Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thanksgiving and a Winter Kickoff

Well, Thanksgiving is over and it was just fine.  I only took two pictures of the whole weekend but that's OK.  There are many holidays and things I remember fondly that were not photographed.  There was a lot of eating, I saw some of the Macy's Parade and spent every single meal cajoling and threatening my kids to get them to eat something...anything.  Pretty much like every other meal of my life. 

Here is one picture...

Snowmen crafts!  This was my idea as I have a childhood (and high school and college) Thanksgiving tradition of making an ornament with my cousins on my dad's side.  I thought it would be fun for the kids. It turns out, my kids are too young for this and I had to do everything for them and then keep them from ruining what they picked before it dried.  The older kids had fun though.  The four above were made by our nine year old nephew. 

I guess I actually took two pictures of them...That jaunty little guy in the blue was made my me.  The lovely specimen with no hat and a bunch of red paint on it was made by one of my kids...classic.

Here is my only other picture.  It features Milo and Tessa playing with the beads for my mom's Christmas tree.  I took it because I thought it was funny that Tessa looked like a crazy person with that hat on.  I let the kids play with those beads because she has had those since I was a child and they never get tangled.  Well, guess who managed to get them tangled? 

On Sunday evening we made it home just as an ice storm was beginning to pelt the windows with sleet.  I walked out to get the mail and had to creep along the front of the house under the roof overhang so I wouldn't fall flat on my back.  The next morning it was a full snow storm. 

This was yesterday afternoon.  Well, guess what, it's still storming.  It's like one of the days long blizzards from the Little House on the Prairie series.  I was dreading getting Ben to preschool this morning and got up extra early to get ready because I knew we would have to leave early.  After I was already dressed with makeup on I heard the news...no preschool.  No public school or private school in Bismarck!  They never cancel school here.  It's not like when I was growing up when half the kids came from the country on a bus and they would call off the busses several times a year.  I think cancelling school causes a lot of problems for parents now.  It's not like the 90's and the rest of history before that when everyone's moms were home and often their dads too (farmers!) and if they weren't you could just trudge on over to your grandma's or babysittter's or a friends house until you figured it out.  Early dismissal used to be awesome but here in a city in this society it would cause mass chaos and panic.

So the storm is still raging outside.  I thought it seemed to be letting up earlier but I looked at the radar and look what is moving in from the North.  Hmmmm awesome. 

Yesterday the kids were hounding me all day to play outside and I kept putting it off until after lunch, when Milo was napping, etc.  They finally got to go out when Justin got home and was shoveling.  Ben has an endless tolerance for being out in the cold. 

You can see how he is ready to launch right into the snow in this picture. 

The inevitable happened right away!  I feel bad.  His snowpants barely fit anymore.  Hopefully they can work until January when everything goes on clearance. 

Mmmmm...delicious fresh white snow!

Tessa was more hesitant but she had fun too.

Ben wanted to shovel like Daddy so we gave him one.  He has pretty good shoveling form!

Yesterday I managed to get the Christmas tree set up as well as my Christmas village.  Today I told the kids we would hang ornaments after Ben was home from school.  Of course, the first thing he wanted to do when he heard there was no school was decorate.  It wasn't even 8:00 a.m. yet. But now everything is mostly done and I just have to clean up the chaos and re-shelf and hide the boxes.  During this big decorating spree I always get overwhelmed by the huge mess and want to hide and wonder if decorating is even worth it at all.  We have so much crap!  Just taking out the decorations is so much work and the house is a mess all around it so it doesn't really look nice anyway!  The kids get so excited they just tear the boxes apart and now there are ornaments all over the house. It's hard for me to let go of the fantasy of a catalogue Christmas.  Oh well...I will share pictures in another post when I get the disaster cleaned up. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Deer Hunting 2016

This post should have been added a few weeks ago...but...when I only manage to post once or twice a week things get pushed back and I am only getting to it now.  Ben went hunting with Justin two times and on the second time they, in Ben's words, "catched a deer". 

