Scenes from the State Fair

They call it “The Great Minnesota Get Together.” It’s a great place to eat, people watch and get the back of your flip-flops stepped on over and over.

The view as we entered the fairgrounds

The masses by you.

If I eat nothing else at the fair (but of course, I did eat PLENTY else) I must have some deep fried cheese curds! (Abby, you don’t know what you’re missing!)

Deep Fried Cheese Curds by you.

Tractors of days gone by

Tractors by you.

The sunflower garden

Sunflowers by you.

The Sky Ride

The Sky Ride by you.

Mark and the kids check out an ice house. (For those of you in the less frozen states, this is used for ice fishing in the dead of winter. Only used by the crazies who actually enjoy sitting on a frozen lake.)

Ice Fishing house by you.

Most food is served on a stick, including Big Fat Bacon. (Sorry de-I. I couldn’t find the Hotdish on a Stick, nor the Spaghetti & Meatballs on a Stick.)

Big Fat Bacon on a stick by you.

I was told the fish tacos were good. After much searching, we finally found them. They WERE pretty good, although they are NOTHING like a traditional taco.

Fish Taco by you.

Later in the day we met up with Kacey’s friend, Andi and her dad. The girls took a ride on the Crazy Mouse.

Kacey & Andi by you.

Kacey & Andi by you.

The weather was beautiful, we had a fun day and we all came home exhausted and desperately in need of showers! All in all the day was a great success.

Life is Good – August 29, 2008

Another week has come and gone. At times it felt as though the days were sailing by. At other times it seemed as if the day I was trying to get through would never pass. All in all, though, it was a good week. Friday has finally arrived which means it’s time to take a look back and take notice of all the ways in which I was blessed this past week.

The week began with the departure of my oldest son, Brad on Sunday. It was time for him to go back to college in North Dakota. As much as I promised myself it wouldn’t be as hard to say goodbye as it was last year, his freshman year, I once again took it hard and couldn’t stop the tears as we drove away. I wondered where the summer had gone and lamented the fact that even though he lived under the same roof as me for the past few months, I still felt as though I hadn’t had enough time with him.

Only a day or so had passed before my eyes were opened to the fact that I am blessed to be so sad over my son moving away. After all, what would it say about our relationship if I were glad to have him gone for weeks and months at a time? He is a good son. We have a strong and loving bond and that’s why it’s so hard for me to let him go. That’s a GOOD thing! And besides, when I called him two days after dropping him off at school, I got the distinct impression that I was interrupting his social time with the new roommates. It was obvious he wasn’t up for a long chat with his mom and he had things he wanted to do. I realized my son is happy. He’s more than ready and willing to experience life independently. All the years he was growing up, it was our goal to raise a strong and confident young man. And he is. What more could I ask for?

Luckily, I was going to be busy for the rest of the week, leaving me little time to mope around. Monday saw my return to work after having been off for four weeks after the kidney surgery. I was ready to go back and I felt welcomed and missed. Monday morning wasn’t very productive as many of my coworkers stopped by my desk with hugs and lots of questions about how I felt and how my dad was doing. I was surrounded by people who genuinely care. By Monday afternoon and throughout the rest of the week, I began the task of diving back in. I got caught up in the rush of problem solving and managed to weed through most of the three hundred or so emails that had piled up while I was gone. By the end of the week I was feeling as if I hadn’t missed a beat. I’m so blessed to have a rewarding and satisfying job!

The only thing that was hard to get used to again upon returning to work was the sitting at a desk for hours and hours at a time. When I got home in the evenings I really felt like I needed to burn off some energy. The weather has been beautiful this week; very mild with temperatures in the upper seventies and low eighties. On several evenings, I changed into shorts, a t-shirt and sneakers and took off for a nice brisk walk. It felt good to do something healthy and the walking even alleviated the aches I’ve been experiencing (and brushing off) lately. I had forgotten how good walking is for my back! I may have even reached the point of making the evening walks a routine again; something that blew by the wayside too long ago.

