Archive for the ‘the ones about merriment’ Category

Me: Who’s there?

Ava: Boo.

Me: Boo who?

Ava: You don’t have to cry about it.

Thanks to Sara Groves and her Station Wagon CD, Ava has discovered knock-knock jokes. With a repertoire of about five knock-knock jokes, it’s been non-stop entertainment. Non-stop monotonous entertainment.

What’s your favorite knock-knock joke?

We are in desperate need for new material. Seriously people, how many times can one mama “cry about it”?

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Ava and I are reading Little House the Big Woods before her rest time. Last week Ava was fascinated (and slightly disgusted) to learn that Pa made a balloon for Laura and Mary out of a pig’s bladder. Of course she needed to know what a bladder was. This led to a 4-year-old anatomy lesson of the digestive and elimination systems.

“They’re playing with a balloon that holds pee? Yuck!”

Yesterday, we read the part in the story where Pa kills a bear who was about to eat a pig. He brings home both the bear and the pig in his wagon much to the delight of his family and Ava.

“Oh good!” Ava shouted, “Now they can have another balloon!”

After rest time, Ava came out of her room with a droopy Trader Joe’s balloon from our shopping trip the previous day.

“Let’s play with the balloon, Mama.”

Up to this point in Ava’s life a balloon was only exciting while it floated in the air. When it came to rest on the floor it met its fate of a scissor snip and a place in the trash.

Now the balloon presented undiscovered possibilities for play. At first Ava wanted to toss the balloon back and forth like she saw Laura and Mary doing in the picture. Then she wanted us to back farther away from each other, throw the balloon, and run to see who could catch it. We spent the next hour taking turns thinking up games to play with the balloons.

Here’s what Ava and I came up with:

  • Balloon toss
  • Balloon toss and run
  • Keep the balloon from touching the ground
  • Keep two balloons from touching the ground
  • Count how many times we could catch the balloon without dropping it
  • Simultaneous catch with two balloons
  • Keep two balloons away from Ava
  • Keep two balloons away from Mama
  • Balloon chase
  • Follow the balloon
  • Creep up and pounce on the balloons
  • Stick the balloons on the wall with magic static powers
  • Say “hot” and “cold” to help the other person find the hidden balloons

What would you add?

And thanks to advanced technology, we didn’t have to wash our hands after playing with our balloons.

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Phew I have so many little insignificant things to tell you that I don’t know where to start. The trouble with gorgeous weather of any kind is that it calls me outside and offline. And now that I’m online, I can’t think of how to get through all the past post ideas in my brain and proceed to the present.

So I’m going to take a cue from my friend, Lizz at And So Is My Heart and subject you to a brain dump.

This very same Lizz gave me my first bloggy award ever!

I blushed and grinned and felt all warm and happy in my heart. Her kind words were even greater than the award, especially since I am a big fan of her blog.

The best part of this award is that I get to pass it on. This is tough as I read a lot of great blogs. This one has to go to Mental Terresse, one of my favorite haunts. Her posts are like gems, rare and beautiful. Each facet is carefully crafted. When I see her in my Google Reader, I wait until I know that I won’t be interrupted so that I can savor her writing. I especially admire how she intertwines lessons from her life with beautiful works of art. And I would be completely remiss if I didn’t point all of you to this post. It’s one of my absolute favorites.

I’ve come back to this century! I have a cell phone and not just any cell phone, a wi-fi phone, which I think puts me smack dab in the middle of now.

The best part is that Shanel is talking to me again. It was a little touch and go there for awhile, but we are once again connected at the ear.

And after jiggling about some crumbling, antiquated wires in our basement, HungryMan fixed our landline too. However, he then decided that landlines are so last century, hence the paper wires, and that we didn’t really need three phones.

We said goodbye to Qwest and hello to wi-fi. And if you don’t count speaker wire, which I do, we have fully merged into the wireless generation. So don’t trying calling my home number, cause that number is now homeless.

Oh, so your menu planning tips were so helpful. Primarily for kicking me in the pants.

You will be happy to know or at least I think you will be, that thanks to all of you and your marvelous ideas I have meals planned and purchased through the middle of next week.

I especially like the idea of saving menu’s for future months and making many meals on the weekend and eating them throughout the week.

One of the best tips that I got was from my friend, Tiffany. She has made her own cookbook with binder and plastic sheet protectors. Instead of saving too many magazines with good recipes in them, she tears the recipes out and puts them in the binder. Brilliant. And instead of stashing online recipe print-outs who knows where, she puts those in the binder too. Again, brilliant.

