Monday, August 28, 2017

First Day of School

Last Thursday was it...the first day of school!  I was pretty excited for this and nervous of course.  Being in school every day is a huge change.  I arrived to find every block surrounding the school in traffic jam mode but I found a spot on the street, we hiked the 1.5 blocks to the designated door and got him settled. 

He was happy to be there and their were parents in public service there in uniform to participate in their traditional first day flag raising and there was a police officer mom and dad in his class.  The mom belonged to the girl sitting next to him so that was fun.  They were handing out their traditional gold sticker badges. 

After picking him up he said he ate his lunch but didn't drink his milk (sigh, I was non milk drinking kid also.  His milk drinking at home is very routine so hopefully he breaks out of it and drink from the little cartons at school).  Their is a big black pet fish in his room named after the school mascot and sadly he stayed hidden in his little underwater log all day. He said several times that he really liked music class and his music teacher which is in what he called an outside room.  I wasn't sure what this meant and I thought maybe they just sat in a circle outside because of the nice weather but I think it refers to having class in a portable room behind the school.  I remember being very fascinated with my music teacher in elementary school from the first day because she was such a good singer and I really hadn't heard anyone sing like that right in front of me before.  I'll have to start playing piano for him more often.  I never do because every time I sit own at it the kids climb all over me and bang on the keys so no one gets anything out of it. 

They have their first phy ed day today and I'm sure he will love that.  I mostly hated it when I was a kid.  I'm a slow runner and I just had no interest in most of the tag based games we played in elementary school.  I also hated the requirement of wearing tennis shoes because I thought they were ugly. 

The bus riding plan so far...has been nothing but chaos.  The first day I asked the teacher what the bus protocol was for after school (like making sure someone walked them out until they know where to go) and I didn't specify that I was picking him up that afternoon.  So when I got there he was on the bus (I caught it before it left).  The driver said she had waited at our corner that morning but had to drive away even though I clearly specified with the bus company that we would start on Monday.  So this morning I got the robo call that it was 15 minutes behind schedule. Ben's pickup is 12 minutes before school starts so pretty easy math-he would be late for school.  I went down to wait anyway with him and Milo (Tessa was sleeping) and 8:30 came and went with no bus and I started to think it wasn't coming so we ran back up to our house and I threw them in the car and grabbed Tessa out of her bed and pulled out of the garage just in time to see the bus driving away from the stop.  Now the driver will probably really be annoyed with me and I'm nervous about what will happen after school.  I'm also embarrassed because I already showed up at the school as the stereotypical
"hot mess mom" who is dragging kids in pajamas (and no shoes for Tessa) and frantically zooming up to the school like a maniac. 

Now I don't know If I trust the bus company.  It is a private company paid by the public schools so if you have a conflict you don't talk to the school.  You call an operator at the bus company.  I know it's the third day but I don't know how you can get that late if you have a no waiting policy (they will only wait 60 seconds).  I rode the bus for years and I remember only being late for school once because the weather was bad the day before and the bus got stuck in a snow bank in someone's driveway.  And it wasn't a 20 city block radius-it was a long winding country route of many miles of gravel roads and the weather was often bad in the winter and if a family didn't come out the driver would radio the school secretary who would call the house to double check and hurry them along.  The driver would wait probably up to five minutes.  And still we were never late. 

Tessa starts preschool this week.  She has been enjoying her downtime having things to herself.  After the first morning drop-off she went right to her room and changed out of her dress she was wearing and came out wearing mismatched pajamas.  She then plopped herself on the couch to watch a show of her choice with no fighting. 

She has also enjoyed having the legos and duplos to herself.  She gets pretty...creative...

She still has Milo to contend with so nothing she builds lasts very long...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Back to School...Are We Ready??

Ben starts school tomorrow...I admit it is a day I have been looking forward to for awhile...probably since my first taste of freedom two years ago when he had his first half day of preschool.  As it has approached, I have been feeling mixed feelings.  Mostly because we have been trying to sell our house and it still hasn't sold and we weren't planning on him starting school at our neighborhood school at all.  I didn't sign Tessa up for preschool here so we had to settle for an undesirable afternoon class at the last minute.  But, here we are.  I took Ben shopping for supplies last week, which I always loved when I was a kid.  It was pretty annoying, much to my disappointment.  We went to Wal-Mart (yeah, I know, it was a mistake) on a weekday afternoon but the aisles were still in chaos and everything was really picked over.   They were out of Elmer's glue, for the love...