In case you couldn't tell, that is a buck.  A pretty big one.  I don't know how much Ben saw of the umm...processing portion of hunting.  I haven't been sure how to address the whole killing of animals thing.  It can be confusing to see an animal killed when at home we insist on kindness to animals, especially when kids aren't old enough to understand the benefits of hunting animals like deer in nature.  Also, many people in America today have a total meltdown at the mention of guns and won't let their kids enter a home where the people who live their own guns.  Fortunately we don't live in an area like that so it probably won't be an issue.  I have read research that indicates that young boys, for whatever biological reason, will play "weapons" games regardless of what you give them to play with.  I've seen lots of examples of this in real life.  I will say that "shooting noises" are very very annoying. 

So now the meat is at the butcher and...well..that black leaf bag is chilling in the bushes outside our house.  You can use your imagination about what is in there.  It's OK though, because my neighbor kept a full deer in the back of his pickup for a whole day, complete with hooves hanging over the side of the box. 

I hope all the kids take an interest in hunting and outdoor exploits.  I believe it is a much more worthwhile activity than most things kids want to do these days, such as staring at ipads and phones all day. 

I remember the first year I hunted with Justin back in 2005 or whenever it was.  There was snow on the ground and it was freezing.  There has rarely been a cold hunting weekend since.  Also, there was talk of a winter storm coming last weekend and it completely missed us so the snow plow reflector sticks were placed in vain...for now anyway. It was a good thing because we had to travel for my cousin's wedding over the weekend.  Pictures in the next post...hopefully.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tessa's Birthday

As I mentioned two days ago on her actual birthday when I instead decided to post about my cat's weight, Tessa is now three.  She has recently been to a themed party of a friend so she kept talking about her birthday party and what theme it was going to be.  Well, she didn't have a big party but she did have three small family parties with three cakes...well, two cakes and some cupcakes.  And Justin found Frozen cupcakes at the grocery store so that was good.

Cake 1.

Cake 2.

Cake 3.  Or, more like cake 2.5.  Notice the snowflakes on her gifts?  Frozen theme success!


That is a Shopkins set combined with copycat Legos.  So pretty much the best thing ever.  Ben had a rough time watching her her get presents all weekend.   He can't grasp the concept of everyone getting a birthday once a year. 

This little cake lover did not care at all that his sister got a bunch of gifts. 

She got some clothes, boots, legos, rubber stamps and various "treasures".  My dad gave her a shop organizing case to hold them all.  On her birthday at home she opened the shopkins, playdoh, a gift set of Frozen puzzles and games and a bag of vase filler marbles in a lovely pink color combination she doesn't have yet.  Yeah, for real.  The Frozen games included a Frozen themed version of the old game "Trouble" where the dice is in a popping bubble in the middle of the board.  Oh, do the kids love that game.  Oh, is it ever tedious. 

Tessa is playing Playdoh right now as I type this and she wanted to make a ladybug like the one on the box.  Silly me.  I threw together a ladybug in an amateur fashion and now she thinks I can make everything on that box.  Including the tiger with stripes.  Ummmm...how about that cute snake?

On Monday night I took her to get a haircut. It was more like a de-mulleting of the long hair in the back.  She has looked very ragamuffin-ish in pictures and we have a wedding this weekend so I thought I could start trying to style her hair with barrettes.  From the front you can't tell she had a haircut.  And now Justin gets to join the ranks of dad's who ask, with confusion, "you paid for that?" after a female in the house returns from the hair salon.  Haha.  At my house even my brother got asked that question.  From the man who had hair like this. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Allan's Vet Visit

Today is Tessa's birthday but I will post about that tomorrow after she opens her presents from us tonight.  She already had a few cakes and some presents this weekend but we have to do something on her actual birthday.  At this time three years ago I was annoyed because I was supposed to get induced at 7:00 a.m. but the told me they didn't have room so we had to wait around all day.  We got the call at 3:00 p.m. and she arrived at 8:19 p.m. so it all worked out.  That sure is a disappointment though, when you get up early and are mentally prepared and then you have
to wait. 

Now...about Allan.  If you have been reading for awhile you probably remember a time on this blog when Allan was a regular topic.  Which is why approximately five people read this.  Of course, the kids have taken over but Allan is still my beloved kitten.  We take him to the vet once each year for shots and a health check.  Usually Justin takes him.  I remember taking him in the weeks before Tessa was born when I was hugely pregnant and I had Ben with me. That was probably my last time. 

