Housing Trail

It's here and even though it is my least favorite month, I was excited to change my calendar.   

This year from Santa I received the 2011 Linnea Poster Calendar with the pop-out frame.  The designs for each month are so arty and fun that it took some serious self control to not just change it...oh...on the seventeenth of January or the twenty first of January.  The little heart on Valentine's Day.  You just can't get cuter than that in calendar land. 

Now I have to wait patiently through another entire month.  Except, I'm noticing that March is a cat and we all know how I feel about cats.  One letter away from being a rat people.  One letter.  So, maybe I'll jump right to April because jumping bunnies and carrots...they're alright.  I do believe my favorite is August or maybe it's July or it could even be October. 

When I put up the cute heart, I couldn't help but think of how crazy busy February was for me last year.  It will be the one year anniversary this coming weekend of me living in this house.  My house.  I love it more everyday.  It truly was made for me without the previous owners knowing they were making it for me.  Whenever I think of how much I love my house, I'm reminded of all of the other dwellings I have dwelt.  My housing trail so to speak. 

I'm all about lists right now so here goes.  

1.  Dorm rooms.  I need not say more about that.  Other than the time April and I came back to a rotten pumpkin and a dead fish all on the same Sunday.   

2.  College apartment.  I managed to live in the same apartment for all of the rest of the years of my college life.  Mostly with the same roommates too...a couple changes here and there.  I can't tell you how fun those years were.  I could write a million and two words and not even be close to bringing it justice.  

3.  However, I will say a few things.  There was the time in that college apartment when a crazed person ran into our garage door with their vehicle.  The wall ending up resting on my car like a little tent.  

4.  There was also the time someone in the garage next to us spray painted a motorcycle red.  The spray paint went through the cracks in the sheet rock and painted my car red too.  I did not want a red car.    

5.  There was also the time when I hid in a dumpster for a few hours in the parking lot of our building.  

6.  Enough about college.    

7.  After college, I moved back to the small town into a tiny little house that I rented from my friend.  The first morning, an electrician with a "hook" arm knocked on my door and a black dog came running in with him.  I thought maybe he needed that dog for help or something because he had a "hook" arm.  Kind of like a seeing eye dog or something but I realize now this logic is all off.  So, I let the dog run around that house making a mess because I thought he was a helper and finally said, "What is your dog's name?" trying to address the issue politely.  Hook replied, "My dog?!  I don't have a dog.  I thought it was your dog."  I yelled, "NOOOO...I don't have a dog either!!  Get the dog!  Get the dog!"  Turns out the whole time, it was the neighbor's dog.  

8.  That was a Welcome Back to Small Town moment.  

9.  The shower in that little house had a window in it.  Freaked me out every time.  Sometimes I felt I should shut the lights off to shower when it was dark out. 

10.  I moved out of that little house six months later into a different duplex/house thing in the same small town.  

11.  Landlord of that duplex/house thing called an electrician before I moved in and then told me, "DO NOT TOUCH THE LIGHTS UPSTAIRS.  They don't work and I don't want them to shock you."  I listened to him because I am not about being shocked.  

12.  Then, the first day I lived there, an electrician {not Hook this time} came and worked for a bit and said, "Ummmmmm.  The lights are fine.  The problem is.  Well.  The problem is.  Ummmm.  The light bulbs are burnt out."  I said with a snap, "I DID NOT CALL YOU.  It wasn't me!!  It was the landlord.  He just told me they would shock me.  Please believe me!  I know how to change a light bulb.  Please believe me!  Amen."  

13.  The second day I lived in that duplex/house thing, I made soup.  

14.  The third day I lived in that duplex/house thing, I came home from work to a HORRIBLE smell.  So horrible and rancid I figured it must be natural gas.  I called the natural gas company in a panic and they told me to get myself outside and wait for them.  

15.  Natural gas guy came.  He tested.  He said, "That smell is HORRIBLE, but it's not natural gas."

16.  Natural gas guy and I sniffed around and determined the smell was coming from the oven.  He was kind enough to pull the oven out and then he screamed like a baby.    