For Kindergarten, the kids only need basics but they could pick a pencil box of their choice.  The $.98 cent specials were gone so we ended up with the considerably more expensive one:

That thing better last for a few years. 

We went to back to school night last night and met his teacher and saw his seat at the table and his coat hook in the hall.  I felt really clueless and I'm nervous about the logistics.  For example, lunch.  In my opinion, the best part of school is that his lunch is someone else's problem.  After a summer of putting peanut butter on bread, slicing endless strawberries and ripping off a yogurt lid for most lunches I think he needs to expand his horizons and he doesn't like deli meat so if I packed it he would end up eating the exact same things every day.  Also, I just don't feel like it.  There is a lot of hysteria and drama surrounding school snacks and lunches out there and it can be found on a local level on the city FB Mom's page where 3,000 women get crazy over everything related to parenting and life in general.  After being a member of this group and also following national parenting pages I have learned that nothing sets off moms more than car seat decisions and what other people feed their kids. Those school lunches aren't HEALTHY ENOUGH!!!  To that I kid doesn't eat anything anyway so at least I don't have to watch it get thrown away.  He will love the standard school fare of breaded chicken in various forms, hamburgers and pizza.  And, as is standard in most schools, peanut and other nut products are not allowed but WHAT IF MY KID ONLY EATS THAT AND HE HAS SENSORY ISSUES??? Ladies, I don't threatening allergies always win, OK? 

Way back in my earliest school memories my family lived in Wyoming where I recall packing a lunch based on what was on the menu that day and then I went to a school overseas that only had hot lunch once a week.  When we arrived at our long term school when I was in 2nd grade and my sister was in Kindergarten my mom derailed the cold lunch train. I would too after having to pack a lunch every day in the Middle East where safe meat was impossible to come by unless you had it delivered in a frozen cargo plane from Germany and you had to bake your own bread several times a week. It was fine because no one ever brought cold ever.  No one had food allergies in the whole school (I'm sure someone got hives from strawberries or fish here or there and a friend of mine developed an allergy to corn products when we were in high but it caused rashes and stomach pain and she had an antidote she could take before eating corn and of course there were a few diabetic students and teachers but nothing was life threatening just from exposure).  I won't say everything was delicious and appetizing (search: Food Service chicken chunks in gravy) but we all just rolled with it and made a sandwich and ate the side dishes. I still kind of have a thing for food service green beans.  They aren't exactly bright green but they are kind of good anyway...and I love a good scoop of California blend mixed vegetables. 

At the public schools here there is one main dish and an alternative option which I suppose is like the peanut butter and jelly and loaves of bread (wheat and white!) that used to sit on the counter or the salad bar when I was growing up.  One of these is the Power Pack, which sounds awesome.  It is a little pack with the four food groups usually consisting of a stick of cheese, some kind of fruit sauce, yogurt, sunflower seeds and other various options.  TOTAL JUNK, in the opinion of many.  A JOKE!  Lord, I'm in trouble.  (Disclaimer: I have actually seen these comments in capital letters on FB when searching for lunch and snack ideas for school. I am not exaggerating, believe it or not.)

I am also kind of stressing about whether or not Ben should ride the bus.  His morning ride would only be about ten minutes which is definitely less time than it would take to get us all loaded in the car, navigate the drop off line and get away from the congested residential block where the school is.  But then I wonder, what if he is the only Kindergartner on his bus? He's so little...eeeeek... It seems most people drive their kids to school.  Have you accidentally passed an elementary school at the beginning or end of the day?  It is chaos, with cars lined up for blocks around the school.  The lady I talked to at the bus company said she had five kids and wouldn't go near the drop off and pick up lines when they were in elementary school.  I kind of liked picking Ben up at preschool because I liked getting to know the other parents and I made a lot of friends there but you just sit in your car at elementary school so I probably won't be missing much.  I scheduled him to start riding next week.  We shall see how it goes. 

Back to the back to school night...after getting the paperwork taken care of and looking around a bit we were on the way out and I saw lots of kids were on the playground so I said the kids could play for awhile.  Wow did they love it.  They are definitely ready for a more challenging playground.  The public park playgrounds, although they look all colorful and fun, are all pretty boring when your really look at them.  They all have themes (our nearest one has a castle/dragon theme) but are generally the same under all the embellishments and are mostly steps and bridges with a few shorter climbing apparatuses and relatively slow slides.  The see-saws and spinning merry go rounds and "tornado slides" that were so fun when I was growing up are long gone as are most things that actually have some height to them and require any sort of dexterity or strength to navigate.  There definitely aren't kids going around proving their bravery and prowess by walking across the length of the monkey bars...not that anyone ever did that...I know it all has to do with insurance and fearing being sued but kids miss it.  Every single time we are at the castle park kids are pushing the limits.  The main stairs to the bridges is shaped like giant dragon and kids are always climbing up and standing on its head which is the highest point of the playground.  Of course they are.  They want to do the most dangerous thing.

