Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer pics

I have taken SO MANY pictures this week and I haven't had a chance to go through them. Well, I have had a chance, I just have chosen to do other things. Like be outside to enjoy this gorgeous summer weather!

But this morning I finally did a little "weeding". I deleted tons of duplicate photos and went through to pick out the ones I liked best and did a little editing. Some of them I liked SOOC so I didn't touch them. Others, I felt needed a little boost.

I hope you like them!

And some flowers too:

I know most of the flower pictures are not that exciting, but I loved the light. I think it was after 9:00 pm and the contrast from the setting sun and the shadows in my kitchen was delightful! Some of the shots made the petals seem glowing and translucent. FUN!

Monday, June 27, 2011

to do vs. goals

I like to set mini goals for myself each day. Like a "to do" list, but much more enjoyable. A to do list for me on a typical day might look like this:

1)do laundry......this is on every single to do list I have ever written.
2)go grocery shopping......when you need fresh produce in the house daily, weekly trips just don't cut it. Really? We need more toilet paper? What have you people been eating???
3)clean......any room. Pick one. Pick 10. Chances are, they're all in need. Again.
4)vacuum.....well DUH! We have a giant shedding dog. This must be done every single day.
5)organize a drawer or closet in some part of the house.......because I love organizing. You'd hardly be able to tell from looking at my house, but I am sort of a closet neat freak. It just becomes so much harder and more exhausting to let that freak shine when you have children and a dog. My space would be so clean and organized if I lived by myself. But I would also be sad and lonely so it wouldn't be worth it. And I'd have no one to unload the dishwasher for me.
6)weed the flower beds.......I seriously pulled waist high weeds from my beds yesterday. That is how badly weeding needs to be done. Truth is, I rarely get excited about getting a back ache from bending over and pulling prickly weeds that stab me through my gloves. Gardening is therapeutic to some people. To me, wanting to work in my flower beds is like wanting to sit in a tub full of water while cuddling my hairdryer that is still plugged into the wall.
7)run errands.......whether it's going to the bank or going to some store for something that I've convinced myself I absolutely cannot live without, there's always somewhere I need to go. (yes, I'm going to use those 5 flats of mason jars I bought at Fleet Farm, all different sizes and mouth widths....some day for some thing) And speaking of Fleet Farm, did you know that you can buy ridiculously large bottles of olive oil there for a fraction of the cost you'd pay at the grocery store?? Also flax seed. Ground or whole. You pay around $7-8 at the grocery store but at Fleet Farm you pay like a dollar-something for a bag. WOW. And they have the biggest selection of raw nuts. Also cheap. I'm pretty sure if you're into Little Debbie, they've got a bargain for you too!

So that might be a typical to do list. But my mini goal lists are much better looking. Because they are all things I actually enjoy.

1)take doesn't matter of what, just take out the camera, the lenses and shoot. But I got nothin'. Lint balls? Ok then. Lint balls it is. I have got to figure out how to capture lint balls in a way that makes me want to frame it and put it on my wall. If I can do that, I've got myself a talent that could put bread on the table.
2)write in my journal......I love writing. I love the feel of pen on paper. I love to write how I felt each day, what I did, what I plan on doing the next day, etc. I do this partly because I think it will eventually make me a better person, and partly because I want someone to find it 80 years from now and make it into a movie. Not really.
3)blog.......because I don't want to let all 3 of you down.
4)edit pictures.......there is nothing I'd like to do more than sit in front of the screen, dinking around in Photoshop, getting some of my pent up creative energy out. But I feel guilty for doing it. Guilty for letting 5 hours go by that felt like 5 minutes. Guilty for forgetting to make my children lunch during those 5 hours. Guilty for burning 2 calories because I've been on my ass for 5 hours. And guilty for not bringing in any income from it.
5)practice piano.......It's something I can do well (except in front of people where I tend to get overly nervous and make lots of mistakes) and I feel such a connection to my late father while doing it. One of the sweetest gifts I've ever received was from my sister, days after his passing. It was a pin of an angel hovering over a piano. She realized that one thing dad and I had in common was our love for music. I tear up every time I play Claire De Lune. Every time I sit down to play it, I play it for him.
6)Art with the kids.......whether it's dragging out all the painting supplies or just the water colors or crayons, I love to create with them. I love how they still think I'm the best artist EVER. And I really don't want them to grow up and discover that I'm really not. I love how proud they are when they've taken their time and concentrated so hard on making me the perfect picture. As they give it to me, eyes open wide waiting for visual cues of my approval, for praise from me....master artist of the Arff household.
7)stop complaining......because sometimes I can be a bit of a whiner. I'm trying to be more aware of my whining because I don't want to be the miserable pessimist that no one wants to be around. I also don't want to take it too far into the opposite territory and be the person who steps in dog crap and then gives you the optimistic side to it. Because people that can step in dog crap and keep smiling are just annoying. You just stepped in shit, it's ok to be a little ticked off about it! I know I'm ticked off about it because now I have to smell dog crap for the rest of our walk together! Let's just be ticked off together at the fact you can't watch where the hell you're walking, shall we?