17.  He screamed like a baby because there was a village, I'm talking a village, of dead mice in the back of the oven.  Apparently I had cooked them when I made soup.  He screamed.  I screamed.  He ran around flapping like a chicken.  I ran around flapping like a chicken.  

18.  I sat down on the steps by the kitchen and said with my head in my hands, "I can not live here.  I can not live here.  I can not live here.  This does not go well with my personality.  I can not live here.  I have slight cleaning issues.  I can not live here."  As I rocked myself back and forth.

19.  Natural gas guy must have felt sorry for me consoling myself on the stairs about my living plight because he started picking the little dead mice out of the oven and disposing of them.  He took care of them all.  I'm sure that's not on the natural gas guy job list, but he did it.  Then, I called Landlord and said, "There was a village of mice in the oven and I cooked them when I made soup and I will not live here unless you buy a new oven and I have cleaning issues and I will not live here and I cooked them and there was a village."  He tried to tell me that he would just hire someone to clean the oven.  I kept arguing with him about the disgustingness of the situation and finally threw the phone to the natural gas guy and said in exasperation, "Here.  You tell him how gross it is."  Natural gas guy went on to explain to Landlord that yes indeed it was a.village.of.dead.mice.and.not.healthy.for.humans.to.be.around.

20.  I realized that Landlord was not bright.  Not bright at all.  But, he did buy a new oven. 

21.  So, I decided to still live there and invested in a lot of mouse traps.  I quickly learned there was a serious mice issue.  I became very skilled at the disposing of mice.  And, every time I had to rock myself back and forth a bit and tell myself it could be worse.  

22.  That spring, water came gushing into the basement of that duplex/house thing.  Gushing.  I called  Landlord and he was not worried about it all.  Said it happened every year.   

23.  I moved out.  I made it nine months in that duplex/house thing.    

24.  I decided it was time to quit renting because I was tired of mice, water, and landlords who were not bright.  So, I bought a cute little blue house across the same small town.   

25.  The house I bought did not have a garage, but it was spring and I am a right now kind of gal.  I lived in housing bliss the rest of that spring, summer, and fall.  Painting, weeding, updating, decorating...it was mine.  Then, it started to get cold and then it started to snow.      

26.  It turned into one of the worst winters we had had in ages.  I shoveled and I shoveled and I shoveled.  Then, the city maintenance lady would push it all back in with her snow plow.  One time, I chased her down the street swinging a shovel in the air like a lunatice while screaming things I should not repeat.  Let's just say I cracked.     

27.  I really did like that house in the spring, summer, and fall.  It was cute.  It was cute and it was blue and I grew lots of flowers there that next summer after surviving winter.  But just like it did before, it got cold again and it started to snow again.       

28.  I sold that house a year ago because it turned out that last winter was also on the horrible side.  One time, I came home and literally could not find the front door because the snow was that high.  Also, I was tired of driving to my job across the country side and calling my boss crying because of the roads.  No garage.  That was a kicker.

29.  I realize I was a winter wimp.  Twice.  I own that.     

30.  Facing homelessness, I went on a house hunt in the bigger town.  A house hunt that included approximately 73 different options.  I feel I should publicly apologize to my realtor.  Then, I walked into this one and as they say, the rest is history. 

31.  I bought it.  It's my house and I love it because there are no mice and I don't have a not so bright landlord and it has a garage and it was made for me.

32.  I can't end on an odd number so let's just have a moment for that lovely calendar again.  And please don't mind the ipod on the heat vent in the background.  It made a trip through my washing machine last weekend and I have faith it will miraculously dry out and play tunes again. 

Those pocket doors that shut the kitchen off from the dining room still make my heart happy after this whole year.  Sometimes when I'm cooking, I like to shut them and pretend I'm southern. 


