Thursday, October 30, 2008

Snips & Bits

Oh, no big topic is coming to mind, but here's a lot of little things from the last couple of days:

- Crystal and I closed down both Old Navy AND Starbucks Monday night. We were in search of 75% toddler clothes, discovered the sale had ended that day, and then the very nice manager agreed to give us 50% off clearance prices anyway. So I guess making a sad face will get you your way, even with ladies. Who knew.

- Also, my favorite non-caffeinated drink at Starbucks is the green tea latte. It's not on the menu anymore, but the barista still made it for me. Man, employees must be in good moods Monday nights. Either that, or I totally RULE.

- Finally bought new pj's for Leah yesterday. She's been surviving on all 3Ts so far - and she's 4 1/2. Granted, she's small for her age, but still. I decided to retire a couple pairs the other day, and discovered they were 2T's. No wonder her wrists and ankles were showing! Poor thing.

- Aaron caved and let me buy candy to hand out for Halloween. The only reason we are doing it is that there has already been some pranking things in the neighborhood, so I'm scared we'll get egged or something. So basically, the mob has won. However, the mob is NOT getting good candy - I'm handing out a "kiddie mix" of SweetTarts, Smarties, JawBreaker, and Double Bubble. Not bad enough to spit onto my sidewalk (hopefully), but not good enough to show any enthusiasm, anyway. But I have to confess, I do look forward to seeing the little kids in costume. If the big kids dress up, that would be nice too.

- Both kids got their hair cut today. Ben especially was starting to look a little like a bear cub. Leah got sparkles AND a double ponytail, so feel free to call her "fancy pants" if you see her today.

Okay, that's it. Hope your pumpkins survive the next couple of days intact. Oh, and I am sooo glad I am not teaching right now- Halloween on a Friday? May as well cancel all the afternoon classes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What a Couple of Fruits

Entertainment at our house tonight took a decidedly organic turn. It all started with Leah pointing at me and saying, "You're Ben!" and then at Ben and saying, "And you're Liz!" Ben immediately pointed at himself and said, "Ben!" which may be the first time we've heard him say his own name. Of course, Aaron became Leah and Leah became Aaron. This was all fun, but it really got hilarious when we started calling each other vegetable and fruits.

Here's a sample:

Leah (to me, always): You're a tomato!
Me: to her - "Beans!" to Ben - "carrots!"

And then both kids scream and laugh wildly, run around the couch and through the big room a bit, and come back for a new name.

Ben was especially into it - he'd come up and rest his elbows on the couch, and put his chin on his hands and stare expectantly at me, like he was going to get candy or something. A couple of times he turned down the assigned produce, "Uh-uh!", and wouldn't run until I gave him an acceptable one. I finally decided he liked best the ones he could say - corn, peas, peaches, beets, apples. (He also pointed right at a picture of a winter scene in a book and said, clear as a bell, "Hockey!" Not sure this is a good sign.)

Leah tried to take it down a gross path by saying "You're an eyeball & nose cake!" (we did a few desserts, too). I made a yucky face, and Ben just about split a gut laughing. Too easy.

We all had a blast, and I was especially pleased that I was doing a "good mom" job of interacting with my kids, without having to move my butt from the couch. Because I clearly have my priorities straight.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Life Saved

Mom called to night with a mission: to get me to bring my last remaining house plant in from the freezing outside. It was a pretty hard sell, by the way, since I'd resigned myself to letting it die.

Not sure why, but I've had about zero interest in anything green-and living, that is. Maybe it's because I have sixteen thousand projects to finish in the house, or maybe it's because I have a two year old boy who would just love to dig his hands into that great dirt. Or it could be that my furniture is in total disarray, so I have no idea exactly where plants would go.

You get the idea.

But, to my mom, to deliberately kill a plant is akin to murder.

So I brought the plant in.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

From a Highly Insightful Friend

I tried twice to make this photo the right direction. Then I gave up. Sorry.

Anyway, friend CB from book club was making these little "puppy chow" packets with kids Wednesday night at church. (Did you follow all that?) She used me as an example for the little poem part. I was sincerely touched, and on the topic of personalities, I like to think she's pretty accurate!

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Don't Even Watch This Show

It's true, I've never seen "The Hills", but this is one of the best one-liners I've heard in a while.
Here's the link to the whole article - I love lists like this. Thanks, MSN!

TV's Worst Actors: Spencer Pratt, "The Hills" Some people like to think of Spencer Pratt as manipulative, evil and stupid. But I think of him as just the opposite. He's stupid first, then evil, then manipulative.

Ha ha!

Really, Who Are You?

Have you ever had this strange realization that your perspective of yourself is totally different than how others see you?

For example: I tend to think of myself as fairly easy-going and laid back. However, I am quite certain that these are NOT the words my friends would use to describe me. Let's try high-strung, talkative, energetic, organized...and none of those words bring anything close to relaxed to mind.