We have noticed he has gained some weight over the past few months.  He has always, since he reached his adult size, weighted between 11 and 12 pounds.  Last year he was 12 pounds.  Yesterday he was...wait for it...16 pounds.  Jeez!  I knew he was getting bigger but that's a lot of weight for a small animal.  I feel bad but we truly have not been feeding him more or doing anything different.  The vet says the reason is his advancing age and more sedentary lifestyle.  

I don't think he looks fat...do you?


OK, he is.  I guess it's time to put a new battery in the old laser pointer and get him running around the house in a frenzy like he used to do when he was a younger man.  I really do relate because I know it is not fun to gain a large fraction of your body weight.  I've done it three times since 2011.  Now I am worried about his fat body trying to lounge in my Christmas tree this year.  He better not tip it over or bend the branches! 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Other Side

Well, here we are on the other side.  I was pretty shocked about the election as was everyone else and  had no idea what a mess people in person and on the internet would be yesterday.  Now, I get a kick out of Facebook and social media and if people want to bring their drama on there in front of everyone to see I am happy to read and eye roll.  But...yesterday was even too much for me.  After seeing good friends blow up at each other over FB posts and articles, insults being hurled, disturbing abortion photos being shared, and seeing a crowd of people absolutely slaughter a woman for saying she disagreed with the medical marijuana measure passing because marijuana use had caused big problems in her family even I had to stop back and quit looking for awhile.  Then I was sitting at the YMCA and I had the pleasure of listening to a table of retired people bash "young people" because they went to college, got all their ideas from their liberal college professors and now they just sit around on their iphones all day and don't even pay attention to their kids and don't want to work hard.  UMMM...OK...FIRST OF ALL...do they recommend "young people" not go to college?  And also, yes, college professors are generally liberal but I remember college very clearly and I almost always went to class and what I remember is the professors using every minute they had to get through the material in the syllabus.  There wasn't a lot of time left for filling those weak little (grown adult) minds with liberal propaganda.  And, MAYBE young people like to look at their phones because they read various newspapers and magazines on them because subscribing to everything they like to read would cause their house to be magazine and newspaper cluttered disaster with an overflowing recycling bin and it would also cost a lot of money.  Now that I try to absorb it the whole conversation really didn't make much sense but with general over-social-media-d mood I was in I had to get out of there. 

Anyway, I feel better today although I know a lot of people don't.  The TV coverage was a bit more tolerable today now that everyone, including the politicians, news people and everyone else on camera has had time to sleep after being up for who knows how long, remove the many layers of makeup they had caked on their face and start fresh and hopefully spend a few hours in a safe and private place while wearing sweatpants and sitting on the couch for awhile.

I have seen many people turn to their faith a this election has progressed and what I continuously thought about was one of my favorite Sacred Harp songs, which is called "Confidence".  It deals with fear, which I know many people are feeling right now. 

Image result for Away my unbelieving fear

If you can't see the font, the lyrics say,

"Away, my unbelieving fear, fear shall in my no more have place.
My Saviour doth not yet appear, he hides the brightness of his face.
But shall I therefore let him go, and basely to the tempter yield?
No, in the strength of Jesus no! I never will give up my shield!"

The Sacred Harp songbook is filled with lofty words.  The recorded version I listen to most was recorded by Alan Lomax in 1959 at a church gathering in Fyffe, Alabama and I love to hear the people talk in their southern accents as they call out the song they are choosing to lead.  I imagine them as rural farmer type people and I can seen them singing to themselves as they go about their lives during the week after spending the weekend singing together. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day

I love me an election day...it's such a strange feeling when you go about your life on Tuesday of a presidential election and you know that by the time you go to sleep (well, except for the year 2000) there will be a new president and no one knows who it is yet.  Also, like the loveably dorky Chuck Todd on NBC, I highly enjoy, in his words, "geeking out over demographic maps".  Oh, I love those maps where you can see every county in the U.S. outlined in various shades of red and blue.  It's so fascinating to think of all the people in all the counties, all with their diverse backgrounds and reasons for why they vote the way they do.

Justin and I voted this morning at our neighborhood middle school.  We were going to take turns while the other watched Milo and Tessa but as I displayed my horrible parallel parking skills on the street I saw my next door neighbor running over.  He had already voted and passed Justin on his way out and he jumped in my car to watch the kids so we could get it done quickly and painlessly.  It was perfect. 

