Saturday, August 30, 2008

Leaving Babyhood behind

Ben and I have had a running conversation the last couple days. It goes something like this:

me: You're my big boy!
Ben: Ba-by!
me: No, you're a big boy! Big boys get to play with cars and balls and run around!
Ben: (grinning) Ba-by!

The goal of this debate is to convince Ben that he is, in fact, a big boy, and big boys don't use diapers. They use the potty. He has flat out refused to use any kind of potty OR to even try on the really cute Elmo big boy undies we got him.

That is, until today. We just bought him an Elmo potty chair and a seat to put on a regular toilet. Which he insisted for the whole drive home was a hat. Aaron said, "Yeah! A butt hat."

We walked in the door, and started talking about Ben taking a nap. Then he started waving the "hat" and Aaron asked if he wanted to use it. And he did use it! Even a little bit of #2! So I gave him a jelly bean (a miniature one, if you're concerned about the choking hazard) AND put a pair of the undies on him! Then laid him down for a nap, which could have disastrous results. But, usually he's dry after his nap anyway, so hopefully it won't scar him for life.

I'm just thrilled that we seem to have taken about 3 potty training steps in one day.

Slacker Saturday

There have been lots of photos this week, and I got this great forward the other day from my lovely cousin Rachel, so I figured I'd regress a bit.

I think this must be from a Southern farm kid, though, because of the reference to fried eggplant as a breakfast food. I'm sure Brother Aaron will check out Snopes for me!


Dear Ma and Pa,

I am well. Hope you are. Tell Brother Walt and Brother Elmer the Army beats working for old man Minch by a mile. Tell them to join up quick before all of the places are filled.

I was restless at first because you got to stay in bed till nearly 6 a.m. But I am getting so I like to sleep late. Tell Walt and Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth your cot, and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay. Practically nothing.

Men got to shave but it is not so bad, there's warm water. Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie and other regular food, but tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit by the two city boys that live on coffee. Their food, plus yours, holds you until noon when you get fed again. It's no wonder these city boys can't walk much.

We go on 'route marches,' which the platoon sergeant says are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it's not my place to tell him different. A 'route march' is about as far as to our mailbox at home. Then the city guys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks. The sergeant is like a school teacher. He nags a lot. The Captain is like the school board. Majors and colonels just ride around and frown. They don't bother you none.

This next will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medals for shooting. I don't know why. The bulls-eye is near as big as a chipmunk head and don't move, and it ain't shooting at you like the Higgett boys at home. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don't even load your own cartridges. They come in boxes.

Then we have what they call hand-to-hand combat training. You get to wrestle with them city boys. I have to be real careful though, they break real easy. It ain't like fighting with that ole bull at home. I'm about the best they got in this except for that Tug Jordan from over in Silver Lake . I only beat him once. He joined up the same time as me, but I'm only 5'6' and 130 pounds and he's 6'8' and near 300 pounds dry.

Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellers get onto this setup and come stampeding in.

Your loving daughter,


Friday, August 29, 2008


For the last week I have been having this debate in my head:

"Should I put Leah in dance this fall like we'd planned?"
"But she really enjoys gymnastics!"
"But she also says she wants to learn ballet."

So what did I decide? The obvious: I signed her up for both. My rationale?

1) Leah is a kid who thrives on structure.
2) And she's not in preschool. Most kids her age are, so there's a lot of time that could be used for activities.
3) She is also a kid who would rather sit still than run around, so the more we can encourage her to be active, the better, I figure.
4) It it's too much, we can always not sign up for the next session of either class.
5) She loves gymnastics, and seems really interested in learning ballet.

We made the rounds today, shelling out Aaron's hard-earned money for various kid's activities. And as promised, Ben was registered for gymnastics, too (the parent-tot class) - anytime we bring it up, he starts "eh-eh"ing and pointing at himself, so I think he's pretty excited to have his own tumbling class.

Also today, I took care of the stack of hospital bills, and another stack of insurance bills, both of which required phone calls to figure out what exactly was owed. The pile on the desk was greatly reduced.

I stopped at the library to discuss with the nice librarians the two books that have evaporated in our house - one a CD/book set and the other an overdue book.

For lunch and dinner, we ate leftovers. Which were a lime-marinated turkey roast and steaks from last night - pretty high-quality leftovers! The fridge is now manageably full, instead of overwhelmingly full.

I sooo deserve a day off. In, like, 20 years or something.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Imaginary Debauchery

We spent 2 days in Hettinger, visiting Aaron's two sisters and their families. We visited, walked around town, supported the local economy and ate. And then ate again. Aaand again. It. was. great.

Lisa made homemade tortilla chips, salsa, and white chili for dinner. And while we were waiting/grazing, she whipped up some "lime slushies" which I'm pretty sure was a margarita mix without the tequila. Hopefully.