With Brad being gone, I’ve had a chance to be reminded how dependable and fun my middle kid, Jake can be. He doesn’t always get credit for being reliable or enjoyable. He often falls in the shadow of his older brother and we sometimes fail to show him how much we appreciate and need him. Brad’s absence has given Jake a chance to step up to the plate. I’ve had opportunities to talk, laugh with and spend time with him, one on one. On more than one occasion this week he has driven Kacey to or from volleyball practices when his dad and I couldn’t be there and he has volunteered to do a few chores when he knew I was probably too tired to do them myself. Jake is the kid whom I think we sometimes give the impression the least is expected and it makes me sad to think this is the message he gets from us. I’ve been blessed this week to see that Jake is the great kid that he is and to be reminded that he needs to know that we know it. 

The weekend ahead holds blessings too! It’s Labor Day weekend and that means an extra day off to enjoy before the kids head back to school and the unofficial end of summer settles in. If the weather is good, we can probably look forward to hanging out with the neighbors and enjoying a bonfire and some s’mores for the kids and some beers for the adults!

This time of year also means that it’s time for the Minnesota State Fair and we plan to make a day of it on Saturday. The State Fair is famous for all of its foods on a stick. You can eat yourself silly at the fair, although I plan to eat in moderation and just make sure I get a basket of deep fried cheese curds, my FAVORITE. After that, I’ll just sample a bit of all the things Mark and the kids are sure to buy. I think I’ll take a pass though on the newest food for sale, chocolate covered bacon. (Eeew! Does that sound disgusting, or what?) The fair has fantastic people-watching and lots of fun things to see and do. I’m really looking forward to spending the day there with my family.

Life has been good again this week. Sometimes I have to work hard at realizing all the ways I am blessed but it is so worth it.

Get blogged by Terri – Episode II – The "I Eat Snowman Poop" Chronicles

So, it seems people actually want me to blog about them! It all started with BlogPaul “suggesting” in my comments that I blog about him, and then sending me a “friendly” reminder email a few days later that he had yet to see a blog post on my blog about him. I think he was really just fishing for some cute, single, potentially datable Christian girls (and let me just clarify this time that any interested parties should be OVER 18,) but it’s not like I actually HAVE a following of this type. Still, I caved to the pressure and it was fun to blog about him. I didn’t really think anyone else would really want me to blog about them, but apparently you guys DO want me to write about you! I got a bunch of requests, so this little gimmick could carry out for a few months. Who knows, maybe it’ll become my “thing” and it’ll be all the rage to get blogged about at Terri Terri. (Yeah, right!)

“Snowman” was the first person to raise a hand and say, “Pick me! Pick me! Blog about ME!” (Ok, so I may be exaggerating the level of enthusiasm just a bit. It was more like, “You can blog me if you want.” Hey, this thing is never going to take off as THE thing to do in blogland if I don’t hype it a little!)

“Snowman” is actually not a snowman at all, and for that matter, not a man either. She has a funny, sarcastic blog called I Eat Snowman Poop. I came across Snowman’s blog around the time I started writing my own blog, and I continued to visit because she always makes me laugh. She’s got a very irreverent sense of humor and isn’t afraid to use it. I love the way she tells it like it is. If someone ticks her off, for instance, the incompetent employees at Walmart, or stupid people at the gas station, or DELL, she doesn’t hesitate to give them a fitting label. “Effers.”(I can’t actually bring myself to spell out the real word because this IS, after all a PG rated blog. But Snowman does it with flair!) If you tick off the Snowman, you are an EFFER! Watch out. Snowman is not one to be messed with!

