Tuesday, March 28, 2017

DIY Roots

Today, we go back to the roots of this blog.  They barely seem real these days.  The painting, the floor refinishing, the landscaping and all the other things we did at our old brick house seem like years ago.  I suppose we purchased it in 2009 so this fall it will be eight years since we moved in there.  Wow.  Since then, DIY projects and Allan's daily doings have transitioned into a lot of kid related tedium.  But, today is your lucky day...

In our cul de sac there are no city street lights.  Each house has a little lamp post in front of it.  Ours recently quit lighting up at night when it was timed to so we assumed the bulb burned out.  When Justin went to change it the whole bulb was shattered and he discovered the inside of the fixture and the wires were not in great shape either.  Who knows how the bulb ended up broken.  We had a vicious wind event when we were gone in Montana which was also happening in Montana and in Minnesota and all across the plains that day.  It ripped siding off our neighbor's house and it must have jostled our lamp enough to break the bulb. I cant imagine how else this would have happened.  Justin decided replace the whole fixture and he repainted the pole too.

Look at that...lamp posts...making 90's era split levels seem "old-timey" since...well...1997 in this case.  Notice Milo frolicking beside the house!

The weather has turned springy these last few days.  The kids have been loving it.  Milo has taken an interest in basketball as much as a one year old can.  By interest, I mean that he says "ba-balllll" when he sees it on TV and when he sees our toy hoop in the garage. 

We lowered it down just for him!  The other two prefer it at its highest setting which also makes it prone to tipping over in the slightest breeze. 

I remember Ben's "ball" phase.  Most one year olds go through it.  I had to go back to that album.  He's almost exactly the same age as Milo in these pictures.  They are very much alike. 

That was the ball that floated in to the street and ended up flattened by a car.  My fault...ooops...

I love looking at old pictures...this is such typical "baby Ben" behavior! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Mystery Blob

I've got nothing much to talk about this week.  There's just a lot of chaos around here.  Ben keeps getting sick and then getting better then getting sick again.  It's weird.  Milo's driving us nuts.  He climbs on everything and likes to destroy things.  Then there is this...

Hmmm, you are thinking...what the h3ll is that?  That is what I think every time I recoil with alarm when I encounter it around the house.  Is it poop?  Is it puke?  Is it mud?  Is it chewed up food?  Fortunately it is just a "really cool" rock the kids found outside in our landscaping and brought in the house.  I haven't had a chance to throw it back outside without them noticing yet. 

This scene also might alarm most people...

It brings to mind the days of late elementary school when we moved from attached desks with lift tops to desks with a compartment underneath with a detached chair and our last task of the day was putting the chair up on the desk so the custodians could vacuum.  Unfortunately, there is not nearly enough vacuuming or sweeping or mopping going on here.  Milo has started climbing on the table.  I would say he is obsessed with it.  When you take him down and try to direct his interest to something else he is already twisting back to the table before you even put him on the floor.  He stands up there, throwing whatever he can grab on the floor.  He flings the napkins over his head. He picks up the older kids' colored pencils and gleefully stabs the air with them.  He can reach the light fixture and he likes to whack at it.  So now we have the chairs like this.  Allan loves it.  It appeals to his cat instincts to be above everyone keeping watch.  Tessa went through this phase too and I recall just letting her get bored with it but it's not happening fast enough with Milo.  He's really changing fast.  He's starting to talk more and has officially entered the "ball" and "car" phase and he says those words 100's of times every day.  He also really likes toy pickups this week. 

This last little gem happened two nights ago.  We were at Runnings, a farm supply, hardware and sporting goods store, and this is a chicken coop for laying hens.  I want to get one for Allan so he can be outside.  It even has a little ramp!

Bye kids!  See you later!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WhyNot Minot

We had some tentative plans for last weekend which included a birthday celebration for Ben and me going to my cousin's baby shower and all of us were going to travel to Eastern ND for these events.  But...plans changed.  Do you KNOW about this thing called Class B basketball?  It's fun thing and an Eastern ND team that happens to include my kids' second cousins made it to the tournament.  District 3 REPRESENTING at the B!  I say that because, although districts are now just large regions, district 3 is my old district and I know all the those schools almost like I know my own.  I remember their locker rooms, their concession kitchens and where their bands would sit.   It is always fun to see a familiar school at state.