'Cause check out my kids sucking them down:

Are they cute little reprobates or what?

We headed home Sunday and made the mistake of waiting until Bismarck to eat lunch. Which means the kids whined for 2 hours that they were hungry, and by this point of the trip we were down to pretzels and fruit strips (which are Surprise! not that filling).

Ben finally fell asleep, predictably, about 45 minutes from the Bizz-o, so Aaron got a wild hair to stop at Salem Sue. Do you know this lady? My grandma Gertrude made miniature ceramic versions to celebrate New Salem's centennial, and was left with a dozen or so. I have one, and it resided in my classroom during my teaching days. The first kid who asked about her significance was given an opportunity for 5 points extra credit if they could discover her name.

I had never actually visited Salem Sue, but I can now scratch that off my to-do list. Although I was in the van with Ben, I was totally aware that she is MUCH bigger than the Jamestown Buffalo.

Leah said it was a boy cow because of his horns, but Aaron and I said, "Ahem, she's a girl. And even girl cows can have horns."
I once gave an impromptu biology lesson on the various types of cattle to one of my English classes, but I think I'll wait awhile before explaining it to my 4 year old. Like maybe 15 years.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yee Haw, ya'll!

We spent an afternoon & evening in Medora, the only true tourist destination in North Dakota, unless you count oversize animals and other sculptures. Which I do.

On our hunt for ice cream, we found a mechanical bull. Leah rode first, and then Aaron jumped on. Of course.

HOWEVER, since that sign to Leah's right says "Children Only" I am not posting proof of Aaron's actual delinquency.

Aaron's sister Lisa met us and we all stayed at one of the (highly overpriced) motels. She had her own room, despite us trying to pass Leah off on her.

Although it really stunk to pay $100+ for a very basic room, the heated outdoor pool partially made up for it, especially since it was 98 degrees that day, and all the public pools had closed the day we started our trip. So the kids had fun swimming, even Ben, although we forgot his swim diapers back in Fargo. Oops. And of course there are swim diapers NOWHERE in Medora. We put his trunks on him and pretended that he was potty trained. I felt like such a rebel.

Auntie Lisa bought the kids these hats, and unfortunately, at this jaunty angle you can't see the red embroidery saying, what else? Medora.

See that dark, ominous cloud over our shoulders? It was indeed ominous, and brought with it 40 mph winds. We mostly hid out in the gift shop for the hour and a half between the pitchfork fondue and the gates opening for the Musical. The fondue, by the way, was the best we've ever eaten. The last time we went, Leah only ate brownies, which she threw up later. (She'd been sick all day - it wasn't us just being negligent parents.)

Aaron bought a tub of popcorn, which Ben claimed and then defended as his rightful territory.

They proceeded with the show as planned, and the winds weren't nearly as fierce once we were down in the amphitheater. I was VERY glad, however, that the kids had pants in the van and that I'd brought sweatshirts for us all. You just never know about that Musical. Sometimes it stays 85 the whole night, but sometimes you are left wishing for a blanket or two.

I don't know what was going on with Ben here, but every time I see this photo I laugh. Any ideas?

One of the yearly acts is a song with all the kids from the audience on stage. Hopefully this is the last year that I'll have to go up, too. Leah is to the right of the actor in the purplish suit, and I'm just over his head. You know, the only one on stage not wearing a hat. Not that I felt out of place or anything. Half way through the song I crouched.

About 45 minutes into the show, the manager came out and apologized, but they were going to have to call the show quits because of the weather. A storm was on its way (no surprise to those of us with sand in our mouths from the wait) and they wanted the audience to get off the hill safely. Not to mention avoid electrocuting the cast.

We got everyone into the van just before the rain started, and the hail came shortly after. For some crazy reason, Aaron turned AWAY from the motel, thinking that would give the kids time to fall asleep. Nope. Instead, we were driving directly into a fierce hailstorm, and it was so loud in the van we couldn't hear each other talk. The kids were thoroughly awake upon reaching our room. But poor Ben just couldn't take it. It was 9:45pm (our time), or almost 3 hours past his bedtime. I laid him down and literally watched him fall asleep while the rest of us got ready.

As Lisa said, what we got to see of the Musical really was probably just the right amount for the kids, Ben especially. They got to see horses, go on stage, and hear a couple of songs. They also got to ride the escalator, always a big hit.

AND we got a full refund on our tickets.

It was a good night.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More Teacher Humor

Okay, so you don't have to have been a teacher to find these funny.

Anyone who has been a STUDENT will probably chuckle.

Just don't blame me if something else from this site offends you...I'm not recommending it without a PG13 rating. And even then you may want to be cautious. You have been warned.

