Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'm leaving!

Happy Love Thursday everyone!

I'm excited to say, that I am leaving home! Well, not for good, but for the weekend. I am on my way to my hometown to visit with some relatives that I haven't seen in a very, very long time. I (we) can't wait. The girls and I are headed out tomorrow morning bright and early. We'll spend the day shopping for school clothes and supplies. Fortunately Miss 10 wears a uniform, and she has hand me downs from her big sis, so I will hardly need to buy a thing for her. Unfortunately Miss 15 has outgrown half her wardrobe yet again, and she needs pretty much everything. Isn't it about time for her to stop growing already? She's nearly 5'9" now. How I wish every school system had a uniform policy. (behavior wise and cost wise, it's a win/win!)

On Saturday evening we get to visit my aunt and uncle who have some of their kids home from across the nation. My cousins Je., Ja., and maybe Jo. will all be there. I haven't seen any of them for a few years, so I'm excited to visit with them and their spouses and to see how much their children have grown. It will be like a mini family reunion. Miss 15 is very excited as well. Miss 10, not so much, her anxiety about being somewhere new, meeting new people and being out of her comfort zone has her in a bit of a tizzy. So this is a fair warning to all my relatives, the Miss 10 you actually meet tomorrow, is not the Miss 10 that I know. She may be shy, she may be wild, she may be both, just know it's her way of coping. If you were to hang out with us for more than a few hours, she'd find her way back to being her normal self, but in such a short time, we can only hope you'll be able to see flashes of her now and then.

So my Love Thursday is all about the cousins. I can't wait to see you guys!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Slip Slidin' Away

Miss 10 had friends over yesterday to play on the Slip and Slide. I avoid setting up the slip and slide at all costs. I can come up with ten ideas at the drop of a hat for them to do instead of the slip and slide. I fear I am turning into my father when it comes to my grass. Do you know what happens to the grass when 3 girls spend an hour on the slip and slide? It turns to mush! And dead grass! It's sad. I don't mind the pool being set up for 3 days, they can play volleyball and badminton in the same spot for weeks, but I hate what the slip and slide does to the grass. It is such a mess, for only an hours worth of fun. Dad, what have you done to me?

Yes, they had fun, yes, it was fun to watch them, yes I remember how fun it is. But, sigh... I've been babying this grass for months, watering and fertilizing it, praying for rain that just doesn't come. Sigh...

Ok, enough, I know. I'll get over it. It's another reason why I have so many plants set in pots, (See photos on previous post!) They are just so easy to take care of that way. I can move them to keep them out of the way of water fights, volleyballs, footballs and Frisbees.

The photo above is of the girls surfing. They had already done the tummy slide, the knee slide, the backwards slide, pretty much every slide they could think of. But I think this one was their favorite.

It's been so hot here recently. I'm quite jealous that the kids are all spending time cooling off, while I'm spending my time outdoors working. So today, while I was getting set to fertilize plants, I grabbed the hose, hooked it up to a nozzle (apparently wrong) and turned on the faucet full blast. The nozzle shot half off and I was doused with some seriously chilly water before I could turn off the switch. I'm a mess, but I wasn't hot any more!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

An Obsession?

You can click on the photo for a bigger view.
I've had a few requests for some pictures of my pots of plants from this year. Well ok then, I've had one request, but the rest of you have to just deal with it. These are of just a few of the pots on the back deck, and one from the front porch. Also there is one of the huge grass by my back garage door and a hanging pot on the patio out back. It cut the hanging one off for some reason, it really looks much better than this shows. If you look carefully on the upper right picture you can see a tiny bit of the fountain that Hubby made for me a few years ago. I'll take a better picture of that some time. Overall, this probably represents about 1/4 of the pots that I planted this year. I know, it's an obsession, but there are worse things, right?

I don't have many pictures of the plants from out front, the porch was a disaster of wet stain when I took these, so I will take a better picture of the entire porch another time, and then you'll have to see more plants. You lucky readers you!
Consider this my Love Thursday and my Fabulous Friday post all at once and belated. Love Thursday because I love my gardening hobby and Fabulous Friday just because I said so!
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Watch Out Dracula!