I was discussing with a friend today another mutual acquaintance, and how I think she's too tightly-wound. And this Friend says, "You know, that's exactly what I thought about you when I first met you!" And then she used the word "spastic", as well. Yikes!

Time for a reality check. Maybe this mutual acquaintance is a lot like me (in other ways, too) so I should just cut her a break. She could be my best friend in 3 years. You just never know.

I will say, I do think I'm laid back with regard to hosting and my parenting. My house does not need to be perfect in order to entertain - good thing, too. Also, I wouldn't be able to list ignoring as a parenting technique if I was overly nervous in general.

Also, in my own defense, Aaron says I have chilled out in the last few years (maybe the 2 kids did it!) and I do tend to be most "spastic" when I first meet people, especially in groups. I am too much of an extrovert, and I get excited. Can't help it. I prefer to call it "animated" or "vivacious". Thankfully, so does my wonderful husband.

So, tell me about your experience - how and maybe when did you realize that others may have a different description of your personality than you yourself do?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not Buying It.

Have you seen this Walmart advertisement? The one where a mom says, "Walmart has all the costumes my kids want for Halloween!" and she starts pulling outfits out of the sack in front of her.

"Spiderman? Or Cinderella? Snow White? Or Superman?"

So basically, what you're saying Walmart, is if your kid wants to be a superhero or a princess, you've got them covered. Thanks.

I was actually in Walmart this evening while the ad was playing on their in-store TVs, and I literally didn't hear any difference in the costume names. Kind of sad. So narrowing for our children.

I remember when my cousins dressed as a slice of pizza and a carton of milk. Yep, their dad is an artist. If you are going to dress in costume this year, let's think outside of the box a bit, folks.


There's this singer named Pink, and she and her husband just broke up. So of course she wrote a song about it, and it's got this incredibly catchy "na-na-na na na na na-na-na na na" hook to it. Leah loves it, and I must confess, I find it fun also, even though the lyrics are kind of sad.

Anyway, Aaron gave the kids their baths tonight, and kept singing the "So What/I'm still a rock star" line over and over again, cause he couldn't remember the next line. All of a sudden Leah pipes in, "I got my rock moves..." which really is the next line.

She's getting so helpful. What a girl.

Excuse me, can I get some help over here? Excuse me?

Usually we are not big whiners about customer service. (And by "usually" I mean, when we have good customer service.) However, very recently we have had some stunners.

First, there's this whole deal with our doors from Home Depot. Not making us happy to start with, we ended up paying about 3 times more than expected for the installation. I spent half and hour in the store, 20 minutes with one employee, having every dollar of that amount itemized o I could explain it to Aaron at home. He was NOT pleased.

Yesterday I got FIVE phone calls in reference to said doors.

Call #1 - "Is Mr. ---- there?" said a voice that seemed to be at least 15 years old, and not very happy to be making the call.

"No." When people are rude or unpleasant, I don't feel the need to be helpful.

"Is this his wife or something?" Um.

So she goes on to tell me that our "order" is in, and we can pick it up anytime. I informed her that our order was doors, and that we'd paid for installation. She said she'd check on that and call me back. I'm so glad she had a clue what she was calling about.

Call #2 - Same 15 year old chickie. Yes, she agrees that our order was doors. And the installation payment (half the original bill!) wasn't attached to the purchase of the doors. It was "just floating around somewhere." Grrreat. I got a little exasperated at this comment.

Call #3 - More reputable woman on the phone, explaining that somehow our order had been divided in two, and so now that they were combined, we would be getting a refund of some of the tax. Okay.

Call #4 - Guy in millwork calls to say that really only 2 of the 4 doors were in, but we would go ahead and set up an installation date anyway, because the others would be in by Wed, and the install would most likely happen after that. A separate installation person will call by Monday to make the appointment. I repeated this back to him to make sure I got it all right.

Call #5 - "Yes, this is the Home Depot, and I'm calling to let you know that your two doors are in."

"Okay, now are these the same two doors I got called about earlier today, or are these the two doors they told me aren't in yet?"

"Oh, they are probably the same doors as earlier. Someone just didn't make a note."

We decided to take the kids to IHOP for lunch. These are the events leading up to the less-than-20%-tip:

- Took way too long to take our order. When the server finally came over, she took the menus and then left.
- When she finally showed up again, she seemed to remember that we hadn't ordered yet.
- Seemed to take a long time to make our 2 omelets for the kids and our sandwhiches.
- No refills for Aaron and I - and we really were thirsty!
- We finally got our ticket after Aaron piled all four plates in the middle of the table.
- After we had our card out, another server informed ours that we were know, since Aaron was packing the kids up.