Now go do some math.

Monday, August 25, 2008


A vacation at Aaron's parent's Ranch (not really a ranch, it just feels that way.) is never a complete vacation. At least for Aaron. His dad Clarence has a hard time relaxing, to say the least, and Aaron gets stir-crazy after about 2 hours. So to work they go.

That is Clarence (age late 60's) up there on the scaffolding. The day before there were pretty strong winds, but he persisted with nailing up huge sheets of Styrofoam, continuing to re-side the house. We asked Aaron if he was the spotter, but he said he left to avoid any responsibility.

And where did he go? Well, there were reports of a ghost farmer in the tree row.

But I called Ghost Busters.

Aaron got himself a tractor to drive, folks! He cultivated Clarence's tree row. And had a blast!

But wait! While I was taking photos and Aaron was doing his father's bidding, where were our beautiful, intelligent children?

Right here:

Watching TV in Grandma & Grandpa's bedroom. Like all good children.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Go West, Young Kids

We stopped in Jamestown for lunch, and Aaron got the idea to visit the World's Largest Buffalo. Since neither of us had actually been to visit, I was game. And I honestly had no idea it was so big. I know this sounds very silly, since it IS the WORLD'S LARGEST, but it truly is really, REALLY BIG. Ben didn't really know what to think of it, but after I assured Leah that it was "just a statue" she was okay with it.

Our trip across the state went very well, mostly because we stopped 5 times during the 6 hour drive. Leaving Fargo, here are our stops:

1) Valley City for gas - kids ran around.
2) Jamestown for lunch & photo opp above.
3) Bismarck Kmart - finally bought my bike helmet, & a wading pool for Grandma & Grandpa's
4) Hebron to visit my Grandpa Henry, who fed us dinner AND dessert

5) Belfield for gas again. At that point, we only had one hour of driving left, and the kids had fun watching for cows, beehives, and the Badlands.

Thanks to these pit stops, we didn't even have to break out the big guns of minivan entertainment: the DVD player. I like to save that lifesaver for when we REALLY need it,usually towards the end of a trip, because it's really hard to turn it off once it's on. Kind of like the whining that precedes it.

Which always ends abruptly, video or not, when we pull into the grandparent's driveway. Yay for grandma, grandpa, and a big house and yard to explore!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Questionable Judgement.

My mom is normally a highly reasonable person. Work first, fun second, and maybe fall asleep on the couch third. This is a the circle of life at Mom and Dad's house.

She combined numbers one and two this time. She hosted my cousin K's bridal shower Saturday morning, a shower which she has been obsessing about for literally months, trying to make sure every detail was perfect.

All was going well until she showed me the cover of a magazine with these cupcakes on it:

Now, don't get me wrong. These cupcakes are completely adorable, were very tasty, and enjoyed by everyone, both by the eyes and tastebuds.
However, I knew as soon as she showed me the photo that there were also completely ridiculous. This magazine, to which I used to subscribe (surprise, surprise, right?) has a ton of really cute cakes and desserts, and they put them prominently on the cover to get you interested, and then when you flip to the recipe, you see that it has ONE ZILLION STEPS. I'm not even joking. I didn't re-subscribe based solely on the my frustration with their recipes.
But Mom stuck to her guns (hi Dad!) and carried through. I did help for a bit. And let me tell you first hand, every one of those flowers was TWO gumdrops smushed together, flattened, and cut INDIVIDUALLY into that shape. Crazy.

But how can you argue when she looks so darn happy? Congratulations, Mom! Mission accomplished - the shower and the cupcakes were a great success.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


My kids usually have a snack before bed. Tonight it was yogurt, and I got some good examples of why Ben always finishes eating waaaay before Leah:

Here is Ben taking a bite.

I swear the kid has a double-jointed jaw, and he has always eaten this way.

Maybe if you get a microscope rightuptoyourscreen you would be able to see the bite on Leah's spoon. But it really is there. And this is how she usually eats: one. tiny. bite. at. a. time.

Nothing like some happy, shiny tanned faces to end the day on a positive note. If you are comparing their sizes, please remember that Leah is SITTING. But Ben really is gaining on her. She better start taking bigger bites.

Monday, August 18, 2008

If you want a job done right...

I asked nicely. I got everything ready and explained what needed to be done. And STILL BIL Josh, in town for a wedding, didn't get around to cutting out our damaged piece of carpeting. Something about best-man duties or something.


I was over-caffinated that day, having had coffee for breakfast, a Coke at lunch, and then a 20 minute nap that afternoon. I woke up from that nap fully energized, and started attacking that carpet. It wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be, but it did leave my arms a bit sore.

