Monday, June 30, 2008

Lost America Part 2

First it was holding straws hostage and now society has chosen not to help out your fellow girl.  

So, last night I decided to resume my walking habit, I set out for a 30 minute stroll around 9:30 pm taking 2 ferocious guard dogs along for protection.  I made my up and through Drake University before Maddie decided she just had to poop one more time before bed.  I dislike poop.  So with 2 dog leashes in one hand and a bag of excrement in another I scooted along to a little Carrie Underwood.  Around 10:00 pm and 1 1/2 blocks from home I decided it was time to unwind the tangled mess of dog leashes that had accumulated.  While performing the last pirouette I came upon a blemish in my path.  On my way towards the earth all I could think about was the $100.00 co-pay on emergency room visits.  If you have been paying attention to previous blogs, you know that I have paid my share of co-pays the last 2 months, but I digress.  As I lay upon the ground,  the dogs sniff me to make sure I am still alive and I silently thank the fact that the poop has landed 5 feet away from me and not under me.  I decide to sit up and assess the situation.  It's broken.  The foot is numb and it hurts like hell.  I can't remember hearing anything crack or rip because at the moment of impact I was belting out '...dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped up 4 wheel drive, carved my name into his leather seats...'  Anyway, I walk quite often.  I don't like to exercise and I don't like to run, but walking  I enjoy.   I got some athletic pants that have pockets and my iPod goes in one and my cell phone in the other.  On the this beautiful, clear night - my iPod has flown out of my pocket and is quite near the poop and my cell phone has been left at home.  For the first 5 minutes I thought for sure someone would walk by with their dogs.  There are so many in the neighborhood, who wouldn't be out on a Sunday night at 10:00 pm?  The first 5 minutes were used to contemplate knocking on the door of the house right behind me.  There were lots of lights on.  As I was turning to face the house, a boy around the age of 8 or 9 comes out.  My angel!  I ask the angel if his mom or dad are home.  No, they are not (shoulder slouch) but we have room mates (smile appears).  Oh - great.  I ask if one of them would be willing to lend me a cell phone.  He says sure and walks back into the house.  The next 5 minutes are spent wondering what an 8 year old is doing up at 10:00 pm and wondering where said 8 year old has gone.  So as my confidence in my angel is diminishing a bicyclist happens by.  I shout out 'Hey, sir, would you happen to have a cell phone?'  Remember, I am on the ground, near the street, with 2 dogs who now have greater confidence in their own superiority at 10:15 pm.  How dangerous can I look?  As he whizzes by he says - 'No, I don't.'  Are you kidding?  I live in Iowa correct?  The midwest?  A disgustingly, friendly place?  Well, now I am defeated.  I am going to have to make it home on my own.  My final 5 minutes are spent trying to get to my feet.  As I use both dogs as leverage for this feat a glorious Chevy Blazer comes down the street.  I flag him down and he generously agrees to let me use his cell phone.  While the phone is ringing I am positive that Christopher will not answer an unknown cell phone number.  When his voicemail picks up my suspicions are confirmed.  As I am trying to figure out what I am going to say on the message - call waiting!  Chris is calling the number back!  Finally, after all of this, i will get rescued.  I ask Christopher to come down 29th and get me.  He says "Why?"  My first instinct is to cry, but as there is a nice gentleman, who must already think I am a little short of a Happy Meal, standing over me waiting for his phone, I just say 'I fell, please come get me.'  The nice gentleman (probably around 20) asks if there is anything else he can do.  I say no, my husband will be here in a minute as we just live around the corner.  I say thank you very much and he is on his way.  While waiting for Christopher to come to my aid I thank the stars in this beautiful night that 1/3 of America is still generous and kind.  As for the other 2/3, they must be Republicans and lets hope they don't 'Get out the Vote' this November! :)

Alas, my ankle is not broken.  It is however severely sprained.  I have not been to a doctor, but have been icing it and resting somewhat.  It is hard to stay off of it with 3 kids to chase around.  I will take a picture of my ankle when it gets really gross looking with all of the beautiful colors it will turn.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Busy, Busy

I have always thought of Sunday as a day of rest and if you look at my house right now (a mess!) you will see that I often live by that philosophy.  But we have had a very busy day regardless of the sloppy house.  It started out with my trip to the doctor this morning for my 3rd diagnosis in 2 months (2nd within a week & a half) of strep throat.  This doctor put me on  a penicillin derivative so we will see what happens.  I have a possible allergy to penicillin.  So I took my first pill at 10:00 am and my throat has not swelled shut as of yet.  Here's to hoping.  

After a quick stop at the store for milk and eggs, the family was off to the Arts Festival.  The Arts Festival of Des Moines is one of the biggest art events in the country.  The art there is amazing and so interesting.  Maybe when I am able to afford my vacation home in Dubai I will be able to afford one of the pieces from the festival!  Harrison had a great time.  He did spin art, spray art, made a tambourine, and painted a tile for a project at one of the middle schools.  And he got a stress ball.  At one point he is saying "Oh my gosh - how lucky am I?  I got to paint, I got a ball,I got to make a bracelet - what a great day!"  That kid cracks me up!  Bennett was just happy to take it all in and eat most of Christopher's kettle corn.

