Friday, October 11, 2013

Here horsey

We went to a family wedding in Branson, Missouri, this weekend. Admittedly I went into it with low expectations but I really dug it, even if the wedding was held as a totally gorgeous place with a hilariously bad name - "Glory Hole." Seriously the place was amazing and the wedding itself very sweet. The backdrop did make it a bit hard to maintain our composure. 

Running on the docks. They had a blast. We wound have taken our boats but it was cool that day and I didn't want to have to swim in after a frozen kid. 

We also went up to the stables. We didn't get a chance to ride but Margaret is as smitten with them as I was in the day. I see riding lessons in our future. 

This weekend also marks the first time I have hired a sitter out of town. It was practically extortion to have her baby sit but it was all worth it. I will totally do that again sometime. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The one where the lady goes 93028 days without blogging

So, um, yeah. It's been a while. Summer is over and it was great. Remarkably not that hot by Dallas standards, meaning we only had like two weeks over 100 with a little bit of rain here and there. After taking a trip in the spring, we were here most of the summer until August where we had a bit of an extravaganza of a trip. I had work in the DC area so the kids and I visited family and then headed up to the beach in New Jersey with old friends (speaking of old, it was Realtor Viv's birthday. Yay, Viv.)

Then back down the east coast collecting Geocaches from New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware before spending another night with family in Virginia before heading for a couple days in Colorado to visit my sister and meet up with Bjorn. After that, we landed back in Texas in time to start school the following day.

I had my trip so well planned except I didn't realize we would be missing the Friday where the kids get to meet their teachers. Next year.

I must say, the New Jersey beach was really phenomenal. Granted, we were at the end of a small private island but it was really tasteful, not very crowded, friendly and clean. The only thing particularly weird was everything on Long Beach Island was cash only. It would be great for money laundering, not that I've been binge-watching Breaking Bad or anything.

Colorado was also lovely. It was great seeing my sister in her new place, meeting her coworkers and loving on her litter of foster kittens. I need to look into that fostering business. Sure, it's a crapton of work, but on the plus side, KITTENS. I'd just have to make sure we had a strict no keeping them policy. Otherwise, I could easily end up as that lady.

In Virginia, we also got to visit with Jennifer and Fafa. So good to see them even if it wasn't for very long. It was a good trip -- the conference to start it off was really very good, too.

The kids were troopers. I bought Kindle Fires for each before we left and those proved to be worth their weight in gold. They played them responsibly and, most importantly, didn't fight in the car or the airplane (too much). They have also gotten good at toting their old car booster seats. I enjoyed it. We have a wedding in Missouri next month that we're planning to drive to and I hope they're as well behaved on the road. My car as been in the shop since July, that's right, two months ago. Hopefully it will be back by the time we take this trip.

I'm off later this week for a brief trip for work. This work business is tricky - I always look forward to going and seeing everyone and doing the work but I get nervous on my way out the door, making sure I have everything for the trip and also trying to make sure the house doesn't burn down while I'm gone. The kids fortunately are at an age where they love it when either of us leaves or we go to dinner. That means pizza and candy and all the Kindle time they can stomach. Still, I miss them. Mostly. I will enjoy that Westin Heavenly Bed all to myself if only to remind myself how much I like it better when everyone is in ours.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

First tooth

Margaret lost her first tooth tonight. The other bottom tooth is hanging by a thread so that will be out shortly, too. Considering her permanent teeth are about half way in already, it was time. 

I was having flashbacks of being a kid and my mother begging for me to let her try one more time and me refusing, much like what has been happening for the past week. 

Andy, on the other hand, has discovered photo bombing. 

Monday, June 03, 2013

June, people, JUNE

Wow. I have really fallen behind on this blogging business. Part of it is that with the fun wonders of texting pictures and Facebook, I have gotten lazy about going back to post here. The other part is that Bjorn and I took a trip to Paris for our joint birthdays/15 year anniversary/because we were finally going to do it and I've just been overwhelmed getting ready to go, then being gone a week (without kids!) and then back and jetlagged that I haven't been able to do much to stay on track. Now school ends on Wednesday and we have preschool graduation this weekend and the summer is officially upon us. And I'm so not ready.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring break 2013

Andy and Margaret ride the BMW motorcycle. I want one.  
Jennifer asked her what book she wanted to read. Margaret picked out a Home Depot book. I think she likes the pictures.  
Elizabeth flying like a bird at the new Perot Science Museum in downtown Dallas. The kids and I tried to get tickets during spring break but it was actually booked. 