And I had the only other conscious person in the house (Leah) take a photo as proof.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Just Sitting Here Looking Natural

Annual fall leaves photo, 2007.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

You see, it was this way...

I overheard Leah talking to her friend Lydia today:

"All our carpet is wet right now. But it's drying out."
"The problem is, there's this drain in the floor..."

And later, she told me,

"Lydia said the problem was the ice maker, but I told her it wasn't. There was a clog in the drain."

This would be the flashing red warning light that tells me two things:


and also, and probably more importantly:


Update: I found Ben's Thomas engine today, along with another matchbox-type car, outside on his toy lawnmower. I am inordinately relieved.

One. Perfect. Day.

Yesterday we took all of summer and mushed it into one day.

9:30am - photos with Tara at Buffalo River State Park. The kids loved running around and finding rocks, flowers, and various sticks. Lucky for us the park ranger wasn't around.

11am - Potluck picnic at the G family home with bunches of friends. All summer we've been getting together with friends from church at different parks, and this was our end-of-summer celebration. My day was made by both my children eating decent lunches despite being surrounded by friends. Also, Ben didn't dump sand on anyone's head. That I know of.

2pm - We are home, with Ben sound asleep until 3pm. I'm pretty sure I slept for a bit, too, curled up on the sofa downstairs.

3pm - Ben is awake and cran-ky. Time for a distraction. How about we walk to friend A's house with popsicles? Sounds like a plan.

4pm - Back home, and I get out the pool. Later, Aaron is impressed by this. So am I, since I had to locate several items to get it going. Have I mentioned that being married to Aaron has turned me into quite the princess lately?

5pm - Kids are in their swimsuits and ready to get wet. Splash, splash! Ben has a ball throwing, well, balls at me.

5:45pm - Ice cream truck comes through the neighborhood. The last time it visited, it was 3pm, so I treated the kids. And Aaron was bummed that he missed out. So this time we bought treats before dinner and stuck them in the freezer for later.

6pm - Light dinner of barbequed chicken, French bread, and salad. Here's my really quick way to cook chicken - slice it thin, as if for stir-fry, then thread onto kabob spears and grill. Works especially well for those enormous frozen chicken breasts we like.

7pm - Head out for a family bike ride. I rode my birthday bike AND pulled the kids' trailer for the first time. Yep, I felt it. But it was pretty fun to hear the kids laughing & giggling behind me the whole time.

7:30pm - Ice cream as a bed time snack? Why, SURE!

And the to bed, to bed, jiggity-jig, for my sweet babies. Those lucky kids.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Because we really don't trust them.

We bought this house knowing that we would need to put up a fence. Not only do we back a public golf course, but neither of our neighbors had a fence. Our kids are not typically wanderers, but you know. They are 4 and 2 years much do we trust them? The answer? NOT MUCH.

Aaron has been developing plans for this fence since before we actually moved in. He planned a split-rail fence as specified in our neighborhood's covenant, but with a layer of wire fencing to keep appropriate things in AND out.

After obsessing about the underground sprinklers for about 2 weeks (are they going to be blocked by the posts? will he have to move them? where IS the property line, anyway?) he finally decided to till up a "trench" on the fence line. After the fence is in, he'll fill it with rock, and then won't have to mow under the fence or weed-whack. Smart guy.

Aaron rented this hydraulic post-hole digger for the weekend, so when this happened Friday night, he knew that he still had to do the fence the next day. I would have been whining and complaining like crazy, but he just did it.
Dad came and helped, too. AFTER they went out for breakfast and played 9 holes of golf. But I took the kids to garage sales, so I didn't want to complain too much...but I did. Sorry, hon.

Ben is "helping". It is my fear that his Thomas train engine is at the bottom of one of those holes.

At the end of the weekend, they had all three sides up, minus a gap on one side where they hit a sprinkler line. Now we just wait for the gates, a small one in the back, and then one in front.
Aaron and I noticed that the whole time the fence was going up, the kids respected it. They didn't go outside of it, and Ben only tried to climb it once, putting his foot up on the first rung. I was standing right there and quickly squashed THAT plan.
I'm sure at some point they will try to get out, but for now we are so thankful that we have generally rule-following kids. Truly, the only reason I really feel that I even NEED the fence is because the kids have a big tendency to go around to the more appealing front yard, which of course, is right on the street, and not tell me. Also, I think people may question my letting the kids go out by themselves with no fence. And we do have other kids over, who may wander or inspire my kids to do so.
So a fence it is. And it is a beauty. Thanks, honey!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wet Bar Part II

What were the kids doing while all this was going on, you may be wondering?

Well, we started off watching the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. Leah surprised me by pointing out the Bird's Nest, which she apparently recognized from the Wii game, Mario & Sonic at the Olympics. Yet another blow to my theory that video games pave the road to hell.