This spring in my frenzy of planting 48 pots of flowers. (It's less than last year!) I also planted one pot of basil seeds. I've been waiting so patiently for the first harvest of basil. Last week I made a delicious Orzo pasta dish with chickpeas, basil and parmigiano reggiano cheese. The wait was worth it!

On Tuesday I made my favorite basil dish, fresh homemade pesto! Yum! If you have tried store bought pesto and didn't like it, don't hesitate to try homemade pesto. It is so much better than anything you can buy in the store. I love it on french bread toasts or whole wheat crackers. It even makes frozen cheese pizza taste better.

Just in case you have some fresh basil you don't know what to do with, or you can steal some from your neighbor... I'm not condoning stealing... I'm just sayin'!
Here is my favorite recipe.

2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 tsp. chopped garlic (fresh is best!)
salt and pepper to taste (I use sea salt and fresh ground pepper)
1/2 to 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese.

Put basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour in olive oil while pulsing until the mixture comes together and is fairly smooth. Pulse in cheese. Refrigerate or enjoy a little immediately!

I can never wait, so I must try a little right away, but it does taste better after the flavors meld for a few hours in the refrigerator. The garlic is wonderful... but if anyone is sensitive to your breath, perhaps you are married to Dracula, you could always cut back, but it wouldn't be nearly as good!

Enjoy and feel free to share yours with me!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bad Mother

A week and a few days back Mr 18 and some friends decided to go to "the river" for some fun in the sun, some fishing and some swimming. That's fine, I loved going to the beach, so I encourage the kids to have fun there as well. However when he came home, he took the swim trunks he was wearing and threw them in the bottom of his dirty clothes hamper, then covered them up with another days worth of clothes. Fortunately I do laundry every other day, so the mass of wet only sat there for about 36 hours. Unfortunately the mass of wet was incredibly, disgustingly smelly! The river leaves a stench in swim suits and towels that is enough to make you run and hide. Well, either that or the fact that it sat in his hamper for 36 hours might have added to it.

A little less than a week ago Mr 18 and some other friends decided to go back to the river for some more swimming and fun. Before he left I warned him about leaving those trunks in his hamper again as a nice smelly gift for me. I told him he had to promise to bring them in the house as soon as he got back and rinse them out, throw the towel outside on the deck to dry and follow up with the trunks after they were rinsed. Of course he readily agreed to this as it was the only way I was letting him go to the river.

And now today, where are those lovely trunks? Well, they are still sitting in his car, along with his towel, and flip-flops. They have been in his car since he got back from the river. Did they ever make it inside for rinsing? Well no, they did not. And today, it is 96 degrees outside and his car is sitting in the hot sun. What a lovely thought, no? I have visions of these trunks growing legs slowly, and possibly a tail. Who knows what disgusting little creatures are living in them, and rotting in them. What a wonderful smell must be permeating his car. He hasn't really been using his car much, as he's been longboarding where he needs to go in order to save on gas.

So why does this make me a bad mother? Well, because I am not going to remind him again. I've done enough of that. The smell should be enough of a reminder the next time he gets in, don't you think?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rock On!

This weekend saw the 16th birthday party of a good friend of Miss 15, for the sake of the blog we'll call her Misty. Misty's mother decided a bit of a surprise was in order, not only for the birthday girl, but also for the guests. So she called all the parents to talk to them, but left the guests in the dark as to the plans for the evening.

Hubby and I discussed briefly whether we would let Miss 15 go, but we knew we wouldn't deny her this fun opportunity. We knew exactly where they would be, who would be there and how they would get there. We knew there would be adults there to supervise and most importantly that the kids would all be in a big group. (Wow, there are a lot of "there's" in that paragraph!)

Basically what it came down to was that a group of 10 of Misty's closest friends, male and female, would be picked up in a limo. They would then be driven nearly 2 hours to a concert performed by Matchbox 20! To say that this secret was hard for me to keep would be an understatement. I repeatedly had to bite my tongue in order not to tell Miss 15 and not to let it slip while I was warning her about how to dress and what to bring.