Once we got home, Chris and Harrison started their project (after a little quiet time!).  Don't you love my new porch swing?!  I am so excited about it.  Pam got it for us at the 2nd fiddle sale in Davenport.  One of the first things I wanted when we bought this house was a porch swing and now after 1 year and 1 day of buying the house I have one.  Some dreams do come true!  Chris and Harrison were both in the attic trying to get the thing hung.  They were filthy.  Once they were done, we sat down on the swing for a picture.  Chris had me stop to take the picture and then when I backed up to go again Harrison fell right off.  The look of surprise was priceless. hehe. 

Harrison finished his day by doing the cutest thing.  He looked at Bennett and said "Come hear Bennett - let's draw with chalk."  Bennett followed him and for over 30 minutes they sat on the ground and drew with the sidewalk chalk.  Brothers...

And now on to more cherries.  What shall I make?!  I think a cobbler or a crisp is what I am going to choose.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


I went to Sex and the City last night!!!  It was sooo good.  I can't wait to see it again.  I am still considering what my favorite part is, but I think it has to be the scenes in Mexico or the scenes between Jennifer Hudson and Sarah Jessica Parker.  Too fun.  I went with Claudia and Megan.  We had a great time.  We went out for coffee afterwards and got kicked out of the coffee shop because they were closing and then had to drive around because we weren't done talking.  It feels good to have friends like that again.  I never stop missing Kara.

So life at the Neipert household has been fairly mundane.  We really can't stand to be inside that much and so when it rains it is almost like torture!  I put all of the toys on the front porch and that has been pretty nice.  We can play out there and kind of still feel like we are outside.  My garden is doing good but needs weeded in a bad way.  Now, when it is wet, is a great time to weed but then your hands get so muddy.  I don't mind dirt, but mud is not my friend.

We went home on Tuesday for Gpa Bob's funeral.  Very sad affair.  It was lovely and a great tribute, but sad nonetheless.  I didn't go to the visitation Tuesday night so Bennett and Harrison and I went to the mall to get Ryan and Kaylee a wedding gift (late!) and Kaylee a birthday gift (also late).  While we were there I let the boys ride on one of those mall rides.  They had the best time on that little ride.  I think it might be time to go to Adventureland again!  Kaylee's mom watched the boys while we went to the funeral and then I went and got them to go to the luncheon in Durant.  

Ryan and Kaylee came up today.  We went to the Farmer's Market and had burritos and dutch letters.  I don't think that Ryan and Kaylee had eaten Dutch Letters before.  They are so yummy!  I have hydrangeas blooming right now and they are beautiful.  I have several bouquets throughout the house.  One stem at the market is $2.00.  I could make a bunch of money!  Also, a pint of tart cherries run around $2.50 so I could make it big with those as well.  I made a cherry pie on Thursday.  Mmmm.  It is tart, but very good.  I am going to make cherry crisp next and then probably just freeze the cherries.  Harrison likes to eat them right off the tree and he calls it his cherry forest!  He told his dad today that he would be so 'cited to come see his cherry forest.  

Ryan and Kaylee came up to purchase Andy's old Honda.  Ryan sold his truck and needed a beater that got good gas mileage.  They are saving up to move to Des Moines.  I think they are really serious about the whole thing.  I am excited to have them here.  I hope they find a house close to us!

Jealousy is still the running theme in our house and it comes in the form of Harrison.  His world revolves around what Bennett is doing.  Is Bennett up?  I want to get up before Bennett.  Is Bennett dressed?  I want to get dressed before Bennett.  What is Bennett having?  I want to have that too.  I don't want to wear this white shirt.  I want to wear the shirt Bennett is wearing.  The whole process is enough to drive me crazy except that I am dealing with my own jealousy.  My boys love me and I fully realize this.  But they adore their father.  Harrison runs to Chris when he gets home.  He wants to show him everything and he responds better to him when he is angry.  Bennett wakes up and says Dada.  Bennett gets dressed and says Dada.  Bennett throws a fit if I take him from his dad.  Oh, to feel the love! :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Life on the farm

Oh, what I wouldn't do to move back home to the farm.  I love it there.  The openness, the peacefulness, the ability to have the garden of my dreams.  So much room and so few people!!!  My mom and I threw a bridal shower for Emily on Sunday in Andover.  So we all (Chris, me, Harrison, Bennett, Gpa and Gma) all piled into the van Saturday morning to head to Gpa and Gma Wilcke's.  I was concerned that this would be too much for my grandparents, but the weekend seemed to go well.  I made lasagna for dinner Saturday night so Gma didn't have to worry about that and we all pitched in with clean up and most importantly kept the kids entertained, outside or at Randy and Marcy's!  Grandpa had his kidney removed on June 4th and is still recovering.  There was cancer everywhere in the kidney, but when they cut him open and removed it, they were grateful to find that they could not see cancer any where else.  But, nonetheless, recovery has been much slower than Gpa would have hoped for.  He has a lot of pain internally where the kidney used to be and is often very weak.  He spent quite a bit of time in his chair relaxing while we were there.  Gma is doing well, but is just getting around a bit slower than she would like.  She is very used to getting up in the morning and going.  Doing laundry, planting flowers, anything.  Now she says that is her hardest part of the day.  She just doesn't get enough energy to get going until almost after lunch.  My mom is afraid it is time for them to move off the farm.  

Harrison had a great time on the farm.  
He didn't get in trouble for using his loudest voice (he stood on top of a tree stump and shouted 'Hello World!'  It was hilarious.).  He got to eat sweet clover to which he says is the best thing he has ever had.  He got to see a wild turkey.  He found a rock pile that had millions of rocks (he sat at the pile for a long time looking at all the different shapes - too cute!).  And he got to ride on a tractor with Gpa!  Honestly, on the tractor ride, I am not sure who had more fun!  Next time we will go to the woods.  I can't wait to see him play in the creek.