Well, school playgrounds, while still relatively safe, are much higher and they have a lot more diverse equipment. Ben and Tessa immediately started going all "American Ninja Warrior" and I saw a nice older girl rescue Tessa from a precarious position a few times.

She was OK with this spider web thing though.  She'll learn soon enough not to climb up high like that in a dress!

Milo was going crazy which drove me crazy.  I looked at my phone for one second (I know, I know, I should have been in the moment!) and he used that second to climb a ten foot ladder to the biggest tube slide on the playground.  An actual ladder, with widely spaced rungs going straight up.   By the time I got to him he was already at the top and he shot right down the slide and went right back for more.  Aye carumba.  Kid, if you have a pacifier in your mouth you're probably too young for it!

Well, enough of this.  I shouldn't be spending my last afternoon with Ben at home sitting at the computer.  He wants to go outside and play with a Frisbee. favorite.  Then I will have to load up his backpack for tomorrow.  I took it out of his closet and discovered it still full of papers from his last day of preschool.  It also was full of sand from the playground there.  Three months can really fly by!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017

Don't reference "Total Eclipse of the Heart"

Here we are on the other side of the total solar eclipse.  Supposedly it is the first one since 1979.  I have a memory of making box viewers in the early 1990's sometime in elementary school which we didn't get to use because it ended up raining but that must have been just a partial eclipse.  I have had a good attitude about the constant eclipse talk this last week because at this point anything that gets people all jacked up across America that is not divisive and doesn't result in the hurling of insults on social media is awesome.

I have to admit, though, that I will be glad to talk about something else now (school starts this week so that opens up a whole new level of Facebook hysteria).  I am pretty tired of hearing about the great eclipse glasses shortage of 2017.  I completely missed the boat on getting these.  Fortunately, Justin has a welding mask. 

It doesn't have a number on it but I guess most are 11 or 12 (I never knew a thing about these number rankings before) and my neighbor said sunglasses are a 2 so wearing both felt pretty safe.  And who knows, maybe it was high enough on its own!  It's his dad's old one from the 70's so it didn't say the protection level on it.  Justin went to Menards last night thinking of buying some glass to have around (my dad has welding equipment at the farm and most farmers can do least I assume they can) and a new strap since the old one was broken and he wants to actually use the mask at the farm and of course it was all sold out.  The employee said people came and bought $100 welding helmets to watch this eclipse!  Good lord...I hope they instituted a temporary return policy. 

I was happy to have the welding mask and it eased my mind a bit (it's hard to relax when everywhere you look people are freaking about how the eclipse will blind you and your kids).  Even with the mask I threw together a pinhole viewer at the last minute this morning.  We have a cupboard full of cereal boxes so why not? 

Well, it turns out my little cache of eye protection was a good excuse to have a spontaneous viewing party with the neighbors.  To my relief, the kids didn't really care what was going on at all.  Milo still has instincts not to stare at the sun and Ben looked a few times and actually enjoyed using the box more than the mask.  Tessa chose to stay inside playing Duplos and she put together a lot of weird stuff without the interference Milo/Godzilla for once. She came running out right around the peak viewing time and took one look so there...she's educated now.  They were happier under the deck hunting for rocks anyway. 

We all tried to take pictures through the mask even though every source said not to bother and to just enjoy the footage the professionals captured.

This is my attempt.  I don't know what is going on here.  It seems the glass is showing my reflection and I guess that green light must be the sun but you can't tell that the moon is blocking it.  My neighbor's son tried with his fancy camera he uses to take pictures of listings as a realtor and he didn't have any luck either. 

Anyway, it was a cool experience.  The weather forecast was questionable and clouds were possible but today the sky is clear and blue without a cloud in sight.  I thought it would get darker than it did but the light definitely changed and it was quite strange.  A chill even came into the air like evening.  We saw 85% coverage here and that little thumbnail was quite a spectacle. 

I saw this on Facebook and it made me laugh...It was fitting for us today and it reminded me of my dad's account of the last eclipse which coincidentally took place while he was in a welding class at NDSU.  Also, my mom watched through a welding helmet today with her co-workers.  Definitely better than worrying about those dumb glasses!  There is another solar eclipse coming in 2024.  I'll think ahead for next time...or I could just walk to the nearest dumpster and grab a pair this evening and hoard them until then.  Also, I saw in the news that this state will be in the path of totality for a solar eclipse in...2099!  Wait...I was born in 1983...hmmmm...never mind...