So I went right home and tore up my beloved issues of Real Simple and Cottage Living. And I sorted through my stash of online print-outs. I now have a binder full of our family’s favorites. I couldn’t bring myself to tear up my Everyday Food collection. I was a pioneer member back in 2003 and have a whole color coordinated set. I have organized them by month, because I too love to make what’s in season. I have been indexing my favorite recipes to make finding them easier.

This post is just riveting, I know.

And while I’m at, I let you know that I’ve gone into organizing overdrive. This, in addition to my keen attention to the outdoor weather, has kept me far away from the keyboard.

The amount of upheaval in our home has caused Ava to suspect that leprechauns have reappeared. Of course the two-inch men are now being blamed for mischief caused by a forty-two-inch sprite. I’ve set out traps. It remains to be seen who will get caught, but I’m going to put money on the one with pigtails.

Early this summer, HungryMan rolled out some new grass on the base of our front lawn. It was green and lush and wonderful until the clouds rolled away. We had weeks of scorching sunshine. Which is great, if you love to go to the beach. But it’s not so great if you trying to transform your lawn from an eyesore to a lush meadow.

Where we once had grass, we now have shredded wheat.

Bring your shears and bit of brown sugar and you will nearly have the breakfast of champions.

On Saturday, HungryMan rolled up the scorched sod and sowed grass seed, while Ava performed search and rescue on the worm community. After establishing a relocation shelter for the displaced worm families, she gave me a tour of the facilities and introduced me to some of the residents.

“Mama, look. This is the daddy worm. He’s the biggest!”

“Worms are good for the earth, Mama. Did you know that? Did you know that? They’re good for the earth. It’s really true.”

Last week, Ava and I drove with our friends to see Sarah Palin and John McCain at a rally north of here. We the mamas thought it would a great opportunity for the girls to get a glimpse of the political process in our country and for them to see a potential president. As it turned out nearly every other person in the Twin Cities had the same Friday morning agenda.

Surprisingly from our stellar vantage point, we neither saw nor heard McCain or Palin. I was told by a very tall man with stilts for legs that the candidates were somewhere under the “N” in Palin. Ten point if you can find them.

Ava and her friend’s educational experience was reduced to a greater than/less than lesson conducted with diminishing pieces of a Cliff Bar.

While we weren’t able to hear the candidates’ speeches, we did get quite an earful from protesters.

Taking the above photograph proved to be the tactical error of the morning.

“Look! There goes a WAL-MART FAMILY,” a man yelled at me as soon as I snapped the photo. Others joined his taunt sending Ava and I marching to the beat of “Wal-Mart family! Wal-Mart family! Wal-Mart family!” Just as we were turning away from them, another one hollered, “Hey! Where’d ya get that backpack Wal-Mart family?!?”

Evidently they weren’t too familiar with my blog. Or maybe they were and knew that was an insult that would stick.

Last Wednesday morning, Ava and I were about to leave for preschool when she turned and dashed back to her room.

“Oh Mama, I forgot. I’m supposed to wear three necklaces today,” she said as I walked in on her throwing everything out of her accessory drawer.

“Why are you supposed to wear three necklaces?”

“Cause Sarah and I are going to wear three necklaces today.”

“Sarah and you are going to wear three necklaces today?”

“Yes, Mama. I already told you,” she said as she grabbed my hand to go out to the car.

On the way to preschool she gave me the long version of a short story. While riding home on the bus from the apple orchard, Ava and her friend had made a pact to wear three necklaces.

Of course, I wasn’t sure if this explanation was true or not as it came from the same child that had found a leprechaun in her bedroom that very morning. He was a very kind leprechaun, who liked to sit in Ava’s hand and tell her stories. She tried to put him in a jar, but somehow he ran away. “It’s really the truth. It wasn’t a dream at all!”

We walked into Ava’s classroom and Sarah came running up to us with three strands of beads bouncing about her neck.

Who knew coordinating outfits began at four?

Well my mind feels relieved; I hope yours has survived this too long post. Apparently Ava’s not the only one that prefers the long version. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

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So as I was saying, I’m falling for autumn or at least this autumn.

The past week and half the temperatures have hung lazily at 75 degrees.

Each day promises to be the last of sundress weather.

And I am powerless to the beckoning of sunshine. I can no more stay inside than I can go outside when the sun hibernates.

On Sunday we celebrated the last day of summer by not picking apples.

Unless you count the ones that were already on the ground (and the two or three that Ava prematurely pulled off the the tree).

Of course we and our friends drove out to the orchard with every intention of picking a bushel of apples, but apparently we weren’t the only that were enticed by late summer sunshine. All the ripe apples had been picked for the day. So we picked hand-fulls of clover instead.