When Stacie & Chris rescued us, er, showed up, both kids immediately went cuckoo with joy at having their best buds suddenly available to play, and all the adults preoccupied, no less! There was much running and screeching.

At 8pm, I decided that Ben really had to go to bed, and since it didn't look like the other kids would be able to head home soon, it was either wrestle him to bed now or wait until we were all finished. So the wrestling commenced. There was a lot of arguing done, mostly by Ben, but he went to bed finally and to sleep fairly quickly afterwards.

Leah was a different matter. She understandably didn't want to go to sleep while M was visiting, but was sooo tired! She ended up in bed shortly after 9pm, with much weeping and wailing in the process. Oh well - I was just happy that both kids were taken care of within an hour or so of their regular bedtimes.

M & baby P are more used to staying up late, so they were fantastic...except that P wanted to be very involved. As you can see from the photos below, it took both parents to keep him out of trouble.
Starting the process of pulling up the carpet...we are soo glad that this is carpet we were meaning to replace anyway. It will just have to be a bit sooner than hoped, is all.

Chris & P investigate our lovely floor outlet - how exactly is the carpet attached around it?
The carpet laid out to dry on paint cans. The next morning, Aaron was readjusting the carpet a bit, and the fan fell over, breaking off two of the blades. RIP, old fan. Stacie & Chris brought over their two box fans, and Dad brought his down, too, so we were fine.

And this is what our "big room" looks like now. We are planning on cutting out the damaged piece of carpet so we can put the bar back into place, on top of the cement like it's supposed to be. Then at least we will have half the room back.
The plumber came Saturday afternoon, and found a clog about 2 feet down the ice maker's drain. The kitchen drain was clear, so we are left to assume that there was just one clog causing our problem. That drain will be capped off, because the sink has it's own regular drain in the wall.
The bill for the plumber was only $110! We are soo relieved.
So there you have it. Tomorrow I will update you on the OTHER big accomplishment of the weekend. Oh yes. There is more.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wet Bar

Friday late afternoon I discovered a wet spot on the carpet, just outside of our bar area. Like any mom, I immediately interrogated the four year old, who seemed believably innocent. As I was trying to soak some of it up, it became obvious that the visibly wet section was just the tip of the iceberg. It was obvious because my knees were soaked. The ice maker was the culprit, I thought, since the wet area was in a straight line out from it. I turned it off, and after a bit turned off the water to it. At Aaron's request, I shoveled all of the ice out of it into the sink.

In this photo, the ice maker is to the left of the fridge. It has been a thorn in Aaron's side since we moved in, since it appears to be constantly running. Aaron says it probably uses more water than our sprinkler system.
After dinner, I got out the shop vac and started trying to suck up the water. The water in the tub was about 4 inches, so we dumped it into the bar's sink. And then watched it come right back out at our feet. Which meant that all that ice we put into the sink was ALSO coming out tAt which point I nearly had an emotional breakdown.
And rescue came in the form of friend Stacie dropping off my order from her Usborne book show. I briefly explained the situation, and she reminded me that her husband used to work for a water removal & restoration company. So he was waved in, along with their two kids, M (Leah's best frenemy) and baby P, whom Ben adores.
Chris quickly assessed the situation, and said we'd have to move the bar's counter, because it was sitting ON the carpet, which was wet underneath. If we left it, the carpet would get moldy and the counter's wood would start to rot. Fun.

The guys worked to separate and move the countertop and then the cabinets. They used the same engineering as the Egyptians did when building the pyramids...they rolled it.
Here's a good photo of the extent of the water damage.

And here's proof that I helped!
We assumed that the garbage disposal was to blame, since we found pieces of lettuce and other vegetation coming up from the drain.

Once everything was moved to the other side of the room, the carpet was pulled up and the soaking pad cut out and thrown away. Then we propped the carpet up on paint cans and set up our only box fan to blow towards the open windows. And then Stacie, Chris and their (amazing well behaved for being so tired) kids got to go 11:30pm. Thanks so, so, much you guys.
And outside? It was pouring rain. Sooo helpful.
I'll have more photos (and the rest of the story) tomorrow.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

International Baby Sign Language

My Slacker Saturday posts have extingushed my email forwards file. I will continue the slacker-ness by posting favorite photos of my very own children.

Friday, August 8, 2008

All Queued Up

Movies we've recently seen, courtesy of Netflix:

13 Going On 30 - Okay, it was cute. I'll admit it. But ONLY because Jennifer Garner was the lead. If it had been Brittany Murphy, I'm pretty sure I would have hated it. It also made me think about (because Aaron asked) how seeing my now-self would have changed me at age thirteen. I appreciated the the pseudo-ending was realistic, not the happy ending that you (me) expected. HOWEVER, I also appreciated the movie's magical premise that enabled a truly happy ending to happen anyways. Which is all I care about.

