Thursday, September 19, 2013

Do Not Feed the Zoo Animals.

Some days are just like this: full of saggy red undies and jumping and eating chocolate chips out of the bag even after you've been told three times to stay out of the kitchen. They consist of not using listening ears and maybe peeing on the floor and insisting that he doesn't like what's for dinner because it's too spicy, which is code for: I just don't want to eat that.  And then there are the days that include bedtime at 7:15 - willingly and without fuss because we all knows it's been one of those days and we're both ready for it to be finished.

We will try again tomorrow for more patience.  Kinder voices.  And maybe a few more articles of clothing.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Artist's Cottage

When we moved into our house last year, there was an extra room attached to the garage.  A simple room with windows and electricity and heat.  You can safely bet that Abby begged for weeks to be able to use it as her bedroom.  You'd win the jackpot if you also bet that we firmly denied that request each and every time (Because, really?  A teenager in a room that is not connected to the main house?  No good can come of that).

I don't know if it was pitched to us as an extra cottage, or if we later found out that the previous owners were artists, but we took to calling it the Artist's Cottage and that is how we still refer to it today.  For the first few months the Artist's Cottage housed all of our moving detritus - the stuff we couldn't find an immediate home for.  Then winter blew in and it suddenly became a catch-all for our summer stuff - bikes and stroller and wagon and sandbox toys all found their winter respite in the Artist's Cottage.

We spent the winter dreaming big dreams for the space - my favorite being an extra guest bedroom. But that would require a little more work that we have time for during Uriah's busy season, so it continued to sit through the spring as extra storage space.  Finally early in the summer I gutted most of it.  I threw away a ton of junk, swept up a sandbox of dirt and rocks and dust.  I found homes for the items that needed to get out of there and organized the items that remained.

And suddenly it turned into an Artist's Cottage again.  We brought out all of the crayons, markers, craft stuff. The paints and the paint brushes, paper, coloring books and scissors, even the sewing machine all found their happy homes on the shelves of the cottage.  I strung up some string with clothes pins to dry pictures and I brought a bin of Uriah's old toys out for Finn to play with; I set up a very big table in the middle and stuck some of our folding chairs around it - giving space for imaginations and crafty ideas.

And over the course of the summer, Finn would ask me to open up the cottage for him and he'd play planes, or play-dough or color pictures.  Abby and her friends would visit in there and they even did a couple of paint craft projects.  We used it and we loved it.  But somehow, when I walked in there earlier this week, the play-dough had melted all over the table, the pieces of paper craft projects were scattered over the floor. The blow-up pool had found a temporary home in there, along with our charcoal, bird food, and a bag of quick-set cement.

In other words: the Artist's Cottage was more like an Artist's Junk Pit.  So I swept and organized.  I threw things away and stored things in the garage.  I scrubbed all the grody, melty play-dough off of the table and cleaned up the shelves. 

And although organizing that room was very, very low on my list of tasks to tackle this week, once again we can use the cottage for it's intended purpose: art and imagination.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Extended Stay

You'd think we hadn't seen each other for years and years.

It felt that way, actually.  It was a long week and I was pretty preoccupied - but worth every stressful moment to see how incredibly beautiful and happy my sister was on her wedding day.

We are snug at home now, with no plans to leave for extended periods of time for awhile.  But, you know, all that could change without notice.  Now we can focus on doing some preschool stuff during the week, planning for a visit from Uriah's parents and sister, and my list of things to accomplish is growing with every turn I take in the house - paint the bathroom, finish painting the dining room chairs, wash the windows, clean Finn's closets, bring up/air out cool-weather jackets, find a dry cleaner for the down comforter, get Abby's twin bed ready.  We also need to figure out something to do for our anniversary - a couple's massage sounds like a really, really good plan to me right about now! Abby's JV volleyball is in full-swing, so we also have to work around practice and games.  My mom's group starts up again soon, I'm wait-listed for Finn's once a week preschool class, and I've committed to teaching the 2nd graders religion this year.