Bennett's fascination with stairs has not come to an end.  He and my dad were outside for more than 20 minutes playing on the front stairs/sidewalk.  He would go down the first set of stairs, get up and start screaming as he walked to the second set of stairs and then turn around and clap while walking back to go up the stairs again.  This scenario played many, many times but Bennett didn't seem to tire!  He just kept screaming and clapping.

The shower on Sunday was very nice.  I think that everyone had a good time and only a handful of people there had ever met Emily so it was nice for them to meet here before the wedding.  Amber Matthiesen was there so I got to meet the newest baby.  Her name is Emily as well!  So, if we go down the family line, Great Grandpa & Great Grandma Mohr now have - Harrison Neipert, Owen Hope, James Wilcke, Molly Matthiesen, Clayton Grantz, Jacob Hope, Kaitlyn Wilcke, Bennett Neipert, Ethan Matthiesen, and Emily Matthiesen.  That is 10 great-great grandchildren.  It is too bad they only got to meet Harrison but I know that they are smiling in heaven right now!

Today was another day in paradise.  We called James this morning to wish him a happy 3rd birthday.  Harrison, mom and I weeded outside for what seemed like hours and Bennett took 3 naps totaling 5 1/2 hours.  Tomorrow we make cherry pie!

P.S.  Chris was just laying with Harrison and Chris said to Harrison - 'Give me a hug.'  Harrison hugged him and said 'Why did you want a hug?'  Chris told him that he loved hugs from him and always wanted hugs from him.  A couple minutes later Chris got up to go and Harrison said "See, you just wanted a hug because you were going to leave!"  Can't get anything by him! :)

Robert Barclay McClean

About 2 hours after I posted my blog on Friday, Christopher called home to let me know that his grandfather had passed away.  I was in a bit of shock as we had just seen him at Ryan's wedding 6 days ago.  But at the same time I was happy for Bob because he hadn't had the best time with his heart lately and I knew now that he was with June (Chris's grandmother passed away in 1995).  On Sunday, Bob and his brother Joe left to go to Canada on a fishing trip.  They were headed back in the car on Friday when Bob passed away.  Joe took him to the hospital in International Falls, Minnesota but there was nothing they could do.  In the 12 years that I knew Gpa I can not say that I knew him well.  You always look back and think that you should have asked more questions; spent more time, etc.  But I did know that Gpa loved to be surrounded by his family.He always smiled so big at family functions when he got to see his 7 grandsons.  And when he first meet Harrison at Christmas in 2004 he just couldn't get over the fact that Harrison was so little.  I will miss him very much.  You can find his obituary in the Quad City Times.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Best Friends & Clapping

While listening to a little Ralph's World in the kitchen this morning, Harrison and I began dancing.  This has become a fairly common occurrence in our household.  Anyway, midway through our dance session of twirls, twists and shoulder shaking Harrison says 'We're just like best friends, Mama.'  I didn't have the heart to tell him that best friends don't put you in time out after you refuse to share puzzle pieces with your brother so I just relished the moment of my precious boy loving me so much.

Speaking of puzzles, before Harrison was sent to timeout for not sharing, we were all doing puzzles at the coffee table.  We have puzzle that is of different colored shapes and it is Bennett's favorite right now.  With just a little help he can put all of the pieces in the correct spots.  What makes this really adorable is that after he puts a piece in the correct space, he looks up at you, smiles and then claps for himself.  It's his way of saying 'what a good boy am I!'

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Bennett can say the word 'dog' and it is about the cutest thing going on at my house right now.  He woke up from his nap this afternoon and saw Maddie and Abby and he pointed at them and said 'dog.'  And then he just kept saying it as he got his diaper changed and walked around following them, saying 'dog - dog - dog.'  It was great!  Other words that Bennett knows are:

1.  Night-night (he says this 'ni-ni' and this is also what I would consider to be his first word - he also gives a little baby wave when he says it.  Too cute!) 
2.  Mama
3.  Dada
4.  Hi (this is happening more frequently and also with complete strangers.  He seems to be quite polite!)
5.  Hair-sn - (I have yet to hear this but mom swears she heard him say it on Tuesday when Harrison walked by - we will work on this one tomorrow)
6.  Ahhh (this is with the intonation going up and happens when he is "talking" on the cell phone)
7.  All gone & all done (these are used interchangeably and are always accompanied by his arms up and to the sides and his palms up - very funny! - similar to the "I don't know" hand gesture)

We got a new slide for the yard a couple of days ago.  My mom had gotten out of class and was waiting for Chris when across the road she spotted some treasures.  So across the road she goes and soon after, they show up at home with a Little Tykes slide that smells of cat pee.  Dumpster diving is not my favorite thing.  After 2 Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and lots of water - it almost looks like new and it smells great.  The boys love it.  Check out Bennett's hair!  I guess dumpster diving isn't all bad.

Harrison and I played a little chase this evening.  (Chris sprayed for bugs last night so we can play outside in the evening for a few days - the mosquitos were terrible!)  Sometimes I don't know how Harrison can breath.  He gets running and laughing and can hardly contain his excitement.  He also likes to have a ball when we are playing this game.  It is a race to see who can get the ball first and then whoever gets it gets to throw the ball at the other person.  Tonight I surprised Harrison and got the ball wet and threw it at him.  He then thought he would sneak onto the deck and get the ball wet and try to get me.  Failed attempt but fun to watch him work through the scenario of trying to best me.