Also not helping the situation (but not figuring into the tip!) was the fact that Ben was feeling extra whiny and ate nothing but Aaron's fries and chocolate milk. So. Fun.

All of this is why I could never, ever work in food service. I'd get an ulcer the first day worrying about tips.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wedding Recap

Well, hey, did you miss me at all last week? Turns out I was all MIA for a couple of days, and here's why. My cousin Kelli got married in Park River, my dad's (and hers, too) hometown which is about 2 hours away. And since we were a Highly Involved Family, with Leah being a flowergirl and me being a personal attendant, we headed up Friday afternoon.

Our "hotel" when in PR is known in the Meberg family as the River Bottom Inn - also, Grandma's house. Can't beat the rates. All she charges is hugs and kisses - and a jar of olives doesn't hurt, either.

Leah was awesome at her flower-petal scattering duties. Ben helped her pick them up after the rehearsal. What a good helper!

My artistic shot of the bride and groom at the rehearsal. My camera's little flash was totally useless, so I turned it off and used the pew as a tripod.

Kelli and I joke that we are more than cousins. Our dads are each other's godfathers, roles taken very seriously by these two brothers.

Kelli pretty much made all Leah's dreams come true by giving her a tiara and lipgloss as her thank-you gift. That, a pretty dress and lots of attention? What else could a princess ask for?

The girls were so shy for this photo!

Kelli and Bobby were so happy and excited to be getting married - it was fun to be involved. Isn't Kelli gorgeous?

That's spray cheese on the car. And that's a leg and a ball & chain. Just in case you were wondering.

I guess you shouldn't take people's photos while they are eating. Thanks, Dad.

My Great-Aunt Leona, Grandma Gail, and Great-Aunt Marion. Grandma Gail (or GiGi) had her gall bladder removed about a month ago, and for while she looked pretty rough. Other than missing some weight and tiring out a bit earlier than before, she's pretty much back to normal. We are so relieved.
Before we knew it was her gall bladder causing problems, Mom thought it may be a bug - she said, "These bugs are hard on the elderly, you know." And I said, "What are you talking about! Grandma's not ELDERLY!"

Apparently all the new people were just too much for Ben. His shyness came out in force, as he tried to make himself invisible at meals by covering his face. Not conducive to eating, it turns out.

Dad has 3 brothers and about 20 cousins who all originally started in Park River. All the brothers were present, as well as about 11 of the cousins. Brother Lynn and his wife Shotzie live in Colorado, and brought with them their granddaughter Hailey, age 7. She and Leah became fast friends - and it didn't hurt that Hailey had Leah watch The Princess Diaries 2 with her.

The wedding reception featured a live band, which was remarkably good considering there were only 3 members, and all of them sang. Leah danced like a crazy person, and thoroughly enjoyed herself and all the other little kids going nuts on the dance floor.
At one point, there was an announcement for all the Meberg cousins to go to the back of the room (for the requisite reunion photo). Leah ran up to me, and in all seriousness asked, "Mommy, am I a Meberg cousin?" No, honey, you are not. But just wait until Dave & Jess have their baby!
She eventually sat down for a couple songs to drink some water, and then looked at me and said she was tired. And wanted to go home. There wasn't much discussion about it, and since it WAS 10pm...Mom took her home and put her to bed, and then rejoined us. Ben had gone to bed before the dance even started.
Fun was had by all, and we are just about caught up on our sleep. Congratulations, Bobby & Kelli!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

If Kids Wrote Their Mom's Headstones

Morbid, yes. But we laughed our butts off today in Bible study when we somehow came up with this topic. Let's think adolescents here (or in my case, 4-year-olds).

1. She Was an Okay Mom, I Guess.

2. What a Slavedriver. (Leah shares this opinion with a friend's son, who thought he was being treated like a servant when asked to pick up his dirty clothes from the bathroom floor.)

3. If Only She'd Have Let Me Wear Makeup, I'd Be Happy.

4. NOW Can I Drive the Car?

5. I Always Liked Dad Better Anyway.

Monday, October 20, 2008

We even painted a pumpkin.

My MOMS Club had our Fall Party on Friday. Yes, there were all the usual Halloween trappings, and if you attended, you'd have thought you were indeed at a Halloween party, but what was important to me was that, in fact, it WAS a FALL party.

Leah and Ben dressed up. Well, Leah did. She was Sleeping Beauty, because we happened to have this gorgeous dress that my mom made for her birthday. I thought that I could talk Ben into being a train engineer, but the striped bib I borrowed from a friend were way too small. The hat was an adult sized one, and he didn't appreciate me plopping it on his head, but I did manage to get a couple photos.

I also took some of the kids who obviously have more creative mothers:

As Yoda's mom said, you really have to take advantage of having a baby, 'cause that's pretty much the only time you'll get to dress anyone up as the Jedi master.
Twins Tristan & London as a monkey and a banana. How cute is that. Even if they ARE sideways.

