Category Archives: Kids

Destined to Fail?

I looked out my bathroom window yesterday to see the scene in the photo above of my neighbor’s house to the north.

Based on having been a homeowner myself for 40+ years, I’m guessing Brian tried to knock down some icicles.   

Now YA and I have a pool going to see how long it takes for the balls to return to earth.  I say four days; YA says two.

Any projects that with hindsight just weren’t going to work out well?

Best Toy Ever

Our dog’s toy arsenal has been quite limited because of his post-surgery cone, and he has had to adapt to continue to have fun. Some toys just don’t work with a cone. I am happy to report the horrid cone comes off today. We and he are heartily sick of it.

One toy that has proven a continued delight for him is the large, orange tennis ball in the header photo. I placed a smaller red ball next to it so you could see the size difference. The orange ball is about 7 inches in diameter. He plays with it in several ways. He loves to peel the orange cover off it. That orange cover is glued on really tightly, and I am amazed at the strength of his jaws and teeth. He also likes to slam the ball on the floor while holding the fabric scrap in his mouth, then shaking it violently. He rolls the ball and chases it all around living room. We like it because it is too large to roll under the furniture. He barks and whines for us to retrieve smaller balls. He also likes to have us hold the ball while he tugs and tugs the fabric scrap. A ball lasts about a week.

What have been your pets’ favorite toys? What were your favorite toys as a child. What toys would you buy for a child these days?

Winter with a knew knee!

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Boy, If I was gonna pick a week to stay inside, last week was the week to choose. Although 5 months ago when we set this up, I wasn’t expecting this weather yet. I think there’s some record of the second week of February being historically the coldest. I do remember February 1996. Daughter was born in 1995 and that February she was in the NICU with a bad cold. Kelly spent nights there with her. I was still milking cows and doing chores and it was -42° one morning. That’s the coldest I remember. An owl spent the night in the garage it was so cold. And some yahoo went 4-wheeling with his truck in one of our fields and got stuck and came into the barn looking for help. I wasn’t very nice to him, but I did pull him out. Eventually.

This cold weather is also a helpful remind that I didn’t turn all the heat on in the house this fall when it first got cold. Because we have electric heat, all the rooms have thermostats and individual breakers. I turn them all off in the summer. When it started getting chilly, I turned on some of them. They’re not all labeled, so I only turned on what I thought were the important ones.

Then later we started saying ‘It sure is cold in the living room’ forgetting that I hadn’t turned everything on. Until last week. I managed to get my knew knee (I know that’s wrong, I just enjoy the alliteration) down to the basement for several things, including going in to check that breaker panel and oh. Yea. Only about half are on. We don’t use the basement for much, so I set those all to about 50° and turned on all the heaters. Boy, there’s nothing like the smell of dust burning off a heater.

Got my grade for Meteorology class. ‘A’. I don’t take classes spring semester; too much other stuff going on.

The ducks are spending all their time in the pond with this cold weather. Maybe to stay warm, maybe to keep it from freezing. It has shrunk up a little bit as the stream of water coming into it is pretty light. We seem to have picked up a couple stray ducks. One flies away when Kelly approaches, but there’s still an extra in the pond too. Alumni? Possible. And the chickens don’t have much interest in coming out of the coop either. Kelly opens the doors and throws out corn for them. But no Thanks. We’re fine. They do have water, corn, and egg layer ration in the pens. No reason to come out if they don’t want too. The guineas come out a bit further, but even they don’t go far.

I’m getting around pretty well on the knee. Better than I would have expected at this point. It’s still uncomfortable due to some swelling, and it’s still all sorts of colors. I get a little stiff in the shin and calf. Takes a few steps to get the muscles and tendons loose and moving. Using a cane 50% of the time and walker 25% and nothing 25%.

I’ve hit the BDDT phase of recovery. ‘bored, discouraged, depressed, and tired’. Hard to sleep at night just cause I have a hard time getting comfortable. And eventually, lack of sleep just makes me grumpy. But I’m surviving!

Did you know there is drone racing on TV?? On NBC! With fancy lighting. And drones, which I don’t care so much for, but the lighting is cool. Found a lot of old B&W movies on these new TV channels (new to us. Something called ‘Pluto TV’ which I haven’t quite got all figured out). Jack Lemmon in ‘Operation Mad Ball’. Spencer Tracey in ‘The Last Hurrah’ (with Basil Rathbone and John Carradine. Man, what a long face he has! And he sure could scowl!) ’12 Angry Men’ and things like ‘The Professional’, and several versions of Pink Panther movies. Plus, ‘St. Vincent’ on Netflix. Highly recommended.