Wild Saturday Night

I'm feeling a bit like a truck ran over my face and just can't seem to shake this winter sinus cold.  Therefore, my Saturday night so far has consisted of blowing my nose, laying on the couch, blowing my nose, laying on the couch, rinse, and repeat.  I'm so fun right now I can hardly stand it. 

To keep in tune with my wild Saturday night...a list of random thoughts. 

1.  I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get bananas from the grocery store to my car to my counter without them turning all nastibrown.  I stand next to them in the produce department.  I take my time picking a bunch that is a little green and firm because mushy bananas are baaaad.  Then, they ride around in my cart looking all lovely.  I check out, put them in a bag, tote them to my car, and eventually bring them to my kitchen counter.  And every time, they are nastibrown.  I'm not talking bruised like I smushed them brown either.  Just brown all over brown.  Using my scientific method that I teach the chicken wings, I have come to this hypothesis.  The bitter cold is shocking the bananas to nastibrown.  Therefore, I believe I should come up with a some kind of coat or warming system for the bananas to make the trek from grocery store to counter.  Or maybe I just need winter to be over.  

2.  I had book club last night and I love book club.  I'm a language and word nerd. 

3.  My car wouldn't start this week and the guy from AAA backed up so far that I screamed, "STOP!"  Lucky for him, just his lights broke and not my garage trim.  Otherwise, he would have seen the crazy face.   

4.  A chiropractor appointment is officially on the books.  I've been dragging my feet {more like dragging my hip} on this one for awhile.  I'm a little scared of the whole chiropractor concept.   

5.  One of my bffs from high school had the grand opening of her own physical therapy practice this week.  I could not be more proud of her.  Dreams.  They are a beautiful thing.  Go get yours.  

6.  I could not attend the grand opening because I had to take the chicken wings to the Ag-Expo {agricultural exposition}.  Walking a bunch of fourth graders through a ridiculous amount of farmers = entertainment.  Momma Debi was a chaperone and when she left us the chicken wings all yelled from the bus, "Bye Momma Debi!!!  Thank you!!"  More kids getting Momma Debi love = a good thing.   

7.  Sister Pister has troubles with her back.  She has ever since she was in third grade and decided she should be the winner of the "jump off the swings when they are as high as they can be" contest at recess...she took an ambulance ride and ended up with a compression fracture in her back.  So, the back gives her problems frequently, but she hasn't let it make her quit doing the things she loves like sports and rodeo.  Sister Pister is not afraid of the chiropractor and has a two to three time a week punch card with him during basketball season.  Last Friday, she decided to go up against a girl much taller/bigger and ended up being carried off the floor.  Sister Pister is beyond stubborn and played in the game two nights ago.  She was in pain and tried to play through it.  She was so frustrated after the game about having to be slow.  The little tear rolling down her cheek about broke my heart.  I wish I had a magic wand to fix her back because she loves basketball.  I throw up a little back fixing prayer at random times throughout the day.  If you are the praying type, maybe you could too.

9.  I'm going to Walmart in a few minutes.  I rather dislike Walmart and boycotted it for many a year, but I'm realizing lately you really can save a few pennies by going there for some things and if you go at weird times, it's less of a make you feel like a crazy person situation.    

10.  Orange zebra print office supplies are currently some of my favorite things.  They make my heart very happy.  

11.  I'm going to do some sewing tomorrow.  Two fist pumps and a donkey kick for sewing!  

12.  February is my least favorite month.  I just get tired of the every day every day of it.  I've been making a list of some things I could do this February to make it a little less every day.   

13.  Air popped popcorn is yummy.

14.  I can't wait to smell grass and dirt again.

15.  It's Saturday night and I'm looney from cold medicine.


Just Because

I like these colors.
I bought both of them. 
To sew a purse.
Technically, I don't know how to sew a purse.
But, I'm all about learning and doing new things right now. 
It can't be that hard.  Can it? 

Maybe next I will leave the dishes in my sink for more than ten minutes.

Or, maybe I'll try not wearing any jewelry for a day.
Maybe not on that one.