I had so much luggage to bring to this party - dip, carrots, celery, multiple boxes of crackers, 2 pumpkins, sandwiches, notebook for the business meeting (which didn't happen, thanks to the 30 some kids in costume)...but really, my biggest logistic issue was how to transport that darn painted pumpkin back home again.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Conversation in a Public Restroom

Tonight at Applebee's (with the other stall occupied):

Leah: (on the toilet) Do you remember that time the toilet flushed and I was still on it?

Me: Yep. I also remember that you squealed and jumped off!

(pause, as we get her finished and she pulls up her pants)

Leah: That's the fun thing about having kids - they help you remember stuff.

Me: Yeah? What kind of stuff do you help me remember?

Leah: Hmm...Like, that I want a My Little Ponies birthday party?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We Don't Know Where She Learned This

Yesterday evening we were outside "helping" Daddy do some yard work. Leah was walking on our neighbor's side of the fence, taking rocks out of the grass and putting them in their place.

Randomly, she says, "You treat me like a servant. You always tell me what to do."


I said, "Well, when you live in a family you do things to help each other, just like Daddy and I help each other.'

Her: "But you always make me do stuff."

Me: "No, I ask you to help me. Do you think Daddy and I should do everything?"

Leah looks at me, like she'd like to try that one out.

Me: "'Cause that would make us YOUR servants."


Her: "But you always tell me what to do!"

Now, you and I and Auntie Ruth all know that when your opponent returns to their original arguement, you can basically chalk it up as a win.

By, the way, poor little Miss Servant's duties now include setting the table, cleaning up her toys (and sometimes Ben's) and putting away her laundry. She has it so rough.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We Just Call Them "Fall" Costumes

We don't celebrate Halloween at our house. This is not an easy thing. First of all, I have discovered that it is culturally more acceptable not to celebrate Christmas, because there are many religions who do not. But it seems that all but us Christian extremists (joke! I don't think we are extreme - at least not in the dangerous connotation that word has gotten lately.)

Anyway, I was discussing this last year with Aaron, and he said the reason it's harder to abstain from Halloween is because it's a community holiday. It's not specific to a religion, so no one is afraid of offending anyone by have a Halloween party. And, this is the one time of the year that some see their neighbors! Christmas is celebrated in your own house, with your own family.

My kids know about Halloween, of course, just like they know who Santa Claus is. We just "don't do" them in our house. Leah doesn't really care, 'cause she gets to dress up and go to "Fall" or "Harvest" parties, and she gets candy at said parties. We'll see what happens as she gets older, but maybe then she'll understand our reasons for not partaking: 1) It's associated with things we usually avoid and see as bad: witches, ghosts, vampires, etc., 2) I find decorating with skulls and spider webs rather icky, and 3)Halloween seems to be an excuse for bad behavior - breaking pumpkins, vandalism, etc. To us, that is a sign it is not a good holiday to celebrate.

Plus, have you SEEN the costumes they try to market to girls? Seriously, they are all like versions of the traditional hooker costume. And I'm not just talking about women's getups, either - they go as young as middle schoolers. Feminists, there is some battle ground to be won here.

Of course, my own conscious tells me that celebrating the harvest is even more pagan than Halloween itself. I even had the thought the other day that the scarecrows people use for decorations remind me of effigies- a few pumpkins inside is plenty for us.

We usually spend Halloween evening buried in our house, trying to make it as dark as possible. But last year, we had several people still ring our doorbell. Too bad for them. They got some weird pumpkin gumballs that I'd bought the day before to try. Reaffirming my dislike of the holiday, the next day we found several of those gumballs chewed up and spit out on our driveway and sidewalk. Probably the middle-school age boys that weren't even in costume. Bah, Humbug!

If you're planning on visiting us on the 31st, you'd best call ahead - otherwise you'll just be ignored. Or be given some gross candy. Your choice.

Must Be the Genes

Sunday afternoon the whole family was piled on the couch, watching Aaron flip channels between football games (Vikings, you are sooo lucky). He explored a few more channels, and came the Senior Golf Tour tournament.

His beloved daughter, who has golfed 3 rounds with him now (albeit as spectator only), said, "Oh good, golf!"

She's fully a member of the family - his, at least.

Monday, October 13, 2008

An Odd Kind of Scavenger Hunt

A couple of weeks ago Aaron turned off a bunch a bunch of breakers before removing a light fixture from our great room. The reason it was a "bunch" of breakers is because the sub-panel on the fuse box has about 20 switches, and not one of them is labeled.

He turned them all off, and then we started the fun game of finding out which switch goes to what part of the house. We got the big ones, like lights, right away. However...we have been finding others rather randomly.