Kelly continues to be my rock star. Not only doing all her work, but my work too. She really has never liked cold weather, so extra accolades on her for getting up early and going out to collect eggs and feed everybody. The day she spilled water into her boot I thought she’d quit. But she’s almost starting to enjoy driving the tractor and plowing snow. Almost.

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH A WEEK STUCK INSIDE?

Christmas Cheer

Yesterday was possibly the worst Christmas Day we have ever had, as all the things that could have gone wrong with Daughter’s flights home went wrong. Our weather in ND was awful, with snow, sleet, a Winter Weather Advisory, and then an Alberta Clipper with a High Wind Warning. Her flight from Denver was cancelled. To make matters worse, her flight from SeaTac to Denver was four hours late due to technical problems, and they allowed anyone at SeaTac who missed a connecting flight to depart the plane with their luggage. The cost and uncertainty and anxiety in rescheduling was too much for all of us, so she had a friend drive her back to her apartment in Tacoma. We will try to have her fly here for Easter. It is in early April. I know we have April blizzards, but this gives us some hope.

Daughter was as brave as could be, waiting on the plane for four hours. She would have had a couple of days waiting around in the Denver airport for a flight here, but that would have been too sentimental a decision. It was a tearful decision, but I am glad she is at her home in Tacoma. I will send her cookies and lefse and her presents.

When was your first Christmas alone? What are some good Christmas jokes? I need some humor!

Ready?

We finally got out of the house yesterday to buy some groceries. The weather had been so awful we didn’t want to venture out until Friday afternoon. I think the whole town got to the store the same time I did. It was crazy busy, and I saw one ribeye roast after another being handed out at the meat counter. Grocery shelves have been pretty bare due to the interstate being closed and trucks unable to deliver to the stores. Anyone planning a large family gathering for Christmas must have been stressed and panicky not being able to get things from the stores.

Our daughter will arrive at our local airport tomorrow night around 9:00. We are traditionally Christmas Eve people, going to church, celebrating with our big meal, and opening presents and calling it a night. This year our Christmas dinner will be on Boxing Day, and we agreed that presents will be simple and few. The bathroom remodel is at a standstill until the flooring arrives and workers can get here from Bismarck. Our home isn’t the tidiest right now, and there isn’t much we can do about it until the construction is done.

The most important thing for us now is to get our daughter home, and to just hang out together for the week. I am not so concerned with having everything done at the proper time than I am at having a less stressful holiday. Our tree is up but not yet decorated. We will do that on Monday. The Christmas baking is done. We will spend the week cooking our favorite foods and taking naps.

Are you a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day person? How do you manage holiday pressure and stress? Tell of some of your more memorable holiday gatherings.

The Best Laid Plans

Plan A: This plan originated in September, when Daughter purchased her tickets for a flight home for Christmas. She would leave Seattle/Tacoma on December 22, fly to MPLS, have a nice long layover, and fly into Bismarck at 11:00 PM. We would pick her up that night and take her home.

Plan B: This plan originated late last week when I saw that we were to have patchy blowing snow the night of the 22nd, and the wind chill was predicted to be -51. Daughter decided that she would spend the night of the 22nd in Mandan with the mother of her childhood best friend, and we would pick her up on Friday, when the snow was predicted to stop blowing.

Plan C: This plan emerged after Daughter saw that the weather was going to be a little snowy in MPLS, and that, if her flight to Bismarck was cancelled, she would stay with a friend in the Cities. Alternatively, if the friend couldn’t get to the airport to pick her up, she would stay in a hotel close to the airport. With either option, she would hope to get to Bismarck on the 23rd.

Plan D: By Sunday, Daughter started to panic, and thought that she wouldn’t get out of Seattle/Tacoma because there was a snow storm predicted on the 22nd, and there had already been many cancelled flights after only 1/2 inch of snow. She planned to prepare herself for being stuck in Tacoma.

Plan E: This plan emerged in the wee hours of Tuesday after Daughter saw the terrible storm predictions for MPLS. After convincing herself that she wasn’t being impulsive, she cancelled her reservations for the 22nd, and rebooked herself on another airline for the 25th that would take her to Denver, and thence directly to Dickinson by 9:00 PM. The weather and winds in Denver and Dickinson are predicted to be manageable on the 25th. She didn’t book this sort of flight in the first place because she really dislikes the Denver Airport.

What is your plan B? Have your thoughts about winter travel changed at all over the years? What is your opinion of John Steinbeck?

Figuring It Out

Today’s farm update comes from Ben

I mentioned last week daughter is a teenager. Well, she’s 27. Going on 14. She’s got Down Syndrome and about a year ago she hit adolescence. Hard. Like flipping a switch, hard. Our county social worker said most of his clients hit adolescence about this age. It was a relief just hearing this behavior was normal and not just our kid. We try not to think how her stages seem to last twice as long, so what are we in for… I’m afraid boys will be next.