On our trip to Florida, James reminded me why he was my favorite nephew.  He and Harrison were getting a little tired of each other and I decided that it was time James went outside and tried out his new tee ball set from Grandma and Grandpa (early birthday present).  While we were out playing, James was insistent that he hit the ball and then I would hit the ball.  Every time it was my turn he would say "And now up (pause) - Mr. Aunt Beth."  The first time he said it I couldn't really tell what he was saying.  I mean, it sounded like Mr. Aunt Beth, but could that really be what he said?  But, he must have said it 15 times and it is just so adorable.  James went to his first Cubs game last night in Tampa Bay so I know that there will be lots of baseball in his future.

Rant for the day - straws - Mom went into Kum-n-Go this afternoon to get a soda and was having trouble finding a straw.  She said she was starting to feel and look a little dumb when a nice gentleman politely stated that you had to get your straw at the counter.  So mom goes up to pay and sure enough, after they had he $$$, they gave her a straw.  Can you believe that?  Corporate convenience store chains are losing so much money on people filling up their cups, taking a sip and then topping off with a little more soda that they have to ration out the straws at the counter.  Come on.  Are people really being that greedy or is corporate America sticking it to us once again.  I really want to believe that corporate America is wrong.  After reading the newspaper and listening to the news day after day about the floods and the generosity of thousands of people filling sandbags and helping neighbors in times of need, how can you be more proud to be part of this great nation.  But then you read the story about 2 teenagers in Cedar Rapids who get caught looting flood ravaged homes and you get the feeling someone just might have to take straws away to keep us honest.  I strive for a better America and more importantly a better world.  I am thankful for what I have and even struggle sometimes not be be jealous or spiteful over what other people have that I don't.  It's the love you create around you that makes people want to be honest with you not the material items you have.  I propose that for Kum-n-Go's next promotion (currently they are doing a soda vs pop contest) they do a sip and top off marketing campaign.  That makes me feel welcome at their store, not like a thief they don't trust.

Well - I rambled and am not sure I made a lot of sense but, oh well.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sun Tea

I love sun tea.  It is one of my favorite things.  And I don't mind lemon it my tea, but I really love it just strong and plain.  I bought a new pitcher at Hy-Vee of all places.  It was a whopping $5.99 and it is great.  It has a lid that screws on and has a handle and a spout!  It also has the spout on the side near the bottom so that I can just pour it into my glass without lifting the jar.  Genius!  The jar has strawberries and leaves all over it so it is not my absolute favorite to look at, but not everything can be as nice to look at as me!

Harrison had an interesting afternoon yesterday.  He was very mouthy and was really very selfish when playing with his brother.  He has always been really good at playing with Bennett and letting Bennett see things and join him.  There are the occasional arguments but nothing serious.  But yesterday we brought home the new water table (I took the other one back) and Harrison did not want to share.  There are 2 heights on the table and Harrison took all of the water out of the top section and put it in the bottom section and then expected Bennett to play at the top section with no water so he could play at the bottom, with all of the toys I might add.  After we discussed this for a couple of minutes he concluded that I needed to go back to the store to get the other water table for Bennett so that he could have this one.  After we discussed this for a couple of more minutes he brought out his famous "FINE" and left the deck.  Bennett and I played for a while longer and then I took Bennett to the front yard so that I could finish mowing.  Harrison was on the porch playing.  After about 5 minutes he came out and came over to me.  I stopped the mower and he asked (and I am not lying) "Why aren't you and Bennett playing with Bennett's water table?"  Now, he said this very sarcastically and vindictive like he had been told that it wasn't his and he could not longer play with the table.  Where does a 3 year old get an attitude like this and why is he able to use such mature language AND where am I failing at the respect your elders and parents part of parenting?  He is exhausting!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Neipert

Ryan and Kaylee's wedding was wonderful.  The backyard was beautiful and Kaylee's dress was breathtaking.  It was not tan.  That would be an awful color to describe it as, but it really wasn't off white either.  It looked almost vintage.  And it looked great on her!  We woke up to a beautiful say on Saturday.  The high was right around 84 so it was going to be a little warm, but all-in-all it would be great.  Until 3:45 rolled around (the wedding was at 4:30 - outdoors).  The clouds started to roll in.  As we were sitting and waiting for things to get started we thought that this could work out.  The clouds provided a nice blanket from the sun.  Then, just as the grandparents were being seated, around 4:20, it decided to start sprinkling.  The wedding went on and at times the rain was a little heavy, but nobody got soaked.  I unfortunately missed most of the wedding because, as expected, Bennett wanted his dad so I had to go to the back.  Ben and Dan didn't get to play their orchestral selection, which would have been wonderful, but otherwise the wedding was very beautiful.  I do have to admit that my child was the cutest one there.  Have you ever seen such a cute little man?!  He walked down the aisle all by himself and smiled at all of the people.  It was great!  And this cuteness happened by accident.  Harrison stayed up until 10:30 Friday night because of the rehearsal dinner.  I then got him up around 6:15 so that he would take an early nap and be ready for photos at 2:00.  Well - this didn't happen.  He laid in bed for 2 hours and didn't sleep a wink.  When he gets tired like that, he gets belligerent and mad.  I was ready to cry.  But, once he got to the house and he and his dad talked, everything was fine.  He crashed hard in the car on the way to the reception and even slept on the floor at the reception site for 10 minutes.  That was enough for his second wind and he was a fun machine at the reception!  He played with his friends, Brody and Noah.  They danced and ran and had a great time.  Bennett was pretty adorable as well.  What can I say, I have beautiful children!  Or as Harrison would say, 'Mama, girls are beautiful, boys are handsome!'