New Things

On Thursday night, I was in the bread aisle at the grocery store for way too long.  All I was trying to do was find a loaf of bread that only had the ingredients in it that you actually need to make a loaf of bread happen.  Here's what I discovered.  It's impossible.  I finally thought I found the winner winner chicken dinner but then...then I saw "raisin juice concentrate" in the list.  Ummm.  First of all, what is raisin juice concentrate?  Wouldn't that just be grape juice?  I'm confused about that.  Second of all, why would a person need raisin juice concentrate in their bread?  I don't need any concentrate in my bread. 

I left the grocery store without bread. 

I'm spoiled. 

I'm spoiled because Momma Debi is probably one of the best homemade bread makers around.  And, she's come up with this whole grain loaf that has no white sugar.  Just honey.  She also grinds the wheat that Dad-o raises to make her own flour and uses flax that Dad-o also raised.  Then, she also adds some oatmeal and butter and yeast.  Dad-o does not grow those things.  But, they are still real things.  I've been spoiled by this really amazing, nothing weird in it, bread.   

On the way home from the grocery store, I called Momma Debi and ranted about raisin juice concentrate and a bunch of things that end in -ide and because she's the mom she is, yesterday, while I was at work, she dropped off a loaf of real bread at my house.  Then, last night, she promptly told me that I could learn how to make that bread myself.  I promptly told her that I don't have any bread pans.  Or the wire rack thingy you put the bread on.  Or flax.  Or a rolling pin.  Or a way to grind wheat.

I have a feeling I will be receiving all of the above items because she won't be my bread lady forever.  She's like that as a mom...she'll spoil us for a bit and then she cuts.it.off.  Something about roots and wings maybe?      

I also have a feeling I will need a hands on lesson in how to turn these ingredients...

into this...

And, then have it all become this at the end.  Mine will never look this perfect.  In the kitchen, I'm really only good at chopping vegetables. 

But, I'm going to learn.  I'm going to learn how to make real bread.  Because, I do not need raisin juice concentrate in my bread. 

I'm also going to run a half marathon in May.  I figure if I actually write that down, it's real and I can't back out.  So, there you have it.  A couple of new things.   



Last Saturday night, I drove out to the small town I'm from to make an appearance at the Sportsmen's Banquet.  I did not go for the wild game meal.  That is not my cup of tea.  But, I did go for the socializing because if you know anything about small towns, you know that something that involves the word banquet is probably going to draw a crowd.  Throw in some sportsmen and you have yourself a party.  

So, I show up to the banquet late and have been there literally five minutes when this guy comes up to me.  Now, this guy is not from the small town but I have visited with him once before...you need to know that right now. 

He says to me, "How does it feel to be the most beautiful girl here?"  

And, I say back to him, "Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...you've had a few huh?  I haven't seen you for a long time.  How are you doing?"

Then he says, "I'm serious." And, proceeded to put his arm around me. 

Then I say with my finger pointed in his face, "Hey.  Hey.  Remember.  We are related."

After I reminded this guy that we are related, I thought to myself, "That's an interesting way to start the evening."  Then I went about my socializing. 
Later on in the night, this guy comes up to me again and he starts to visit with the table I'm sitting at.  I happened to be chatting with a different person so my back was turned.  When I turned back, my friend says to me, "Ummm.  That guy thinks you are pretty fabulous but he thinks you are way out of his league."  

Then I proclaim, rather exasperatingly with my hands flying every direction,  "This has nothing to do with me being out of his league.  Because let's be real.  I'm not out of anyone's league.  This has everything to do with the fact that WE ARE RELATED!!  We are related and apparently he.cannot.get.that.through.his.head."  

Fast forward another hour or so and this guy comes up to me again.  Puts his arm around me and starts in on his spiel.  I remind him once again, "Remember, we are related.  I don't know exactly how, but we are."  

To which he replies, "It's a long ways down the line isn't it?"

