Ben is well above the 36 inch standard for riding alone on the little kid rides.  Tessa is right below it.  Fortunately, the workers at this carnival had no problem letting her confidently climb on the rides and, although they were supposed to take tickets for a parent rider they let me on every time I needed to ride with her.  Call them whatever you want but I appreciated that!

This was one ride where I couldn't believe that having an adult weight person dragging it down would be safer than a little kid riding alone but it seemed strong enough to hold me!

Tessa loved the "horseys". 

I left my dignity at the gate!  Hopefully when they are older the kids will enjoy going on the "real" rides that really toss you around.  I enjoy wild rollercoasters and spinning rides so maybe we can have a fun weekend at Valley Fair or the nearest Six Flags which is not very near at all! 

Oh, and Ben fell asleep on the way to bible school.  I had to haul his limp body inside to the church bathroom to wash his filthy carnival hands.  Fortunately, he perked up quick. Something has to give when you have fun outings with kids!

Some other excitement from last week:

I bought two new chair cushions at Wal-Mart. We only need two because our other chairs are taken up by booster seats.  Milo's high chair is on a folding chair.  Yes, we are now "one of those families" who doesn't fit into the perfect family of four standard encouraged and glorified by society  Oh well.  Justin and I aren't the only one enjoying the new plush cushions.  I should have bought a third for the floor so we wouldn't have to fight over our chairs with a cat.

Ben has decided he is now big enough to carry Milo around.  One afternoon I was absorbed in doing dishes (Yes, I was absorbed in this really my life?) and suddenly I perked up when I heard "I got Milo up!" jumping out from his endless chatter.  This alarmed me and I discovered that Ben had lifted Milo up onto the couch.  He was so proud.  He said, "I'm very very powerful!"  Milo seemed happy about it all but now I have to monitor their time together.  At least he is four instead of two like he was when he decided he could carry Tessa round. 

We recently obtained this little table and chair set which was built for Justin and his sister in 1987 by their godfather.  It is a finely built set of furniture but I wasn't sure what exactly we would do with it seeing as we have no room for anything.  Well, it turns out all I had to do was put away a bunch of junk and where that junk was piled is a perfect spot for it! 

I had to share this picture of Milo because it shows how big he is getting. 

I've never had chubby babies so those thighs of his, although not chubby on the continuum of baby thighs, look so cute to me! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


I grew up attending a traditional Lutheran church.  There was nothing "contemporary" about it.  There were no big screens or power point slides and with a few "special music" exceptions the music was played on a pipe organ and the songs came from hymnals.  Eventually there was a contemporary service one day each month but I thought it seemed pretty weird.  Even with this traditional outlook, the church was still filled with kids who fidgeted, spilled cheerios, wrinkled candy and gum wrappers and doodled on the bulletins.  Confirmation aged kids took sermon notes and acted up in the balcony and took turns lighting the candles.  High school kids remained oblivious to the older congregation members' glares and whispers over whatever inappropriate church attire they were wearing (jeans! T-shirts! Skirts without nylons! The primary and secondary Sunday school groups each had a Sunday most months to "sing in church" which I really loathed but which the primary kids mostly loved.  I think everyone who had to listen to it loathed the secondary kids singing too.  Pre-pubescent 4th-7th graders generally don't have the "cute" going for them in these situations.  Through the whole school year church and Sunday school and the corresponding holiday festivities were part of the routine.  My mom taught and my dad was on Church Council for awhile and my grandma was a choir singer, quilter, and had a hand in all things Ladies Aid.  That old building is as familiar to me as my house, from the hidden ladder behind the organ pipes that leads to the bell to the strange basement storage rooms. 

Every summer, when kids' attendance at church dwindled without the motivation of getting to Sunday School first, there was one week where it came alive again.  It was a week I always enjoyed as a kid and later as a teenage volunteer.  Vacation Bible school!  Oh, VBS, with it's fun themes and uncharacteristic decorations and sophisticated crafts and delicious snacks.  And we even played games on the lawn of the church!  It was such a riot and was made even better because any kid could go and it was free so there were usually friends there who didn't usually go to the church and the kids from the "country churches" were there too.