I have already seen countless voting posts and check-ins on social media and it seems that some locations in some cities even have photo backdrops and signs you can pose with after voting.  I think anyone of a certain age is probably rolling their eyes sky high at voting turning into something that needs to be shown off and I agree.  Just do it, it's kind of a given...Although...I can share a picture of my voting sticker on here because like five people see this and I fixed my hair for once.  Also, there are two sets of voting stickers in town and one has weird grammar on it and I got a normal one so I was happy about that.  I took the picture at home since the volunteer retirees for the Sertoma Club didn't think to set up a selfie station at our location.  Because why would they?

I hope there is some compelling new movie on Netflix for the kids tonight because I plan on a evening long news and demographic map binge.  It is a fun tradition.  I'll never forget watching the news into the early morning hours when I was a senior in high school in 2000 and waiting for results which didn't come for months.  I recall my mom talking about staying up late to wait for an election result with her dad when she was a teenager.  He was a social studies teacher.  I thought it must have been 1972 but I just looked up that race and it doesn't seem like that was a very tight race at all...


I don't think the entire country will be one color tonight and I think I know who will win but I also think the people giving us news coverage are telling everyone who they want to win.  I struggled with this election just like everyone else in America and I kept thinking, up until yesterday, that some boring but experienced and responsible politician would step in and say, "FINE, I'll do it!" but I have to say I felt a thrill in that little flimsy booth to see a woman on the ballot for president.  I think it's just the beginning.  By the time my kids are old enough to vote no one will think anything of it and when my parents were kids it would have been unthinkable. 

Well, I'm off to daydream about the days when everyone made fun of Bob Dole for referring to himself as Bob Dole and joked about John Kerry getting botox.  That was what we rolled our eyes about.  Sigh. 

Speaking of...


Watch this.  Just do it.  It will lighten your mood today!  The good old days...

Friday, November 4, 2016

Milo's Deadline

I feel like I've neglected the blog this week for the very boring reason of not having anything interesting to write about.  Let's see...I am breaking my own rule and saying pumpkin to tell you that Justin sawed twelve reject pumpkins in half and hollowed them out and cleaned the seeds so I can roast them.  That's a lot of seeds and a lot of slimy pumpkin flesh to separate and he did all the work.  I just seasoned them and roasted them.  I will be eating them for a long time and they are so good.  On the day I roasted them I ate so many I felt sick from them and wasn't sure I could eat any more.  Well, I was wrong.  Also, faced what I didn't want to face and looked up the calories in pumpkin seeds.  Hold on to your hats...677 calories per cup.  PER CUP!  Gaaaaah!  This is not good.  They are very nutritious and high in iron and magnesium but also full of fat.  Oh well.  It's the holdiays now!  I can eat whatever I want and deal with it later! 

Milo will soon be 13 months old and he hasn't walked yet.  He is so...close...He takes one step then takes a knee.  He kind of lunges between furniture.  Ben was born on the 7th and he walked on the 4th of the following month after his birthday (which was also my 30th birthday!).  Today is the 4th so I had given Milo the deadline of today to walk in order to be like Ben. We shall see...

Milo has been pretty funny lately.  He likes to open the cupboards with books and pull them out one by one and throw them on the floor. 

And you better believe he doesn't pick them up when he's done. 

I got out my limited collection of Thanksgiving decorations, which includes the gourds from October, a door hanger with leaves that say "Give thanks" painted on them and a cornucopia, or as I like to call it, the Horn of Plenty. 

Oh, and also these two turkey beanie babies.  They are so cute!  Hopefully I can keep these out of the kids hands which inevitably means they end up on the floor which leads to them getting a dingy look to them.  Or having a full can of Diet Coke spilled on them, which happened to Ben's Curious George toy yesterday.  Fortunately, he was at school so I didn't have to listen to him lose his sh!t over it and I was able to get George in the washing machine unnoticed. 