Shrek the Third - I wasn't impressed with Shrek 2 - there were too many innuendos, and really perverted ones at that. I didn't think it was appropriate for it's target audience, even though I suppose most of those jokes would have gone over their heads anyway.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the third Shrek seemed to leave out a lot of that garbage. A lot was made of the princesses defending the kingdom and going all kung-fu...this was more of a minor element than I anticipated. Snow White impressed me the most, especially her vocal range...

Secondhand Lions - Many people told me how great this movie is. If you are one of them, or share their opinion, I respectfully disagree. Aaron and I both found "I see dead people" Haley Joel Osment's acting very stiff, and the plot too predictable and sentimental. Also, I totally don't buy Michael Caine as a Texan. No way, no how.

Monster-In-Law - This one is a draw for me. I thought the plot was cheesy, but I did enjoy Jennifer Lopez as a normal kind of person, and Jane Fonda as an insane type of person. In general, there were a few surprises from what I expected, but not enough to make me really excited about this movie. Oh well.

The Spiderwick Chronicles - This movie is based on an adolescent novel, which I've never read. But if I was still teaching, I think I would, because it was a very fun movie. There were some scary parts, but they really just eased into it, starting with one friendly hobgoblin, and then adding another, before a bunch of meanies show up. The target audience is middle-schoolers, I believe, but younger kids with a high "scary" tolerance would like it, too, especially with the chances to opt out.

Also, the bad guy dies in one of the best death scenes ever. Want to know what it is? Okay, I'll tell you: He turns into a bird, starts to fly away, and gets plucked out of the air and eaten by the bird-(eating)-loving hobgoblin. It is fantastic.

So there you have it. And now we are on hold with Netflix while we watch the Olympics every evening for five hours.

We will be on vacation next week visiting Aaron's family, so my posts my consist of photos of the kids, and maybe some fun anecdotes. If I can contain myself.

Periodically Speaking

Recently a friend was at our house and commented that every time he's here, he gets "magazine head" because we have so many and he can't help but read them.

It's hard to get a word out of my dad if he sits on the couch - he's usually buried in something, even if you're sure he would have ZERO night it was Women's Day. Yes, we took a photo. Lucky for him, I don't feel like hunting it down.

One year I had to use some very old frequent flyer miles, so I ended up with 8 free subscriptions (Bazaar? Jane?) on top of the 8 or so that we already paid for. It was kind of nuts. Fortunately, I recycle magazines, either officially or by giving them to other friends who will read them.

So here's the current run-down:

1. Parenting- I started getting this one when I was pregnant with Leah. I was debating between it or Parents, but Aaron liked that Parenting has a pediatrician on it's board, so he trusted it's advice more.

2. Entertainment Weekly - No, it's NOT just another gossip magazine! It's actually really decent, and I like it 'cause it covers everything: movies, TV, books, theater, AND music. Aaron and I both pretty much read it cover to cover every week.

3. Sports Illustrated - Yes, it's mostly Aaron's magazine. But I also enjoy flipping through it, and find that it helps me keep current with"boy talk". Their latest issue about Olympic hopefuls was especially beneficial! I love the backstories of athletes, so I usually read those and skip the articles filled with statistics.

4. Cottage Living - This is pretty much the only "house" magazine that I get. I looked at several different ones, but this seems to be the one whose style I can most relate to. I'd love to live in a cute little cottage someday...but not with little kids. Still, I like the decorating and they have a ton of tips about perennial gardens. I am keeping my issues of this one, so far.

5. Real Simple - SIL Erica got me started on this one. It's kind of like a chick Consumer Reports, since they do a lot of "road tests". But it also includes info on fashion, home, health, cooking,'s a catch-all, and I love it. Very thick, and I read it cover-to-cover (okay, I do that with ALL my mags). And pass it on.

6. Simple & Delicious - Used to be Quick Cooking. I've gotten this one for years, and also keep every never know! I have gone through them more than once looking for just the right recipe.

7. Family Fun - Just started getting this after wanting it since Leah was born. However, most of the activities are geared towards preschoolers on up, so she's just now getting old enough to try out some of the stuff. I keep reminding myself that all these zines have websites where I can find anything I want, so I don't need to keep copies. But I still do.

8. Wondertime - Another one I just started. LOVE it! It's a parenting magazine, too, but it's mostly in essay format, so for a reader like me, it's heaven. I save it as a treat.