I didn't get a photo of Ryan and Kaylee together.  I will have to link to the photog's website later.  The photo up top is of the 7 cousins and their significant others.  Christopher's mom has 2 sisters.  The 3 sisters had 7 boys.  From left to right are Andy Lorentzen and his wife, Claudia (Miles' parents), Dan Lorentzen and his wife, Maegan, Ben Lorentzen and his girlfriend, Kelly, Ryan and Kaylee, Matt Rizzo and his girlfriend, Marissa, Christopher and I and then Mike Rizzo and his wife, Jenn.  It is a fun group and we love to get together.  The following pictures are from the reception.  It was a great time.

My fine family!  
Mother-son dance.  I don't remember the song!  Sorry!
Tried to take a candid of Kaylee and Ryan cheesed his way in!
Dan is a dancing fool and Maegan is always so proud!  Aren't Matt and Marissa the cutest?!
The new brother and sister-in-law. ice cube

Bennett has been something else today.  Whenever I am around he needs to be held or RIGHT next to me or he starts crying.  And when I say crying, I mean high pitched screaming.  You can tell he is just mad, but my goodness - enough already.  Mom finally took him and I went into the house and cleaned and made lunch and they had a great time.  But as soon as I came into view, it was more crying!  One of the ways that my mom was keeping him occupied was an ice cube.  He would put it in his cup and look at it and then take it out, suck on it and put it back in the cup.  We were commenting on his ice cube and Harrison must have heard us.  From the living room we hear, 'I want an ice cube.'  So grandma gets him an ice cube in a cup and he picks it up and sucks on it and says ' ice cube.'  It was too cute.

Bennett is officially a walker.  He woke up yesterday morning and decided enough was enough.  He is cruising around everywhere.  He can walk from room to room and can even stop and change directions.  He gets up all on his own so well and is so proud of himself.  We were in the garden today and he stood up, smiled  and clapped for himself.  What a big boy!  I went from a toddler and a baby to a kid and a toddler.  My how times change.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

What a weekend

It is only Saturday morning and I am already wore out! Yesterday I helped set up the reception site, went to the the rehearsal and then went to the rehearsal dinner. Not really that much but my mind is just racing. There is so much to think about and I just hope Harrison does a good job at the wedding. He did great at the rehearsal so my fingers are crossed. His tux is soooooo cute. I can't wait to post pictures. Then there is the whole scenario of the reception tonight. I am hoping that Kelly's sister can come and watch the boys up in Greg and Pam's hotel room. That would be ideal. Kelly is Ben Lorentzen's girlfriend and she has a little boy, Noah. (Ben is one of Chris' cousins) He is turning 5 on Monday. He and Harrison get along great so I think it would work out perfect. We will see.

This morning Harrison was a pill. He was downstairs helping Grandpa with some water leakage and he came up to find me in 'his spot' at the table. He proceeded to tell me, in quite a big voice, that he was not happy with the situation. He even did a little head wiggle to compliment his attitude. I teared up trying not to laugh, but was semi-able to let him know my disappointment in his behavior. Where does he get that attitude?!

Bennett is continuing his quest to conquer grandpas. He has my dad floating on cloud 9 after the vacation and now he has Greg feeling like he is the most special grandpa ever. Bennett practically jumps out of your arms to get to my dad and Greg and then when you don't let him, he gets mad and cries! What a pistol. Chris is the one that tops the list though. When he comes in the room, you know who is Bennett's favorite. I am a little put off! :)

Tim Russert died yesterday of a massive heart attack. My heart breaks for his family. Too often people separate their professional lives from their personal lives, but not Tim Russert. He oozed love for his family at every turn. He wrote a book about his relationship with his father and he never stopped sharing stories about his son. The news of his death is just such a shock. Sunday mornings won't be the same.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday..."

I have been planning on wearing the same dress to the 3 weddings that we are going to this summer.  It's a great dress and it looks good on me.  I wore it to the first one (Erin Wilcke) 2 weeks ago and was getting ready to pack it for Ryan and Kaylee's wedding this weekend, when it dawned on me - it's brown.  What's wrong with that you ask?  Well, Ryan and Kaylee's wedding colors are brown, brown and brown.  I can't wear brown when the bridesmaids and the groomsmen are wearing brown!  Well, I can, but I don't want to.  So yesterday I set out to find a dress.  Not really an easy task, especially with a 1 and 3 year old along.  And, don't forget.  I don't have a steady income.  Have you dress shopped lately?  They are in the range of $70 - $140.  Outrageous.  Anyway, I came home yesterday with a dress and finally decided I had spent too much and didn't really like it enough.  So, I took it back last night only to come home with nothing.  That was 5 hours of shopping at Jordan Creek Mall and I didn't even get a Cinnabon.  Life is not fair!  Today was another story.  I found a dress (3 actually - 2 need to be returned - don't tell Chris) and I am pretty happy with it.  I hope it photographs well or I hope I am not needed in very many photos!