Our neighbor works at a large Lutheran church here and their granddaughter is around regularly and she and Ben have become friends so they invited him to go to VBS with her.  It is this week.  It is mostly how I remember it, with a lot more kids (there are ten rooms of preschool kids!) and a much higher decorating budget.  It looks like prom in that place!  The theme is "Deep Sea Discovery" and everywhere you look there are jellyfish made of streamers, octopi with paper chain arms and sparkly blue tinsel draping all the doors.  From what I gather, they have focused on the "water" themed Bible stories.  Noah's Ark was the first night, Jonah was the second, and I have no idea what was last night.  His art project was a piece of paper with paint smeared all over it and it didn't offer any clues. 

I wanted to get a good picture of Ben with some of the decorations but there are so many people milling about before and after that it is hard to get one.  I got him to stand by this bird on the really doesn't do justice to the whole scene!

The theme and logo could easily be traded with the themes I remember from the 1990's.  The good old Augsburg Fortress Publishing House knows to keep a good thing going.  We found an old t-shirt from bible school in the early 1990's in my parents' attic last fall when we were cleaning.  The theme that year was something having to do with a Kingdom and it was a black outline printed on a white shirt and one of the crafts was to color it with paint!  Puffy paint! Now that is SO 90's!  What's even more 90's is that everyone wore them around in public that summer. 

As far as I can tell, Ben has enjoyed VBS and seeing his friend every night and I haven't heard any behavior reports so it must be going well.  I guess this means we have to commit to a church and get him in Sunday School in the fall which means my long span of church attendance slacking will have to end. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Allan's Birthday

Today is Allan's birthday.  He is seven years old and on the day he was born I didn't know of his existence yet.  He was born to a stray who had been taken in to the Humane Society and he had three siblings.  I think there were two brothers and a sister.  The sister was orange like him and one brother was black and they were both already adopted.  He shared a cage with another orange brother who Justin didn't take and we still wonder if we should have sometimes.  I hope that, wherever he is, he has a good home like Allan and that his family remembers his birthday!

Here Al is today, being fat and old and fantasizing about being a tiger in the wild.

If he only had a chance at those birds...

I was so excited this afternoon because I caught a picture of his "tiger face".  Every once and a while he holds his mouth partially open and it makes him look like a tiger. 

Fortunately, since his first birthday in 2010, new technology has been developed so I can just draw a birthday hat on his head instead of this nonsense:

Hahaha that was that time I made him a birthday hat and thought it would stay on his head for a picture...dumb!

I was looking through my picture folders to find some cute old pictures of him.  Wow, did I take a lot of pictures of him before the children came along. 

He was so little!  Now he could suffocate that duck with his fat body.

This was one of his first days with us. 

Here he is laying on my rotary mat I use for quilting. He could easily have been an amputee if he had kept that up. 

It's hard to believe he is seven.  Seven is the low age on senior citizen cat food.  I guess he is a senior cat now. I hope we have many more years with him!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Graduation Update

On Friday afternoon after we had left town for Memorial weekend, I saw an email from Ben's teacher that we forgot his present.  I had no idea there was a present the kids were supposed to take home and I didn't remember seeing other kids with one but I went and picked it up yesterday.  The gift was a book with a note from the teachers inside and there was also a collection of drawings the kids did every month.  They were told to draw themselves and the drawings really show their development as the months passed.  I saw these up until March at the parent-teacher conference and they are quite fascinating. 

This one below was the first week of school.  I didn't rotate the picture but as you can see it is an incoherent collection of scribbles.

After just one month he was drawing a body and a face with eyes and a mouth.

Is it a boy or a robot?

By March was writing his own name and drawing hair, ears and fingers. 

And here is the final drawing from May...It really is amazing how fast a child's brain can change.  I'm not saying this is advanced or anything because I have no idea what the other kids' pictures looked like and many of them probably looked better since some of them are five and going to Kindergarten next year. The comparison between Ben's first and last drawing is really impressive to me though.

He even has the grass and the sun in the drawing!  I hope I can be motivated to have him keep practicing this over the summer!