Like the garbage disposal on the island in the kitchen. And the fridge in the bar. Oh, and the furnaces. Oops.

We discovered that one this weekend when the weather turned a bit chilly. Aaron worked all week and basically didn't have time to breathe until Saturday afternoon, when I crawled out of hibernation long enough to tell him to tell him he HAD to do something! Anything!

In a matter of minutes the problem was fixed, and we added about 5 new labels to the sub-panel. Ah, heat. It is sooo underrated.

Now there are about 4 or 5 switches still unlabeled - so who knows what we'll find next? FUN!

Note: My sibs and SIL Kate all finished the Chicago Marathon well, with my brother Dave coming in 207th place - out of 33,000 runners. That makes him in the top .006%. Mom & Dad got to see everyone run by, in that crazy horde of athletes and fans. And they agreed that that size of marathon is NOT the place for kids younger than teens. I agree. We'll stick to being spectators of the Fargo Marathon.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Might be a Teensy Bit Type-A

The wood was a decorative piece from the top of the bar cabinets. Thankfully Aaron removed it during the painting process, and Ben commandeered it as a display tool for the Little People. He just looked so darn proud of himself.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Different Branch of the Family Tree

My plans for the weekend? Eating rice krispie bars, watching tv and doing a little shopping maybe. What are the plans for the rest of my family? Well, all 3 sibs & one in-law will be running the Chicago Marathon. And my parents will be there cheering them on, along with the other 2 spouses.

I always have been the non-athlete in the family, but who would have thought that this status would only become stronger in adulthood? Unless we're going to include childbirth as an athletic activity. I still have those two trophies to show those super-active brothers & sisters of mine. Take that! I don't even have to dust mine.

This Sunday at 8am, while I am getting the kids their cereal, I'll be thinking about Aaron, Kate, Ruth & Dave, all getting ready for this amazing race. And I'll really enjoy being indoors.

Good luck, you guys!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Poehler + Fey= true love

Many of us are aware of the ongoing friendship between Tina Fey & Amy Poehler - if you've watched SNL in the last decade, anyway. I happen to love Tina's (yes, I know her personally!) show 30 Rock, also, probably because I can relate more than a little to her dorky Liz Lemon character.

Anyway. We may have been the last in our demographic, but we finally watched Baby Mama the other night. And yes, we also thought it was hilarious. And more clean than expected?

I am big fan of Poelher's "Rick! Rick!" skits on SNL, and I was thrilled to catch a snippet of that character in one of the Mama scenes...not that I can remember which one, right now.

Favorite scene? Probably when Kate (Miss Tina) is trying to get Angie (Miss Poehler) to take her folic acid and prenatal vitamins. One of them is about the size of an Alka-Seltzer tablet - which is totally fictional, for you future moms out there. Most prenatal vitamins include the folic acid, and are a normal pill size.

Anyway, this scene is all Poehler - only she could be this funny in this particular way. The look on her face, like, "I tried! I just can't," is truly hilarious.

Also, there are several smaller roles filled by awesome actors: Maura Tierney (from ER, people), Steve Martin, Sigourney Weaver - and the mom from Two and a Half Men (not that I watch that show, no sireee!) who pretty much plays the same mom here.

So there. That's my way-too-late-to-be-relevant-movie-commentary-of-the-week.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Miscellaneous Mishaps from the Weekend That Was...and One Good Deed

1. I forgot to pack any socks for Leah, so she wore the pink Tinkerbell ones from Friday on Saturday and Sunday, also.

2. I forgot to pack pajamas for myself, so I borrowed a T-shirt from SIL Jessica's closet. And then I packed it with our dirty clothes and took it home. I'll get it back to you sometime, I swear. (Jess & Dave were gone for the weekend, but let us stay anyway. So, so helpful.)

3. Leah threw up FIVE times Saturday night, starting at 2am. Poor kid, she woke up puking and sobbing (which somehow never woke up Ben, who was sharing the room with her). She spent the rest of the night on the floor by our bed with a puke bucket next to her. She seemed to sleep alright, unlike her mother. Every time she moved I was sure she was heaving again. (ps - can you imagine if this had been happening in a hotel room?!)

4. We had planned to go to church in the morning with friends, but didn't feel like spreading those germs around.

5. Upon leaving, Jessica handed me Ben's sneakers from her steps, "You don't want to forget these!" But of course I did. We didn't realize it until we got to McDonald's 2 1/2 hours later. I called to check, and she said they weren't in the house. She called back 10 minutes later to say they had been left on the grass next to where the van had been parked. Oops. That was totally my fault.