I'm going to pause the story to explain a couple of key items.  I am indeed related to the world.  This is what happens when both sides of your family have many, many children.  It's also what happens when one side of your family is one hundred percent Norwegian and the other side is one hundred percent German and they were original immigrants to this part of North Dakota.  It's hard to explain, but I really am related to a lot of people from this area.  So many that my one friend says I just might have to travel abroad to find a husband.  Also, being related to this many people means that often times, the younger generations can be out in social situations and run into people they've seen at family reunions but they are not quite sure on the lineage.  Usually, we just know that somewhere down the line, a great uncle here or great aunt there once shook hands or both of our great grandmas were cousins twice removed or something like that.  This sounds a bit redneck and maybe it is, but there's no funny business involved.  Alright, back to my story.

At that point, I decided it was time to really lay down the --I will not date my relatives-- speech because apparently I hadn't been clear before and said to this guy, "Alright, here's the deal.  Let me explain this to you.  Let's just say that we did end up dating and then we eventually ended up getting married.  Here's what would happen.  People would come to the wedding and the ushers would say who are you here for?  The bride or the groom?  Here's the kicker, the people could then say BOTH.  Do you see now that this is a little bit of an issue?"  

To which he replies, "Alright, I got you.  That would be weird."   


So, last Saturday night, I had to explain to a guy three times that we could not date because we are related.  

Which really makes me wonder a few things...

1.  Does this kind of stuff happen to anyone else?
2.  Any ideas of which country I should visit to find a husband?    
3.  Was I on candid camera and he forgot to say the whole part about being on candid camera?
4.  How much of a redneck am I?  
5.  Should I memorize the family tree all the way back to 1848 so I can be prepared for situations like this?
6.  Does this kind of stuff happen to anyone else?
7.  Was this all because I attended something called a Sportsmen's Banquet? 


Pretending...Round Seven

I figure seven is a good number to end this stint of pretending I've been doing.  Seven just feels right.  After this, it's time for me start to living in the moment and taking pictures of the snow, ice, and and frozen nostril hairs.  Yesterday, I was distracted by my off the wall texting conversation with Momma Debi, but today I'm all about ignoring real life for the next little bit.   

Last, but certainly not least are my little Owen and Emma.  I refer to them as mine because I consider them my niece and nephew.  As I've said before, their Mama and I have lived many important moments together like singing karaoke at the top of our lungs in an Eagle's Club full of the elderly.  Owen and Emma don't have "real" aunts and uncles because both of their parents are only children but I am their aunt.

I love when I hear them say, "Amy is funnnn!!" when I turn sorting/folding their socks into a game full of belly laughs.  I also love when I hear them say, "I'm a good helper" when I'm teaching them how to cut a green pepper with some kitchen dancing thrown in {I had the knife...don't worry}.  I feel I need to be their crazy aunt.  It's a part of my life and always will be.  

Last fall, their grandma needed some pictures of them drinking Greenzymes for a contest and I couldn't say no.  She asked when I was literally running twenty hours a day, but taking the time to drive out to the little town I'm from to spend a half an hour playing with my Owen and Emma was good medicine for my busy, slightly stressed heart at that time.  

Even with green stuff all over, those faces are just down right cute.  And, I'm so thankful I get to be the crazy aunt in those two little lives. 


Texting and Starbucks

A few minutes ago, I texted my mom..."You donkey kicking today?" because I like to say ridiculous things to people at random times. 

She replied..."Just half - a**ed." 

Ahhh, oh how I love Momma Debi's sense of humor. 

Then she texted me..."Have you taken down your Christmas tree yet?" 

I replied..."Yes.  Do you know me?"

Then she wrote..."Well, I bought this fancy new tree bag to store our tree in and after I got ours all loaded up, I realized it wasn't working so I got all the old boxes out and had to tape them together.  I wasted my money and now I have this huge wonderful bag!!! {I sensed some sarcasm here}  I was hoping you could use it." 

I replied..."Well, my tree is in nine big black garbage bags in my basement so I think I could use it."