Hmmmm...now that I looke at it, this horn seems a bit sparse as opposed to plentiful...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween 2016

November first is here and my email box is already full of holiday emails from my favorite stores.  I bet if I went to the mall today it would already be festooned in garland and Christmas lights.  That kiosk that sells meat and cheese gift sets will be operational (why can't I remember the name) and the TV commercials will be starting.  And...although so many people complain about it...I LOVE IT.  I love me some Christmas and I don't think there is anything wrong with getting excited about it for seven weeks before it arrives.  That's not long at all.  I will hold off on the music for a week or two because I don't want to get myself tired of it before Christmas and I'm not feeling the mood yet because the weather has and is going to be nice with highs in the 60's and barely dipping into the 30s at night.  I think I could have left my plants out for at least another two weeks based on the forecast if I hadn't already moved them to their winter spots in the house.  Also, decorations in the house will be switching from Halloween to Thanksgiving, not Christmas.  But if stores want to put decorations all over the place and "conveniently" mark everything as 50% (I know that's the normal price, Kohl's.  You don't fool me) then they can go ahead. 

So, about Halloween.  I promise I won't say pumpkin...I promise I won't say pumpkin..too late!  For the last time...those Jack-o-lanterns sure have held up.  We carved them last Tuesday and they still look almost like the night they were carved.  I feel like usually they are piles of mush after a week.  They must have some good genes.  Ben was excited about trick-or-treating this year.  For the first time he actually understood it and we walked door to door for awhile instead of just visiting friends.  Ben was a police officer, which he has been talking about for months.  I saw a decent quality dress up uniform online a few months ago that is worth the price compared to the Wal-mart cheapies that fall apart so quickly and it came with accessories.  Tessa was a witch and wore a costume given to us by an old friend of mine.  I gave her the choice between the witch and the parrot from the rummage sale this summer.  Of course she chose the witch.  The parrot will be worn next year by someone!  And Milo wore the same pumpkin costume the other two and their older cousins wore. 

Tessa was mad when we were leaving because we wouldn't let her bring sheets of stickers with in the car.  Looking back, we should have just let her bring them so she looked happy in the pictures.  She cheered up later. 

The neighbors brought their granddaughter over to pose with our pumpkin towers.  I miss living on a more pedestrian friendly street but on Halloween I like it because these things are just begging for hoodlums to vandalize them. 

First we went to our old street to visit our neighbors.  Then we walked around that neighborhood for a few blocks and went downtown to the historic neighborhood because Justin donated a big load of pumpkins to the United Way and the woman lives in that area and she goes all out on Halloween.  Then we visited a friend's house who lives closer to us on the way home.  They have one son who is in middle school now and they passed on a gigantic pumpkin bucket to us. 

I had a lot of fun roaming around the streets with the kids.  I occasionally hear people "buzzkilling" Halloween because of how unhealthy the candy is or religious reasons or because there might be predators lurking around.  I hope the logical people prevail as the years go on because I would hate for kids to miss out on it.  It is fun to run into people out on the streets and have people welcome you to their houses. 

On the subject of candy...wow we ended up with a lot of candy.  We emptied their buckets as we moved around because they were getting heavy, especially for Tessa. 

That is a five gallon bucket with the big items like juice boxes already removed.  We didn't even really try!  I can't imagine the loads kids get when they really make an effort!  Notice all the peanut butter cups...aka the parent tax for taking them out, thank you very much kids!

Here is our new massive bucket!  We tried to put Allan in but he jumped right out. 

And of course...this is year six with the costume, I think!  I am hoping to check out the clearance sections today or tomorrow so maybe we can get something new, as long as it doesn't cost more than a few dollars.  This one cost practically pennies.  It turns out cats don't really care for costumes so there isn't a large market for them. 

And now...my new favorite game...guess which kid these are?  It is too easy because one is wearing pink...

And...it wouldn't be Halloween without an embarrassing old picture of my brother and sister and me in our homemade costumes. 

I imagine taking the kids to the fabric store and letting them pick a pattern for their costumes but I haven't managed to do that yet.  One of these years.  Oh, I miss that old living room with it's 1973 era carpet and heavy brocade (or whatever that was) drapes with tassels.  This was when I was in 4th grade so I was 9 so it was 1992 and we had only lived at the farm 1.5 years. 

Now I must get to work taking down, or I guess the more accurate description would be collecting and picking up, the Halloween stuff that is strewn around the house.  I need to wash the costumes.  Milo was really mad at the end of the night and it turned out he was sweating so much his hair was wet.  I suppose it gets warm wearing a stuffled pumpk...I mean jack-o-lantern on your body!