Trying to get her to bed one night and it’s not going well. As we talk, she says “I’m trying to be an adult; I’m trying to figure it out.”  I laughed and hugged her.  “Oh honey. That’s what being an adult is; trying to figure it out.” 
 
WHEN DID YOU FIGURE IT OUT? OR HAVE YOU? 
WHAT MAKES YOU AN ADULT?

Your Order, Please

Our daughter is flying home next Thursday for a week of rest and relaxation. It has been a big year for her, getting her independent clinical social work license and starting a private practice. She is very excited to be home and her phone calls are becoming more frequent.

One of her joys visiting home is choosing the menus for our meals. She wants Turkey Chipotle Chowder and homemade cinnamon rolls. We have settled on Horseradish Encrusted Beef Tenderloin garlic mashed potatoes, cheesy baked asparagus, and apple hand pies for Christmas Day. Sometime during her week here she wants Croque Madame Casserole.

We love to cook for her, and it will be good to have her home. She will lie on the sofa and knit an afghan for us as our Christmas present. She also wants to play cribbage with her father. She doesn’t want anything from us this Christmas except a quiet and good food.

How are you planning to spend the holidays? What would you like to eat ? How were your visits home when you were in your 20’s?

Where in the World are VS and YA?

YA and I are on what we are calling my retirement trip.  This travel is made possible by my old company (her current company) using “award credits” that we’ve been amassing the last year and a half.  Wonder where we are?

  1. You can legally mail a coconut from here.
  2. The largest dormant volcano in the world is here.
  3. There is vog here but no smog.
  4. There are no squirrels, hamsters or gerbils here.
  5. All forms of gambling are illegal here.
  6. The tallest mountain in the world is also here.

A Brand New Start

It was a year ago that we lost our Steve.  I’m re-running one of his posts (from February 2020) for the day.  You can answer his intial question or share a Steve memory!

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms.

I have been marveling at what my daughter accomplished this past year. Last winter she, her family and I were living in Port Huron, Michigan. She couldn’t find a job, for the local economy is depressed. My son-in-law had a job he detested, with no possibility of finding a better job. I lived in a senior citizen complex near their rental home, staying alone in my room unless my daughter was visiting me. Nobody was very happy.

It became painfully clear that my daughter and s-i-l had to move and set up new lives. Since I cast my lot with my daughter’s family when I sold my home in 2014, I would have to move too. The experiment of living in Michigan was mostly a botch.

Because my daughter was not working, she was the obvious person to do the research and planning necessary to make the move possible. But, oh my, what a fiendishly complicated task that would be.

Breaking this challenge down into smaller pieces, my daughter needed to:

  • Pick a new town and neighborhood to live in where all four of us (three adults, a kid and a large old dog) might be happy.
  • Find a new apartment or rental home where my daughter’s family could live, doing this research while living in Michigan, unable to look at rental properties in person. This would be especially difficult due to the shortage of affordable housing.
  • Find a senior living community for me. It had to be near her home near her new job . . . wherever they might be. Once again, my daughter had no way to visit the various facilities under consideration.
  • Find movers who could relocate two households 800 miles without charging much.
  • Devise a way to get three automobiles from Michigan to Minnesota, a feat complicated by the fact we had only two drivers.
  • Find a job for herself (a job near her new home and my new apartment, wherever they would turn out to be). This decision, too, had to be done without the benefit of a visit.
  • Find a job for her husband (or at least identify a process which he could follow to find one).
  • Find a great new school for her fourth-grade son.
  • Do all the physical work of boxing up two households for the move.
  • Clean her rental home and my apartment.
  • Accomplish all of this and make the actual move in less than three months.

I wonder if that list adequately reflects how complicated this was. The sixth item alone is daunting. Everything on the list was inextricably connected to all the other issues, which made the overall project extremely tricky. Each choice depended on several other decisions, and there seemed to be no obvious place to start.

My daughter was amused by how her research turned out. The Minnesota metro region emerged as the clear favorite for many reasons but especially its strong economy. St. Paul seemed the most attractive city in Minnesota. The most desirable place to live in St. Paul, her research said, turned out to be Highland Park. So my daughter’s search for the ideal place to move led her to exactly the neighborhood where she had grown up.

We made the move last June. I believe this is the most difficult my daughter has ever faced. As of the middle of January, 2020, every single item on the list has been met successfully. My daughter now lives in an apartment a few blocks from her childhood home (although serious house-hunting begins this spring). And everybody, even the old dog, is delighted to be here.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done? Have you ever discovered that you needed to make a brand new start?