Megan and Andy by the river at the ranch. I love this picture of them. 

Bjorn at the Texas Central Hemophilia event. I won signed Wayne Gretsky hockey sticks in the poker tournament. 

Elizabeth and I at the ranch. Emma took this picture. She did pretty well. Now we just throw away the other four versions that cut off our heads. 

Meg took this picture of Emma. I love it. 

Here are the (not so little) girls down by the water. Margaret needs a new bathing suit, obviously. Look at the droop on those bottoms. 

Saturday, March 02, 2013

5k and 35 degrees

Andy ran his first 5k today and my hands are still frozen. I signed up for one mile fun run and ran that together. But Andy was bitter more friends were signed up for the 5k so he wanted to run that, too. I stayed behind which was only problematic because it was 35 degrees with 30 mile an hour winds. Frigid. But he did fantastic. I am quite impressed. He wants to do it again so I will have to get in shape to go with him and not throw up.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yes, Sensei!

Andy got his orange belt in jujitsu this week. I am so proud of him for sticking with it. He's now progressed from white to yellow to orange so this is a big deal. Sure, he's a long way from black belt and everything, but he's making serious progress and we're all proud, mostly Andy. I will admit I never really got the martial arts thing. Sure, I was a huge fan of the Karate Kid. I mean, who doesn't love "wax on, wax off" and then he beats the mean bad guys? That's just classic (although, digression, we watched it recently. The show overall holds up and I love that Elisabeth Shue is built like a real woman, likely bigger than Ralph Macchio, our hero. I suspect if this were filmed today that they would find someone more petite which is a shame because she really rocks the roll).

Anyhoo, we started taking martial arts because Andy was feeling scared. He told me that a new kid was starting in his class last year and he was really worried, "What if Pablo hits me?" "Um, why would he hit you?" "I don't know. What if he doesn't like me?" I talked to some friends and realized he was feeling anxious about school so I wanted to find him something to help him overcome some of those anxieties. This has been a great fit. His sensei works with them on lots of confidence building exercises like using their voices and walking tall, that kind of stuff. He's also been working with them about bullying, explaining that with their training, it's expected that they will use their skills for good and to protect other kids and keep them from being bullied. I think that's been pretty powerful for him, too, to think of himself as a protector. It's really pretty cool.

Margaret was desperate to do jujitsu with her brother. Frankly, she's usually willing to anything her brother does. But we went for about a month and she just couldn't get the swing of things (i.e. let go of my arm). I tried just about everything. Mrs. Sensei tried everything else. But we're going to take a break. It's for the best.

Two other things are interesting - Bjorn starts his new job in a week. He's super excited. It's in a field he likes and an industry where he can really excel. And two, we booked our trip to Paris for the spring. We have been talking about going to Paris together since before we got married. I can't wait!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The one with the dentist and the clubhouse

Andy at the dentist. Apparently he needs to do a better job of brushing the back of his mouth and teeth. As you can see, he wasn't thrilled to get this news. 

This one brushes fine, but she grinds her teeth, bad. They don't give mouthguards to kids and the hope is she'll outgrow it. Considering Bjorn and I are both teeth grinders, I don't think that's likely. 

Celebrating Mom and Dad's birthday at Al Beirnat's. Oh, and Christmas, too. We had fun. 

As a kid, we had a cabin in the backyard that we played with for years, until it finally fell apart. It was fantastic. We played Little House on the Prairie out there and just about anything else. I'd been looking for one for our yard and finally found a good one at Costco. Poor Bjorn did not realize it would take 10 hours to put together. 

I love this picture. Barrett and Andy look like little puppies or goats sticking their heads out to look at the instructions. 

The completed house. A great idea except then we had to hoist it over the fence to get in the backyard. It wasn't as bad as building a boat in the basement, but it wasn't great planning. 