When Snowman had problems with her Dell laptop, she described in painful detail via blog posts, how difficult it was trying to deal with Dell’s customer service reps. Did you know that Dell has people whose job it is to scour the internet looking for evidence of unhappy customers and potential bad publicity? Those people then go out and try to remedy the situation and offer assistance. I didn’t know this until “Neil” showed up in Snowman’s blog comments, in an attempt to defend Dell’s reputation and right the wrongs that Snowman felt had been done. Neil was pretty cool and became a regular reader and commenter for a while. He was actually spared the label of “effer” because he was funny and kind of helpful. He’s gone now. Probably too busy stalking the blogs of other Dell bashers. (We miss you, Neil. And by the way? We never believed your real name was Neil. It’s Achmed, isn’t it? Be honest!)

More recently, we were able to follow Snowman’s pregnancy through her blog posts (complete with tales of high blood pressure, cankles and pee-pee jugs in the refrigerator.) A few months ago, the miraculous day arrived and Aidan Wesley made his grand entrance in the world. He had us all scared for a few weeks while he got some breathing and feeding issues figured out….

Mommy And Baby by ieat_snowmanpoop.

But as you can see here, everything turned out fine and he’s an adorable little guy! (Actually, this picture earned him the nickname, Big Man! Cuz he is such a big guy! Look at him! Aren’t you just melting from the cuteness???)

Big Man by ieat_snowmanpoop.

Yes, honey. I’m sure many of us would agree with you on this one.

I'd Rather Be Naked by ieat_snowmanpoop.

Snowman cracks me up when she adds captions such as this to her flickr photos: “These were the ducks that were doing the nasty right outside my window. Fly a mile from water just to get it on in my yard.”

The Ducks by ieat_snowmanpoop.

Hmmm… I seem to recall there was a problem with Japanese beetles “gettin’ it on” and having beetle sex all over Snowman’s yard this summer too. Maybe there’s some kind of aphrodisiac growing in her yard. This COULD explain why Snowman and her hubby seem to get along so well!

You didn’t really think we were done with Aidan yet, did you? That’s right Aidan. I dig you!

Chicks Dig Me by ieat_snowmanpoop.

There is way more fun, sarcasm and baby cuteness over at Snowman’s blog so go pay her a visit.

Up next, I’ll be blogging Reggie, the king of vacationing, so check in next week for some virtual fun and relaxation! I’ll make the margaritas!

And remember: If you want to get blogged by me, leave your request in the comments. (Hey, I should give away t-shirts! “I got blogged by Terri.” I’ll work on that….riiiiight….)

Knuckle-Headed McSpazzatron

My 7-year old nephew, Matthew spent part of the day with us on Saturday while his mom put in some extra time at work. He’s so cute and funny that it seemed it was time for him to go home far too soon!

Matthew arrived kind of early (before 8:00 am.) Kacey was already gone to her volleyball scrimmage and my boys were still sleeping. I wasn’t sure what Matthew wanted to do while he waited for his cousins to wake up so I offered to let him watch t.v. or a dvd. He very seriously informed me that he always spends him mornings reading, NOT watching television. He then took a very large book about dogs out of his tote bag.

The book was soon forgotten when his attention was captured by Holly. Matthew LOVES Holly.

IMG_8344 by you.

IMG_8343 by you.

While he was busy with Holly, my boys finally woke up and Matthew was very glad to see them. He was NOT pleased with the fact that Brad could not seem to remember his name and instead of calling him “Matthew,” kept referring to him as “Skip” or “Knuckle-Headed McSpazzatron.”

A short time later, Brad wanted Matthew to help him retrieve some duffle bags from the closet under the steps. Matthew hesitantly followed Brad, taking a few steps down the stairs before turning to me and asking, “Can I twust him?”

“You can trust him,” I said.

Matthew then looked at Brad and continued to follow him down the stairs and I heard him say, “I’m still not really twusting you. I’m being really cautious at you.”

Within seconds Matthew was back upstairst telling me that Brad wanted him to go into the closet to get the duffle bags but he refused to do it because he was sure Brad was going to shut him inside. I assured him that Brad loves him, and although he likes to be silly and play games, he would NEVER shut one of his favorite cousins inside of a closet.