Justin took Ben and Tessa to the games on Friday and Saturday in Minot.  I titled this post "Whynot Minot" because my own school visited the state tournament twice (for girls basketball...yeaaaahhh!) in my teen years and that first time that was the chant everyone said when it was apparent that we were going to win the game to get us there.  I had a Milo weekend because I took Milo to the baby shower and it was like I was living the easiest life ever. One kid felt like a vacation. 

This was taken on Friday night with cousin Blake.  How the players are their second cousins is Justin's mom and their grandpa are brother and sister.  Justin is the youngest in his extended family, especially on that side.  I am the opposite...a lot of my possible second cousins are not born yet.  For those of you not in the know about family sanguinity "lingo", the degree of cousin-ness has to do with your generation.  So first cousins share grandparents, second cousins share great-grandparents, and third cousins share great-great grandparents.   I have encountered a lot of people who think that marriage makes a second cousin or that it refers to generally distant relations.  Also, once removed means you are removed a generation so, for example, my cousins that I grew up with are once removed from my kids.  I knew this before, but there is a whole chart in my property law book about it too. 

So anyway, one of the cousins playing, Kyle, is a senior and in the championship game he hit a buzzer beater and won he game.  Most people who read this were probably watching it and it's been all over social media.  It was class be awesomeness at the peak of awesome.  "One Shining Moment" for sure.  (One Shining Moment is an old late 90's early 2000's PBS documentary about Class B basketball. I just looked it up and you can watch the whole thing on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NtKgdx29yQ.  You can also purchase a ND documentary pack from PBS with it, a quilting movie and the history of Bobcat manufacturing for 29.99!  If you are sentimental and like watching old guys cry in documentary interviews this is for you.)  I think they should do a part two which also includes some girl's basketball because it has been just as special to many people as boy's basketball has been. 

I don't want to know what transpired at the hotel hospitality room that night.  If it was anything like the 1995 trip my town took there it involved people in their clothes in the pool at 4 a.m. and impromptu karaoke sessions with made up songs dedicated to the coaching staff. 

Justin sent me this picture of the kids before the game on Friday.  They went shopping and got new "beanie baby" animals.  The original beanie babies are no longer a thing but the company still makes lots of cute little stuffed animals and they are still cheap like the originals so they make a good "treat".  I love how they love little stuffed animals.  I know those days won't last forever. 

Friday was St. Patrick's day and we didn't do anything to acknowledge it except I dressed Milo in green.  Then he got a hold of a red marker and walked up to me looking like he had been feasting on the heard of his enemy .


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ben's 5th Birthday

Ben's birthday was last week, as I have mentioned several times so here is the post in it's honor.   I have to start with the photo flashback. I love looking at the pictures from his early days.  I felt like I took way too many but now I feel like it wasn't enough.  Maybe that should be a hint that I should take more of Milo.  But anyway, here they are. That first one will always be my favorite.  I don't have it in a frame but I should.  I should have a lot of photos in frames but we just don't have many safe surfaces for such things these days. 

This one is on St. Patrick's Day, which I believe is tomorrow.  Hmmm...I hope today wasn't "wear green" day at school because Ben is not wearing green. 

And now those delirious baby days are long gone.  When we returned from Montana, this was in the mail.

It is the final installment in the Imagination Library children's literacy program, which ends when the children turn five.  I only signed up Ben because, although everyone insists the program is for everyone, I still feel guilty and like we're taking something we don't need.  Also, our program is struggling to get funding this year and they were asking anyone who could to pay some small amount like $20 which is a pittance considering the kids get like 50 books over the years.  Well, anyway, now our time with it has come to a close with a book about Kindergarten. 

Ben has been to a few friend parties with themes so he insisted on having a "Lego Police" themed birthday party even though it was family members only since we were in Montana.  Lego Police...hmmmm...Every cake idea on Pinterest involved tiers and fondant and that vivid primary colored food dye.  Where do you find that anyway? So I did what I could and put Lego candies from the bulk bin store in the mall on a store bought cake we purchased on the way to Montana and decorated it with Lego police items from home. 