More about the wedding the soon-to-be newlyweds; Ryan and Kaylee have been dating for about 4 1/2 years now (I think).  They are a great couple and compliment each other well.  They both enjoy camping and the outdoors and both have fetishes for clothing.  They have an entire room in their house dedicated to being a closet!  Ryan proposed while they were in Colorado last summer and now we have made it to the wedding.  It is an outdoor wedding that is being held in Kaylee's parents backyard.  You remember that we are in Iowa and it a has rained a gazzilion inches in the past week and there is massive flooding around the state, right?  Well, the weather is looking favorable and hopefully there is great drainage!  My 2 inch heels are sure to sink into the ground!  Chris is the best man and Harrison and Bennett are ring bearers.  I am very excited to see Harrison walk down the aisle.  Bennett is another story.  We have been talking to Harrison for awhile now about the whole experience.  He seems to understand and is excited he gets to stand with his dad.  I hope that he will walk, not run, down the aisle toward Chris.  And then Bennett; there is mention of Harrison pulling him in a wagon.  I really don't know how else he will get to the front.  I am not carrying him!!!

Bennett is learning to walk.  I truly believe he would like the whole process to be over with so he can just GO!  He has always done this pouty thing where he starts to cry and then puts his face into the floor to show us how mad he really is.  Well now, he starts to walk, falls down and then proceeds to pout to the floor.  Poor kid.  He took his first real steps the weekend of Memorial Day and then we left on vacation.  He has gotten much better since then but still only travels about 12 - 15 steps at a time.  I think Nathan and Meredith should put Kaitlyn on a plane so that she can come stay with Bennett and teach him how to walk.  I asked her before we left if she wanted to come stay with me and she said yes, remember Meredith!?

Harrison's quote of the day comes at the expense of my mom.  We were getting ready to go and she had forgotten her smokes on the deck.  He asked her what she had forgotten and she told him.  He then said - "Stop smoking cigarettes, Grandma.  Geez, silly grandma."  I don't mind his opinion (really enjoy it actually!) but we are really trying to work on his respect of elders.

I love this picture of Bennett.  Meredith took it while he and Kaitlyn were taking a bath.  He looks so different with his hair all slicked back and wet.

And then this is one of my all time favorites of Harrison.  My mom took this picture of him.  He was about 7 months old and was trying to climb up the deck steps at Nathan and Meredith's house in Ames.  That expression is priceless and more telling than we were prepared for!! :)

The quote at the title of this page is from the movie The Princess Bride.  Please, please, please watch it if you have not already and watch it again if you have seen it before.  You won't be disappointed.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Miles withdrawal

  I am going through a little Miles withdrawal.  Miles Paul Lorentzen is almost 5 months old.  I take care of him during the day but his mom (Claudia) is a teacher so she is off for the summer.  Miles, like most babies, is a stinker.  He won't sleep when he needs to and he wants to be held all of the time.  He's wonderful!  I get to see him at Ryan's wedding this weekend.  (Chris and Andy-Miles' dad-are cousins) I can't wait!  I am sure he has changed so much since I took these photos.

The water continues to be an issue in the state of Iowa.  Saylorville Lake is full so they are having to slowly let water out which is going to flood areas south of the dam.  This includes downtown Des Moines.  The historic Suspension Bridge, built in 1906, in Charles City was lost to flood waters on Sunday night.  It is the worst flooding in Charles City in recorded history.  Whole towns are being evacuated through out Iowa because of the water.  So, in hindsight, the 6 inches I complained about on Friday are really nothing to be even mentioning.  Did you hear about the families in Wisconsin who had to watch their entire homes be washed away?  Incredible what nature can throw at us.
Speaking of water... we got the baby pool out today.  What a hit!  I barely mentioned getting the pool out before Harrison had his clothes off and was naked!  I put the hose in the pool to wash the layer of dust off of it and Bennett was in the pool so off were his clothes as well!  So much for modesty in the city.

Bennett is in awe of his teeth.  He has been a 2 teeth baby since he was 6 months old.  The bottom front two were the first to come.  Well, in the past week he has gotten 3 on top and he loves to use them.  He bites down on a cracker and smiles to himself because he just 'crunched' it.  I wonder what he is thinking as the cracker cracks in half.  It even makes a great crunching sound.  Too fun!

Harrison hasn't gotten off of vacation lingo.  During our drive, we would try and find good rest stops or areas where we could get out of the car and 'run around' for a little while.  Well, today we were out running errands and he wanted to get out of the car forever.  "I just want to find a place to run around mama!"  I love him... 

Bennett the beautiful

While we were in Florida, Meredith set up a photo shoot for the boys.  Isn't he the cutest thing that you have ever seen?!
photo by Meredith Wilcke

Monday, June 9, 2008

That Harrison

So I was just putting Harrison to bed and he was giving me the usual 'Stay mommy.  I want you to lay with me' when all of the sudden he says - 'OK, just go.  I will lay here and cry.'  Motherhood isn't for chumps, I can tell you that!

Good time had by all

I am wondering if Bennett is coming down with something.  Kaitlyn started with a green oozy nose on Thursday before we left and Bennett woke up with the same thing yesterday morning.  Today it is clear but running fierce.  He also took a nap this morning from 9:00 am - 11:50 am and is now back down for another one and it is only 2:15 pm.  I am hoping for the best since Ryan's wedding is this weekend.  Life goes on, but not without a little drama!

As if we didn't have enough water to deal with in Des Moines, Harrison and Bennett got a new water table today.  I have been thinking about getting one and then they got to play with James and Kaitlyn's this past week and it was a hit.  I am still unsure about this one.  It is a Little Tykes brand and has a lot of high parts where the water doesn't go.  It does have these cool push buttons that make water squirt up, but it is going to take Bennett another year to figure that one out.  Harrison took very little time to figure it out and I was wet within minutes.  Go figure.  I might take it back and get a different brand.  We will see what dad says when he gets home.