While this compromise was appealing to little girls who found clover crowns

and clover chains to be a “cute” accessory,

clover brats and baked clover crisp are not very enticing. Unless you happen to be a goat.

Thankfully there was an apple concession stand to save Hungryman and his co-horts from starving.

Or eating clover.

We finished our outing by picking pre-picked apples out of giant bins and eating hot apple crisp.

Perhaps fall is a warm and scrumptious after all.

I think it’s time for me to let go of sweet summer and fall into the crimson hues of autumn.

As for our friends, they are following the sun west to L.A.

I’ll miss them and the sun.

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8:00 pm

8:30 pm

9:00 pm

9:00:15 pm

9:15 pm

9:30 pm

10:00 pm

10:30 pm

11:00 pm

Oh Summer, you are tricky with your warm nights and your sun that refuses to go to bed.

It makes us forget too.

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Remember when I told you about how HungryMan was flinging our friend, Johnny through the water like Indiana’s bull whip. I witnessed this harrowing event through the lens of our video camera. The jetski-dragging-tubing-fool footage has been hiding out our computer for weeks due to the very poor camera work (me).

What can I say? I was so worried that I was witnessing Johnny’s lasts moments on earth that I forgot to zoom in. I apologize.

So just in case you think that I make up all of the HungryMan’s antics for good blog fodder, here’s your proof in miniature:

And lest you think HungryMan reserves this water torture for dudes only, let me direct you to Exhibit B.

Three years ago, we invited HungryMan’s old roommates from House Fridley and their ladies to come down to the lake. We celebrated HungyMan’s 28th birthday with high-speed boating, piles of burgers, grilled peaches, and a little game he likes to call, “shake ‘n’ bake.”

It’s LOVE in any language.

We are headed down to the lake with the nearly the same gang this morning to celebrate HungryMan’s 31st birthday.

Fortunately for me and my lungs the jetski went into early retirement this spring.

Have a great weekend everyone!!

This post is done, why are still scrolling down? Oh, you want more HungryMan jetski action? You want to see the full version of the Shake ‘n’ Bake video, don’t you? Fine. Here it is.

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summer love

I love summer.

I LOVE summer.


Did I mention that I love summer?

Because I do.

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Goodbye Online Dating. Hello Online Play Groups.

After months of reading about sweet Julia and thinking, “Oh, that sounds just like Ava” or writing an Ava-antic and receiving a comment about how “Julia does the same thing,” the pint-sized virtual friends met.

My pal MckMama and her sister threw an all-out birthday bash inviting seasoned friends and blogger friends to The Meadows, an enchanted piece of this earth that she calls home.

The men threw their weight around the lake on two supercharged jetskis, churning up enough water to make the neighbors peer out their bay windows to see if a seaplane landing strip had been redirected to their wake-free lake.

HungryMan challenged his long-time water rival Johnny to Interstate Tubing, pulling him white knuckled across the lakes at speeds that exceed highway limits.

The girls huddled around the dock stupified at Johnny’s ability to withstand severe water torture and horrified at HungryMan’s utter disregard for life. Surprisingly, there were no other takers for tube ride pulled by Hungryman. Even Ava refused to ride on the jetski with her daddy. Shocking, I know.

I spent the afternoon catching up with dear college friends and former roommates,

(back: Kristi, MckMama, Me, Yvette. front: Shanel, Becky)

and meeting blogger friends that I have only read about.

(Hilary, Angela, MckMama, Me, Tiffany, Kristi, Yvette & Cosette)

While I was being kindly chastised for taking “too many breaks,” Ava and Julia were forming a friendship that hitherto had only existed in the comment section of their mamas’ blogs. I found these two skipping down the stony path while comparing swimming suit stripes. They were both eagerly awaiting a piece of the princess birthday cake. It was clear that the two were quickly united in their keen sense of summer fashion and sugar-laden sweets.

Ava didn’t want to leave all her newly acquired friends until she heard she was going to ride in Shanel’s car.

“I have always wanted to ride in your car!” she squealed as she grabbed Shanel’s hand.

Shanel opened the rear door and Ava peered in, announcing, “It’s not dirty at all!”

Thank, Ava. Really, it’s not my fault that you insist on carrying out two purses full of crayons, polly pockets, notepads, flash cards, chapsticks and who-knows-what each time we go out to the car. I cannot be held responsible for all the treasures you store in the creases of the back seat.

As we pulled away, Ava stared up at stylishly streamlined dash that makes a VW so hip and said, “Oh Shanel, your car is so beautiful!”