I was deluded into thinking we wouldn't be busy...we're just busy in a different way.

I spent the morning diving into my recipes and past menus.  I think my week runs so much better when I'm not struggling to figure out what to make for dinner.  Abby has requested to take her lunch to school this year, so we're giving that a trial run.  I like to give her some variety - not just sandwiches, chips and fruit, so I'm making a list of lunch options, as well.  I planned out a month's worth of rotating breakfasts a while ago - some she can make herself and some I'll do for her on gym mornings.  (For the past month my gym mornings have been non-existent, but I'm hopeful to get back into them regularly starting tomorrow. No more "we're not home" excuses for me!).  Gym mornings will hopefully also turn into writing mornings - so long as Finn stays on his sleeping-in schedule, that is!

It's raining today but I promised Finn a trip to the library.  We've been infrequent visitors as of late and we both miss it, so we are going to put on our rain boots and our sweatshirts, grab our umbrellas and take a rain-walk this afternoon.

Happy (wet) Monday!

Monday, September 2, 2013


August was a brutal month of travelling for us.  We were away from our home more than we were in it - and we left Uriah behind more often than not.  Our one-day-a-week Family Funday that I had great expectations for fell off the map sometime in July and we never fully recovered.  

So here we are, school starts again tomorrow and the summer of great adventure is going to go down in Hefter Family History as the summer of mediocre adventure.  And lots of travel.  And lots of busyness.

We did not get to the Great Minnesota Get Together (aka: The Minnesota State Fair) but we did make an appearance at the Great Lake County Get Together (aka: The Lake County Fair).  We sampled the offerings of the beer garden, saw some chickens, let a baby cow lick our fingers, rode some kiddie rides and had mini-donuts.  

Abby lost her crap on the ride that drops you super fast.  We could hear her screaming the whole way down.  She begged to be able to meet her friends the following day - without parents - at the fair.  I guess this is what growing up means - more friend time, less family time.  We sent her off for the day with some money and the request to make good choices.  I guess that's all you can do. 

We took another mini-vacation to Leech Lake.  Uriah, of course, worked.  But we managed to get in a little family time on the "hontoon," as Finn calls it.  Lots of fishing - no catching.  Finn also learned to jump into the pool and even let me dunk his whole head under a couple of times...and by "let," I mean I just dunked him under a couple of times when I caught him.  He learned to hold his breath!  For as fearless as that boy is of the water, he needs to learn some basic swimming lessons soon!

Abby is awesome at being surly and 13.  She brought a friend along on our Leech Lake vacation and then promptly slept on the pontoon/fishing excursion.  Her friend, on the other hand, fished with Finn and Uriah.  My mom's advice is always to stick my tongue to the roof of my mouth; you can't say anything when you're busy keeping your tongue stuck up there and it avoids a lot of needless arguments.  I am getting awesome it and I remind myself daily that at some point she will grow out of this phase.  Please let me be delusional in thinking that it won't take her going to college for her to become human.  Teenagers...they think they know it all!

We had a bachelorette party for Sarah last weekend in southern Minnesota.  That area of Minnesota is so beautiful.  I should know, my pal Becca and I got lost walking on the bike trail for about 4 hours.  It's clear I learned nothing from my years as a Girl Scout.  No map.  No compass.  No idea where we were going.  We are poster-children for what not to do in the great outdoors.  Luckily we made our 10+ mile walk back to Sarah and she was only slightly annoyed that we left her sleeping in the tent.  Without a note. And with the car keys in my pocket.

School starts tomorrow for Abby.  I am very much looking forward to getting back into our routine and having some structure for our days.  Finn is still too young for pre-school, and, let's face it, I'm not ready for him to go even if he was old enough, but he was insistent that he get a back pack when we went back to school shopping last week.  He can wear it to the library, I guess.

Wedding week is upon us and then Uriah's parents are visiting and then it's our anniversary and my birthday.  And then, you's Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas.  So, I'm really looking forward to January when the snows keep us home-bound for more than a few days at a time!