Tuesday, September 27, 2016

One Year Anniversary

This is a day late, but one year ago yesterday, I was 38 weeks pregnant, huge, and probably would not have been advised to leave the vicinity of my hospital.  But I did just that to travel to the farm to watch the home of my childhood face the wrecker after a long life of 120+ (no one knows for sure) years on that spot.  It had a good run but after overcoming a fire in the 40's, standing empty to the point of having ceilings falling down in the 50's and undergoing a totally wrong 1970's first floor remodel it was finally time for it to go.  I wrote a pretty extensive post back in October of 2015 about it so anyone who wants to (I'm sure no one) can refer back to it but I felt compelled to mark the date. 

That was a strange weekend, with Friday night being a frantic last minute clear out of the last minute things.  The morning of the tear down came early and reality came when the man doing the demolition decided he was worried about the brick chimney that ran from the basement to the attic toppling over on him so he and my dad decided to try to pull it down before the major demo started.  My dad and Justin went in there and somehow put a chain around the chimney so it could be pulled down.  Seeing the roof sink as the chimney came down was the point of no return and it got weirder from there.

Here are a few pictures of my room from before the tear down with the morning light shining through which was my favorite part of my room.   It looks pretty but under that wallpaper the plaster on the slant was cracked beyond repair and probably would have crumbled if the paper was removed! 

That gold patch of paint is where the radiator was.

Now you would not know a house had been there.  That spot is my parents' new front yard.  They planted grass this spring and it grew in very quickly so they have a lawn again.  My prediction that a ring of 50 year old perennials would be growing there forever did not come true.  I think about the house a lot and miss it around holidays but I think what I am missing is the carefree days of my youth and not the house itself.  I don't miss the spiders and ladybugs that always seemed to infiltrate, the heat in the summer, or the windows that you had to practically wrestle opened with a hammer which then had to be propped open with a book or something (what was that all about anyway?)

Here is something else I don't miss...these pictures seem appropriate since Halloween is coming...the basement from h#ll...

How would you like to go down there every time you wanted an ice cream treat from the freezer? 

A weird pipe coming from the wall...that seems normal...or not...

And...the weirdest...a blocked in doorway.  What?  Doesn't everyone have one of those in their basement?  Seriously, it was just the old entrance to the basement/cellar from the outside door like you see on many old houses.  When the excavator dug out the foundation the old staircase was even there.  My dad remembered it all. 

There were a few cute pictures of Tessa in my album from that weekend.  She was so cute and babyish still with her beloved pacifier! 

Milo wore that shirt this weekend!  He is a whole year younger than her when she wore it!  She's so tiny. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My Attempt at Rustic Elegance

The last year or two there has been a fun trend of in-home painting parties or group parties at bars or other venues where you and your friends get instructions on how to paint the same picture on canvas while you have a few beverages and socialize.  That trend has started to run its course and is being replace with "rustic" sign painting.  I have wanted to do one of these painting things for a long time and my dream finally came true when I was invited to a sign painting party at a friend's house.  There were five options to choose from, several colors of stains and paint washes for the background you could pick and many bottles of paint to choose from at the party. 

I picked this ND sign with a little hometown heart.  I left it on my current home although I thought about moving it to my original hometown.  I thought, wherever I end up in the future, this sign can be a reminder of living here and life as it is now. 

I am so proud of this thing!  It really took hardly any effort.  The stain was already on there, as was a stencil so all I did was paint the white state and the blue letters.  After it tried we could "rough it up" with sandpaper and pound in the hanging hook on the back.  Then the lady running the event sprayed it with a sealant. 

You might have (but probably not) noticed that the background of that picture is the dining room table.  The very table that I, a few months ago, decided to turn into the designated lego storage surface.  Well, that surface became a nightmare.  It was so packed with lego sets and loose blocks that there wasn't even room to play without pushing things out of the way which resulted in many legos on the floor where Milo could get them.  Then, Milo started standing and reaching up there and pulling things off.  Also, I just got sick of looking at it. So, over several organizing sessions while Ben was at school, I sorted each set into a ziplock back with the directions, threw away most of the original boxes from the store, and looked at direction books to match up many obscure pieces to their proper sets.  It was not an enjoyable way for me to spend my time.  It was worth it though.  The dining room is back, even though there is a blue plastic tub full of zip lock bags shoved in the corner. Hopefully a cute basket or box will catch my eye at TJ Maxx or somewhere so I can put them in that instead. And Ben seems happier too now that he can play easier.  He is rediscovering sets that he hadn't played with in awhile.  Tessa also likes it.  I shouldn't overlook her.  She is getting to be a good lego builder. 