Matthew was sure he had made the right decision though, informing me, “I wasn’t going to go in there. You just can’t twust anyone who calls someone else a ‘Knuckle-Headed McSpazzatron.”

Now how could I argue with logic like that?

Not long after this, Matthew remembered that his Nanna’s cat, Tigger now resides with us. Matthew knows that Tigger doesn’t like people and that when he lived at Nanna’s house, he ALWAYS hid from visitors. Matthew wanted to see Tigger and I told him he could try to find him, but he hadn’t changed much since moving into our house. I told him to check under my bed or behind the freezer in the laundry room and he might be able to catch a glimpse of him, if Tigger didn’t see him first and run off.

Let me tell you, this boy is DILIGENT. Jake showed him Tiggers favorite hiding spot under my bed and then Matthew spent a good hour trying to cajole that cat out of hiding. I went about the house doing some chores, all the while hearing Matthew trying to sweet-talk Tigger into coming out of hiding. But Matthew was none too pleased when he heard the click of my camera while all this was going on. I was given a stern talking to about photographing his behind.

IMG_8349 by you.

This kid is so self-entertaining it didn’t feel like work at all to be taking care of him on a Saturday. He was even fascinated with my vaccuum cleaner attachments, although he had reached the end of his rope with the picture taking by this point. Can you tell?

IMG_8350 by you.

Matthew’s mom picked him up just after 2:00, but we’re kind of hoping she’ll pick up some extra hours again soon so that Matthew can come back!

Does this ever get easier?

I have a question for anyone with college-age or adult kids:

When does it stop being so hard to say goodbye to them?

And please don’t say, “Never.”

We spent the day moving our oldest son back to college for his sophomore year. We’ve already been through that very first painful parting when he left home for his freshman year, a YEAR ago. We took him to another state and saw the uncertainty and loneliness in his eyes as he faced the first time in his life in which he would not be living at home. That should have been the hardest part. He came home for visits and he returned to school several times. He enjoyed school. He made friends. He grew comfortable and happy there. He came home for the summer and there was never any question that he would be going back to school again. It was clear that he was going in the right direction.

He’s renting a house this year with four friends. I guess it’s a pretty cool place as far as a college kid’s standards go. It’s kind of a dump as far as my standards go, but I don’t have to live there. We helped him move in his bed and all of his belongings. It was clear he was happy to see his friends and he tried not to be TOO obvious that he was ready for us to return home so he could be independent again. And I managed to hug him and kiss him goodbye without dissolving into a puddle.

But the minute I was safely inside the truck and the wheels began to roll, that was it. I lost it.

Someone, please tell me this gets easier.

Farewell, Summer!

As it does with each passing year, the end of summer seems to have arrived too quickly. Why is it that the last days of fall, winter and spring are met with feelings of excitement, while end of summer finds me reluctant to face the coming  weeks? Maybe it’s because the summer brightens our surroundings like no other time of year. The days are longer and the sun is our almost constant companion. Maybe it’s because for these few short months, time seems to stand still. The kids, though often busy, are home more often than those other nine months. Nothing seems as rushed as it does during the school year. We are free to enjoy each other without the burdens of homework, projects and deadlines. The weather is warm and allows us to play and revel in the relaxation and contentment only this time of year can bring.

But I guess I couldn’t fully appreciate summer and all that it signifies if it didn’t have to make its departure each year. And so, although we are sad to see summer fading away, on Friday we celebrated it and gave it a proper and joyous farewell party. 

Our neighbors invited us to join them for an afternoon on their boat on the St. Croix River. The day had begun with a mixture of clouds and sun. The air was humid, hot and windy. By afternoon, the sun seemed to be fading, but we didn’t let that dampen our spirits.