Apparently her good taste extends beyond new friends. Here’s to beautiful friendships and many more parties at The Meadows.

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Back in the day when I rode northbound for twenty-four hours in the back seat of my parent’s station wagon to visit my Minnesota cousins, my Aunt was always looking for ways to keep us here a little bit longer. And she was brilliant at it.

My dad would have just finished playing tetris with our suitcases, sealing the hatch and strapping us down to our plaid seats when his sister would wander over with a steaming cup of coffee, lean into the window, and work her magic. Within moments my brothers and I would be running free while my dad went in to fill up another cup of coffee and my mom devised another shopping trip to the mall.

My Aunt could convince nearly all her siblings to stay at least for supper. She walked from packed car to packed car, releasing cousins from Texas, New Mexico, and North Dakota. Like caged animals we would spring from our seats and rip through their green lawn, tickled with our freedom and ecstatic at the prospect for more time together.

Following in this great tradition, my cousin Heather and I began hatching plans as soon as the midnight bells began to the toll on our last day together. Her husband, Fred, was starting a new job on Tuesday, so there wasn’t much time for extensions. We squeezed and squeezed the timetables, but only one hour would drip out here or there. It was hardly worth the effort and our hands were getting sticky. I crawled in my rain-saturated tent that night knowing that tomorrow there would be no last-minute unpacking.

The morning sun brought relief from the rain and hope.

“Rachel,” Heather said as we washed the sleep from our eyes. “Fred’s thinking about maybe renting a car and driving home, and then he would come back on the weekend and get us.”

“What? Are you serious?” I said, putting down my washcloth. Her husband had just devised the most elaborate extension in the history of our family.

“Yeah, it was his idea.”

“Well, he can take HungryMan’s car.”

And that’s how I involved my husband in our schemes, by depriving him of his automobile.

Yesterday morning, Fred started off on a nine hour trek home, which he will repeat in reverse on Friday. If that doesn’t say, “I love my wife,” I don’t know what does.

Except maybe the fact that he’s driving HungryMan’s car while listening to HungryMan’s ipod on HungryMan’s stereo.

There are now ten little feet hopping around my house in anticipation of trips to the beach and the museum. While Heather and I are dreaming of nap-time when we can retreat to the couch with a cup of chai and devise our own trip to the mall.

Because clearly, it’s for the children.

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The “where were you post” will have to wait. We had such a delicious day yesterday that I can’t think about anything else. The sun is finally seated on his throne over the bright blue sky and we spent our day basking in the warmth of his bright rays. Just take a look.

Ava and I met her cousins and auntie at our new favorite beach.

After years of being an “only-the-ocean-has-beaches” snob, I have fully succumbed to the hometown allure of lakeside beaches. Sun, sand, and salt-free water is minutes away in nearly every direction of our home.

My niece, Amanda is only four months old, but she’s already a beach bum. A beach bum with a bonnet no less.

After washing away all traces of their winter skin in the sun-warmed lake, Ava and Katelyn cozied up under a blanket of rays. Perplexed at how this beach could transform from a frozen lake and snow-covered sand to a lakeside paradise in two and a half months, Ava exclaimed “This world is both cold and hot. How did God make such an amazing world?” I’m not sure Ava, but I much prefer the latter.

After tackling the chutes and ladders of the nearby play fort, we drove to the local market to pick up some fresh basil and tomatoes for my favorite summer salad.

(recipe coming soon)

We took a brief rest in the shade that is our home and then headed back out into bright, warm air. It’s a good thing the sun’s dominion reaches to the Mississippi, because our favorite local band was playing in the riverside ruins.

It was the perfect night for hopping

and twirling

to the rhythms of Romantica.

I highly recommend that you check out their site and drink in their tunes. It will be the best thing you do for your ipod all summer. Our friend, Jim, is the drummer hidden by the massive cymbal. The singer is from Northern Ireland, so we were fans even before we heard his sweet tunes. We heart Romantica!!

Ava kept wanting to get a better view of the band.

She finally scaled the ladder better known as her daddy.

She was more than fascinated with the missing roof and asked Shanel, “was it normal when you lived here?” If so, Shanel would need to be well over a hundred years old and quite incapable of spinning Miss Ava around the pebble floor. And take it from Ava, when you get an opportunity to meet the singer of the band, it is always best to inform him of all the people who died in the building he just finished playing in. It’s sure to leave a lasting impression.

Much like this perfect summer night.

Well we are off to the lake this weekend in hopes of making more summer memories. See you next week. Oh, and let me know what you think of Romantica.

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