Yesss!  A place to display some Halloween decorations!  This display will be improved when we get some pumpkins and gourds in here. 

The kids loved getting out the Halloween box.  We hung orange lights in their windows and the dining room window and there are window clings stuck all over the house.  Ben had to try on the baby pumpkin costume.  He got stuck and started screaming and thrashing like it was a straightjacket. 

It will fit Milo perfectly this year!  And even if it didn't fit perfectly he would still be wearing it! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Iowa City

Well, most of you probably already know that my regional fan base had a pretty major football weekend.  We NDSU fans headed to Eastern Iowa to play the very "legit" University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA.  I didn't really know how huge this game was going to be but it was HUGE.  By that, I mean the school, the atmosphere, the stadium and the stakes were all huge.   Justin and I were there.  We were there tailgating at 6 a.m. while the moon was still out. 

This is me, drinking a beer and trying to capture the moon shining in the background.  That light there-that's the moon.  Lord have mercy.  The game was at 11 a.m. so this really was the only option.  It was a very fun morning, even though, as usual at away games, the bathroom situation in the parking lot was not even close to enough.  It was a good thing we got there at 6 a.m. because by the time we walked to the game there were cars parked in all directions.  It was crazy.

This cool bison of balloons was in the lot.  Where has this balloon artist been all my life?

I have very few pictures of myself from this day, which is probably a good thing.  It was humid and getting ready at 4:30 a.m. then drinking at 6 a.m. usually doesn't end in a picture perfect appearance.  Oh well.

I wish I could adequately describe the atmosphere of this city on game day.  Our tailgating lot was approximately 2 miles (some said 1.5, some said 3 miles) from the stadium and the lines to ride the shuttle bus were very very long so many people walked.  There were throngs of people walking down that street and the last few blocks were residential.  Every house had cars parked on the lawn and parties happening in the driveways.  Some had outhouses in their yards.  Apparently people rent out their yards on game days.  It was crazy.  And it wasn't even the college street.  We didn't see where the students were.  I can't imagine. 

Well anyway, we had been walking for awhile and I thought I saw a high rise building through the trees.  It was actually the stadium. 

Look at this place!  It was packed too!  That cylindrical building is the University Children's Hopsital.  Recall that the game was over the noon hours so the sun just cooked us the whole time.  It wasn't exactly hot as far as temperature but the sun was so hot.  I ended up wearing my infinity scarf on my head so my scalp wouldn't burn.  I also paid $6 for a souvenir glass of soda and refilled it with water in the bathroom two times.  It was worth it because...we won!  We beat that big team at that huge school in front of a home crowd of 70,000 people. 

When the game was over the street we walked down to get there was blocked off for pedestrian only traffic and there were THRONGS of people.  The only thing I have seen that it compares to was the 17th of May in Oslo, Norway in front of the palace.  It was such a memorable and fun atmosphere.  And we won!

When we finally arrived back at our tailgating lot, which was the parking lot of a huge high school, we changed our shoes, had a beer and relaxed in some wonderful, wonderful shade for awhile.  (That kid is not one of ours...they weren't there).

It was a long drive to Eastern Iowa but so worth it. 

The night before the game we went to the pep fest the Alumni Association held and our whole group took a picture at the photo booth they had set up.  They printed little filmstrips for everyone which was pretty cool. 

I am wearing the free hat they gave away at the door.  Too bad I didn't bring that thing to the game!  My nose would have been less red and my scarf less sweaty! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Pet Resistant

I forgot about something that happened last week that I just HAD to post about on here.  It is a "house project" type of thing so it feels like I'm getting back to my original blogging roots! Well, those would really be studying abroad but that's not happening in the forseeable future.  Anyway, last week the same night I was splattering tomato juice and seeds all over the kitchen, we had the patio door opened to get some air moving through the house since we have turned off our air conditioner but it still gets pretty warm in the house during the day.  The light was on out there which attracted lots of bugs and, as I was slicing and squeezing tomatoes I heard the sound of Allan attacking the screen as he has many times.  But it sounded more drastic than usual and I panicked when I saw a huge hole the size of a softball ripped in the screen which he had put his paw through and used to slide open the screen in his bug chasing frenzy.  I ran over to the door and grabbed him with tomato covered hands and left a gross red and seed filled handprint on the wall with my other hand.  It all happened so fast...