I like it.  It can't compare to the orange "Allan" cake I made when he was one but it's still one of my better efforts. 

We also found some really cheap generic Lego decorations at Walmart so we brought that banner and some plates.  There you have it...a Lego Police party. 

He got some nice presents, including this sweet game called "Toilet Trouble" that he sees advertised on TV during the kid's programming.  Well, I mean...during those rare occasions where I allow TV...As someone who enjoys bathroom humor I couldn't pass this up.  Yes, it was my doing.  I bought this.  I purchased a game that is a toilet.

How it works: you fill the bowl with water and spin the roll  Then flush however many times it tells you.  At random intervals, water spritzes out of the toilet into your face.  Sounds lowbrow, stupid and non-educational, doesn't it?  Well, every kid just loved this game and asked to play it constantly and we even had a few rounds of adult play too.

Oh, there were some tense moments!

He got this Lego fire station which he couldn't restrain himself from starting even though it has a lot of pieces.  There was a little loft area with a desk so that was his headquarters.  He finished it in two days working on and off.  I wish Lego sets would regenerate themselves because they really give me some peace and quiet when he is busy with them.  They never take long enough. 

Now I can carry on and when people ask how old my kids are I can say 1,3, and 5 instead of 1, 3 and 4 and have everyone look at me like I'm crazy and tell me I have my hands full.  The weird thing is that these encounters always happen with older people who were raised when a family of three was considered small.  I don't get it.

OK, one last picture...I can't resist...Ben's first birthday cake.  Purrrrrrr.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Big Sky 2017

Well, I better get this post done, huh?  No one wants to miss out on another person's vacation photos, right?  I would have done this yesterday but Ben was sick and acting weird and I had the pleasure of throwing away my whole afternoon at the walk-in clinic and then waiting in the car line at the CVS drive up window where a woman cut in front of everyone with her car.  Yes, it's possible.

So, I don't really know where to start since my pictures are kind of in a crazy order.  I think I will have Ben's birthday post tomorrow or later this week or whenever.  All of us on the trip made a shared phone album so the order they were on my phone is kind of strange and I don't really feel like sorting them out.  It's more time consuming than you would think. 

First, here is our rental house.  It was quite a place.  Usually we don't stay in places this big or nice but it was discounted because there was construction going on near by.  Well, I can tell you the construction wasn't a bother at all.  In the falling snow it looks like it belongs in Norway or somewhere like that. 

This is the back side where we finished our skiing every day.  We had to walk up a small hill which was steeper than it looks in the picture but it was fine. 

The weather wasn't the best we've had.  In March, there is usually a good chance it will be pretty warm which isn't the best since the snow get slushy in the sun but I know I enjoy not freezing my fingers and toes off.  Well, the first two days were freezing.  Like at the top of the lifts the thermometers said 0.  That is not enjoyable skiing weather.  It was also windy.  But the weather improved after the second day and the clouds lifted and I finally got to see my favorite view:

I love when we drive up the mountain and when you turn around a curve it is suddenly right there but this year it was concealed in the clouds. 

Ben skied every day this year.  The first morning he took a lesson.  Last year, we purchased a group lesson but he was the only kid signed up so it was like a private lesson for a bargain price.  This year, there were other kids signed up and they weren't as far along as he is so they never left the "magic carpet" hill to ride the chair lift so it wasn't really worth it since he was riding the chair lift last year.  He took a big step and skied on the main Big Sky mountain.  This is before his first run down Mr. K, a very well known easy "green circle" run.  It is three miles long.  And he did it! 

This was taken on his first day skiing.  I'm thrilled with his skiing prowess.  I'm not saying he never fell or got frustrated but he always continued on and didn't want to stop.  That is a key trait when learning to ski. 

We thought about putting Tessa on skis this year but we ended up not doing it.  The first few days were so cold and windy and she got into a routine back at the house.  Also, she doesn't have the leg strength that Ben had at age three.  She would have had to have a private lesson since kids have to be four for group lessons and they are pretty expensive.  But next year will be her year. 