Notice the lack of news magazines? We used to get both Newsweek and World (a conservative Christian news weekly) but realized that we really didn't read most of the actual articles, and the 5 or so pages we DID read weren't really worth the subscription price. And although we feel guilty getting all entertainment magazines, we do both read the daily paper and usually watch the news, also. So it's not like we are totally uninformed. Just don't ask which section I read first, and most thoroughly. But I bet you can guess.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Series of Unfortunate Events

1. Teeny tiny red ants have invaded our kitchen counter via a teeny tiny crack in our window's trim. Any dish with food remaining on it must be placed directly into the sink, and preferably filled with water, so as to drown any buggers that make it that far.

2. Heated up the wrong burner for lunch today and melted the ziploc bag that was laying over it. I scraped most of it off, but anyone have any hints for removing the rest?

3. At lunch, Aaron observed, "What's this water doing here? (on the floor under the fridge)" and then spent the next 15 minutes removing what we assumed to be curdled milk from the drainage hose.

4. Ben insisted on bringing one of his little matchbox cars with us into the pool. During the last 10 minutes he finally had worn me down so that he brought it into the water. Of course I had warned him that he might lose it, and after 5 minutes, we realized he wasn't holding it anymore. "Uh-oh! No more car! I guess that's what happens when you don't listen to Mommy!" Except Mommy's friend J (who is desperate to be Ben's pal) went and found it for him. Still, it was gone a sufficient amount of time for him to remember to "tell" Daddy about it.

5. I spent a considerable amount of time on the computer today trying to update our address on our various magazine subscriptions, only to find that most of them already had the correct one.

6. At dinner, Aaron put his (plastic) plate on top of the still-hot burner I'd used. Darn these glass-top stoves! All this plastic came right off after it cooled. Thinking I shouldn't have scraped the bag off after all.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I guess time travel increases the appetite.

I ended up in a time-warp today. Ten minutes before we left for the pool the sun came out, so I decided we should go. Fun day! Lots of friends were there, too, and the kids had a blast, although Leah's blast was spent mostly out of the pool. For the last hour she pranced around on the deck and practiced laying on her beach towel.

Ben demonstrated his attention to detail. He wanted me to lay out his towel near where I was sitting on the pool edge (best of both worlds, you know - out of the water AND near Mommy). I spread it out, only to hear his oh-so familiar "Eh, eh, EH!" and turned around. There he is, pointing at the one wrinkle in the darn thing. And he wasn't satisfied until I smoothed it for him.

Then a bit later I moved it after wringing it out, and he threw another fit because it was placed one foot from the original location. Sheesh. He is going to be such a blast to raise. Good thing he's also a hilarious dancer.

Time-warp time. We left the pool and I decide to go to the folks' house and get the last of our stuff. Just a quick visit. Right.

My first mistake was letting the kids out of the van. But they actually haven't seen the grandparents for awhile. And they needed a snack.

At one point, I walked through the kitchen and glanced at the clock, which said 6pm. And I seriously thought, "Geez, why do Mom and Dad have their clock an hour fast?" So you see, kids never stop thinking they are smarter than their parents.

But I DID believe my van's clock, and almost freaked out when I realized it really WAS 6:15pm.

Good thing I was planning one of my semi-gourmet summer meals. Stir fried broccoli, cauliflower, & yellow squash with green onions and garlic. Except for the garlic, all the veggies were from our CSA "garden box". When they were almost done, I threw in some frozen uncooked super-sized shrimp from Sam's Club. I should have taken a photo - it was a gorgeous pan of food.

I had cooked spaghetti noodles, and then melted several tablespoons of butter, to which I added a liberal amount of lemon juice and a handful of fresh cilantro, also from the garden box. The sauce was just to pour over the noodles & veggie mix, since I knew Leah wouldn't like the extra "green stuff" in her food.

I usually make this sort of dish several times during the just can't beat shrimp for speed of preparation! And I love the fresh vegetables - the CSA ones are especially flavorful.

And let me tell you, it was yummmm-y! Leah declared a couple of time how much she liked the shrimp (a more recent development, thank goodness) and all the veggies except the squash. I had her demonstrate for Ben how to eat it, so she ended up cleaning her plate. Ben was busy concentrating on his noodles, and since Leah was whining for more food, I gave her Ben's plate. He immediately objected...strongly. So I gave it back, and he promptly started working on the broccoli & cauliflower. Any time he slowed down, I gave a little piece to Leah, and he would immediately get possessive again. Probably not the best association to have with food, but hey. It worked. He cleaned his plate, too, minus three chunks of squash.

Then they both ate a generous bowl of frozen yogurt AND half a banana. And baths, and bed. Yay, summer!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I Scammed Ebay

I've been shopping online for a new duvet cover for our master bedroom. I wanted some combination of brown and blue, preferably with an organic pattern (leaves maybe?) I found a couple that I liked:

Aaron said "no way" to this one

"okay, but kind of boring"

"fine, whatever" YES! Success. With Aaron, this is as close to approval as I'll get.