Mini goals are so much more important to me. They are non stressful. What are your mini goals for the day?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Scandinavian Festival

What a wonderful afternoon we had at the Scandinavian festival! One of the really awesome things about the festival is the food. You buy tickets and make your way to the country of your choice and purchase from a variety of dishes. Today, Andreas chose the Danish Frickadeller, Emma had Danish Æbleskiver (pancake balls) and I had the smoked salmon (or Lax) on bread from the Icelandic table.

Then for dessert, Andreas and Emma went to Cafe Svea for some toscakaka (Swedish Almond Cake) and Krumkake. This trip had Andreas begging for smorgastorta which is basically a rich sandwich layered and frosted like a cake. Delicious. I made it once. Once.

Andreas made me taste the toscakaka. He said, "I don't care what you say, you HAVE to taste this." So I had a tiny bite and OH MY DEAR HEAVEN. See, this is why when I try to eat clean I can't have little tempting bites like this so I know what wonderful culinary masterpieces I am missing out on. Simply divine.

This wonderful man was making the biggest Æbleskiver I have ever seen. We have a pan but they make balls about half this size. These were HUGE. Thanks for letting me take your picture, Mr. whoever you are.

Emma coloring her Icelandic flag necklace. Very meticulously. For like twenty minutes. While mama stood by, patiently, resisting the urge to grab the paint marker and finish it up in 10 seconds.

Inside the Stave church.

Such beautiful architecture.

Andreas, dutifully holding my big mama purse while I snap photos. Here he was moments away from pretending he was going to hurl the bag (with my very expensive macro lens inside) into the air. I'm so glad he is secure enough in his manhood to go around with me far enough behind him so that no one would know he was actually holding this purse for me.

Andreas was reliving the best day of his life. The day he married me, of course! We got married in this very church.

These lovely ladies let me take their picture. The one on the right did the embroidery on the skirt. Very intricate and beautiful.

And the Hardinger dancers, all the way from Norway!

Emma, getting a bird's eye view.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival

We are going to the ‎34th Annual Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival this weekend. We're kicking it off tonight at 9:00 on the patio at Monte's, to listen to Knut Hamre and Rannveig Djonne, a Norwegian Hardanger Fiddler and a Norwegian Diatonic Button Accordion Player.

We were out dining at one of our usual spots (and by usual I mean we might get there once every 4 months) and reading the High Plains Reader (an alternative newspaper serving our area) and discovered that this weekend was the festival. We love going but are terrible at keeping track of when it is so lucky for us we read about it by chance. That's sort of how it goes with all the activities we like to do.

Anyway, when I read that there was going to be some Norwegian inspired music at Monte's, I suggested right away that we try to go. I am sort of sentimental when it comes to Monte's because that's where Andreas proposed to me. What a great night that was.

Monte's Downtown Fargo
"A traditional upscale restaurant infused with casual urban sophistication. An eclectic continental menu incorporating local products and produce in exciting new concepts." - opentable

And so the music is to be out on the patio, which is very exciting to me because I love the outdoor atmosphere of these little downtown restaurants and bars. It doesn't start until 9pm, which is kind of late for us old folk, but we are still all for it. It sounds very romantic, just me and my love at the place our journey together got started, listening to some culture.

Then tomorrow, we will go to the Hjemkomst Center for the festival where there will be traditional Norsk displays, talks, music, theater, dancing, food, children’s activities, exhibitors and shopping. It's just too bad that I'm on a "clean eating" diet for the next 6 weeks. Oh well, don't they say something like 70% of what you taste is through smell? So I'll just sniff the air and eat some.....water?

Also on the lineup for this weekend are mezzo soprano Krista Costin singing at the Spirit Room, Swedish band 0914 outside the Great Northern Bicycle Co., and violinist Karin Andreasen playing at the Green Market (this restaurant will also be serving a special Scandinavian menu). But I'm pretty sure we'll just be watching the fiddler and accordion player.