Here is the house in the backyard complete with a girl in it. Meg and I have since put some petunias in the flower basket. It's seriously adorable. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The one with the missing kitten (also flu B)

Last weekend I woke up to my daughter in my bed. No surprise, she usually makes it to our room sometime in the night. What was unusual was I woke up to her throwing up in my bed. This set up the great Bennett Pukefest of 2013. More on that in the bit. Today's drama involves a kitten.

For Christmas, Santa brought the kids gift certificates for two kittens. On December 27, we picked up Donner and Blitzen (Thunder and Lightening in German). Blitzen is black with adorable white whiskers and white sports on her feet. Donner is also black but with black whiskers, some white hairs on her body and a crook at the end of her tail as if it's the top of a bumper car. They're both simply adorable.

After losing two cats in six months, one to a mystery and one to an asshole in a car, we wanted to keep them inside this time instead of inside/outside. That worked for a while until they got out and realized that outside was just way more fun than inside. Since then, keeping them in with the doors open, garage doors opening and kids coming in and out has been like trying to keep sand out my bathing suit while on the beach -- impossible.

Yesterday the kittens got out just as I was hustling to pick up two play dates to take them to the planetarium (which was totally awesome, by the way. I highly recommend). So I let them stay out. We wouldn't get gone long and surely they'd be ready to come in when we got home. That was true except the kids let them out...AGAIN (obviously there's a design flaw in our system). Before we went out to dinner, we had Donner in but not Blitzen. I wasn't terribly worried. Except when we got home from dinner about 11, she still wasn't home. And now there were thunderstorms and/or tornadoes on the way. Damnit.

I looked outside in the mist. Bjorn looked outside. He even went and checked out neighbor's feral cat trap that once caught our bigger cat, Perry. Nada. At 3 a.m. when the thunder and lightening hit (which looked like strobe lights there was so much lightening), I  went out again. I opened the garage hoping she would come home. Nothing. Then at 7 this morning, we got up and still no cat. We walked the creek looking for her. And I started to really panic. Bjorn ranted that this was a horrible mistake and all our fault for letting them out in the first place and that she had surely been eaten by wolves or coyotes or bobcats or teenagers or fire or thunderstorm. CRAP.

I started texting my friends. I posted something on Facebook. As the morning went on, I texted the picture to more people, widening my circle from beyond the block to neighboring blocks. My friends were incredibly sweet, posting pictures and sharing the text picture with other neighbors. And then a miracle happened. SOMEONE HAD RESCUED A CAT LAST NIGHT. My friend called and said she didn't know what it looked like but a friend of a friend's daughter went to a sleepover and found a kitten that they brought home (and likely hoped to keep). Then she called a minute later to say they'd dropped the cat off at her house and could I please hurry as she had it cornered in her garage. The kids and I hauled over there and sure enough, it was Blitzen. She easily came to us and we took her home. Unbelievable. The power of a good neighborhood and social media. So awesome.

Turns out a slumber part of sixth graders came across her, likely by the creek behind our house, and "rescued her." They brought her home and loved on her until the daughter's mother said, "Oh, hell, no" and the kitten ended up spending the night at another neighbor's until we found her. Seriously. Amazing.

Blitzen wearing a cat "harness" that we put on her in the hopes that she won't lose this collar. She is not enamoured, as you can imagine. 
Also amazing, the fact that we all had the flu last week, including Mark who moved to college. We lost several kitchen bowls that served as "puke buckets" during this time. Stay klassy, Bennetts. Stay klassy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Five years!

Margaret turned five this weekend. We had a tea party for her at the salon where we get our hair cut. Margareta and I made cupcakes and tea sandwiches for 10 little girls. And the salon did their hair and nails. The feature was a darling high school girl who played Cinderella. The funny thing was the kids jockeying to be next to Cinderella. Even Mark wanted to edge out some little girls to hang out with the princess.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Oklahoma, Oklahoma, Oklahoma

The kids had Monday off school this week for MLK day and we decided on the fly to take a road trip. Back in Virginia, pre-kids, we loved to head out of town exploring West Virginia and Maryland so we decided to head north to Oklahoma, and not just because the awesome movie line from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, one of my favorite, terrible 80s movies. 