Good Deed: Jess and Dave have a 2-story entry way, which they have now painted for the second time since living in their townhome. And always, there has been a 3 foot stretch of trim at the ceiling over the steps that has gone unpainted, purely because of the awkwardness of the angle. Well, except for this last time, when none of the trim painting had been done. (They are expecting their first baby in 3 months, and have been doing a ton of other household remodeling jobs, so we cut them some slack.:)

Anyway, painting left incomplete bothers Aaron, and is only second in annoyances behind a bad painting job (splotched ceilings, etc.) He decided that since it only seemed to bother him, he should be the one to finish it.

So Sunday morning he located the correct paint color, brush and ladder, and "a new way to kill myself," as he told me later.

He propped one ladder up in about the middle of the stairway, then leaned the other on top of it, coming from the bottom of the steps. Then I held the intersection steady, to ensure that he didn't, in fact, kill himself. Leah took the photos.

The trim was quickly completed, and we started placing bets on how long it would take the happy couple to notice the change. We were both surprised, though, when Jess walked in and, after greeting me and the kids, asked, "Have you guys been painting in here?" and then looked up at her finished entry way and almost teared up.

Mission completed. Jess and Dave, thanks so much for letting us stay at your place.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Buying Affection

I have a really hard time buying presents for the kids that aren't attached to a holiday, event or bribe, like potty-training. Correction: I have a hard time giving them presents, but not buying them. Which is why I have stock-piles of gifts all over the house. Aaron complains, cause whenever an actual gift-giving occasion comes up, I seem to have all the shopping already done, and he "doesn't get a say".

So last night we were at Sam's Club. Ben has been asking for a "choo-choo" incessantly since we got the fated Imaginarium flyer in the mail. I've been responding with, "Maybe for Christmas..." so now whenever he hears or sees anything associated with Christmas, he repeats "choo-choo! choo-choo!" until I reassure him that I haven't forgotten.

To Aaron, this is akin to torture. Mostly ours. He's all, "All he talks about is choo-choos! He has ONE! Why don't you just get him another one?!" And I'm all, "Sure. Because you want me to get it, it's fine. If I wanted to get it, I'd be spoiling him!" Plus, there's hardly ever a decent selection of his particular type of train left at the stores, and by the time I get that far, he's usually being naughty, so I don't want to reward his bad behavior.

Back to Sam's. Aaron gets seduced by the display of Thomas DVD's + a free engine. $10 for both is a pretty good deal, and Ben has been wanting a choo-choo pretty badly...I remind him that the train in the package will not fit on the track that Ben currently has, but will fit on the one we plan on getting him for Christmas...and the deal is done. The one glitch is the sister sitting next to Ben. She wants a train too, of all things! We bribe her by promising to get her something else (not because "girls don't play with trains", but because we know she won't want play with it until Ben does, and then we'll have lots of fights of "My train!" Just not worth it.) Also: I'm not sure why the movie is about Percy, but the train included is Henry. However, I'm very glad they put the name of the engine on the bottom of of it - they know kids are obsessed about that kind of thing and that parents can't keep track.

Leah spotted this gigantic princess storybook, complete with stickers AND magnets. Unfortunately for my conscience, it's pretty much the same price as the train, so we say yes. Just this once. It is killing me to give them these awesome toys with no strings attached.

It won't happen again (or very often, anyway), no matter how gosh darn happy it makes them.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Gender Issues

We were heading to Sam's Club. A car in front of us was going peculiarly slowly through the green left-turn arrow, and Aaron and I had the following conversation:

A: Is there a full grown person driving that car? (No head was visible.)

(noting the light on the top of the car)

A: It's a mail car.

Me: (nodding - that made sense, since there WAS someone in the passenger seat).

A: I can see it's balls.

Me: pause...

Me: pause...and making sure I heard him right: Balls?

and then about 5 seconds later I finally got it.

We Are Survivors

We made it through the wilderness that is the Minneapolis Ikea. After five hours, two meals, three bathroom breaks for Leah, and one offer of space in a U-Haul trailer, we made it out alive and pretty much intact.

We arrived at 9:45am, and decided to have 2nd Breakfast (a standard meal for hobbits). I ordered a Regular plate, which includes eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes and french toast sticks. While Aaron and I chatted with a co-worker of his (she's the one with the trailer) Leah ate about half of the food on the plate.

After about an hour of browsing the sample rooms, Ben started saying, "Done! Done!" and I knew it was going to be a long day.

Two things we almost talked ourselves into getting that weren't on our original list:
Dining room table + 10 chairs
table and chairs for the kids

Area where we spent the most time and I got closest to a mental breakdown: Media & Bookshelves. Finally, though, Aaron found a cabinet that he thinks will work for the projector and DVD player, and we decided against getting doors for it. This took approximately 40 minutes.

Items we DID buy that weren't on our list:
Rocking moose
Two kitchen chairs
Twin bed + trundle + mattress for trundle, all for Leah

Aaron saved my sanity by taking the children away to play for a bit. I cruised through the bedroom, work, and bathroom areas on my own, before getting some luxurious time in Children's to examine my obsession of the last few weeks: the Trofast storage system. I have grand plans for this baby, and hopefully it works, cause Aaron left it all up to me. Which means I can't share the blame with him if it ends up being garbage. Photos will be posted.