So we were left with a huge hole in our screen.  Now, in Allan's defense, the previous owners of this house had a small dog who also apparently had a penchant for screen clawing because it had many small holes at dog level.  Yes, Allan has made some of them worse as have the kids who can't seem to resist sticking their fingers through the holes.  But this was the final straw...we had to replace the screen. 

Here you can kind of see the hole-y condition of the old screen.

There is the big one at the bottom...

I have a very vague memory of watching someone, probably my dad, replace a screen so I knew some could be replaced by pulling a long black cord out from around the window frame but I feel like having a torn screen is always a big deal when it happens. 

Well, Justin headed to the hardware store and purchased some new "pet resistant" screen and a new cord and we did a pretty decent job of replacing it.

Well, he did the hard part.  I just pulled the screen tight.  It looks a lot better.  It is one of those things where you have to thing, "why didn't we just do that a long time ago?"

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Lost Light Bulb

Over the weekend we braved another football game with all three kids, which went as well as it could have in that the weather was good and I only spent the second and third quarters pushing a sleeping baby around in a stroller.  We had our nephew's baptism on Sunday at the church in my hometown so that was another brave adventure...three kids...and we had to sit at the front...It happened to be the first day of Sunday school and the kids sang songs from vacation bible school in church so there was plenty of commotion anyway.  Since my childhood there has always been a children's sermon where the minister sits down with kids at his or her feet and delivers a short kid friendly message.  When that time came Ben was up there before we could even ask him if we wanted to go up and he sat down right next to the minister!  The message had to do with losing something (tying in to the larger theme of the day which happened to be the 15th anniversary of 9/11) and the minister asked the kids if any of them had ever lost something.  Immediately Ben's hand shot up and I heard my dad behind me whisper, "this should be good..." He stuttered a bit before answering, "my new light bulb!" for the whole church, which was pretty full, to hear.

It's been years since I've had a giggle fit somewhere inappropriate.  It used to happen all the time, whether it was in a class, in church, or sitting at the piano in front of my classmates in choir when I was supposed to be playing the accompaniment.  That was a funny one involving an awkward freshman boy who didn't want to be there who sneezed and had a huge booger hanging out of his nose...Hehehe...I'm like an eight year old boy...boogers are funny...hehehe...Well, my most recent loss of composure was kind of an exhilarating experience, honestly...I felt like my youthful self again if only for a church service. 

The rest of the morning went well.  The main sermon had to do with 9/11 and the minister had placed bowls of those little flat vase filler marbles in bowls so everyone could take one to keep as a reminder of what we all lost that day and it turns out that those are Tessa's favorite type of "treasure" so she was happy.  Ben really wanted to be with the kids when they were singing which makes me feel bad that he's not in Sunday school but we are never home on weekends so I don't really know what to do about that.  Wednesday school, I guess. 

We got a relatively decent family photo which is shocking.  I was at the pumpkin patch with Ben's preschool class this morning and they took a group picture with approximately twenty kids and they all look perfect in it but yet I can't usually get my three to look at the same time. 

Milo and Daddy hanging out while everyone took pictures.

The sponsors.

Our acceptable family picture. 

Cute little girl with her "treasures" from the minister. 

As far as the light bulb episode, Justin asked Ben what he was talking about and we think he was referring to the tendency Milo has to crawl into his room and pull his Paw Patrol night light out of the outlet.  One night we couldn't find it so he had to go without.  So that was that.  (I am currently giggling like a wierdo.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Tomato Solution

The garden has been producing tomatoes for about one month now and I have hit my wall.  I can barely stand to eat them right now.  I buy "Suddenly Salad" kits weekly to use the small ones, I slice the big ones and sprinkle them with my favorite greek seasoning, and I add them to every burrito and sandwich.  I tried to give them away in gallon bags and no one would take them.  Come on, they are yellow and purple!  They are so cool! 