This concert took place at the State Fair. I used to live in the town where the State Fair is held, and I attended the fair, a lot, too much, in crazy amounts, more than is necessary, when I was a teen. I attended my share of rock and country concerts along with the midway after dark. It was so difficult for me not to set out warnings to Miss 15 about what she would see and the kinds of people you sometimes run into at events like these. I was nervous and excited for her. Miss 15 lives a somewhat sheltered life here, and this would be a radically new experience for her.

The night of the concert arrived and Misty and her friends still had no idea of their adventure. As the evening progressed I texted Miss 15 asking her how it was going, if they knew what they were doing, etc. No one had any idea until they got pretty darn close to their destination. But the limo driver was crazy, and managed to get them to the concert nearly 45 minutes after it was scheduled to start. It took the limo 3.5 hours to drive a route that takes me one hour and 50 minutes. They ran into the show, and still managed to work their way up to the front. Miss 15 texted me some fun pictures of their evening. The limo then drove the group home and they arrived at Misty's house with their ears ringing at 1:30 a.m.

The next morning Miss 15 was debriefed about her night. She had stories galore to tell us. For the first time she found out exactly what pot smells like, she learned that $5 beers and rock concerts lead to incredibly drunk adults who manage to throw and spill beer everywhere, she and her friends were able to deflect the advances of a 50+ year old lech, she learned that a rock concert is loud enough to make you lose your hearing for hours and she learned that you make your way to the back before the show is over so you can get out the door.
Despite the eye opening lessons, the entire group (minus one who's a bit of a prude) had a lot of fun, and when asked if they would do it again it was a resounding affirmative vote.

Now you tell me. How am I going to top that Sweet 16 Party next year??

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Splish Splash

I know, it's out of focus, just a little protection for my children, plus I kind of like the way it looks. It's the view I had yesterday as I sat on the deck and played lifeguard while the girls played in the pool. Yes, I know they probably no longer need a lifeguard. They have both been in the USA swim club here since they were in kindergarten, and Miss 15 is a swim coach, but it was the perfect excuse to sit on the deck in the sunshine with my book Tuesday's With Morrie. Has anyone else read it? I liked it well enough, and it did make me think a little bit about how I'm living my life.

Miss 15 agreed to get in the pool with Miss 10 while she was waiting for her friends to come over. They hung out for nearly an hour and a half alternately freezing and swimming.

I sat and listened, while pretending to not actually listen. It was a fun experience. The girls discussed swimming and friends, the talked about what they like to do and what they like to eat. Miss 10 kept repeating, "Oh, watch this! Watch this, no not that, this.. oh let me try it again, watch this!" And at those points Miss 15 and I turned to watch whatever it was she was doing and watch her. She did the same things again and again, but we still watched, and commented. She was pleased with our performances.

Later when Miss 10's friends came over I repeatedly heard, "How about..." at one point I timed and counted. I heard it 16 times in 1.5 minutes. Seriously. It was funny. But then I remember saying similar things with my friends when we would play.
"How about you saw me and came running after me and then..."

When the pool is up our backyard is a loud, wet place. But it's a great excuse for me to be with Miss 10 and her friends and interact with them, discussing little and big things when they come up on the deck to warm up. Sometimes they come up as a group and we laugh and tease each other. Sometimes they come up one at a time and I can talk more seriously with them in a lighthearted teasing way. It's fun and enlightening reaching into the minds of this group of ten year olds. They are smart and funny, I'm not worried about the future if this group has a say in it, the world will be a better place.

Happy Love Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Do you need more things to argue about? My girls could easily help you find them, if the list at the link isn't enough. The only requirement would be that you have to leave, and you have to leave them alone for all of 15 minutes, just the two of them. In those 15 minutes they can make lists to argue about and when you return they can each scream them at you at the same time, all the while arguing between themselves about who did what to who and when and who needs to "JUST GROW UP!" So if you are interested, just let me know and I'll ship them to you, I'm nothing if not helpful.

Then just when you think that they are bound to fight the entire day, one makes the other cry, unknowingly, and you have to intervene. When you do so, the youngest one, not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings, apologizes to the other, with a hug and a kiss, and before you know it, they are playing together, without fighting, even with friends around.