Back to our wonderful trip - Day five was very relaxing.  We were up and at it and took off for the beach.  Now, you are saying to yourself - self, why is this woman putting her children back in the car?  Well, I'm not.  Meredith's parents are very nice to let us stay at their condo on the Atlantic shore.  It is on the 8th (top) floor and has fabulous views of a never ending ocean.  We simply ride the elevator and 'Wa La' we are on the beach.  Harrison ran down the sand towards the ocean and then realized he didn't have any toys so he came running back for a shovel.  He loved digging, but didn't like staying in one place for very long.  He and James and Nathan built a couple of sand castles but while Nathan was excited to build a compound of little castles, the boys were just excited to knock them down.  Ahh, to be 3!  Bennett was the most natural beach comber I've ever seen.  He just sat down with his shovel and bucket and nobody saw him move for about 25 minutes.  We sat him close to the water so every once in a while it would come up over his lap and he would splash, splash, splash.  Too cute!  Kaitlyn is adorable.  She holds onto your finger and starts off toward the water.  And just when you think she's going to go all the way in, she stops and pulls you to a stop.  Then she is content to watch the water lap over her feet for a few minutes before going in a little deeper.  No fear there.  
We ate at JB's that night and that was fun.  I had wonderful crab cakes, although I really haven't found a crab cake that I don't like!  Bennett showed his piggy self by starting to eat before anyone else and finishing after everyone else.  We got the cutest pictures of James and Harrison 'sitting at the dock on the bay.  Wasting time...'  The dock was outside of JB's and while we were taking pictures of the boys we saw a dolphin.  Very cool!

Day six was almost as relaxing.  Mom and I took James, Harrison and Bennett to the beach before everybody else got up.  Dad was reading a good book.  James has a little trouble with the ocean.  He likes the sand ok once he is down there.  But he does not like the water.  We are sure that he will be some sort of surfer or ocean diver someday, but for now he does not get close to that water!  James and Harrison set off to find 'treasures' and Bennett took his place on the sand with his shovel and bucket.  Eventually we went back for breakfast and then everybody came back down to the beach.  Nathan got to build his sand castle fortress and we all had a great time.  Then it was off to the pool.  The condo has an outdoor pool.  Harrison was a fish.  he liked to jump in and go under water.  I guess those swimming lessons paid off.  The rest of the day was spent cleaning, doing laundry and going back in the ocean.  We left for Nathan and Meredith's house around 4:30 pm.  

Day seven was our biggest day yet.  Meredith and I decided to take James and Harrison to Sea World.  They had a blast!  We fed dolphins and touched the sting rays.  We watched the sea lion show and topped it off with a visit to Shamu Stadium.  Harrison couldn't wait to see the orkas (no killer whales in this family) but it was James who was super amazed by the whole thing.  He really got into the show!   A little whining was done by all but overall, the boys held up great.  (The moms enjoyed a cold Budwiser during the Shamu show!)  

Day eight was filled with pool time and great BBQ ribs!  Mom and Meredith went to get their hair done while Dad and I took all 4 kids into the pool.  (not sure where Nathan was all this time!)  It was a blast.  Nathan and Meredith have little float rides and the kids had a blast.  We ended the evening with 3 racks of BBQ ribs that were to die for!  Great recipe from Meredith's aunt.  I should get her number!

Day nine was Friday and it was time to go.  Tears were minimal as we will see everybody coming up in July for Marc's wedding, but none-the-less, it was hard to leave.  Meredith keeps telling me I need to move to Florida but for now, I was just happy to be home on Saturday.  We stayed outside of Nashville Friday night and that was not as far as we wanted to make it.  Bennett was just not having a good time sleeping in the car so we ended up calling it quits a good 3 hours before we wanted to.

All-in-all, it was a great trip.  Chris was sorely missed but he will come along next time.  (Every time Harrison got in trouble or was really sad about something, he would cry out 'Daddy, daddy, I want my daddy.'  A little over the top, but enough to pull at the heart strings!)  Gas was expensive but we saved money on airfare because there were so many of us.  I will do the trip again someday - or something like it - but I will stop at every place and fruit stand that I want to.  There is so much history in America and I have so much to see and learn.  It is almost a shame to go places like Daniel Boone National Forest and not stop and walk in his steps.  We went through Georgia and didn't eat any pecans!  (peaches aren't in season)  But, when you travel with 2 young children and a man with an agenda you are just happy that you remember all the fabulous moments that make you want to do it again.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Rain, rain - go away!!

We have had over 6 inches of rain in the last 3 days with over 4 inches coming Friday early am and 2 inches this morning.  This has caused our basement to flood twice and the water is still pouring in at this time.  And it is not like we have been lacking in the rain department.  It has been raining off and on for the last 2 weeks.  I don't know what the exact totals are but they are high.  Local radar looks like it is clearing up for the next 2 days but after that there is just more rain.  There does seem to be a one day stoppage on Saturday which is good considering Ryan and Kaylee are hosting an outdoor wedding that day!  We can only hope.