This was what I picked yesterday.  The large ones are on the bottom, followed by Romas, followed by grape tomatoes.  That is a reusable grocery bag and it is almost half full.  From ONE DAY of picking.  I failed to take a "before" picture, but the kitchen counter, which is a cluttered on a good day and usually piled with piles piled upon piles of junk, was also covered with an overflowing bowl of garden produce with tomatoes rolling everywhere and hiding under every pile.  It's been four years since I've done this and I hadn't planned on doing it, but I didn't see any other choice...

Yes, I impulsively decided to freeze tomatoes last night.  At 8:00 p.m. What you see here is about one fourth of what I processed .

Ugh, blanching tomatoes is so gross.  And you can try to be neat about it but it transforms the kitchen into a war zone.  Also, although the whole process from start to finish took less than an hour, the kids could just NOT handle me focusing my attention on something besides them during this hour.  There was screaming, whining and crying as I tried to block it all out and finish what I started.  At one point Tessa was standing beside me holding her pajamas which she had taken out of her drawer after pulling a chair up to it so she could reach.  I probably said, "just a minute, I'm almost done, I can't right now, my hands are dirty!" one hundred times.  For awhile Milo was handing on my legs and screaming so I held him as I transferred a batch of Roma's between the boiling pan and the ice bath. 

Oh, and don't look over my shoulder and try to forget back in January when I had a New Year's resolution to stop piling stuff on top of the fridge...

In other news, when we returned from the long Labor Day weekend we noticed that Ben's sunflower, the one I thought might die, had bloomed!  Dang, is that thing tall.  It probably grew a foot in the last week before it bloomed. 

I have some good pictures from Labor Day but I will save those for another day this week.  Or maybe will...the best laid plans...

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

First Day

Ben had his first day of his second year of preschool last week.  Last year he went three mornings each week and this year he is going two full days each week.  He is at the same school in the same room with the same teachers so the start of the year was not the least bit traumatic or emotional.  He marched into that room on the orientation morning and immediately told his teacher that some bin of toys was in the wrong place.  His best friend from last year is in his class again and so are several other kids that he got along with so they were very excited to be together again.  A group of us went to the zoo together after orientation and I think we moms were happy to be reunited too.  I'm excited to enter this new phase of friend making...the parents' of kids classmates phase.  Making new friends when you have babies and toddlers is not easy even for the social and friendly people like myself.  I have read that to really connect with people one thing you need is the regular interaction (which is why high school and college friends and co-workers are the people who often become your closest friends).  Seeing people several times a week twice a day and watching the swimming lessons, etc.has helped us to connect, I guess.   It's good.  I like it.  Also, some of them have younger kids who will probably go to school with Tessa in the upcoming years so I look forward to that.

Full day school does present some new challenges and the other moms were all slightly concerned about these things too.  The main one is eating lunch at school and not being able to pull any B.S.  There is one meal and that's what they get!  We saw the menu in the pickup line and their first lunch was...chicken pot pie!  Hahaha...we all groaned and swore under our breaths in sympathy for whoever had to get them to eat that.  Ben said he tried it, which is probably the rule.  At least try!  I'm going to enjoy this school year.  The second thing we were worried about, without going into too much detail, involves hand and arm dexterity and bathroom use.  I'm sure you understand what I'm saying...

Here are a few first day of school pictures. 

Tessa wasn't going to let us have a nice group picture...oh, no...she made sure to cry for no reason.  Well, she had a reason which is not being accustomed to being rushed out of the house within half an hour of being woken up.  Hopefully she will soon figure out that getting up and dressed early means she gets me, and the TV and toys and Milo, to herself for the day. 

Ben picked that Curious George shirt out at Old Navy when we were shopping for a few new school shirts.  I envisioned a button up or a polo shirt but he liked that one so...I have heard of parents who don't let their kids wear clothes with cartoon and movie characters on them.  Whatever people...the years of childhood are so short and if my kids feel connected to some fictional character then they can wear a cheap shirt with that character. 

Here he is ready to go inside. Off to the right you can see Tessa clutching her milk and wondering what the heck is going on.   

Here is his hook...he is just Ben this year, without the last initial, since he is the only Ben in the class!