Have a great weekend everyone!

A good day for a lemonade stand

What a nice day! The girls finally got a chance to do their lemonade stand.

They spent close to an hour arguing over making the sign. I think it turned out fantastic. Very creative, and they got a lot of comments on it.

Gram even came over for a taste! They are back out there now (after dinner) to try and reel in the nightly walkers. Stop on over!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Things.....and stuff

What I wanted to do today was plant my herbs. I took the girls on a quick trip to the flower shop where I hoped to purchase basil, thyme, mint, and whatever else I saw that looked interesting. Unfortunately, the one herb I really wanted (basil) was gone.

I ended up with lemon balm, rosemary, chocolate mint and Italian oregano. All very fragrant and beautiful. Then we headed over to Fleet Farm for some potting soil and a couple cute little tomato tins. I didn't realize they were oblong tins. I thought there were two small round tins to a package. But oh well. I really want some small rustic looking tins. Anyone know where I can find any?

Glass bottles. I love them. New or used. I save most bottles anymore. Wine bottles, vinegar bottles and fancy juice bottles: I take the labels off and save them to reuse for homemade sparklers or to use as flower vases.

I love to have fresh cut colorful flowers from our garden on the table. So simple yet so beautiful. I really love this time of year.

Chocolate mint. I still can't get over this. We are chocolate mint gum lovers. Because it's like eating desert without the calories. This stuff smells just like the gum that tastes just like desert. Love it.

dad life

I can't make this smaller and have it work at the same time so you'll have to look at an unruly blog for the moment.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Central Lakes Trail

We went walking down the central lakes trail, starting at Delagoon Park in Fergus Falls on Saturday. This is a completely paved trail and you could go for miles and miles and miles.....

We were smart, we brought our Radio Flyer wagon along so Emma didn't have to walk the entire time. It was a perfect day. Nice temperature, not too windy, a little cloud cover - perfect. Although we didn't get too far (we estimated that we probably only ventured 3 miles), we got to stop for a lovely picnic out smack dab in the middle of nature. Just the way I like it! I would love to bike it sometime. The only problem I see with that is finding a way to get all of our bikes to Fergus Falls.

I had my camera with, hoping to find some incredible nature shots. The meager stretch we walked wasn't too overly exciting. Although we did cross the Continental divide, if you call that exciting. I was able to snap a few photos of my beautiful girls (Hanna wasn't along for this trip).

I can't decide on one style of editing. And why should I when there are so many creative ways to edit a photograph?!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Teddy Bear Parade

This morning, I took Emma and Eden to the teddy bear parade. It's a cute little parade that anyone who wants to join in and donate a food item can do. Kids of all ages, along with their stuffed animal friends, walk a small stretch of road and end up at Island Park for inflatable games, food, prizes, etc. A full day of cheap and easy fun!

I knew it was supposed to rain today, which is why I switched purses. I changed from my cutesy little polka dot purse to a big leather mama purse that would hold my camera, an extra lens, some snacks and a couple small umbrellas. Of course, in the usual dash out the door at the last possible moment, I forgot to throw in the umbrellas. I realized this on the way but didn't want to turn around. It was looking cloudy but I thought we'd probably be ok.

We got there just in time to watch the parade (we weren't "in" it this year because Eden wanted the candy that some kids toss out), and then went to the park to try out the new playground equipment. After that, Eden found the spinning wheel that she was excited for. Only bummer about it was, right before her turn, they took out one of the 4s (which was the hot number - you got a beanie baby if you hit a 4) because too many kids were getting lucky, I think. So she only got a cheap little paddle, but it isn't about the prizes, it's about the fun.

It was sprinkling a little by this time. No big deal. We hit a few more games, got more prizes and candy then off to the "bumpers" - which look like overstuffed tubes with handles that the kids run around in and bump each other like bumper cars. Emma was doing great, bumping the big boys over a few times. But as soon as someone bumped her over, she'd get mad. After 3 bumps big enough to make her fall over, she was DONE.