Then she wrote..."Oh that would be good.  U can have it."  

I replied..."Yeah!  Yeah!  Tree bag for me!"  

Then she wrote..."How was your day?" 

Please tell me that others of you out there have texting conversations like this with your mom. 

Because I'm all about random right now...

Earlier today, as in much, much earlier when it was still dark out and my mascara was fresh, I met a few friends at Sbucks for some hot coffee.  Today was an inservice day for all of our district and that meant I didn't have to travel out to my school which meant I had time for a pre-work coffee date.  I arrived first and felt it was totally appropriate to take pictures while sitting in the big comfy chair. 

I knew once the few friends arrived, there would be no more of that.  No time.  No time.  You see, the few friends and I love to shout out a "Hey HEY Hey!!" to people and then proceed to harrass them for a bit real early in the morning when all they want is some coffee.  It's our idea of a fun and it's become an inservice day tradition.   

Yes, a little Sbucks meet-greet-laugh session is a sure way to start your day off on the right foot.  Then, to look up from your comfy chair and see four of your photographs hanging on the wall...

Well, that just guarantees the good factor for the day. 


Pretending...Round Six

Five kids, a few horses, a couple cats, one dog, some chickens, a moose...really what more could you ask for when capturing memories?  A homecooked meal maybe?  Oh wait, that was part of the deal too.  Spending a weekend afternoon with this family is being reminded of the simple pleasures in life.  Family, the love between kids and animals, sibling fun, homecooking...it's all there.  So, when the mom asked me to capture what her kids were like in the fall of 2010, I jumped at the chance.  She homeschools and wanted some "school" pictures.  I aimed to give her so much more - a glimpse into their personalities - a frozen day in time - one they can always look back on and be reminded of Thomas's love for his dog, Matthew's love for his horse, Anne's love for cats, Mark's love for football, and Hailey's love for not the pony like expected, but rather the big horse Tess.  And, a day they can look back on and remember the bond that can only come from having five children and raising them right.       

I am a firm believer in teaching children how to take responsibility and work hard.  I'm here to tell you that all five of these kids not only have the utmost character, but are also workers.  They all have chores and know that if they don't do them, then their animals will go hungry.  One of the best lessons in responsibility is having to care for another living thing.  They fully depend on you for their survival; these kids get that.  After we had supper the evening of these pictures, it was dark and rather chilly out, but the chores needed to be done so out went the kids, flashlights in little hands, to take care of their animals.  Because these kids really "get" that if they don't do their chores, then those animals that they love will be hungry.  Lesson learned. 

A different Sunday evening after this picture taking day, my whole family went to this family's farm to have supper {that's the evening meal if you aren't from here}.  When all had gathered around the table and there was a total of eight children under the age of ten you knew it would not be a boring meal.  Hailey is quite the character.  She just is.  My brother looked over at me about halfway through the meal and said, "Hey Amy, do you feel like you are looking in the mirror with that one?"  And, I must say that yes.  Yes indeed it feels as though that child is me.  At least her mom has some comfort in knowing that her spunky, fiercely independent, fearless, blonde haired, blue eyed girl can turn out alright.  At least I think I turned out alright.  For the most part.    

Each one of these kids are so different from one another and I admire their parents for being able to foster that uniqueness because it will take them far in life.  And, being ridiculously cute will also help. 

Yes, being around this family is being reminded of the simple joys in life.  That is for sure. 

And, on the way home from this perfect afternoon and evening, I saw a moose.  Because I don't think things through real well, I pulled into the abandoned farm yard where said moose was standing to take a picture.  I did not have a zoom lens along for this ride, so I drove up close enough to it so I would actually be able to tell it was a moose.  It was pitch black out, so I threw open the flash and snapped a picture.  Then, the moose flicked its ears back and gave a funny noisy shout out and then I realized I was probably a bit too close so I jumped back in the car.  It felt necessary. 

Not a boring day.  Not at all.