There were four of the winning selection on Ebay and they all ended up being around $70. That wouldn't be too bad, but $20 of it was shipping. Which Aaron thought seemed a little much.

So I did what any Ebay shopper should do, and checked the actual retail price - same as on Ebay. But only $8.50 for shipping!

Man, I love winning.

Monday, August 4, 2008

What a Deal

Usually we spend the Fourth of July out in Western North Dakota with Aaron's family. This year, niece Meghan decided to shake things up a bit by celebrating her earlier wedding with a reception on July 5th.

So the family headed East.

Ben bonded with his cousin Seth, despite the twenty-some years between them.

Seth thought it was hilarious that Ben would just put his hands OVER his ears, and not hold onto them, but I reassured the horsie that if balance was in question, Seth would immediately feel tiny little fingers on his eardrum.

The happy couple, Meghan and Pat. The reception was simply lovely, and featured plenty of appetizers, great music, and some cool photographers! I have to admit, I felt kind of weird talking to this husband/wife team for about half and hour in the middle of all these people I've known for years. But we just got along really well. Too bad we don't live in their city!

And here is that promised photo of Aaron:

He is a total reprobate. By the way, it's a CANDY cigarette. All the family was enjoying posing like gangsters. We are pre-eettty bad folks. I wouldn't mess with us if I were you.

So, I know it's not kosher to brag about how much you paid (or didn't pay) for an outfit, but I totally do it all the time. And this dress is no exception - I got it for $10 at TJ Maxx. Score! I spent about 5 times that trying to accessorize it, and then ended up borrowing SIL Jessica's necklace anyway. $30 got returned.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Slacker Saturday

I know I'm not exactly a dog fan, but this one look like he has soul.

He's either praying or getting ready to belt out an Elvis tune.

Friday, August 1, 2008

No Sweat.

Tonight the family hit a few garage sales. They were mostly a bust, and only resulted in finding 3 new LeapPad books/cartridges for Leah ($2 each!) Here's the conversation she and I had on leaving the sale:

Me: I got you these LeapPad books.
Leah: I know. (already staring at them intently)
Me: Well, that's not a very nice thing to say! How about "thank you, Mommy!"
Leah: Thank you. (still staring at book)

We walk to the van. Just before we get there she says, "Only three?"

That's when I lost it a little bit. Aaron of course started laughing.

And then we went for a family bicycle ride, with me breaking in my birthday bike! It is a cruiser-type, and after our two-mile jaunt around our neighborhood, I'm not totally appalled at the thought of riding again. I am SUCH an optimist today.

Catching Up

I have spent the last two days talking. Pretty much nonstop, too. Aaron's cousin Beth, who stayed here with her family for the last two days, is a kindred spirit in that we both love to talk, about anything and everything. We do actually listen to each other, contrary to popular belief. However, if the guy want to have any kind of discussion, they need to leave the house.

Beth and Dave arrived Wednesday afternoon, shortly after I awoke from my molar-removing stupor. We visited until Aaron came home, had dinner (me included! Luckily it was shredded beef burritos - very soft!), and visited some more, all while the kids played like fiends.

Yesterday we sent the guys to load up the remainder of our stuff from my parent's house - oh, those lucky, lucky boys. How will they EVER thank us?

THANKS DAVE! It made it a lot easier to get all that crap down here - crap we haven't seen in almost 4 months, so you KNOW we need it. Actually, I'm getting a little antsy for some of it...and filling boxes with stuff for a garage sale at the same time.

Beth and I hit the stores after lunch, and Ben took a mammoth nap, which I desperately needed him to have. While we wore ourselves our shopping (OH, so exhausting) the dads took the kids to the park - those dads, I tell you what. They even brought a pitcher of water and watermelon for a snack with them.

After STEAK for dinner, we kicked the boys out to have a good time. And ease our guilt. And they had to go ruin it all by bringing us back Cold Stone Creamery ice cream. While we were giving ourselves pedicures. Darn them their timing. But thanks for the yummy treat!

So, after two nights of staying up visiting until midnight, plus an oral surgery, I am wiped out. BUT, I had coffee this morning! So after the gang took off around 10am, I cleaned the two upstairs bathrooms and vacuumed the three bedrooms. And started washing sheets and towels.
And unpacked the last box currently in Leah's bedroom...with many more to follow, I'm afraid.

Speaking of unpacking, I made great progress while visiting Wed night - Aaron said I was just showing off for the company. (Gee, thanks, honey.) I feel much more settled without boxes piled around every corner.

Now, if I could only locate my stash of guest towels...

And, Aaron just called and asked if I was ready for a water-slide party tomorrow. Well, sure! Bring it ON!