While I was consoling my baby's bruised ego and reassuring her that the dirt on her clothes could be cleaned, it started to rain. Luckily this park has huge trees with lots of cover. We stood under a tree, getting a few drops here and there, but the leaves on the branches above were serving us well as an umbrella. In no time at all it pretty much started pouring. Some people were huddled under tents and trees but most were making a run for their cars. I stood there debating whether we should just hang out, see if it stops soon or make a run for the car. The unappealing thing about going for the car was that we had to park pretty far away and if we left the shelter of our tree, we would be soaking wet before we got there. But we were already getting soaked and Emma was starting to cry because she was freezing and I figured even if the rain did stop, we'd all be cold and miserable. I was also concerned about my camera, which was in my purse.

Another funny story: I had my nice camera and BIG lens in my bag. I debated bringing it - because it gets to be so heavy lugging that thing around. But I figured, when I don't have it, I always want it. So I put it in my big mama purse. Lucky for me it was leather and kept the rain out! But, the funny part is, I took it out to use it (before the rain of course), turned it on and I get the "NO CARD" message. CRAP! I had forgotten to put the memory card back in the camera after uploading my last batch of pictures onto the computer. UGH! So I've been carrying this 50lb bag (ok, not quite) around all morning for nothing!

Also (before the rain), I was getting hungry so I decided to grab my apple I brought with me (you know, so I wouldn't have the urge to binge on fry bread tacos, pizza and Italian ice) but I couldn't find it. I emptied the entire contents of my bag out onto the grass to find it but got nothing. What the heck? I know I put it in there! Then it came to me, when we were in the van, getting ready to head out, Eden was showing me this charm of hers and accidentally dropped it in my purse. I had to take everything out of my purse to find the charm and I guess I didn't put the apple back in. When it comes to eating, I am on such a strict and rhythmic schedule that when it gets disturbed, I tend to panic a little. I am always prepared when I leave the house, so that if I am running into snack or meal time, I have something portable and healthy with me. If I don't, and I get too hungry, I get dizzy and crabby. I don't understand people who go 5 hours or more between meals.

Not our best morning. But we did get a chance to have a little fun. It was even fun getting rained on. A little cold, but kind of exciting. My camera stayed safe and dry. And I got to eat my apple in the van on the drive home ;)

I am sitting here actually thinking about going back (with umbrellas this time) just to get a giant bag of kettle corn for the kids and finish up the fun we left behind. But we'll see.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Night out, cleaning, and the dog. Always the dog.

Andreas and I on our way to a cocktail party at Microsoft.
Doesn't he look dashing???!!!
I think we should find a reason to dress up like this
and go out once a week. When
you are a stay at home mom
you don't have to look nice. The toilet doesn't care
what you look like when you are scrubbing it.

Speaking of cleaning, yesterday was a productive day for me. I took the entire day and devoted it to getting the house totally cleaned so that I could just relax and soak up the sun over the weekend. After dinner, I took a cup of coffee into the living room and sat down [finally] to unwind in a clean living room. Then Andreas comes in with the dog and the nail trimmer.
I said, "Are you going to do that in here????"
He said nothing.
Ok, I guess he is. I wasn't thrilled about it because obviously I spent all day cleaning and didn't want dog hair and nails all over. Anyway, after a while he says, "Oh, she's bleeding, lets get her in the kitchen". And sure enough, there was blood all over the carpet.
He had clipped one of her nails too short. And it didn't just bleed a little. It was pooling.
Poor thing.
So I go fetch the carpet cleaner so I can clean the blood out of the carpet and he says,
"leave it, I'll do it"
I said, "No, you go fix your dog!"
He felt really bad. He was in the laundry room (which is also Lizzy's room) all evening with her so she wouldn't have to be alone. She couldn't be out because she would get blood all over.
It's almost like when she was in heat.
This morning, she got blood on the carpet again so she is in her room.
I feel bad for her. I really really do. But I can't have her bleeding all over my carpet.
We tried wrapping it too, but she just wants to chew it off.
He went to PetSmart this morning and bought some styptic powder. I really hope that helps.
When it comes to this dog, I think "what next??"

Poor Lizzy bear :(

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Respect your mother and father

There is a Chinese proverb that says respect for ones parents is the highest duty of civil life. Some good advice to heed, I think.

After all, your parents gave you life. They raised you the best they knew how. And they weren't perfect. But children don't come with instructions. You have to use common sense, instinct and pray that you are doing the right thing.

It's hard being a parent. It can be frustrating and it can test your patience. But we do the best we can.

There have been times when I know that I could have done better as a mom, maybe handling some situations differently. When I think back, a few things come to mind that I would LOVE to change. But I can't. So the best I can do is move forward from today and do better. The mistakes we make are made to learn by. And I hope that my children will grow up knowing that I did my best for them, because I love them, and in turn, they will do the same for their children.