The scene as we attempted to leave the building was nothing short of a farce. I was trying to wrangle both children plus two carts, as Aaron was maneuvering the flatbed stacked shoulder high with boxes. We tried to get on the elevator and my rear end was keeping the door from closing as I was pulling the carts towards us. 2 of the chair cushions toppled onto the ground, so as Aaron was trying to keep the kids from pushing alarm buttons, I was trying to reach the cushions while trying to avoid having the door shut on me. One other shopper thankfully pushed them closer so we could make it.

Safely on the parking level, Aaron got the kids strapped into their seats and backed the van up to the loading area. Then I doled out the alphabet crackers I had wisely grabbed earlier in the store. And the true engineering started. To get Leah's bed in, Aaron had to open the box and take out one piece, with gave us the 5 extra inches we needed. Everything else fit in on either side. However, both of us were doubtful that we would be able to get our suitcase and Ben's pack n play back in to head home.

While we were piling things in, one lady was watching us. After a couple seconds, she asked, "Are you guys building a house?" I said no, that we had just bought a new one, although I think we could build one with the cardboard from all the packaging. Don't worry, greenies, it will be recycled.

I had noticed that as our circus moved through the warehouse area (where you pick up the flat boxes containing the pieces of your furniture, ready for you to construct at home) there were plenty of people staring at us. And not like, ha, ha, THAT has to be a handful! More like, geez, are those people disgusting American consumers. Or maybe it was just shock and awe that we were trying to steer those carts all while a preschooler and toddler were running around crazy.

Besides the bed, here's what else we came away with: 3 bookshelves, 6 bar stools, 2 kitchen chairs (trial to see if they'd work with our table - they do!), 4 frames of the Trofast system, 14 tubs to go in the Trofast system, the rocking moose, the projector cabinet, a playmat for Ben (town & roads) plus lots of random odds & ends. We were able to get all our luggage back in the van, with the suitcase under Ben's feet and the pack & play upright by Leah's door. I was getting pretty claustrophobic by the time we pulled into Fargo, but Mom and Dad came over, and by 8:30pm, both kids had been bathed and were in bed, and the van was totally unloaded. Aaron even constructed a chair and bar stool.

It was a successful weekend.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Vintage Tees

My amazing mom Claudia made these shirts and lots more when my sibs and I were teeny. She made the shirts herself AND did the appliqueing. (Ben's is an alligator.) She also made a ton of stuffed animals. And worked? With two little kids? I can't imagine.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

The kids and I went to the Buffalo River Pumpkin Patch yesterday afternoon with the MOMS Club. There were lots of friends there, and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. My mom and Grandma GiGi (Leah & Ben's great-grandma Gail) also met us there. Grandma GiGi had her gall bladder removed about a week ago, so we are happy to see her up and about, even if she does get tired more quickly than normal.

The straw maze was a big hit - just the right size for kids like Benjamin!

Leah has gotten to be a pro at feeding goats in the petting zoo. This seemed especially flexible and/or determined.

Ben was busy making major brownie points with the grandmas, and with Grandma GiGi in particular. He refused to walk anywhere unless he was holding her hand.

The annual posed photo - the sun was too bright! Oh, the complaints of those unprepared for winter.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Get to Know Me

1. What time did you get up this morning?
8am - Aaron got up with the kids and I slept in!

2. Diamonds or pearls?
Both? Together?

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Juno with Ruth and Kate

4. What is your favorite TV show?
The Office, 30 Rock, House

5. What do you usually have for breakfast?
Cereal. Slightly sugary stuff - Honey Bunches of Oats is my favorite.

6. What is your middle name?

7. What food do you dislike?
Not a fan of lamb or anything really spicy.

8. What is your favorite CD at the moment?
Wicked soundtrack, or anything that will keep the kids happy!

9. What kind of car do you drive?
2002 Town and Country minivan

10. Favorite sandwich?
turkey club with sprouts and avocado

11. What characteristic do you despise?
wishy-washiness, lack of motivation

12. Favorite item of clothing?
the jeans that aren't too long, and sweaters that don't itch

13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?
Europe - Italy, France, England specifically

14. Favorite brand of clothing?
GAP, Old Navy

15. Where would you retire?
Near my family. Especially if my family lived in San Diego.

16. What was your most recent memorable birthday?
Last year, my 30th. The last Harry Potter book came out AND Aaron threw me a wonderful party. Thanks for the cake, Ruthie!