FYI, did you know there are superstitions out there that seeing an eclipse can harm an unborn child?  And there are women out there who didn't leave their house today because of this even though science says that's just crazy talk?  Most of them involve viewing the eclipse causing a facial deformity or birthmark.  But...according to the beliefs of one culture, this can be avoided by wearing red underwear (?) and metal, like a safety pin on your shirt.  In the old days women would hold a knife near their body through the whole thing. Yet another culture warns against wearing metal.  So they completely contradict each other.  I just can't EVEN with this stuff.  Now, if my child has a birthmark on her face please don't laugh at me...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It's A...

So I had my ultrasound on Friday.  It was kind of a stressful morning because it was really early and we had to take all three kids with us.  When we took Ben to my ultrasound for Tessa he was around 16 months old and he and Justin had to leave the room after the tech showed obvious irritation with him being there because he was opening an empty cupboard under the sink.  She wasn't the most good humored tech we have encountered.  With Milo's ultrasound a friend offered to watch the other two so that was very lovely.  This was so early in the morning I couldn't imagine asking anyone to take on the burden. 

Surprisingly, they were really good.  Ben and Tessa sat quietly and watched the screen and Milo sat in his stroller and ate Cheerios and was content until the last few minutes.  We decided to find out the sex this time (the biological part...every intellectual knows gender is a social construction!  DUH!  Every online birth board has a know it all who is glad to point that out!) and had a plan to reveal it with these fireworks which we bought after the 4th of July. 

This wasn't a plan that had a lot of thought behind it.  I saw them advertised on a fireworks stand's facebook page over the 4th of July weekend and we stopped at that store and they had them in stock still.  So back to the ultrasound...the tech was an intern and she seemed to know her stuff but at the end she said she was going to ask a coworker to come in and confirm a few things.  It turned out she was confirming the sex/gender/whatever you want to call it.  We had an envelope with a sheet of paper with boy and girl written on it for the tech to circle. 

As we reviewed the details after the appointment, we were unsure.  When she turned the screen to check that "area" she said "Oh, there it is" which kind of made us think it was a boy.  But the girl details are not as obvious so that would explain the double checking from the coworker. 

We waited until that night at the farm with our parents and my brother's family to light the fireworks.  Justin wanted to be the one to know first and light it but my brother ended up doing the honor.  And...

Yay!  Fireworks don't photograph well usually so if you are not quite sure since you didn't see it in person...

It's a girl!  Although when people asked the answer was always, "I'll be happy either way!" I had an underlying desire to have a girl so we would have two of each and so we could revisit the cute collection of girl clothing and accessories we have been hoarding in boxes.  Also, the boy clothes are looking a little rough.  I really would have been happy either way but it was definitely a special moment to see that first pink trail shoot into the sky. 

We then lit the blue one and it wasn't a very vivid blue.  It actually looked white.  If I saw it I would have wondered what color it was exactly so I'm glad the pink one was the main event. 

On a serious note, the biggest relief after an ultrasound is always seeing everything as it should be in there.  And everything was just fine.  No repeats for positions making it hard to see certain things, nothing to be concerned about physically and the baby was a good size and the due date is on track.  No one told me what it was going to be officially but the paperwork said December 27th which I have been told the 28th so not much difference at all.  The 27th is my dad's 60th birthday! 

I admit I'm a bit worried about a Christmas Eve/Day delivery mostly due to childcare chaos since our moms run the show on Christmas and no neighbor or friend is going to be thrilled to have three rambunctious kids showing up in the middle of their parties.  Hope for the best...hope for the best...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Strangest Delivery

We signed up for Amazon Prime around Christmas time almost two years ago and since then, it could be anyone's guess what is in the boxes that regularly appear on our front step.  We've ordered huge cases of Keurig coffee pods, air compressor parts, charging cords for every electronic device imaginable, swimwear (that was a bust on my swimming suits from China are not something you should buy without seeing them in person!), playdoh, jeans, a road atlas, vase filling gel balls and sunglasses to name a few things in my list.  I don't know what the weirdest thing we've ever had delivered would be.

Well, as of last week, we have a new winner.  And it didn't even come from Amazon.  Imagine receiving a box with this sticker on it:

We knew it was coming.  It was shipped overnight from Alaska. 

It's fish.  Salmon, specifically, from when Justin was there back in June.  His friend shipped it to him.  I don't want to know the princely cost of this service but it arrived here still frozen. 