I have had a hard go of it with material items and water the last week or so.  It started with my camera.  It got wet from a water spill and stopped working just as we arrived in Blacksburg, VA for a family wedding.  (Erin Wilcke married Mike Nott on May 31, 2008)  I purchased a new one and am quite happy except for the $$$.  All was well until Chris called with the news that the basement was under 6 - 12 inches of water as we got 4 inches of rain in about 3 hours.  Ahh, the children's toys, the extra bedding, the extra BED (that had only been moved downstairs 24 hours before!!!), all that submersed in a nice bath.  Chris went to Lowe's and purchased a sump pump (more $$$) and father-in-law, Greg came out with another one from one of his warehouses in Davenport.  They happily (not) spent the day drying out the place while I fretted over whether or not Chris was exaggerating; he was not.  This all happened on Friday morning just as my parents, my children and myself had set out on a 22 hour car ride home from Florida so there really was little I could do.  After hearing the news that we had no insurance to cover any expenses I settled in the back of the van for some napping, reading and heavy drinking.  But, alas, material things are just that and we will survive.  Well, then Saturday arrives (day 2 of our 22 hour car ride) and somehow my purse has become wet.  My brand new camera is inside - it is ok - my iPod is inside  - it has survived - and my cell phone is inside - it is toast.  My dad assures me that it will dry out and magically turn back on.  We leave it on the dash all day and I blow dry it this morning.  Nothing.  I take it to the store this afternoon and they are happy to tell me that for $$$ I can have a new phone, but if I wait until June 14 I can get the free upgrade that is coming to Chris.  I ask the nice gentleman who is about to dig into shallow pockets, can you move that date up 6 days and he so nicely lets me know that I would have to call and talk with customer service.  Why the *&#@ do they have a store if they can not get things done!?  So now I wait, without the ability to contact  911 in case of emergency, until either Chris calls customer service or June 14th decides to roll around.

My trip to Blacksburg, VA, New Smyrna Beach, FL and Winter Park, FL was great.  My parents picked the boys and I up on May 29 at 7:00 am.  We got the car packed and set off on our great adventure.  Two minutes into our trip, as we are entering I235, a little voice from the back says "I gotta go potty."  I thought my father was going to drive off the road.  The day was filled with Go Diego Go dvds and a pididle contest (being the first person to spot a car with only one working headlight and call out 'Pididle').  At the end of the night, we were tired of the Rescue Pack song and dad was in the lead in the Pididle game. 

Day two of our trip was much shorter.  We left the hotel in Morehead,VA around 7:30 am and climbed through the scenic mountains before entering Blacksburg around 11:30 am.  Nathan had flown in earlier that morning and had our rooms ready for us when we got there so it was off to lunch with the bride and her fiance.  We ate at a great local sandwich shop and then back to the hotel for some much needed naps!  The rehearsal dinner was that night and the groom's parents invited out of town guests so we got to go.  Very nice to meet everyone, but as always happens you end up spending most of your time with the people you know.  We ended the night going to Jeff and Jan Wilcke's (parents of the bride) house.  It is deep in the hills (mountains) and very beautiful.  At least it seems deep in the mountains while trying to get to it in the dark!  Harrison and Bennett were wonderful as it was 10:00 pm.  Bennett kept all the ladies smiling by flashing his smile and then crawling off while shaking his head like a bull.  Too cute!

Day three started out with a buffet breakfast (the bill came and dad said "Oh, just put it on the room" to which Nathan said "Hey, the room is on my credit card!") and then some shopping for the girls and pool time for the boys.  Mom and I found a farmers market and got chocolate covered strawberries.  Mmmm! :)  We also went to the campus book store.  It was great.  I can easily spend hours in most book stores, but I think I could have spent days in this one. 
 They had a great clothing and Virginia Tech merchandise section, but the books were even more wonderful.  It was spacious and inviting and the books were displayed in such a way that you wanted to pick all of them up.  Harrison found one about the beach and had to have it.  He made himself at home in the children's section.  (Wish I would have had a camera!)  He kept pulling books off the shelf saying "But I just have to read this one, Mama."  I love that I am raising a reader!  I found two children's books that are great.  They are by the author Antoinette Portis and are titled Not a Box and Not a Stick.  They are about someone asking you why you are playing with that stick and you saying it's not a stick and there will be a picture of you slaying the dragon with your sword.  Great imagination books.  Luckily we had Harrison along with us so we needed to get going otherwise I think the bill could have been much higher!  The wedding was that evening and we didn't go.  It was more of a small, private affair so we opted for the rehearsal only.  Great food and great blue grass music.  Great time.

Day four was back in the car for another road trip except this time we had a hitch hiker.  Nathan had purchased a one way ticket so was in need of a ride.  Luckily we had a vehicle!  There were many chuckles on the way but the one that sticks out was between mom and Harrison.  I can't remember the exact details, but Harrison was saying 'Ow! Ow! Ow!' and mom said "Oh, I am not hurting  you;" to which a quick witted Harrison replied in his weepiest voice "But you are hurting my feelings!"  I realize that he is my child, but I honestly don't know where he comes up with these things.  He is only 3!  We got into New Smyrna much earlier than anticipated so Meredith and the kids decided to come down that night as well.  James and Kaitlyn are wonderful.  I just hate to think about the fact that we live so far apart and I miss seeing them all of the time.  Both James and Kaitlyn are taller than their counter parts Harrison and Bennett.  James and Kaitlyn will both be vertically gifted.  My children, not so much.  James and Harrison ran to each other and to them it probably felt like they had never been apart.  Meredith and I were off to Wal-Mart for some necessities (a new Canon Elph for me!!! YEAH!) and Nathan tried to put Harrison and James to bed in the same room.  This didn't work as well as we would have hoped, but after some adult supervision eventually sleep was accomplished.