One of my cousins lives in Oklahoma City and she makes the drive to Dallas all the time so Bjorn found us a great deal on a historic hotel and we made the 3 hour drive. 

I went in with zero expectations and was totally pleasantly surprised. They now have an NBA team and they've revitalized the whole downtown area near the stadium (and our hotel) called Bricktown to have walking paths around a canal with loads of restaurants. It was lovely. It's not as busy as the San Antonio Riverwalk, but they have a minor league baseball team stadium down there, too. It would definitely be a fun weekend spot (not to mention there is loads of places to gamble around town, too, which we had to save for a weekend without the kids). 

The highlight was seeing my first cousin and her husband who met us for dinner and then lunch today after taking us to the western museum. The kids didn't care for the art, but they did like dressing up in the pioneer village and making food for the chuckwagon. Afterwards, my cousins took us on a tour of their food factory. I felt like I was in an episode of How It's Made. Plus, we got to wear hair nets.  

Bricktown even has carriage rides in addition to canal boat tours. 

Matilda and Margaret in their pioneer hut. 

The closest Andy wants to ever get to riding a horse. 
We watched the boxes get loaded onto the pallets. This was Andy's favorite part. 

Bjorn, Andy, Margaret, Ed and Matilda as we watched strawberry jam be made. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Obligatory WTH birthday post

So Andy's birthday is today. EIGHT. That kid is eight! Like all parents on a birthday, I can't quite believe he's that old. And then again, I can't believe he's only that old. How is it possible that I had a life before he was born? That just seems like 2,000 years ago already.

Today at school. I brought donuts for the class. Mmm...donuts. 

He's about four here in the tub with his cousin. 

Christmas age four. 
Fifth birthday. 

Summer 2012, age 7. 
Summer 2005, age six months. 

Birthday, age 2, 2007. 

Age three with his birthday goodies. Note that he can sit with his knees back like that. I've never been able to to that. It makes my knees ache to see. 
And today again, age EIGHT. 

Sunday, January 06, 2013

MacBook love

I bought myself a MacBook Pro with some of the money Santa brought me for Christmas. I was really toying with getting a Google Chrome. I need something for graduate school and I was curious to try something other than a PC which left a Chrome or a Mac. I have spent years arguing with my graphic design people against Macs. Well, I take that back. I think Macs are great, but I have always maintained there was no way for our organization to support Macs since its hard enough with PCs. But every design person starts by saying they'll work fine with PCs and then lobbies fervently thereafter about the failures of design programs on PCs. But I digress. 

I went to the Apple store was, as usual, turned off by the genius bar that treats everyone who walks in like they're morons and Apple is doing them a favor by existing. So we went over to Best Buy to look at the Chromebooks and was surprised to see that they sell Apple products -- better yet, Apple products cheaper than at the Apple store and without the condescention! I looked at the Chromebook. I really liked the concept - a $200 computer (really a tablet with a keyboard) with an Android operating system. It is perfect for working on the internet and using e-mail which is 95 percent of my job since my databases are web-based. The problem with the Chromebook is it has no Word processing. They say you can use Google Docs, but as someone who has used Google Docs, that's not sufficient for, oh, I don't know, trying to do anything like write a document or share it with colleagues. I talked to some friends who used to work with Google about it. They say Google paid big money for some word processing software that works but for whatever reason, they're missing the boat on installing it free on all their devices. That would, in my opinion, make the Chromebook more viable to students and give Google a huge jump on the tablet/netbook market. 

So for me, that left the MacBook with a purchase of Word and Excel so I could do work and schoolwork. I toyed with the MacBook Air. It's so darn light and pretty. However, it lacked any of the peripherals like a CD/DVD drive and had fewer ports. 

I have had good fun with the computer over the holiday. Bjorn and I bought took two desktops and removed everything from them and he deposited at Best Buy, which conveniently recycles computers for free. In the process, I removed about 6,000 pictures from my old desktop from 2005 to 2009. These were pictures from when the kids were really little. There were a few videos mixed up in there, too. 

I just couldn't believe all the changes they've undergone in eight years. I mean, I was there and all, but somehow seeing it in all its glory was amazing. 

How awesome are these guys?