17. Favorite sport to watch?
Volleyball and, really.

18. Farthermost places you are sending this?
The world-wide web, baby!

19. Person you expect to send it back first?

20. When is your birthday?
July 21st

21. Are you a morning person or a night person?

22. What is your shoe size?

23. Pets?
I would love a kitty at some point...or a Great Dane. If I can get over being grossed out by pet hair.

24. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us?
The fence is almost done!

25. What did you want to be when you were little?
A teacher. So predictable, I know, but I really, really did.

26. How are you today?
Great! We had a fun, productive day, capped off by dinner with family.

27. What is your favorite candy?
Jelly beans, Hot Tamales, Atomic Fire Balls, candy corn, dark chocolate...

28. What is your favorite flower?
Tulips and lilacs

29. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to?
Saturday - shopping at Ikea!

30. What is your full name?
Elizabeth Margaret ********* Before I got married and changed my name, there were standardized tests that my name wouldn't fit on.

31. What are you listening to right now?
Last season's The Office on DVD

32. What was the last thing you ate?
Jelly beans, and Mom's fresh salsa. Yum.

33. Do you wish on stars?

34. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Periwinkle I guess. This is a silly question - why not just ask what my favorite color is? Because then it would be red and/or coral-pink.

35. How is the weather right now?
Dark. It was gorgeous out today...perfect fall weather - warmer than average.

36. The first person you spoke to on the phone today?
My mom.

37. Favorite soft drink?
Ginger ale, root beer, Vanilla Coke

38. Favorite restaurant?
Doolittle's, Ruby Tuesday

39. Real hair color?
Almost-black brown

40. What was your favorite toy as a child?
My Little Ponys, Cabbage Patch dolls

41. Summer or winter?
Fall. I'm such a rebel.

42. Hugs or kisses?
Hugs. Oh, okay, kisses too.

43. Chocolate or Vanilla?

44. Coffee or tea?
Both. With all the extras, too.

45. Do you want your friends to email you back?
Comments would be lovely!

46. When was the last time you cried?
It is so crazy that I can't remember. I am such a hard-hearted person I guess.

47. What is under your bed?
Carpet. And maybe cereal crumbs from the kids the other day?

48. What did you do last night?
Caught up with my lovely friend Crystal. We ate sushi.

49. What are you afraid of ?
Something terrible happening to my kids. I try to send those thoughts right back to the Devil. AND, I stopped watching Law & Order: SVU. Which helped a lot.

50. Salty or sweet?
Again, both together. Like chocolate covered pretzels.

51. How many keys on your key ring?
Only 3.

52. How many years at your current job?

53. Favorite day of the week?
Thursdays - Aaron's day off, and our bonus Saturday!

54. How many towns have you lived in?
Anchorage, Bismarck, Hebron, Nevada (the city in Missouri), Grand Forks, Rochester (Minnesota), West Fargo, and Fargo. 8.

55. Do you make friends easily?
Yep. I just wish it was possible to spend more time with them.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Ben is days away from being 2 and a half years old. While we were waiting at Leah's dance class, another little boy was there. This boy, G, was about Ben's size and seemed to be speaking in at least phrases. I asked his mom how old he was: 22 months. Yep, at 8 months younger than Ben, he is at least 6 months ahead of him in his language. Ben is still using individual words caveman-style to get his ideas across - at the most, he'll maybe put two words together.

We did have Ben in speech therapy for about 6 months, but stopped around the time we moved...because we are lazy, cheap parents whose lives were in the midst of a minor upheaval. And also, he seemed to be progressing in his talking the same rate that he was during therapy.

He still seems to do pretty well if given two choices: Do you want to sleep or read a book? "Book!"

Here is a list of words he has been saying recently, in addition to these and these:

please (pease)
"mooo" although it is kind of high-pitched for a cow....
buckle (as in the one in the bike or shopping cart - comes out clear as day)
all done - much more clearly than previously
hello (he-whoa) - it's so cute!
crocs - his shoes

ps - also "walk" and "I want"...classic, huh?
pps- "one" and holds up one finger
ppss- oh, and "truck", "duckie", and "mine", of course

We got a catalog in the mail the other from Toys R Us, featuring the Imaginarium train sets. Ben spent no less than 20 minutes poring over the thing, slightly obsessively. Finally, I said, "Maybe you'll get a train for Christmas," since I had been thinking about it anyway. Good thing I was already on board, cause anytime Ben hears the word "Christmas", he immediately starts repeating "choo-choo? choo-choo?" until you reassure him that yes, he might get a train for Christmas. By the way, he WON'T be getting that huge set that I linked to above...he'll be getting this one.

And just so you know that Leah is still saying amazingly clever things, at dinner she has had these comments to share:

"What is that completely delicious smell?"

"Those yellow carrots look like parsnips. Locally-grown parsnips." Apparently Curious George went to a farm and bought some. She also added, "Parsnips taste like potatoes but they are a little bit sweeter."