When we arrived at the river, there was no sign of the sun and this obviously had deterred many other potential boaters, but not us. The kids loved the feeling of the wind whipping their hair as the boat sped up the river and then they cranked up the tunes as we putted through the no-wake zone.

We found a spot to beach the boat and the kids headed straight for the water, playing catch with a football, dunking one another and tossing crackers to the gulls. The sun still refused to show its face but the air remained hot and the kids had a blast cooling down in the river. The adults spread out on the boat and talked and laughed while the kids kept busy in the water.

A while later, we headed south on the river, and found a spot deep enough for the kids to do what they’d been waiting all day to do… CLIMB ON TOP OF THE BOAT AND JUMP IN! They were all a little nervous, balancing on the roof of the boat, but all were brave enough to take the leap into the water. It was such a rush for them all that each took several turns until they were worn out and raindrops began to fall and it was time to call it a day.

It was such a beautiful day in spite of the overcast skies and eventual rain. Nothing warms my heart more than hearing my kids laughter and watching them smile and enjoy themselves as they did on Friday afternoon.

Summer, I’m going to miss you and I’ll be anxiously awaiting your return next year!

Life is Good

It’s Friday and around here that means reflecting on the past week and taking notice of all that is good in my life.

To be honest, I found it rather difficult to feel blessed at times this week. There were just a lot of little things that rubbed me the wrong way and made me want to just throw up my hands and say “forget it.” There were many times when I wondered why my life couldn’t just be more normal.

Normal? What is ‘normal’ anyway?

I found this sign four years ago at Tom’s Burned Down Cafe during our Bayfield vacation. This says it all, don’t you think?

But this week I noticed that instead of admitting defeat when I got frustrated, I had begun to do something I haven’t done in a long, long time, if ever. I talked to God. I handed him my frustrations and said, “Here. I don’t know what to do with these. I’m going to let you have them for a while.” It felt so good not to sulk and let a foul mood hover around me all day. And I found that I wasn’t obsessing about things and feeling anxious. I dealt with the things I could and didn’t worry about the stuff over which I had no control. That is BIG progress for me.

My goal this week was to spend time with the kids before Brad returns to college this weekend and I go back to work next week. We were surprised and happy to be invited to swim with my nephew, Matthew at his grandma’s house on Monday. The weather was beautiful, the water was warm and the kids had a blast. It was spontaneous and just the break we needed that day. We also ate dinner together as a family almost every night; something that doesn’t often happen in our house anymore.

I had to do a lot of shopping this week to get the kids ready to go back to school. The younger two don’t go back until after Labor Day, but I wanted to get as much done as possible during my time off. We had to get not only school supplies, new shoes, new clothes and backpacks, but also some larger items for Brad as he will be living in a house instead of a dorm this year. In addition to the standard stuff, Brad needed cookware and a bed! We hadn’t expected to be buying a bed at the last minute. One of his roommates had offered to sell him a bed earlier this summer for a reasonable price. The roommate said he would get the bed to the house by the time Brad arrived. But when Brad double-checked with the roommate this week to make sure this was still the plan, finally getting a call back after three attempts, it turned out that the deal had fallen through. So we were shopping for a bed at the last minute. It feels like I have done nothing but spend money this week, but it also made me realize how fortunate we are to have secure jobs that provide us an income which allows us to make these purchases without feeling too much pain.

My mom has not been well in the past couple of weeks and this has been a big source of worry. But at the same time, my dad continues to improve and recover from his kidney transplant. I am grateful that my dad is getting stronger and more self sufficient so that my mom is not overwhelmed with his care, especially while she’s not feeling well herself.

And finally, I’m going back to work on Monday and I’m looking forward to it. Being home was nice, but I’m starting to get a little bit stir crazy. I’ll have to start waking up at the crack of dawn again but I’m very blessed to have a job that is fulfilling, that pays enough to keep us comfortable and allows me to be surrounded by coworkers who are fun, friendly and supportive of one another.

Life is good. Have a great weekend, everyone!