Sisterhood, it's such a strange relationship. Strange not in a bad way, strange in a good way. Fighting as kids, fighting more as teens, then as adults, wondering what in the world you ever fought about. Well, other than SuperSister invading my closet and stealing my clothes! And spitting cookies at my boyfriends, and running around on her hands and knees, at the age of 16. Oh, I remember now!

And now I consider SuperSisterInLaw as a sister, too. She's "never had a sister before!" And now, she has 2, SuperSister and I. Fortunately we skipped over all the fighting with her though, so instead we just get all the fun.

I am excited for the days when my girls realize what a special bond they can have, and how much they can do for each other. Yes, they fight, oh how they fight, and they drive their mother insane with their fighting, but I spend more time nurturing their relationship with each other so that when they have both flown the coop, they will have each other to turn to, in good times, in bad times, and in goofy times when no one else understands what they think is so funny and they just need someone to laugh with them until they cry. (how's that for a run-on sentence?)

Monday, July 14, 2008


(You can click on the picture to see it larger)
I write today as the proud mother of an Gold Medal winner in the Triathlon Mr 18 competed in over the weekend! It was his first triathlon, ever, and he managed to win his age group. Impressive!

The notes from the day would have to include:
- arising too early for any normal human being
- the wind blasting at 40+ mph before 6:30 a.m.
- the temperature outside being only 53 degrees
- the swim part of the triathlon being canceled because the lifeguards couldn't be kept on a boat in one place due to the size of the waves
-me wearing not one, but two sweatshirts on July 12 just to keep warm
-hiding in the back of the van while the bike portion was going on because the hill we were standing on was so windy it literally kept us from standing in one place
- a one mile run replacing the swim portion, and Mr 18 being the first runner in
- the chain coming off of Mr 18's bike while he is racing
- the ground Mr 18 covered after the bike portion and during the 5k run portion
- the sprint to the finish to beat the guy behind him that Mr 18 made
- the sheer exhaustion of Mr 18 after we drove him home after the race

Overall it was a good and a learning experience. I learned I would never want to do an entire triathlon by myself, maybe as a relay, and Mr 18 learned he can't wait to do it again.

Mr 18, I'm impressed and extremely proud of you. Nice work!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

He Runs, He Swims, He Bikes

He collapses! Well, at least I would, if it was me. Mr 18 has been training for a triathlon. In fact we leave in 2 days to go watch him compete. This triathlon is a 1k swim, a 20k bike and a 5k run. The swim part shouldn't be too difficult for him, except that it is in a lake, and not a pool. The boy despises swimming in a lake. The run will be easy as well, he's has been running most morning with his friends from the high school cross country team. Sometimes I think he could run a 5k in his sleep. The biking is another story. We don't own a road bike, he's only ridden one 4 or 5 times, and he has to borrow one for the event. We have to head out at 5:30 a.m. to get him to the location for the race. It will be darn chilly to be in lake water at that hour of the day! Glad I'll be on the sidelines with my camera, a sweatshirt and hopefully a cup of coffee.

In some ways I'm looking forward to seeing him compete again, but in other ways it just makes me nervous. I know he hasn't had the time (or too much inclination) to train the way he needed to for this event. I feel bad that he doesn't have a bike to train on (they are $800 minimum and I have college to pay for) plus, it's darn early in the morning and I am not a morning person. I'll cross all my fingers and toes that he does well. Dealing with him when he hasn't done what he thinks he can is not fun in any manner.

I'll post photos and blog about it (if I can hold the camera up at that hour of the morning) in a few days. Wish him luck!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hide and Seek

The girls, Hubby and I headed to the farm yesterday. It's not often we all have a clear schedule and can go out. Mr 18 decided to sleep in naturally, even though we left at 11 a.m. it was still much too early for him to get ready and get going. So we packed up a few things, like 2 bottles of mosquito spray and some sunscreen, cameras and extra clothes, plus my work boots and Hubby's cooler with water. (The water out of the tap at the farm smells like sulfur, seriously, it is nasty, nasty stuff! My hands even smell after I wash them with it!)