I was pawing through it and pulled this pack out:

What on earth is that you ask?  Oh, just bear bacon! 

Ben is still talking about fishing constantly.  He drew this picture yesterday. 

It is him and Tessa fishing.  Those balls on the lines are the bobbers.  Tessa's fish is a sunfish and Ben's is a slimer otherwise known as a northern. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ben's Favorite Hobby

There are so many factors taking kids away from the wholesome outdoor activities that have compelled them in the past.  I admit I love some animated TV and in my current state (pregnant, too tired to chase a one year old up and down the hill over and over again in 95 degree heat, too overwhelmed to take three kids to the pool in my ill fitting swimwear options, too little bladder control to take three kids to the playgrounds with limited bathroom options) I feel like I turn to TV and YouTube too often.  It has just been so hot and, although we are in a severe to exceptional drought, it has been humid.  Anytime we go anywhere away from the house  I feel like I need to bring a huge water cooler on wheels like a sports team would use otherwise pay the $3 price for bottles of water (I'm talking about you, Dakota Zoo!)  Although, I guess it's nice that they let you bring your own food and drink in instead of rifling through your bags so they can price gouge on everything.  What happens is the heat and humidity build all day, a cold front hits and thunderstorms form and then after some thunder and lightening they dissipate into nothing and the whole cycle starts again the next day.  Yesterday I watched our evening thunderstorm dump rain (for about three minutes) a few blocks away from our house but it missed us.  It's so weird and very strange to watch.  One thing I love about living on the hill we live in is watching the clouds roll in an seeing the radar happening live right in front of me.  Tonight we are planning on tackling the neighborhood pool with all the kids.  Justin is even going so Milo gets to come too!  I told them we might be able to go last night but the thunderstorm came and Ben has been talking about it since he woke up this morning so I guess he didn't forget overnight...dang...not that I don't love the pool.  I do.  It can be stressful with little kids though.

Anyway, the point I was getting to was is that I will encourage any activity the kids like that involves outdoor activity and real life skills.  Ben has recently become very interested in fishing.  Justin takes him to a friend's house on Devil's Lake.  They went a few times last year and also did some ice fishing there but this summer he has really started fishing on his own. 

Isn't it a huge lake?  It goes for miles. 

Those weren't all caught by Ben but this is an example of the fish population in Devil's Lake. 

This one ben caught all by himself.  Of course, he doesn't take his own fish off the hook yet.  He has been using his kid's Lightening McQueen novelty fishing pole but the line snapped and putting new line in was not easy like in a normal pole so Justin bought him his own "real" pole.  He also has his own tackle box with a small collection of bobbers and lures and hooks.

Last weekend, Ben got to hang out with his 2nd cousin Colt at the lake.  He's six and it turns out he loves fishing too.  He also has his own tackle box and those two sat and compared equipment for quite awhile.  They also went fishing and caught some sunfish and whatever other species are out there. 

Tessa also got to partake.  She is now the proud owner of a $6.00 clearance "Frozen" kid's fishing pole and she's so pleased with it.  I even caught a Sunfish with it a few weeks ago.   

Last time we were at the lake Ben kept talking about a minnow trap he'd seen in a video so I looked up how to make one and fashioned one out of an empty Coke bottle.  It was not successful but Justin told him they could get a real minnow trap.  There are lots of suggestions for bait out there and bread didn't work and dog food also didn't work...but the disappointment didn't last because apparently crawfish like dog food and, although it wasn't exactly trapped, this (very gross) guy was trying to get the food from outside the trap and someone caught him in a net. 

Pretty exciting!  Ben wanted to keep him.  I said he would be much happier in the lake with room to swim.  MUCH happier. 

This fishing obsession also continues at home where he makes everything with a hook into a fishing pole.  No plastic display hook from a pack of socks is safe.  We have one toy fishing pole I found in a dollar toy aisle during Easter basket season that gets played with daily and is broken is several places.  I hope it stays together for awhile because it really keeps the kids busy. It also causes regular fights but oh well...they have to learn to share.  We also have the much better quality pole from this fishing game Ben had to have (he did chores and earned "squares" on a chart for two weeks to earn it).  The bait is magnetic and he uses it to catch tractors and other metal toys.

The fish is battery powered and swims but it already quit working, not surprisingly.  I don't really trust electric things that can get wet.  But the pole is still a popular item.  Yesterday Ben was dangling it over Allan saying he was catching a "cat fish".  Poor Allan.  He is the opposite of a fish.