It's easy for people who don't have children of their own to criticize parents for the way they raise their children, because they have no idea what it takes to raise a child. They can assume, they can imagine, but they don't know.

It's easy for you to pick apart the mistakes you think your own parents made raising you, because you were on the other end. You weren't the one responsible for another human being. You weren't the one getting up in the middle of the night, or changing the diapers, paying the bills, cooking the food, helping with homework, going to endless activities and doing your best to juggle it all while trying to smile.....and not lose yourself in the process. You weren't the one that had to put up with you!

There are those who seem to be so completely selfless that they do everything for their children but forget to take care of themselves. And then there are those who take a day for themselves now and then because it helps them refresh and unwind so they can handle the stress of being a parent better. The first type of parent might call the second type selfish. But I don't believe that. I believe that the ones who think they can do it all, no need for breaks, no need for time to themselves, are kidding themselves. Because parenthood can be stressful. And stress is unhealthy. We can't judge how good of a parent we are by how little we do for ourselves.

I know there are some really great parents out there that just don't get the respect they deserve from their children. Maybe those kids are holding grudges. Maybe they are unwilling to forgive and forget past mistakes. Maybe they don't have children of their own so they don't know how parents can really struggle balancing it all. But I think, if you are one of those people who haven't been very kind to your parents, do it now. Remember for every bad thing you choose to remember about your mom or your dad, there are a hundred wonderful things they have done for you. Why not choose to remember those instead? There are a thousand ways they have helped you out, given you what you wanted, put up with your attitude, and would probably do it all again, despite the fact that you didn't always show your appreciation. Why not give them the respect they deserve?

I'm sure that by the time my children are grown, I will have irritated them too many times to count. And I know they will have irritated me just as much. But I hope that we will learn to let the unimportant things go. Life is too short to dwell on the past. We cannot change it. What we can do is make the future better. We can choose to have a good relationship with our families. Our imperfect, flawed, wonderful families. Or? We can choose to be pig headed, self pitying, and keep dwelling on the fact that like us, our parents are not perfect. Most of us will outlive our parents. What will you do with the time you have left with yours?

Monday, June 6, 2011

This is the title

Do you think the type of underwear you wear determines your mood? For example, if you wear thong underwear on a regular basis and you're a pretty crabby person most of the time, the two might go hand in hand. I mean, how can having a string in your crack day in and day out NOT make you crabby??!! Something to think about.

I'm not sure where that came from. I think I might be procrastinating. I'm trying not to think about the fact that it's 8 o'clock and I still haven't worked out yet. Now I am tired and sunburned. Getting all crazy and sweating and taking a third shower today doesn't really interest me all that much at the moment. What does actually interest me is the frozen yogurt that is in the freezer right now. I think I might have to give up trying to give up ice cream over summer. See? I quit quitting. How pathetic is it to quit quitting?

I have some new pictures of the baby bird. There were two up until a couple of days ago. Not sure what happened to the other one but it is gone. The one that is left, I shall call him Sunny from hence forth, is getting big. And his eyes are open now. I would show you but moving into the other room to get my camera seems like a lot of work right now. Eden is upset that I didn't like her idea to name it KFC. And Emma wanted to call it Princess Bubble Gum. I don't know why everything she names has to be "princess" something or other. There for a while, it was hard to get any pictures of the little guy because the mama bird was always hogging the nest. But every now and then she gets spooked  and flies off so I get a chance to quickly inspect. It's really fun watching it grow.

I guess that's all I got for now.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A day at the zoo and a lost shoe

Yes, we went to the zoo today. We tried going last night around 7:30 but they close at 7pm. We got ice cream instead. Today we made it though. It was interesting.

The first exhibit we saw was the wolves. Pappa bear lifted Emma up onto the railing so she could see them better because they were all sleeping in the grass. And of her flip flops fell off and into the wolf pen. Not two seconds later, the wolves were there, got the shoe and took it away to chew it. Meanwhile, Pappa is saying "Drop it!". It doesn't work on Lizzy, why would it work on a wolf?

The one on the right is chewing on it. Glad he didn't drop Emma in.

Moving on...

Fairly uneventful, except that Emma had to proceed the rest of the zoo visit shoeless. I was very embarrassed. I think Andreas was too because he was moving rather quickly through all the exhibits.
"Here we have the reptiles, and there's some farm animals and over there I see some birds to our right. Ok, are we ready to go now?"