When we arrived the girls immediately headed to one of the empty buildings where just the day before Hubby thought he had spotted new kittens. They searched a bit, but didn't have to look for very long before they heard the hissing, looking down they found a small furry mass of 5 kittens with their eyes just open and bright blue. Their mother wasn't around, she was off waiting for us to feed her in the barn, so we were able to pick a few of them up and snuggle and love them up for a few moments. One of them was already too wild to be handled, he was a spitfire, literally, but the others succumbed to some ear scratching and petting. The photo above is of 2 of the little ones, couldn't you just eat them up?

Also on the agenda for the day was for me to go through my MIL's cupboards and refrigerator in search of those expired items that Hubby wouldn't want her to cook up and eat. She has a bad habit of holding on to things for YEARS past their expiration date. Oh, did I mention she is out of town? Yup, we do this project on the sly, I'm sure she wonders where some of her things have gone, but we feel it's both for her protection and for that of our children whom she may cook some of that expired/moldy/disgusting food for. I also went through some of her medicines just to be safe. I have to say, food expired in 2004, yeah, that probably should have already been disposed of... *shudder*

While I snooped through cupboards and fridges, Hubby and the girls headed out on another hide and seek adventure. They were in search of Juneberries from our sort of secret patch. We sprayed everyone down with sunscreen and mosquito spray, long pants were worn and water was packed up. It was 90+ yesterday with no wind, so not an ideal day to go picking, but their only choice. Me? Why didn't I help? Well, I'm not stupid, did you see what I said? 90+ with no wind to get rid of mosquitoes and horse flies! Plus, even though everyone else seems to find them delicious, I just don't like them. I don't like blueberries either, yes, apparently I'm crazy. The girls lasted out in the heat and mosquitoes until about 1/2 a gallon pail full of Juneberries (also known as Serviceberries I believe) before they'd had enough and whined and complained loudly enough for Hubby to bring them home. Hubby was hoping for many pails full, but he's a bit unrealistic when it comes to the help of a 15 and 10 year old girl. The picture above is of the berries as they are getting ready to be packaged up and frozen. Aren't they pretty?

After the picking was done Hubby and I headed over to check out our potato patch. I loaded up on bug spray and wandered through the hay meadow to get there, and guess what I got for my trouble: bit up by horseflies! I've got bites all over my back that I can't reach and now they itch like crazy. Anyone have a back scratcher they can loan me?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I'm Not Lost

We had a nice time on our vacation to the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Hubby has relatives there, so we were able to also catch up with family a little bit.
We spent a couple of days driving, both there and back, and we spent 3 full days in the cities. Miss 15 was thrilled heading over to the Mall of America again. Personally I could skip that destination, but when you are 15 you are all about shopping. Mr 18 enjoyed the mall as he bought himself a long board to further endanger his life on. Hubby and I were less thrilled, but let the kids have their fun.

Although it wasn't as exciting as last years family vacation to California, it was great to get out of our normal routine and do things that aren't normally an option for us like museums and malls and traffic. Not that any of us enjoyed the traffic.

Miss 10 was most excited to swim in the pool at the hotel. I think that was the highlight of every evening for her. She usually had the pool nearly to herself and would practice all her strokes and do "shows" for Hubby and I. The shows consisted of a lot of water flying around and lots of underwater things that I couldn't really see.

I enjoyed not doing many dishes for 7 days, and not being responsible for cooking meals, just helping with the cooking meals. I liked sitting outside at my sister in laws without being carried away by mosquitoes and having someone else make the bed after I got up (thank you hotel maids!). The destinations we went each day were more for the kids then for me, with the exception of the St. Paul Cathedral, which a portion of is pictured above. In fact since I didn't have my camera the first time we stopped (It wasn't our destination) I begged Hubby enough that he drove me over there again so I could take a few pictures and do some more exploring. The Cathedral was finished in 1912, and has the most amazing little nooks and crannies. I could easily have stayed even longer exploring, but Miss 15 had swam with her cousin at a 6 a.m. practice that day and she was so exhausted that I think she was ready to collapse.

Mr 18 and his similar age cousin got to feel the independence of getting themselves to and from a Twin's game one evening. I think that was a good experience for him. He hopes to go and visit the cities once he has settled in at college this fall.

I'm glad to be home in some ways, but I'm not having a lot of fun working my way through 10 loads of laundry and trying to find places to dry it all. Aaaah, the drudgery of home life....