She had fun playing out side with her 2nd cousin.  The hill we had to hike up was pretty perfect for little kids to sled down. My mom endured the repeated uphill hike one afternoon and they all had a lot of fun. 

I had an enjoyable week of skiing since I, for once, wasn't pregnant or nursing or post C-section or anything of that nature. 

I had ambitions to ski "The Peak" which I haven't done for quite a few years but the weather made it impossible because the necessary lifts were closed because of wind and the visibility wasn't good up there.  But...I found an alternative and Justin joined me.  I have been pretty much all over this resort over the years, including riding the tram to the Peak and skiing down (It's like 11,000 feet) but there is one area that has always rattle me and I have had no desire to try it.  It is the Challenger Lift.  It is a creepy, barren landscape serviced by what used to be a scary looking lift perched on a cliff.  The lift was recently updated but as you can see in the picture below, the posts are still placed at strange angles on the steep terrain.  Well, my cousin's husband convinced me and Justin to go for it and the whole ride up we just kept saying, "well, that doesn't look so bad...kind of steep but we can go around that...that person doesn't look like that good of a skier so if they are doing it..."  I had the urge to take some pics at the top but it wasn't really the place.  Of course, we made it down just fine and it was pretty fun and it fulfilled my urge for a challenge. 

This was taken at the bottom!  It doesn't look scary from this picture but in person it's very different! 

33 year olds proving themselves!

Milo enjoyed his trip as much a baby sitting in a house all day can.  He wore the traditional Big Sky onesie that has been passed down by each kid. 

He got pasta sauce all over the arms but I got it out.  This is one baby item I will always keep. 

We managed to take our family picture like we have done every year since Ben was three weeks old.  It's hard to believe he's been here six times now and he just turned five. 

A grooming machine was parked nearby.  They are quite a sight.  They are a combination of many different things.  They have tracks and blades and I'm surprised they don't sell toy ones as souvenirs.  Hmmm...maybe that is my big idea that will make me rich?

They can be cute sometimes...

All week, we were monitoring Allan through the petcube. I caught him in a playful mood and turned on the laser for a few minutes.  Most of the time he was just sitting and staring at the camera like he could sense we were watching him. 

The rugs and blankets on the furniture were to protect it from his tendency to...ummm...regurgitate...the contents of his stomach.  And he didn't!  Better safe than sorry. He's a fine specimen. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Five Years

We are leaving for Montana for the week tomorrow so I will be away from the ol' blog for next week.  I have to quickly post that while we are away Ben will have his 5th birthday.  I will, of course, do a birthday post when we get home because five years is a big deal.  I've been a mom for five years.  That's longer than I was in high school or college, longer than we've owned either of our houses...and it will only accelerate from here once he starts elementary school next year.  At this time five years ago I was two days overdue after having my due date moved back two weeks earlier in the pregnancy and I felt like it was the longest pregnancy ever.  I had no idea what was coming or how labor would be.  I had a friend in her last month of pregnancy last year describe herself as "in the garden" as she awaited the birth of her child with uncertainty and some fear (it wasn't the first either) and that is really how I was feeling during the first week of March in 2012 although I didn't know how to articulate it like that. 

This morning, I looked back at my files to find some pictures for this post and what was I doing on March 3, 2012?  I want to punch myself but I was so bored that I went around to stores looking for marbles so I could do a Pinterest project with them involving boiling them in hot water and dunking them in an ice bath to make them crackly. 

I was also learning to use my new camera so these pictures are pretty cool looking.  But still...what would it feel like to have time like that again?  It's a cliché and everyone says this but I do miss those days even though I wanted them over so bad because I was so tired of being pregnant and I wanted to see that baby. 

Also, we learned to set up the pack and play Allan adopted the "new born nest" and I took about fifty pictures of it. 

Look at that floor...would you just LOOK at that pristine floor?

Also, we had recently gone to Scheel's to pose with NDSU's recently acquired championship trophy.  Who would have imagined there would be five of them five years later?

I was so big. 

OK, I have a lot to do to prepare for the trip so I have to quit writing now.  Until next week...Perhaps that poor giraffe on the live cam at that zoo will have had her baby by them too.  I feel you, April the giraffe, I really do...